Do Cooker Hoods Need Carbon Filters?

Kitchen countertop with hob and cooker hood

Cooker hoods are essential if you want to extract moisture, smells and grease from your kitchen when you cook.

There are various styles of cooker hoods available on the market that use different methods of removing airborne grease and food odours.

The type of cooker hood you choose and the way you use it to extract odours from your kitchen will affect the type of filters that your cooker hood requires.


Types of Cooker Hoods

Cooker hoods usually clean the air from your kitchen by either:

  • Air extraction to the outside (extractor hoods)
  • Air recirculation into the kitchen (recirculating hoods)

Cooker hoods which extract air from the kitchen to the outside do this through ducting – piping that allows air pushed by a cooker hood extractor to travel outside of your home – and effectively remove cooking odours, steam and grease whilst you cook.

Some kitchens aren’t suitable for extraction, and some people don’t like the appearance of ducting which can be intrusive and spoil the look of a kitchen.

Recirculation cooker hoods extract and filter air before blowing it back into the kitchen and require no ducting.


Do I Need a Carbon Filter for my Cooker Hood?

If your cooker hood uses air recirculation to remove cooking smells rather than extraction outside using ducting, you will need a carbon filter for the cooker hood.

The carbon filters in the extractor hood absorb the odours and dirt from the air when the cooker hood sucks in the air from the kitchen, before it is returned into the room.

Carbon filters need to be changed manually so that they keep removing odours effectively. Some manufacturers recommend changing carbon filters every three months, but the exact length of time may depend on the model of cooker hood, how often you cook and also the type of food you cook.

Some modern cooker hoods have an indicator that will inform you when it’s time to change the filter.


Grease Filter vs. Carbon Filter

Grease filters are fitted to all cooker hoods, and are necessary even if the cooker hood uses extraction to remove odours and steam outside.

Carbon filters (aka charcoal filters) remove odours but aren’t intended to remove grease. They are usually fitted on recirculating cooker hoods positioned directly above the grease filter, so that the air passing through the carbon filter is already free from grease.



It’s important to always have a grease filter on a cooker hood otherwise grease can build up on your cooker and in the rest of your kitchen, making the room unpleasant and even causing damage.

Carbon filters aren’t necessary if your cooker hood uses extraction to remove odours and dirt outside. However, if your cooker hood uses air recirculation, carbon filters will help to remove cooking smells and keep your kitchen fresher and cleaner.