Maybe you don’t want to throw all your money on disposable face masks. Or there’s a shortage where you live. Either way, you’ve been thinking about getting a face mask that costs next to nothing, really works and – gasp – that you can reuse! You’re in luck: scientists validated the best materials you can use to create one (or more) at home, for yourself and your dear ones!
As you might suspect, layering is vital. A mask that can protect others (and you) from germs and possibly, even coronavirus – although there’s still a debate on that matter – has to be made from multiple layers and fabrics. Equally important is the way it fits your physiognomy.
To figure out the best recipe for such a mask, the researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago in the United States used an aerosol mixing chamber to sample the aerosols in the air. The particles then went through each of the fabrics tested, previously secured at the end of PVC tubes.
Afterwards, the air that did go through the textiles was analyzed. They then passed the particles though each of the test fabrics (which were tightly secured on the end of a PVC tube) and sampled the air that made it through the material.
The particles tested had between 10 nanometers to 10 micrometers; coronavirus particles are between 80-120 nanometers in size. How did the fabrics do? “Filtration efficiencies of the hybrids (such as cotton–silk, cotton–chiffon, cotton–flannel) was >80 percent (for particles <300 nanometres) and >90 percent (for particles >300 nanometres),” the team wrote. “We speculate that the enhanced performance of the hybrids is likely due to the combined effect of mechanical and electrostatic-based filtration.”
In translation, this means cotton can catch those particles easier due to the high thread count, whereas polyester’s electrostatic filter keeps the aerosols inside the static medium.
So, go for cotton and silk, cotton and flannel or chiffon but make sure the fabric is new, unused because even the smallest holes leave you exposed.
It’s also crucial to make the mask in such a way that it follows the shape of your face. “Our studies also imply that gaps (as caused by an improper fit of the mask) can result in over a 60 percent decrease in the filtration efficiency,” the researchers added.
If you still have questions, make sure to go to the CDC official website. Whatever you do, do your homework beforehand. Don’t assume any fabric covering your mouth area is 100% efficient.
And if you create your own mask and post it on social media, make sure you leave us the link in a comment to be featured on our channels!