We’ll admit it. In early 2020 we made homemade face masks and used coffee filters in the filter pockets. It was a popular internet hack, but we were desperate for protection and couldn’t seem to find a single mask on store shelves or through an online retailer.
Once mask wearing became a part of the CDC’s continued guidance for slowing the spread of COVID-19, manufacturers amped up their output. It’s relatively easy to find a mask today. In fact, even popular clothing retailers now offer masks in unique styles and colors so you can even consider fashion while you’re keeping safe.
Still wondering if those filter pockets are a good idea? Can you even buy a mask with a filter pocket? The team at Hope Health Supply has done the research for you, and in this article we’ll discuss what masks with filter pockets actually are, how they work, and what other mask options are available.
Not all masks come with filter pockets, but you should know that a filter pocket doesn’t necessarily mean your mask is safer. In fact, if your mask doesn’t fit properly, the filter won’t offer you or anyone else any higher level of protection.
What is a Face Mask Filter Pocket?
Face mask filters are simply small pieces of fabric or other material that are inserted between two layers of a mask that are thought to offer additional protection against the transfer of respiratory droplets. COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly via transfer of respiratory droplets.
Filters work simply by giving you an extra layer of protection, which is why you almost always find them in thinner, cloth masks, where they would be most effective.
Some masks, like surgical masks and KN95 masks, don’t require the addition of a filter pocket, because they already filter out more particles than a cloth mask and offer a higher level of effectiveness than a cloth mask can provide.
Face mask filters can be made of virtually any material (including coffee filters) but there’s a real danger here. Many homemade filters (like coffee filters or portions of vacuum cleaner bags) contain particles that aren’t meant to be inhaled.
Even if using these filters make a cloth mask more effective, these materials haven’t been properly studied to determine if they’re safe for use in a device that rests on your face and filters the air you breathe.
The same is true for activated carbon filters. They are popularly used in air purification systems and for water purification, but inhaling carbon particles from a filter pad close to your face may not be safe for your lungs.
There have been few studies that assess:
- The effectiveness of filters placed in masks (including activated carbon filters); and
- The safety of filters placed in masks in terms of breathability and inhalation of filter particles.
Due to the lack of research on these filters, it’s unclear whether they’re actually providing a superior level of effectiveness or not.
Are Masks With Filter Pockets Better?
When shopping for a mask, it’s important to follow CDC guidelines. The CDC has outlined in great detail what they consider the most important factors for mask safety and effectiveness.
Here are 3 tips for choosing an effective mask.
Wear a mask that fits properly. The way your mask fits is incredibly important. Your mask should cover your nose and mouth completely, lie flat against your cheeks, and fit snugly across the bridge of your nose. It should also fit smoothly and snugly under your chin. Your mask shouldn’t have gaps in the side, top or bottom. If it does, it can allow particles to flow in and out of the mask, making it less effective.
Wear a mask made with at least two layers of fabric. Your mask should be made of at least two layers of fabric or material that is at least 2-ply. A single layer of fabric or material is not as effective in slowing the spread of respiratory droplets.
- Choose a non-medical mask. The CDC advises non-medical personnel to avoid using surgical masks, so that access to these masks by healthcare personnel can be ensured. You can still wear an effective mask by wearing a non-medical disposable mask, or a KN95 mask.
The CDC has not determined that masks with filters are any more effective than masks that do not contain filters. Because of the limited research available concerning filters used in masks, choosing an alternate, non-filter mask is a wise decision.
If you’re searching for a mask that provides more effectiveness than a basic cloth mask, you can consider a KN95.
Are There Better Alternatives?
We know we need to wear a mask when we’re in public, or when we are around people who don’t live in our household. We want to do our part to keep safe, and protect others, but we’ve also been instructed to avoid wearing surgical masks so that they’re available for healthcare workers. Many people want a mask that is more effective in terms of particle filtration than a cloth mask.
Meet the KN95.
The KN95 mask is a disposable mask made for public use, but with a higher standard of particle filtration. The KN95 masks offered by Hope Health Supply, for example, have up to a 95% filtration efficiency of non-oily suspended particles of the 0.3-micron levels. This provides a higher level of efficacy than a basic cloth mask.
KN95 masks are a great alternative for individuals who would prefer the effectiveness of an N95 mask, but want to refrain from wearing N95s so they are available for medical and healthcare professionals.
KN95 masks also feature a five layer active filtration barrier that helps protect the respiratory system, so you can feel safe and have peace of mind when wearing them.
Plus, every time you purchase a KN95 mask from Hope Health Supply, we donate one to a hospital in need. Protection for everyone, now that’s a great feeling.
What Other Non-Filter Masks Are Effective?
You don’t need a mask with a filter to protect yourself or others. You can get protection from a KN95, or from other non-medical masks.
Hope Health Supply offers great non-medical disposable masks that help you stay safe.
- Non-medical 3-ply disposable masks. Our 3-ply non-medical masks help you keep comfortable while protecting yourself and others. Available in packs of 20, 50, or 100, you’ll never be in short supply of the protection you need. Disposable masks are comfortable, effective, and lightweight.
- Reusable sweatmask. If a reusable mask is a better option for your lifestyle, we’ve got you covered. Our reusable sweatmask is made of lightweight, yet effective material that keeps you cool and comfortable the entire time your mask is on. Reusable masks are an eco-friendly option so you can protect the environment while protecting yourself and others.
When you shop with Hope Health Supply, you can be confident you’re receiving products that are effective and FDA registered, constructed under the strictest standards in the industry. We’re your partners in the fight against COVD-19.
We’re in this together. Protect yourself, protect one another.