Cool stuff: Odor-eating lightbulbs

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How much total do you plan to tip the building staff this year?

Last week’s Out, damned latke! post drew an enthusiastic endorsement for compact fluorescent lightbulbs that can clean up smelly air.

Their potential usefulness goes way beyond latkes: Think cat litter boxes, diaper changing stations and secondhand smoke.

Joyce Cohen, the NYC apartment-dwelling journalist who alerted us to the fluorescent odor-eaters, reported on them awhile back for USA Today.

“When I was writing the story, I had dozens of sample light bulbs and passed them out for people to test,” she tells us. “They work remarkably well.  You need an open fixture and you also need to have the light on so air wafts by.”

The two brands she reported on—Fresh2 and Ozonelite—work the same way: The bulbs are coated with titanium dioxide, which interacts with short-wavelength light to eradicate odor-causing molecules.

“The two bulbs seem to be identical even though one is four times the price,” says Cohen. “They’re made in the same manufacturing plant.  I could discern no difference.”

Cohen uses Fresh2 in her bathroom, where her two cats conduct their business. (Cohen, in fact, has trained her cats to use the toilet--watch the YouTube demo here.)

“The light is a bit harsh but the trade-off is totally worth it," she says. "I could gush about these bulbs all night."

Fresh2 bulbs cost $19.95 for two; Ozonelite is $39.95. Both can be ordered online.