Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the demands for 3-ply surgical masks have gone through the roof. Various brands have capitalized on the situation and are selling all kinds of masks. Since safety is of the utmost importance, it would only serve you well to ensure that the mask you’re wearing is actually protecting you. How do you figure that out? Here are a few tips you can try before buying:
Check for 3 layers
This one’s a no-brainer. The 3-ply mask is so called because it actually has 3 protective layers.
- The outside layer is a non-woven, hydrophobic layer. Appears translucent.
- In the middle there’s a melt-blown layer, which is white in color.
- On the inside, you’ll find a non-woven soft absorbent layer, typically in blue, green or white.
The outer layer should be waterproof. Pour some water on the outer layer and check if the other side gets damp. If it does, then it’s not a proper 3-ply mask.
The melt-blown middle layer is made with a special fabric that melts but does not burn with a flame. If it burns with a flame, then it’s not an authentic mask.
The middle layer also demonstrates an electrostatic effect. This means that the layer can be adsorbed (stuck to the surface) by certain materials. To test this, simply cut the layer into tiny strips or pieces. Then use another mask to check if the electrostatic adsorption occurs.
The middle layer should not be too porous. It’s designed this way to stop bacteria from passing through the mask, in any direction. Use a flashlight to make sure your mask doesn’t allow too much light to pass through. If it does, then it’s not a 3-ply mask.
Blow out a candle
Go ahead. Wear your mask and try blowing out a small flame, like a candle or matchstick. If you’re able to do it, then the mask is not doing its job. The middle layer and the inner layer are supposed to prevent any droplets like water and spit from passing through. This alone should make it virtually impossible for you to blow out a flame.
The inner most layer is absorbent, so its job is to absorb any moisture. This includes saliva, sweat and even sneeze droplets. Pour a little bit of water on the inside of your mask to see if it’s absorbing properly.
n authentic 3-ply mask provides a protective barrier for your mouth and nose against viruses and bacteria. It’s essential to wear the right one. So whether you’re buying masks in bulk, or just concerned about your own safety, these tests will help you identify real masks from fake ones.
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