With their striking sword-shaped leaves, snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) make an excellent addition to any houseplant collection. Snake plants also have several incredible potential benefits. In this article, we’ll discuss whether snake plants can help purify the air in your home.
Do Snake Plants Purify the Air?
We’ve all known for a while that some houseplants can help purify the air within our homes. In 1989, NASA released its landmark Clean Air Study. This experiment tested the air purification abilities of several common houseplants.
As part of their natural life cycle, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as a by-product. This enables all life on Earth to breathe. While absorbing CO2 is, of course, beneficial for us, NASA wanted to see if there were other positive effects.
NASA’s team wanted to test whether houseplants could remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air. VOCs are harmful chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. Some studies have linked VOCs to several health risks, including a higher potential risk of cancer. VOCs are produced by various household items, including carpets, cleaning products, and adhesives or paints.
During the study, NASA’s team evaluated variegated snake plants to see if these low-maintenance houseplants could purify the air. The results show that snake plants could remove most VOCs from the air except ammonia. NASA’s team observed that snake plants removed VOCs such as:
However, although NASA’s work shows that snake plants can purify the air, the real-world effects are difficult to measure. To fully absorb harmful VOCs from the air, you’d need to essentially fill your house with snake plants. That said, it’s better to have some snake plants or other houseplants in your home to remove some VOCs.
Other Benefits of Snake Plants
As well as purifying the air, snake plants can have other benefits. By removing some VOCs from the air, snake plants could help alleviate common allergies such as asthma. VOCs can trigger asthma attacks or cause problems such as dizziness, headaches, and throat irritation. Snake plants could help reduce these symptoms.
Snake plants can also be useful if you practice feng shui. As living plants, snake plants can absorb negative energy while producing positive energy. Snake plants are linked to the Wood element, which is associated with family, prosperity, and wealth.
Snake plants are low-maintenance houseplants that are easy to grow. These succulents can tolerate various lighting conditions and only need watering every 2 or 3 weeks during spring and summer. Snake plants prefer average household humidity as long as they have warm, stable temperatures (and may even produce flowers).
Thanks to their dramatic sword-shaped leaves, snake plants can also add plenty of visual impact as ornamental plants. There are also plenty of different types of snake plants to choose from.
Snake plants can help purify the air within your home (such as living areas or bedrooms) by removing carbon dioxide and harmful VOCs such as benzene. And the more snake plants you can add to your home, the more pronounced the effects will be.
For more, see our in-depth guide on whether snake plants are pet friendly.