This article appears in Volume 5 – Issue 2 of SKUNK Magazine.
ABOUT THE BIGGEST red flag with an indoor operation is the odor. There is a climatic change that takes place when you have your own skunk crop, creating a tropical atmosphere in your home, apartment or garage. With so many indoor gardeners growing their own stone we all need to learn how to be stealthier and snuff out any possibilities of detection. If you get busted, not only will all your friends have to search out a new source, you too will be forced to buy your smoke from someone else instead of growing your own. There is no need to advertise to every person who walks through your door that you are an urban guerilla by letting their noses and curiosity discover your exotic flowers. Do not let your laziness fool you, with skunk there is no “out of sight out of mind” because it does not matter how many plants you are growing; they alter the rest of the building’s climate and you can easily detect that something is going on as soon as you step into the home just by the stank of the dank!
There is a simple solution to this equation and that is using a carbon charcoal air filter. The carbon is harvested from the earth then undergoes a special process to make it extremely porous, making it effective in absorbing odor molecules over a large area. The process is called activating the charcoal, and is essentially the opening up of the hundreds of thousands of pores inside the charcoal. There are two methods for activating the carbon and opening up the pores. One is done with nothing more than high temperatures and steam, causing the carbon to crack, creating fissures inside the carbon. The other process is done by impregnating the carbon with chemicals to achieve almost three times the porosity. The product of high heat and steam activation is known as virgin activated carbon charcoal. It earned its name because it contains no chemical agents and therefore no chemicals leach out of the filter as it cleans your grow room. This will also be the kind of charcoal we will be using in our operations. Just one gram of activated carbon has the surface area of roughly 5,300 square feet, which means you can hold the power of an odor-absorbing black hole in the palm of your hand. If you rolled the microscopic pores inside one gram flat it would cover several football fields. Now THAT is a lot of space!
There are filters for every budget and one thing that should always be kept in mind is that you will recoup your equipment investment with the first healthy crop you harvest. So the purchase comes down to what is in your wallet. Do you have $50 and a pile of bills or do you have $400 and are ready to go Mack Daddy BIG? I started off with a $50 home air filter from a home improvement store and it made a huge impact on my air quality. That was back in 1995, and the home air filters of today are not nearly as good as they were 13 years ago. Alternately, there are specialized carbon filter manufacturers that have developed some efficient lines of industrial-grade can filters available at a local hydroponic store near you. Called can filters because they are shaped like large silver cans with 360º carbon charcoal sandwiched between perforated steel, they circulate the air through the charcoal and out the top of the unit’s squirrel fan.
If your budget and immediate situation require you to buy a home filter at a local home improvement store, this is what you need to know. The part that does the odor eating is the black layer of carbon charcoal coated on the fan filter. There could be a 10-inch thick filter of cloth and the air cleaner still may not absorb the stank of the dank because the only part that you are relying on is the coating of carbon charcoal, not the fabric. So what you need to do is open the boxes of each unit, hold the filters up to the light and determine which one has the most carbon charcoal on the filter. If none of the filters keep the light out, or, with an even more inefficient filter you can see visible spaces between the carbon charcoal on the ridges of the filter, then these units will not help you control your odor one bit. Buying one with visible spaces or a thin coating on the filter will be wasting your money, and you will eventually need to find a hydroponic store or search online for a filter designed specifically for indoor gardens.
The can filters range from $50 to as high as $400 and are simple to hook up. The top of this style has a flange that a squirrel mounts to. The squirrel fan sucks air through the tall cylinder filled with activated carbon and the fissures absorb the odor molecules as the purified air blows back into your grow room, circulating air as it cleans. So if one gram contains 5,300 square foot of surface area, imagine what a can filter with ten pounds of charcoal can do for your operation? It makes your garden invisible to the nose!
Another option is to order the activated carbon charcoal in a five-gallon bucket off eBay and rig up you own series of filters for a lot less. A bucket of virgin charcoal costs around $55 and can be molded into just about any imaginably shaped filter for any application. One cheap method is to sandwich the charcoal between two screens, duct tape the edges, then place it on the backside of a flat floor fan, creating a $5 air filter where no odor gets through. The bucket of activated virgin carbon charcoal comes as loose granulated charcoal, usually accompanied with a square yard of silkscreen mesh, the same kind you would find at the bottom of your joint rolling hash box. With the screen you can make any size and shape filter needed for any application, and it’s inexpensive too.
If you are just starting to grow, the filter is imperative right from the start. It could deter many unwanted conversations about what you are up to. As the plants begin to mature the air becomes heavier with the aroma of the pungent plants and gets stronger with every passing day. It seems like the aroma is strongest 30 minutes after the lights go out and the plants exhale from a day of vigorous flowering. There is something to be said about coming home after a long day and smelling your ladies from the front porch even before you open the door, and that something is YOU NEED A FILTER!
You are obviously adventurous and have entered into the global philosophy of grow your own stone. You need to stay stealth and be one step ahead of people’s imagination and especially the law. In a ten-year period only five people saw my ladies naked under the lights, and nobody smelled them who I did not want to smell them. I am obviously in hostile enemy territory where one could get hemmed up with the law over a disagreement of perception. Well I say fuck them and grow. Grow the best pot you’ve ever smoked and be proud. Be proud you nurtured your green skunk plants into crystallized fragrant flowers, like a true pharmacological alchemist does, and be proud you did it without anybody sticking their nose in your business!