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Do Snake Plants Clean Air?

The snake plant craze that is on the rise is definitely not going down anytime soon. And when you find out that snake plants clean air, why not!

They are aesthetically pleasing, no doubt! And, they are everywhere across the globe, even in space.


But are you aware that their air-cleansing properties are backed by science? So is it really the low-cost solution to air purification?

These beauties do not seem to crave a lot of attention while providing you with a clean and toxin-free environment.

The low maintenance need and resilience make it a very practical choice for homes and offices.

The leaves of snake plants clean the air by absorbing cancer-causing pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene and by producing oxygen. Additionally, the snake plant releases oxygen even at night without photosynthesis, while other plants release carbon dioxide. 

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Snake Plant in white pot
Snake Plant in White Pot (Source: Amazon)

All in all, you need to put in lots of neglect to kill a snake plant! I have done thorough research on how snake plants clean air.

Don’t forget to share your experiences with this awesome indoor plant.

Does Snake Plants Really Clean Air?

Well, it would not be a crime to say NASA loves snake plant too!

According to research done by NASA in association with ALCA, the snake plant cleans the air by removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted by our everyday items such as plastics, books, appliances, fabrics, personal care products, paints, etc.

These toxins evaporate quickly at normal room temperatures and are absorbed into our system. 

The results concluded that a few indoor plants could not only absorb carbon dioxide but also release oxygen. Rather they also helped in the removal of certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The roots, stem, leaves, soil, and associated plant microorganisms contributed significantly to the removal of indoor pollutants.

Thereafter, the snake plant being one of NASA’s successful test plants, gained tremendous admiration and fame among plant lovers and health enthusiasts. 

VOC is the current buzzword in the contemporary go-green and back to nature movement.

They are toxic chemical substances found in our surroundings in the form of benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, ammonia, trichloroethylene, and xylenes.

Highlights of NASA Clean Air Study focusing Snake Plant 

  • 52.6% of benzene was removed from a sealed chamber. The initial concentration of the compound was 0.156 p/m which was significantly dropped down to 0.074 p/m in 24 hours.
  • 31.294 micrograms of formaldehyde were eliminated from the test chamber in a 24 hours exposure period. 
  • 13.4% of TCE (trichloroethylene) was absorbed in the plant body within 24 hours. 

With all the talk VOCs talk, you might be questioning if the snake plant is harmful to pets. Find out here: How Toxic Are Snake Plants To Dogs?

Snake Plants Produce VOCs too!

Correct. Some plants do release VOCs; in fact, most plants around us do! The question is, are all VOCs harmful?

In a study conducted by the University of Georgia Department of Horticulture in 2009, four houseplants (snake plant, areca palm, peace lily, and weeping fig) were found to release VOCs in small quantities.

At the end of the experiment, the snake plant alone was found to emit 12 different VOCs in minimal concentration. Did the plant manufacture these VOCs?

Potted snake plants
Potted Snake Plants (Source: Writer’s Houseplant Collection)

And, does this mean you should immediately get rid of your beloved houseplants?

“I know that snake plants absorb the VOCs. But I recently discovered that room plants also release VOCs in the air. That sounds terrifying to me. Is that true?”  – Reddit.

It was then discovered that the plants were not entirely responsible for such inconclusive results.

Some of the VOCs were the pesticides used during the production of plants.

Plastic pots were yet another culprit releasing most of the VOCs.

I encourage you to read about VOCs in detail on this wikipedia page

Do Snake Plants Produce Oxygen at Night?

Most plants release carbon dioxide at night due to the absence of photosynthesis.

Unlike other plants, snake plant keeps on releasing oxygen and soaking up carbon dioxide throughout the night.

That makes it a perfect bedroom plant. But how is that possible?

Snake plant in a bedroom setting
Plant In Bedroom (Source: Unsplash)

Technically speaking, they do not “produce” oxygen during the sleeping hours rather “release.”

Sansevieria is a CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) plant that has evolved due to the harsh climatic conditions in the desert.

Snake plants can maximize the process of photosynthesis by closing their stomate during the day to reduce evaporation. Hence, the oxygen is trapped inside the plant.

As the sun goes down, the stomate opens up and slowly starts releasing the oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide.

Isn’t that peculiar?

Furthermore, research suggests that one can easily survive in an air-tight room with 6-8 Sansevieria plants.

It sounds more like a wizard, less like a plant!

How Much Air does a Snake Plant Clean?

Well, yes and no! They are undeniably the best air-quality starter plants in the market that efficiently absorb VOCs.

Adding them will certainly drop the air toxicity in our homes and workplace.

Plants by nature are natural humidifiers that maintain the water content in the air we breathe.

They account for as much as 10% of moisture around us. The larger the leaves, the more release of moisture in the surrounding.

Henceforth, the snake plant is much more operative in retaining moisture in the air than tiny succulents. They have also been suggestively exhibiting properties to minimize airborne allergies. 

And no, because a small plant is not competent enough to purify heaps of VOCs produced by all the items in our room.

Just imagine the number of such articles in your surrounding! How many VOCs do they produce altogether?

Just picture your teeny-tiny plant. Now that’s the kind of work overload enough to give me a heart attack!

It is suggested that effective air-cleansing can be accomplished with a minimum of one snake plant per 100 square feet. 

snake plant shelves
Snake Plant Shelves

Nevertheless, something is always better than nothing.

So, it seems like it’s time to get rid of our fancy air-purifiers and install some snake plant shelves. Discover your green thumb!

Snake Plants Fight Allergies and Sick Building Syndrome

In one of the recent studies conducted in the United States, it was observed that U.S. citizens are indoors about 90% of the time.

And, the indoor pollution was typically 200-500% higher than outdoor pollution and much higher in some buildings.

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a term used to describe a certain kind of discomfort people experience when they spend a substantial amount of time in closed rooms or buildings.

And, my sympathy goes to those of us who assumed staying indoors will shield us from outdoor pollution. What a time to be alive!

The symptoms may include mild persistent headaches, dizziness, blurred visions, nausea, fatigue, itchiness, cough, sensitivity to odors, and trouble concentrating.

The VOCs are the main cause for SBS, which is a legit health condition at present days, and it is increasing at alarming rates.

Today, many workplaces have started adding indoor plants such as snake plants, peace lily, palm, aloe vera, etc. Such additions promote the well-being of employees.

In addition, to provide ambiance, Snake plants have other benefits as well.

Benefits of Snake Plant

Let’s check out some of the benefits of the snake plant.

  • It produces oxygen 24 hours a day. How does it do so? At night, it opens its pores to release the water that is in its leaves. While doing so, it releases oxygen. You can keep Snake Plant anywhere inside your home. As a result, you can have a better sleep.
  • It is an air purifier, and it also absorbs negative energy. The best direction to keep Snake Plant is south, east, or southeast.
  • If you are in an office room that does not have natural sunlight from the window, then you are recommended to keep Snake Plant. Because even in the office light, photosynthesis takes place in it, which leads to the production of oxygen. The photosynthesis also takes place in the shaded area or low light area.
  • It soothes your mind if you are a computer user who uses a computer continuously.
  • One of the best plants for Asthma patients and should be kept in their rooms.
  • It is an anti-pollutant, and it shows this characteristic by absorbing xylene, ammonia, toluene, formaldehyde, and benzene that are in the air in our home that is harmful to our health.
  • If you are prone to allergic such as sneeze, then Snake Plant will give you some relief.

Conclusion

It is not unusual to see a snake plant beside every work desk. Rather it is a piece of cake for the tired eyes!

Apart from releasing oxygen 24/7, the snake plant can also attract positive Feng Shui energy. The Chinese people have been preserving and promoting Sansevieria for ages.

They believe that the proper placement of Sansevieria will bring abundant health and prosperity to the family.

These claims are not only backed by their religious values but by science as well.

Now that is a simple equation; abundant oxygen is directly proportional to health followed by prosperity!

Go and get yourself a snake plant. The elixir for longevity! Because why not?

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