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Mask Know How – Science & Tips to get the most benefit

Upset about having to wear a mask? Try thinking about it in this light. Most public places require that you wear a shirt and shoes. Wearing a shirt is just common courtesy. However the requirement to wear shoes because of safety concerns and so is wearing a mask! No one has to say wearing pants (or skirt, shorts, etc.) is required. It is not only common courtesy it is just common sense.

This article will discuss the science behind why wearing a mask it extremely important plus explore considerations for choosing mask materials and getting an effective comfortable fit. Proper reuse is another important factor. By the way when we say masks, we are referring to devices that cover the nose and mouth. Our hope is that imparting knowledge will help you and your love ones stay healthy.

Most public places require you to wear a shirt and shoes. Why should adding a mask to that list be any different?

Why masks work…

Studies show that mask wearing reduces the spread of COVID-19 (and other respiratory diseases). Here’s why. When breathing or talking (and of course sneezing or coughing), you expel tiny respiratory droplets. The droplets start out relatively large. A mask catches these droplets before they have a chance to evaporate into much smaller particles which can linger in the air. Even though a mask drastically reduces the particles from getting through, some may still escape and can travel about 6 feet. Without the barrier that a mask can provide, small particles are able to travel 30 feet or more. Thus infectious particles can travel more than 5 times as far without a mask. Please keep in mind that about 40% of infected people have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask will also reduce the likelihood that you will breathe in infectious particles. It help prevent you from touching your nose and mouth with potentially hidden dirt and germs from your hand.

Learn how to get the most from your mask.

Material considerations…

Don’t think that if you don’t have a 100% effective material that you shouldn’t even bother with a mask! This is like saying I am not going to take my heart medicine because it can’t guarantee that I won’t have a heart attack. It reduces the risk. As discussed in the science section above, masks will catch a lot of the large particles before they become small. Here are our top 3 material tips:

  1. Moisture
  2. Fiber orientation
  3. Breathable

Moisture

First you want the moisture from your breath to be wicked away to prevent skin irritation. Secondly on the outside of your mask you moisture to bead up and not penetrate your mask.

See how the sprayed water beads up on the material on the left and soaks into the material on the right

Fiber Orientation

Woven materials like cotton clothes have distinct holes between the fibers. This is great for breathe-ability and often allows moisture to escape. Moisture wicking material is perfect for the inside of a mask.

Materials with spun fibers have smaller holes at random intervals. Polypropylene is an example of this type of material and is the material used to make the coveted N-95 masks. Many reusable grocery bags are made from polypropylene. Recycling surgical wrap can be another great option for those who have access to this material. We highly recommend polypropylene for the outside of a 2 layer mask or a thin sheet of it in the middle for a 3 layer mask.

Breathable

Let’s face it. You need to be able to breathe when wearing your mask. This is also where moisture wicking properties come into play.


Comfortable and Effective Fit…

A comfortable it is much easier to wear. And you want your masks to be as effective as possible. Take a look at our top 5 tips:

1 – Keep the inside as smooth as possible.

  • For comfort, limit seams that touch the face.
  • Smoothness against the check can create a slight suction seal.

2 – Glasses fogging up? Fogged glasses are caused by a poor fit that lets your breath escape around your nose. Here’s what to do:

  • Add a noise piece – see below.
  • Wear your glasses down over the top of mask to help seal mask against your noise.

3 – An adjustable nose piece will help you get a better fit

  • When constructing a mask, using an straightened paper clip works well. We ended up breaking needles when zig-zaging over the wire. Check out our video to see how to make a simple sleeve to house the wire. We likes plastic coated paperclip. A chenille stem, aka pipe cleaner, also works well.
  • Use duct tape to add a wire to the outside of a premade mask. Remember to make additions to the outside of the mask to reduce chances of skin irritation.

4 – Look for a shaped mask that will fit snugly. Check out our design for FREE.

5 – Keeping your mask on.

  • Ties work fine for wearing a mask over long periods of time. But are not very convenient.
  • Elastic that wraps around the head in 2 places is our preference. It is comfortable and easily adjustable. Check out our video.
  • For short term wear, elastic ear loops are convenient and work well. Your ears may get sore over long periods of usage so we suggest getting an extension. Affiliate disclosurePlease read before purchasing products from links


Cleaning it…

Be sure to follow CDC guidelines for removing a mask and wash you hands afterwords. If a mask is washable, machine wash it with laundry detergent in the hottest water the material can handle. Then completely dry in the dryer.

Have a different mask for every day of the week. This way you can rotate thru your supply. There current information is that the virus can live on surfaces for about 32 hours. Just because the virus can live doesn’t mean it is viable enough to cause infection. Err of the side of caution and give the virus time to die.

When not in use, hang masks in the sunshine and let the sun’s ultraviolet rays help kill the virus. Don’t depend on sunshine alone to kill it. A UV light is another great option. Just be sure to use it safely and protect your pets from it. We typical plugin ours into an Amazon Alexa Echo enabled outlet. After leaving the room (no people or pets) and closing the door, when turn the light on and let in work for a period of time. After turn the light bulb off with Alexa, we unplug and store the bulb in a safe place.

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Masks and More

Information presented here is to the best for our knowledge and online research please refer to CDC for guidance. Please review our policy page.

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