Should You Make Your Own Mask With a Filter?

We’re currently a mask-wearing society, and while we continue to battle COVID-19, that fact is not likely to change. The CDC advises that mask wearing is an important part of slowing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

We know the importance of doing our part to protect ourselves and protect others, and many of us want to make sure we are wearing the most effective masks available. With so many different mask options in our reach, it can be hard to decide which is most effective. 

While most masks are simple, dual-ply fabrics that cover the nose and mouth, there are other options that claim to offer a higher layer of protection for the wearer, and possibly for others. One such mask is the filter pocket mask. When COVID-19 hit the U.S., you could even find tutorials that taught you how to make your own filter pocket mask.

If you’ve considered making your own mask with a filter, there are a few things you should consider. Hope Health Supply knows the personal protective equipment industry, and we know what makes masks effective, and what doesn’t work. 

We’ll give you all the info you need to determine whether making your own mask with a filter is a good idea, or if you should wear a commercially produced mask instead. 

What Are Masks With Filters?

Filter masks are a type of mask that have a pocket that allows a removable filter to be added. These masks are typically made of cotton, and the filter pocket is located on the inside of the make, sometimes between the two layers of mask fabric. 

The pocket of a filter mask may cover the nose and mouth area of the wearer, or may be small enough that it only covers the mouth area.

Masks with filters work by covering the wearer’s nose and mouth and using an insertable filter to filter out additional particles from the air. The most popular types of filters that are available commercially are activated carbon filters. These filters work by adsorbing impurities in the air. 

Adsorption is different from absorption. Adsorption occurs when impurities are drawn to the activated charcoal by means of chemical attraction. There are other materials that can be used for filters, but in terms of buying face mask filters commercially, activated carbon is the most popular. 

Still considering making one for yourself? Here’s a list of possible materials you would need.

What Are the Best Materials to Use for a Face Mask?

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were numerous patterns available online to instruct you on how to make your own face covering. Because face coverings were in short supply, the CDC even released a tutorial that allows you to sew a mask yourself, or make one without sewing. 

While the CDC’s tutorial does not include instructions on how to make a mask that has a filter, you can be certain that you will need the following materials for making a face mask (with or without a filter). 

  • Cotton fabric. Cotton or a poly/cotton blend appears to be the fabric of choice for most people who choose to make their own masks. Using a poly blend will help give your mask a bit more stretch, and you should test your fabric to determine if it will shrink if you wash and dry it. If so, you will need to make it larger.
  • Elastic. You’ll need some way of attaching the mask to your face, and elastic is the easiest and most customizable way to get the job done. You can also use string or laces to tie the mask behind your head, but these types of masks usually don’t stay in place very long.
  • Sewing supplies. You will need thread, a sewing needle, and scissors to sew your mask together. 
  • Filter material. If you are attempting to make your own mask filter, you’ll need to have filter material on hand. More on that later. 

You’ve got the supplies, some basic sewing skills, and you’re ready to begin making your mask. 

But, what are the benefits of making your own mask with a filter, if any? Is it better to just buy a commercially made mask?

Should You Make Your Own Mask With A Filter?

Before you start sewing, you should know there are some basic things to consider when making your own mask with a filter. 

CDC Mask Guidelines

The CDC offers guidance on masks and how to ensure the ones you buy (or make) are effective in helping slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Based on the CDC’s guidance, you should always check your mask’s:

  1. Fit. Your mask should sit securely over the bridge of your nose, under your chin, and lie flat across your cheeks without gaps on the sides. 

  2. Security. Your mask should fit on your head by means of an elastic headband, ear loops, or a strap. If ear loops are uncomfortable for you, try using an ear saver, which is a great way to keep elastic from rubbing against the sensitive skin behind the ears. 

  3. Construction. Your mask should be constructed so that it covers both your nose and mouth, and is made from dual layer fabric. 

  4. Fabric. The fabric of your mask should be breathable but not too loosely woven. Avoid materials like leather or crochet. 

  5. Clean. You should always ensure your mask can be washed regularly and that when it is washed it will retain its shape and integrity. 

Even if you’re convinced you can craft a mask with a filter that meets these standards, you should know there are some unavoidable issues with filtered masks.

  • Filter material. At-home filters are typically made from materials like coffee filters and vacuum bags. These materials, and even activated carbon filters, have not been studied to determine whether or not they are safe for continual inhalation. 
  • Effectiveness. In terms of effectiveness, we don’t know if homemade filters actually provide any additional benefit to a user over wearing a simple cloth mask. 
  • Breathability. A mask with a filter that is homemade may make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe in and out comfortably.

Making your own mask with a filter isn’t necessary, and you can get a great alternative in a commercially produced mask. 

Are There Better Options Than Masks With Filters?

Hope Health Supply offers numerous mask options to fit every need. Our non-medical disposable masks are perfect for keeping in the car, in your gym bag, or in your desk drawer. They are comfortable, 3-ply, and disposable. 

If you’re looking for a mask that offers the ultimate in filtration, the KN95 is a great option. It offers up to 95% filtration of non-oily particles of 0.3 micron levels. The KN95 is comfortable, lightweight, and available in both black and white

Takeaway

You can opt to make yourself a mask with a filter, but there’s really no need. You can grab a pre-made, affordable mask from Hope Health Supply and have peace of mind knowing that you are properly protected and your mask meets CDC guidelines for slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

We can all do our part to protect ourselves and protect one another. 

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/Young_Mitigation_recommendations_and_resources_toolkit_03_HS.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html