Introduction: How to Make a Negative Ion Air Ionizer

Picture of How to Make a Negative Ion Air Ionizer
Two models will be shown, one full-wave rectified and the other a half-wave rectified negative ion ionizer. Featuring an optional fan on the full-wave model.

Benefits of negative ions supposedly include
• freshen and purify the air
• help lift mood
• alleviate depression including winter depression(SAD)
• eliminate most tiny particles suspended in the air (indoors)

  • HIGH VOLTAGESpresent in both devices is high enough to induce a bad case of temporary Tourettes. ie twitching/profanity.
  • Be aware of the hazards when working with loose CARBON FIBRE filaments if using this option for high voltage grid instead of pins.

Step 1: Components and Design

Picture of Components and Design
Tools required:
  • soldering iron and solder.
  • screwdrivers, flat and star
  • cordless drill.
  • hot melt glue gun.
Optional tool:
  • wire wrapper.
The full wave rectified version has better performance but is a bit noisier if using the optional fan. The fan is a 60mm x 60mm CPU 12 brushless fan which I'm driving at
5v to reduce current consumption and noise.

The half wave version uses fewer components and less current, the smaller size is also trickier to build.

In both versions the negative band on the diode must point towards the ac voltage input.
If you follow the green arrows on the component diagrams, you will first encounter the negative side on the diode first, indicated by the white band.

Step 2: Full-Wave Ionizer Materials and Component Layout

Picture of Full-Wave Ionizer Materials and Component Layout
Materials required for full-wave version:
  • 2 x 10meg ohm resistors. (limit output current for safety)
  • 40 x diode 1N4007.
  • 30 x capacitor 100nF 275V class x2 suppression.
  • 1 length 350mm ega tube trunking.
  • 2 ega tube end caps for trunking.
  • 4 x self tappers for end caps.
  • low amperage hookup wire, ATX power supply type wire is fine.
  • 1metre 3 core 220v ac lead.
  • standard pins (or carbonfibre) for high voltage grid.
Optional components
  • 60mm x 60mm 12V dc fan, old cpu fan works well.
  • finger guard for above fan.
  • old cellphone charger +/- 5V dc to power fan.
  • small switch for fan, necessary for silent operation.

Step 3: Half-Wave Ionizer Materials and Component Layout

Picture of Half-Wave Ionizer Materials and Component Layout
Materials required for Half-wave version:
  • 50mm PVC pipe approx 330mm long.
  • 2x 50mm pvc end stops.
  • 2x 50mm tube joiners, necessary for fitting the end stops.
  • 2 small self tappers, for fitting the removable end stops.
  • 1metre twin core 220v power, 5 amp is fine.
  • 2 x 10meg ohm resistors. (limit output current for safety)
  • 30 x diode 1N4007.
  • 30 x capacitor 100nF 275V class x2 suppression.
  • standard pins (or carbon fibre) for high voltage grid.

Step 4: Carbon Fibre Vs Pins for High Voltage Grid.

Picture of Carbon Fibre Vs Pins for High Voltage Grid.

The two components of an air ionizer are high voltage and sharp points on the high voltage grid.

I prefer carbon fibre (CF) due to the thousands of very small points from which the negative ions escape, versus just one compared to a pin.

However my method of obtaining said CF might seem a bit dodgy to some folk. What I did was use a broken CF tube from one of my RC planes(crashed :( ) and broke 3 small 2mm  x 20mm long splinters. I briefly set the tips alight and then blew the flame out, then I flicked the tips clean of loose ash/ fibres.
Try not to breathe these loose fibres or the result might be a persistent cough.
Once clean the pieces were wrapped with thin copper wire, to act as a pigtail for soldering electrical connections to, and then shrink wrapped.
I keep the working tips about 3mm long to prevent them flaring out and shorting out on something.

Initially I sharpened standard dressmakers pins which worked well in the full wave version, however I might still consider an upgrade to CF tips for the full wave ionizer,

Step 5: Speed Wiring Tip

Picture of Speed Wiring Tip

After completing the full wave ionizer, I discovered things go a lot faster if you're able to acquire a wire wrapper, seen in the pic below.
I use the one leg of the cap as the post to wrap the other 3 leads on.

It is also possible to make do without the wrapper and just use the same technique, but its just more fiddly and takes longer even though the end product will look neater.

Step 6: Full Wave Ionizer

Picture of Full Wave Ionizer

The full wave rectified ionizer seems to work a bit better than its half wave brother, the optional fan also boosts performance, although some folk seem to think it gets in the way of the ion flow, possibly absorbing quite a few to the detriment of better performance.

The performance increases greatly with the finger guard grounded, which is why the fan is reversed with the finger guard facing inwards.

Step 7: Full Wave Component Assembly

Picture of Full Wave Component Assembly

First all the capacitors were glued end to end, 3 rows, then the diodes were laid on top and soldered. Observe the correct diode polarity with the white neg band pointing towards the ac input side.

The ground lead must be on the middle row of caps, and either outside row for live or neutral.
Once the components are soldered I put blobs of glue on the sharp soldered points to reduce corona discharge which improves HV (high voltage)performance.

The completed HV voltage multiplier array is then glued to the side wall of the ega tube, which also assists in component separation to prevent the high voltages from skipping across components.

Step 8: The Optional Fan and Its Power Supply

Picture of The Optional Fan and Its Power Supply

I used a nokia 5V charger although any cellphone charger rated at 5V will work, 4.5V doesn't seem to however.
A 60 x 60mm fan fits inside the ega tube stopend, which makes it easier to mount the switch, which is spliced into the dc output wire, nearby.
The fan will not work with its power reversed, so connect it up and see which way it blows. Then mount it such that it sucks the air out of the ionizer, with the finger guard on the inside, which is grounded to the green earth lead of the ac input.

Its best to remove any metal in the ion path including the metal foil sticker on the fan blades, it could absorb negative ions greatly lowering performance.

Step 9: The HV Pin Grid

Picture of The HV Pin Grid

Once the cap/diode array is glued in place, then the HV pins can be placed and mounted. I used pieces of the ega tube trunking hot glued and drilled for a small cable tie. Then the fan/grid assembly is spaced (1cm) from the pin tips, and the trunking is sawed off to size.
I also drilled the end caps to make them removable, 4 self tappers is all they need.

Step 10: The Half Wave Ionizer

Picture of The Half Wave Ionizer

Start off by gluing all the capacitors, 2 rows of 15 each. This format provides voltage separation between all the HV components, better performance, safer too.

Next I insulated all the connections with blobs of glue. I heard a lot of hissing when testing the unit upside down on a formica countertop, so I decided to do all the bare wires with the hot melt glue.
Its quite safe seeing as nothing gets hot enough to cause the glue to go transparent let alone melt.

Step 11: The End Cap, HV Grid and Neutral Grid

Picture of The End Cap, HV Grid and Neutral Grid

A bare copper wire was formed and glued in the pvc endcap, this will be connected to the neutral wire so care should be taken to keep where fingers cant reach.
Once again small pieces of pvc are used for mounting the HV CF tips.

Step 12: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly
The reason I dont bother with any fuses in the live leg of the AC input, is that you can get badly shocked from the HV side of things and the fuse is not even going to blow, let alone protect you.

I noticed that the cap array has a tendency to rotate inside the pvc tube so I glued some locating sections inside to stop it from doing so.

The important thing to remember is to discharge the unit if you want to work on it again, short the neutral grid to the HV side via the 10Meg resistors to avoid stressing any components.

DON'T FORGET to short out the 220v ac input once you have pulled it out of the wall socket, the caps still carry enough of a charge to wake you up rather rudely.

My future TO DO list might include:
  • upgrading the HV pins in the full wave version to CF tips
  • change the neutral wired grid in the half wave version to proper earth/ground grid, which just means I'll need a 3 core cable for the input instead of the present twin-flex.

The last image is a view of the upgraded CF tip array after a lot of use so its rather dusty in there.


t.rohner (author)2010-08-20

Nice instructable. I made one of these some 30 years ago. My mum wasn't that happy about it, because the high voltage charges fine dust particles and they are attracted by more or less grounded surfaces like walls and even windows ;-) If you direct the ion flow trough a grounded tube, you have a electrostatic air cleaner. (you can have a thin wire insulated in the center of the tube and connect the high voltage there. As it's done in laser printers.) You can also make a ion propulsion propeller...

GulshanB (author)t.rohner2017-11-23

Awesome instructable but i have a few questions can I use 0.01uF 1000 volt PP. box cap

t.rohner (author)GulshanB2017-11-24

It is important, that the cap can handle the voltage. (250VAC or 400V DC a 220V half wave has 312 Volt peak.(RMS voltage times square root 2 or 220V x 1.414)

When you use a 10nF cap, the available current is only a tenth, compared to a 100nF cap. The storage capacity is only a thenth.

KellyCraig (author)t.rohner2016-12-17

Somewhere, I have a sixties Popular Mechanics magazine with the plans for a transcripitor, like submarines use. It used a car coil, of that era, and stovepipe housed in a wood case.

The unit was mounted vertically. As such, tapping the side of the pipe would cause all the debris attracted to the pipe to fall into a tray at the bottom.

For safety, the system deactivated with the clean out door was opened.

mohit33 (author)t.rohner2016-02-26

How can I make electrostatic air cleaner by using this?

michaelon (author)t.rohner2016-02-07

GulshanB (author)2017-11-23

what type of ionizer it is – Corona Discharge and Nutural Radiation (alpha).

petercd (author)GulshanB2017-11-24

There's no corona or radiation, just neg ions.

GulshanB (author)2017-11-23

Awesome instructable but dear i have a one questions.
can I use 0.01uF 1000v PP box cap

petercd (author)GulshanB2017-11-24

Probably not, Im using caps designed for direct connection to AC power.

Class X2 Suppression Cap 100nF

High quality (MPX type) metallized polypropylene film capacitor.

Can be connected directly across power lines up to 275V AC 50Hz to 60Hz.

GulshanB (author)2017-11-23

Awesome instructable but i have a few questions can I use 0.01uF 1000 volt PP. box cap

Electronizer (author)2017-07-25

I find one error in your instructable, no big deal, understandable, it is, "In both versions the negative band on the diode must point towards the ac voltage input.
If you follow the green arrows on the component diagrams, you will first encounter the negative side on the diode first, indicated by the white band."

I offer this, to point out the error, "When a diode is used as a power rectifier in the circuit shown, the output voltage is found at the banded end of the diodes's case. That voltage is positive and therefore, that BANDED END(capitals added for emphasis) of the diode is the positive end of the diode." ... or simply, the banded end of a diode is the positive end of the diode -- for any who would be confused, like myself.

I am now in the process of constructing a full wave, 120v, with 30 stages, version. If the corona discharge is too much, I will simply short out the unneeded stages and reduce voltage.

You instructable is fully appreciated here, I consider you and asset to the instructable community. Pictures and construction details should allow anyone to duplicate, with proper commitment. THANKS!

JohanB72 (author)2017-04-20

Dear Peter,

could you tell me the output of this ionizer? V and/or particles?

Cheers J

Kathan Patel made it! (author)2017-04-13

Awesome instructable but i have a few questions.

1) The faint green glow at the end of needle only appears if i bring any Grounded materials near the tip(within 1 cm).is it normal? do i need additional stages? If yes how many?

2) i do hear hiss sound from needle but i don't smell anything. Is it okay?

3) How many needles can i attach?

The circuit i made is similar to yours, only difference being i used 100n polyester capacitors rated for 400v.

petercd (author)Kathan Patel2017-04-17

1. 10 stages with 220V Ac input should be fine, its what I have.

2. hiss means its working, more needles = more smell providing you have neg ions emitting.

3. as many as you want, but I prefer CF tips due to the thousands of emitting tips.

EmmanouilP2 (author)2017-04-11

how close does the ionized pins have to be to the neutral grid to work efficiently?

petercd (author)EmmanouilP22017-04-12

bout 15 ~ 20mm should be fine.

KamalK71 (author)2017-03-23

I noticed that you are using a standard 1/2W resistor for current limiting in the HV section. Not the best choice in my opinion. These resistors are usually rated for a maximum voltage of 400V to 500V which means that at the usual operating voltages in the HV output (15kV or so) the resistor will breakdown and produce a spark which will effectively nullify the entire purpose of the resistor. My recommendation : Find a high voltage resistor or use 20 500k resistors in series to get the 10M value.

ofma03310 (author)2017-03-01

Hello guys.

I want to get a mobile variant. I bought an ionizer 12VDC from ebay. Look attachment. Problem now is, if i take 8 AA 1,5VDC batteries in serie, the performance is very bad and on the surface of the batteries are lightnings/sparks. I think i need a low pass filter, right? Which dimensions should i chosse? Max.voltage of capacitor about 6kV?

Would great, to get some answers :)

Greetings from Austria.

mrtiger2016 (author)2016-06-30

Nice instructions and final "products". I have one question regarding the full wave multiplier bridge, for our household grid power, it does not seem to make sense to use it because we don't actually have V+, V-, and GND per se. Even when you showed three prong outlet, the voltage on LINE (V+) is relative to NEUTRAL (V-) which is basically the same as V+ to GND due to NEUTRAL and GND bias voltage pretty small. Can you comment?

petercd (author)mrtiger20162016-07-01

Quite correct, I looked in my "street connection" box and saw the "neutral" tied to earth.

I just figured it would be better ripple wise to use the neg portion of the ac sine wave as well.

PatrickB250 (author)petercd2016-12-31

You're not wrong...but I think you both have a misunderstanding of how AC works. The "neutral" line is a non-current carrying line in a balanced system, meaning current only flows along the "hot" line. I've always liked the ping pong ball in a tube analogy for electron flow, if you're familiar with that then in AC, the ball is constantly reversing which end of the tube it comes out. Your neutral line is not a "V-" in the sense that you are thinking of. Again, in a balanced system you should have ~0V from neutral to ground. What happens in unbalanced systems is that you get what is called "leakage current" on the neutral line, and this causes a voltage drop which leads to differing potentials.

bengtang (author)2013-06-22

Hi, if after unplugging it, you short the HV output (via the safety resistors) to the AC neutral wire input (or neutral grid), does that discharge all the capacitors (so you don't get a shock from touching the output or the caps)? What is the difference between doing this and shorting the live and neutral of the 220V AC input after unplugging? I am thinking of incorporating a discharge circuit into a switch for the thing so when i switch it off it disconnects the mains power and also discharges the capacitors, but i am not sure which points to short to accomplish this.

petercd (author)bengtang2013-06-23

"short the HV output (via the safety resistors) to the AC neutral wire input (or neutral grid), does that discharge all the capacitors (so you don't get a shock from touching the output or the caps)"


What is the difference between doing this and shorting the live and neutral of the 220V AC input after unplugging?

This doesnt short out the caps because the rectifier bridge blocks the rest of the circuit and if you short out after the rectifier you will only discharge one capthe others being blocked by the diodes

There is a strong discharge when shorting the circuit so its best to use a resistor to do it gently to avoid damaging other components

bengtang (author)petercd2013-06-25

Thanks, so to discharge all the caps i have to both short the HV output to the neutral terminal, and also short the live input terminal to the neutral terminal?

Anyway my plan of having a 2 way switch which shorts the HV output to the neutral end of the cockcroft-walton multiplier when the device is switched off won't work because it would cause arcing inside the switch while the device was on (unless i fill the switch with oil, then it leaks out and is messy). So i am just going to have the switch short out the live and neutral input ends of the multiplier through a resistor when it is switched off.

On another note, here are some ideas for other electrodes / ion emitters: A round wire brush of the kind used in drills for brushing rust off metal - the wires are thick and not very sharp, but there are a lot of them, and the places where they touch each other inside the brush also act like needle points.

A wire pipe cleaner / rifle barrel cleaner type brush, these have thinner wires so might work better. An ioniser using one of these had the highest ion output count among competing models analysed by the Elrana ioniser company, see this page, it has images of ioniser PCBs:

I have also seen razor blades recommended in one scientific paper - the super sharp edge is a brilliant at generating corona at low voltages, and the performance does not degrade as much with wear, compared to needle electrodes.

And the edge of thin gold or aluminium foil is also good, especially if it is cut at an angle, or you tear it using the serrated foil cutter on the kitchen foil box. This produces a serrated and thin edge. Get the thinnest (which is usually also cheapest) foil you can find.

Also, if you want to maximise corona production (which may also make a lot of ozone though), put a grounded or opposite charged electrode made of fine wire mesh near the emitter tips. The finer the mesh the stronger the effect, due to something about how electric fields behave when going to conductors shaped like a plane with slots.

KellyCraig (author)bengtang2016-12-17

For the foil you recommend, I wonder if gold leafing you buy in hobby shops would work. It's cheap because it's so thin.

petercd (author)bengtang2013-06-25

Eventually I upgraded both to the carbon fiber tips as in step 4, burnt the end of cf pieces with a lighter and then frayed out all the strands and shrink wrapped them to the ends of the HV pins.

Should probably upgrade the original doc.

KellyCraig (author)bengtang2016-12-17

I know squat about electronics, but the engineers at Bangor Sub Base used to hand me drawings [on a napkin or whatever] and I'd get to make prototypes for them. One was a capacitor forming device for high voltage caps used on the big beasts you used to see on Navy movies (the screen went "blip," "blip," "blip."

To keep from frying anyone tamping with the end product, I added a micro switch that was normally on, When the door was closed, that part of the circuit was dead. With it open, it shorted the caps.

Food for thought.

bigclive (author)2016-10-19

There should be absolutely no connection between live or neutral to ground,even through a capacitor unless it is specifically class Y rated and a very low value. An ioniser will find its ground reference through the mains supply. In this design the entire side connected between neutral and ground will be pointless. There is a reason the traditional ioniser design just had the multiplier between live and neutral.

Sutty5 (author)bigclive2016-10-22

BigClive knows best :)

nikoxl7 (author)2016-09-04

Made it but added a few extra things, uv led and spiral coil going to to the pins, and pvc with screw on caps to protect it when it's stored or moved.

Landroo (author)2016-08-17

I tried a cheap, over-powered ionizer in my home for a few months, until it corroded itself apart. I'm sure the ozone levels were above recommended, but I didn't notice any negative effects on my health for those few months. However, I noticed a carton of milk in my fridge which was 3 months past due, and it still tasted fresh. Coincidence? Maybe.

JoeG100 (author)2016-05-03

Could one make two half wave designs. One of them wired as shown in your diagrams and the other with the diodes reversed to produce positive ions. Then attach both half wave arrays to the same AC power source to get positive ions half the time and negative ions the other half?

I'm attempting to eliminate static charges on a plastic surface by bombarding it with positive and negative ions.

petercd (author)JoeG1002016-05-04

What Are Positive Ions?

Positive ions are
usually carbon dioxide molecules that have been stripped of an electron.
Also known as positively charged ions, they have been demonstrated to
have a negative effect on your body.

This is particularly the case
with your lungs and respiratory tract but your immune system can also
be affected. This is because positive ions can be so small they are
absorbed directly into your bloodstream from the air you breathe.

excess of positively charged ions in your environment is believed to
contribute to tiredness and a lack of energy, tension, anxiety and
irritability. Positive ions have even been investigated as a
contributing factor for asthma and depression.

JoeG100 (author)petercd2016-05-04

I appreciate the article link. That is valuable information for all to be aware of. However, my application would be in an environment where positive ions would be required to restore electrostatic balance to a large piece of plastic:

Some materials such as glass, hair, and Nylon tend to give up electrons and become positively charged. Other materials such as Polypropylene, Vinyl (PVC), Silicon, Teflon, Silicone tend to collect electrons and become negatively charged. The Triboelectric series is a listing of various materials and there tendency to charge positive or negative.

I hope to use the ionizer to balance the negative charge (as cited in the above article) from polypropylene, vinyl, and some acrylics. To do that I need positive ions. I also understand the need for negative ions as electrostatic charges fluctuate greatly across a large sea of atoms.

While I understand that the positive and negative ions generated will never be equal, thereby canceling each other out, I strongly feel that the majority of positive ions generated will be balanced after contact with the negatively charged plastic. The small remainder should be balanced by the now numerous negative ions, relative to the positive, with a net surplus of negative ions escaping into the environment.

Thank you for your time!

MaartenV18 (author)2016-04-20

Hi, if you measure 6 kV on the carbon tips, does that mean it produces positive ions? I measured on some Chinese ionizers and I measured -6 kV... Thanks.

petercd (author)MaartenV182016-04-20

You will only get a positive output if your diodes are the wrong way around.

Their polarity must be as in step 1.

Positive ions will do more harm than good.

MaartenV18 (author)petercd2016-04-20


Ok, thanks for your reply. Its an industrial custom made one we are testing at work, but i guess our electronics specialist was sleeping or something ?. Its for reducing fine dust in big spaces.

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-17

what if i reverse the polarity of the high wave circuit.

petercd (author)Jaskunwar Singh2016-04-20

Positive ions will do more harm than good.

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-09

thank u sir

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-09

thank u sir

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-09

thank u sir

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-09

thank u sir

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-09

thank u sir

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-09

thank u sir

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-09

thank u sir

Jaskunwar Singh (author)2016-04-08

how to check whether my voltage multiplier circuit is working or not as there is no blue glow on the needle......

petercd (author)Jaskunwar Singh2016-04-09

Read the comments, a lot of folk have added valuable contributions to further this sphere of knowledge.

Build a diy Electroscope, comment to SARMAC lower down.

michaelon made it! (author)2016-02-07

Great educational stuf from Dave

About This Instructable




Bio: general bloke type of tinkering
More by petercd:Total Metal Hypercube 3D Printer (no Printed Parts)Hack a microswitch for better 3D prints. (ABL)Laser center finder. (drill press and mill)
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