The other day a hit classic came up on my Pandora station – Smokin’ in the Boys Room by Mötley Crüe. A 1985 masterpiece filled with metal glam, large quantities of hairspray and of course, a kickass guitar solo by Mick Mars.
A lot’s changed since that glorious heavy metal smash hit debuted in the mid 80’s, but one thing hasn’t: a significant portion of the male adolescent hivemind is singularly focused on trying to get away with things they shouldn’t. Que my slyly positioned segue into smokeless ashtrays. Bam.
That’s not to say that the only people buying smokeless ashtrays are youngins doing things they shouldn’t – there are tons of great uses for them. Hell, a lot of us probably just don’t want to place to stink up. Regarldess of your intentions though, there’s a lot to be said about a device that sucks up your smoke. They’re super useful, they’re cheap (well, some of them are) and they’re easy to use.
If you hadn’t guessed it by now, that’s what this article’s about. I’ve taken a good look through the options on the market and put together my favorites below. I’ve also got a bit of info for you so you can read up and become an ‘informed consumer’. Because that’s always fun.
Alrighty, let’s get to it.
How Smokeless Ashtrays Work
As one might suspect, the pinnacle of human technology isn’t represent by the smokeless ashtray. These things are relatively straightforward and pretty simple in how they function. Most (but not all) of them rely on only a few simple parts.
The core of these devices is the tray itself. That’s obviously where you’ll be putting your cigarette, cigar, joint or whatever else your smoking. The rest of the device will be built around this.
Often times above the tray will be some sort of fan. This will need to be powered either by batteries or DC power from the outlet (some will do both). The fan will spin, inhaling the smoke.
From there it’ll direct the smoke towards some sort of filter. Since smoke is really just a collection of airborne particles, the filter will collect those particles and keep them in one spot. Afterwards you’ll be able to either clean the filter or simply replace it.
That’s about it. Some models will be slightly more advanced than others, but the three main parts are the tray, the fan and the filter.
Features to Look Out For
While many ashtrays have similar designs, there are a few variations that’ll make a pretty big impact. Not everyone will need the same device. Some might want to use these for their car, while others will need something that sits on their desk.
Some will use it exclusively for themselves while others will need enough room for several folks at once. Below is a quick list of features you should keep your eye open for – they’ll definitely change how you use your ashtray.
The Shape of Your Tray
The biggest thing to look out for is the shape of this thing. There are two main varieties – those that sit on a flat surface (such as a desk, table or even the ground) and those that fit inside cup holders. While you can use the cup holder focused ashtray to sit up on a desk, they don’t work really well. The last thing you want is to accidentally knock over your ashtray and spill shit everywhere. Nobody wants that.
Another thing to keep in mind is where the opening for your smoking device is. Some of these will only face one direction while some are omnidirectional. If you’re planning on entertaining a group of smokers you’ll want something that allows everyone access – that way you don’t have to keep turning it. If you’re just planning on using this yourself then a single sided opening will work just fine.
Finally, keep in mind how large your smoking device is. While a lot of these will easily fit standard sized cigarettes or joints, cigars are a different story. If you and your buddies are planning on lighting up a few stogies, make sure the ashtray you’ve got has enough room to fit them in there.
Nobody likes spending money. An ashtray that has a replace-only filter will cause you to do that though. It’s not the biggest deal in the world but it’ll up the maintenance cost of your tray by just a bit. That’s why I suggest you keep your eye open for trays that have cleanable filters. It only takes about 3 minutes to clean one of these things and it’ll save you money in the long run.
Replacement trays will generally cost around $5 and last you anywhere from 1-3 months depending on use. Heavy smokers will notice an even shorter lifespan.
It’s neigh impossible to get an accurate estimate on the battery life for these trays as it depends entirely on how often you use it. Those who use it several time a day might have to replace their batteries ever month or two, while others might go half a year or more on a single set.
If you plan on using your tray often, my advice is to get one that plugs into the wall. They aren’t’ as common and will probably be a bit more expensive, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Last but not least is the noise output. While the sound of the fan might not be a big deal to many, those of you who plan on using one of these to mask some ‘doobie’ous activities (hah, see what I did there?) will be more concerned with this part. All in all, the fans on these aren’t super loud, but that could still be a problem if you’re in a tight space.
An Imperfect Solution
You may notice as you go through my top picks that there are a number of not-so-great reviews. That’s because by itself, a smokeless ashtray is an imperfect solution. If you’re looking to get rid of your smoke/smell 100%, it simply can’t do that.
At some point you’ll need to take your cigarette/joint/cigar out of the tray, inhale the smoke and exhale the smoke. That’ll stink up the place quite a bit on its own and send particles every which way.
That being said, keep in mind that a lot of the poor reviews on these products is due to two main reasons. First is that the expectation is these will remove the smoke 100%, which they simply cannot do. The second is that none of these products are totally perfect. I’ve picked out my favorites of the bunch, but almost every product has some sort of flaw, no matter how small.
Just keep these things in mind as you’re looking through these trays.
My Top Picks for Smokeless Ashtrays
Below we have my top picks for the three major areas: single users, cars and groups.
Best for A Single User: Holmes Smoke Grabber Ashtray and Odor Eliminator
Despite a few imperfections, the Holmes Smoke Grabber is an excellent ashtray that prevents a majority of your smoke from ever entering the room in the first place. It’s also extremely small, making it an attractive solution for the single user.
The biggest thing I liked about the Holmes ashtray was its size and portability. When the top lid is closed it’s extremely small, so you can quickly and easily store it away. It’s also really easy to take with you from room to room, so if you move around while you smoke you’ll really appreciate it.
When the lid is open you’ll have access to 7 different spots to hold your cigarette or joint. While placed on the tray the majority of the smoke will rise up and be pulled through the fan and filter that’s stationed on the interior of the lid.
Replacing the batteries and filter were really simple, although I was a bit sad it didn’t come with a cleanable filter. I’m sure you could extend its longevity a bit by washing it out, but at some point you’ll need to replace it. To do that, simply pop open the grating on the top, take the filter out and insert the new one. It really is easy.
The batteries (two D size) are station below the ash tray, so you’ll need to remove the bottom black tray before swapping them out. Once the tray is removed it’s as simple as pulling the old batteries out and putting the new ones in.
The battery life is a bit hard to judge because it depends on how often you use this. Regular smokers will get at least several week out of the Holmes ashtray before having to replace them. Those who smoke less often will likely get several months. Make sure you close the lid when you’re done using it – that’ll turn it off and save battery life.
The noise output is low, but still audible. If you’ve got the door close you’ll almost certainly not hear it in the room next to you unless you’ve got crazy thin wall. It’s definitely loud enough for everyone in the room to hear though.
Given the size and price of this little guy, it does a great job. Combined with a sploof there’ll be almost no smoke whatsoever. Something to keep in mind though – it won’t work well for cigars. They’re simply too big to fit into the spots on the side and the Holmes Smoke Grabber isn’t large enough for you to realistically balance it on the edge. For those looking to remove smoke from anything smaller though, you’ll be in good shape.
Best for Your Car: Big Ant Portable Auto Vehicle Car Cigarette Ashtray
For those looking to reduce the smokiness in your car, you’ll get a lot of use out of the Big Ant Portable Ashtray. This automobile ashtray has a few cool features that I really liked. First things first though – there really aren’t any options on the market right now that have fans in them. While this is about as ‘smokeless’ as you’ll get, I was disappointed to find that none of the car-focused devices had fans and filters. That said, this still does a good job of reducing the smoke in your car and adds a lot of convenience.
First, let’s talk about the looks. This thing looks good. Even though it’s made out of plastic it doesn’t look like a cheap ashtray. Under the lid there’s a nice, bright LED that makes it a breeze to find when you’re driving at night. It might even be a little too bright, but that’s not the worst thing in the world.
Inside the cup itself you’ve got two areas to put your cigarette out (the ashing hold and the vents on the side) along with a cigarette sized holder. Unfortunately this ashtray will only hold one cigarette at a time, so if you’ve got more than one passenger you’ll either need to share or take turns.
The big convenience with this model comes in two ways. First is its ability to not only sit in your cup holder but also on your car vents. The hinge on the back has a spot for two plastic piece that will fit easily on most regulation sized car vents.
The other big convenience is having a place to put your cigarette when you’re done smoking it. Instead of tossing it out the window (shame on you, don’t litter) you can toss it in the bottom of the cup with the rest of your ash. It’ll be able to hold a lot of cigarettes, so even if you’ve got several people smoking at once it’ll last until the next bathroom break.
Aside from the fact that there’s no active fan, I really like this little device and I certainly like it a lot more than some of the other car based ashtrays on the market. It’s not perfect, but in my opinion it’s the best one out there right now.
Best for Groups: World’s Best Smokeless Ashtray
The presumptively named World’s Best Smokeless Ashtray is my pick for a group focused tray. This has a lot of similarities to the Holmes except it’s omni direction, making it great for a group of people. Just set this on the coffee table and everyone’ll be able to set their ciggie inside. It’s also got a single holder for a larger cigar, although it’s not quite as big as I think it could/should be. Either way, it’s the only ashtray on this list that you can use a cigar with.
There are a few major differences between this and the Holmes device aside from the omni directionality. First is it’s the filter and the batteries are both on the bottom of the ashtray. That makes it simple for replacing them but doesn’t allow the fan to catch the smoke as it rises. It’s forced to pull the smoke downward which doesn’t work quite as well in my opinion. It’ll still take most of the smoke out, but doesn’t work as well as if the filter/fan were on top. The fact that there are two filters helps a lot – especially since there’s a good chance you’ll have more than one cigarette in here at once.
The second is that there’s no lid, meaning you’ll have to manually turn this piece on and off via the switch on the side. It’s really more of an annoyance because you’ll inevitable leave it on at some point and you’ll end up draining your batteries.
Speaking of batteries, this unit will run off of two ‘C’ batteries. The lifespan is about as unpredictable as the others, with regular users getting a few weeks and infrequent users getting several months.
Despite some of the annoying flaws, it still works well. It’s also better than everything else out there in my opinion. If you’re looking for a smokeless ashtray designed for a group, this is the best one out there right now.
The Best Sploof (Carbon Air Filters)
I’ve also included my two top picks for sploofs. These will come in handy to those of you who are looking to be extra discrete/clean with your smoking.
My #1 Pick: Sploofy Personal Smoke Filter
This little guy is pretty cool. It’s basically just a big filter that you’ll blow your smoke into. Instead of having to deal with a homemade product using waterbottles and drier sheets (which I really don’t think work too well) this thing will bring a bit more sophistication to your smoking experience.
The reason this one made spot #1 and not the Smoke Buddy is because of the replaceable filter. While you’ll be spending around $20 initially for the unit, you can replace the air filters quickly and easily for about $10 each. Each filter will be good for around 300 uses, although that’ll depend on the users themselves to some degree.
Finally, this doesn’t require any batteries at all. Just blow your smoke into the filter and you’re good to go.
My #2 Pick: Smoke Buddy Personal Air Filter
Coming in at spot #2 is the Smoke Buddy Personal Air Filter. I’ll be honest, this works just as well as the Sploofy. You inhale from your smoking device and then exhale into the Smoke Buddy. The filter inside will catch 95%+ of the smoke, removing almost all of the odor and particles.
The reason this is in spot #2 is because it doesn’t come with a replaceable air filter. Once it’s done, it’s done. You’ll have to buy a whole new unit. While the initial price is cheaper you’ll end up spending more in the long run.
That said, those who don’t expect to be using this too often may find more value in spending less upfront. There’s a chance this could last you the better part of a year or longer depending on how frequently you use it. If that’s the case, you might want to just spend less money and go with the Smoke Buddy.
Smokeless Ashtrays vs. Air Purifiers
Some of you might be wondering if an air purifier would be a better option than dealing with a smokeless ash tray. It’s a fair question to ask, because both of them do a similar thing. Each of these has a very specific, albeit similar, niche in the market.
Smokeless ash trays are focused on preventing the smoke from ever entering the air in the first place. This helps prevent issue such as second-hand smoke, the smell (both in the air and in furniture, clothing, etc.) and other problems that naturally come along with having a smoke-filled room.
Air purifiers are meant to clean the air in a room. That means they’re not going to prevent any sort of smell or second hand smoke for those nearby. They do work pretty fast but they’re not going to keep whatever room you’re smoking in free from smoke, even if you’re smoking right next to it. Consider an air purifier more of a long-term health focused item as opposed to a short term smoke eliminator.
Air purifiers are also meant to clean the air for much more than smoke. Anyone who has pets with dander, issue with pollen allergies or other problems with any one of a number of airborne particles will get a lot of use out of an air purifier. Smokeless ash trays are pretty much singularly designed for keeping the smoke from your smoking device from ever entering the air.
While I won’t pretend to know what your goals are, I’d say most of the people here will find a lot more benefit out of a smokeless ash tray than an air purifier. If you’re not sure though, I’d encourage you to research air purifiers on your own to learn more what they’re about. It never hurts to have a bit more knowledge.