Disclaimer: I typically don’t review products on my blog but I’ve been given the Hakko FA-400 smoke absorber to provide you with a product review as part of this blog series. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. Thank you for reading my blog!
Reflecting on what would be most interesting for you to read on my blog this year, I wanted to share a bit more about my creative process and some of the tools I like to use. You know how they say “safety first” so let me start there. First, some background….
One day last fall, I was busily working on burning lots of wooden ornaments to stock up for the holidays. When I finished, I noticed the room and my clothing smelled a bit like I’d been hanging out near a campfire all afternoon. Now I like camping and roasting marshmallows but I realized that this smoky odor was probably not very healthy to have in our house, let alone in a room adjacent to our bedroom. In summer, I use my art studio in our back porch but right now, it’s too chilly to work there even with my little space heater.
After reading some tips from fellow pyrographers, I’d started working with a small fan that blew the smoke away to avoid it going straight up my nose. However, even though it was helping to move the smoke away from me breathing it in directly, it was still spreading it around the room. Hmmm… I became a lot more concerned about this issue when my family received some devastating, heartbreaking news. My dad was diagnosed not only with pulmonary fibrosis (most easily explained as scarring of the lung tissue), but also a rare type of lung cancer.
Besides searching the internet to look for ways I could help my dad, I began to look for other ways to deal with my wood burning smoke. I had no idea if a better alternative existed but it sure seemed worth the effort.
From the EPA website, I learned that besides giving off particle pollution, wood smoke contains several toxic harmful air pollutants including: benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Reading this information made me think back of last summer. With wildfires often raging the West Coast during the hot months of the year, no wonder we’re advised to stay indoors and limit breathing the polluted air.
In the middle of doing this research, I found a product called a smoke absorber, specifically the Hakko FA-400 Smoke Absorber. Ever heard of it? It has typically been used to absorb soldering smoke but will also work with absorbing smoke from wood burning or pyrography.
So, here’s my two cents after using this product:
The Hakko FA-400 smoke absorber visibly sucks up the smoke. Yay! You can use it in both a vertical and horizontal position. I prefer to use it in a horizontal position which really increases the suction power of this powerful, little machine.
The smoke absorber is pretty compact in size: 5.5”(W) x 3.0”(H) x 7.3”(D). I place the smoke absorber on the tabletop in front of my wood burning project to make sure it “catches” my smoke. You can kind of tell if the distance is right as you want enough space to work comfortably but should be able to see the smoke go into the smoke absorber.
The smoke absorber makes a bit louder sound than my fan but I’d expected it to be much louder than it actually is. I can still easily hear the podcasts or audiobooks I like to listen to while I burn.
Another difference from using my fan is that my fan had a rechargeable battery and therefore could be used cordless. I really liked not having yet another cord to deal with. However, since my wood burning unit needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet as well, I’m always working near one anyways so not that big of deal to me.
I haven’t had to change out the carbon activated filter yet but apparently, you have to change it if white residue starts to build up on the filter. Another way to know if your filter needs replacing is by weighing it. The filter can hold up to 4 grams of noxious material and weighs about 12 grams when it’s new so when the weight of the filter is about 16 grams, replace it with a new one.
The Hakko FA-400 smoke absorber comes with a standard activated carbon filter which easily pops into the unit and is used to absorb 80% of fumes from the air. Getting back to all the icky stuff in wood smoke, not all of the substances are absorbed to the specification of 80% but the air will definitely be cleaner having gone through the filter as compared to unfiltered fumes. Hakko also offers a high efficiency filter that removes 90% of airborne particles but I’ve not personally used this filter with the smoke absorber and can’t comment on it. If you want to get really technical and dig into all the details, I found this article in the Hakko knowledge database helpful.
Overall, I feel a lot more comfortable working on my wood burning art projects inside the house with this smoke absorber. Having this smoke absorber allows me to work on wood burning all year around, instead of just during the warmer months. Who wants to open a window in winter? Besides the fact it’s not comfortable to sit in a cold space, if my hands are freezing, it affects my (detailed) work.
Here is a little video to show you the smoke absorber in action:
I hope this blog post was helpful to you. If it was, please share! I always love to hear from you so please leave me a comment or question. Thanks!!
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