How to Make Your Own Mask for a Pandemic

Rich M.
By Rich M. March 13, 2020 12:24

How to Make Your Own Mask for a Pandemic

It didn’t take long after the coronavirus hit the world before medical masks sold out in the United States. I’m not sure if they sold out before the first case arrived in an American hospital, but it wasn’t long after that they did.

People bought up masks as fast as they could, in an effort to protect themselves from the deadly virus.

This wasn’t the first time I saw this happen. It happened during the Ebola outbreak of 2014 as well. Pandemics are scary and so people panic easily. They don’t know what to do, so they do what they can. Part of what they can is to buy surgical masks, thinking that they will protect them from catching the disease.

But what do you do when there are no more masks to buy? The first thing that happens is that people run around buying any other kind of mask they can find, hoping it will be good enough.

So, all the dust masks in all the hardware stores and lumberyards sell out just as fast as the medical masks did.

Then what?

Then there’s nothing else to buy.

If you want a mask, the only thing left is to make one yourself.

Related: How To Preserve Food With Duct Tape And Bentonite Clay

Developing the Parameters

The idea behind wearing a medical mask is to catch airborne germs; both bacteria and viruses. But that’s somewhat of a misnomer, as there are very few diseases which are actually airborne.

Rather, those diseases are spread abroad by what is known as “aerosol;” droplets of spittle from coughing and sneezing. These droplets travel a maximum of either six or 12 feet, depending on which medical studies you believe.

In either case, they carry disease-causing germs within themselves, some of which can be breathed in by others, spreading the disease.

The standard medical mask is made of three layers of material, with the outer layer being plastic, so that water could not pass through it. The other two layers are absorbent.

The idea is that the absorbent layers will catch and absorb the spittle from any coughs or sneezes by the medical personnel wearing them, not that they will protect the doctors and nurses from any coughs and sneezes by their patients.

Nevertheless, since the outer layer of these masks is made of waterproof material, they will stop spittle from their patients, even though they won’t absorb it.

So, the masks are an aid in preventing medical personnel from contracting the disease.

The other common mask is the N95 mask that you’ve probably heard of. These masks are a hard cup-shaped mask, with a soft aluminum strip that forms over the nose.

Unlike the standard medical mask, these are intended to protect the wearer, as they filter incoming air. Molding the mask to the nose, with the aluminum strip, helps to ensure that no disease-laden droplets get around the mask and into the nose or mouth of the wearer.

The N95 rating actually means that the mask is expected to stop 95% of particulate matter; in other words, dust. However, because the outer layer of this mask is absorbent paper, it will also catch droplets of spittle.

So, whatever we come up with must be able to both filter our particulates and absorb spittle. The mask must also seal around the nose and mouth, preventing any stray droplets from getting around the edges and contaminating us.

Here’s what I came up with.

Related: 26 Practical Survival Uses for Duct Tape

The Homemade Pandemic Mask

I wanted to limit myself to materials that would be readily available, even in the midst of a pandemic. I’m assuming that people can get to the grocery store and the hardware store, even though doing so is a risk.

But the materials must be readily available so that people don’t really have to hunt for them.

How to Make Your Own Mask for a Pandemic1

The basic materials consist of:

  • 3-liter soda bottle
  • 1-liter soda or water bottle
  • HEPA filters – such as are used in vacuum cleaners and home air purifiers
  • Carbon filter
  • Duct tape
  • Elastic (not shown)
  • Epoxy (not shown)

Building the Mask

I decided that the mask itself had to cover all openings in the face, including the eyes, nose, and mouth. In severely contagious situations, medical personnel wears full-face shields or goggles, so as to protect them from those germ-rich droplets of spittle. If we’re trying to protect ourselves from a pandemic, it only makes sense that we would need to do the same. Hence the 3-liter soda bottle.

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I started by emptying the bottles, rinsing them out, removing their labels and drawing the lines where I was going to cut them. The 3-liter bottle is going to be the face mask and the 1-liter bottle the filter.

I’ll connect the two together with a coupling made from the two caps.

There are no exact measurements for the bottles. I found that the width of the opening in the larger bottle, and especially the line of the curve near the top, needs to match the curvature under the chin of the wearer.

What works for me, doesn’t fit right for my wife. For the smaller bottle, I chose the cut line where I did because the bottle narrowed a bit below that point, which would make it harder to install my filter.

Cutting these bottles is easy; it can be done with a hobby or utility knife. However, I found that it was easier to cut them, once I made an initial slit, with a small pair of scissors, something like those used for cutting hair.

The ones I used were serrated slightly, but I don’t think that made any difference.

Later, I decided to use the bottom of the 1-liter soda bottle as well, like a baffle for the filter. So, although there is no line shown in the picture above, I cut the bottom off that bottle and saved it.

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Once I cut the outline I wanted in the 3-liter bottle, I taped the edges with duct tape, so as to make it less scratchy. I then punched holes in it with a hole punch and put elastic through the holes to hold the mask to my head.

Related: Here’s Why You Should Always Have A Gas Mask In Your House

Building the Coupling

The design concept I have uses two bottles; a large one for the mask and a smaller one for the filter. These two obviously have to be coupled together, in order for the mask to work. Fortunately, the bottle caps made it very easy to create a coupling.

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To start with, I needed holes in the caps. Since I had left my drill at my workshop, I grabbed my pocket knife and used that as a drill, to make approximately ½ inch holes in both caps.

Be careful to not use too much pressure on the knife, as you could poke through and cut your hand. The cap material is soft and cuts easily, even when trying to drill through it in this manner.

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The two caps need to be glued together for the coupling. For this, I went to my go-to glue, fast-drying epoxy. Epoxy is strong and can be used for just about anything. In this case, the bottle caps are probably polyethylene, which doesn’t glue well.

So I roughed up the surface with some 100-grit sandpaper, giving the epoxy something to grip onto.

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To help ensure the strength of the coupling, I then wrapped it in a piece of duct tape, getting a couple of revolutions around the whole coupling. Then I cut the tape flush with the ends of the coupling. If necessary, the duct tape will be strong enough to hold the coupling together, providing an air-tight seal, even if the epoxy is unable to remain bonded to the plastic caps.

Making a Filter

This left me with the need to make a filter. I decided to use a two-stage filter design, for extra security. The first layer, which will be in the smaller bottle, making it replaceable, is a HEPA filter.

The HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) standard is one that has been developed for air filtration equipment. It must be able to remove 99.97 percent of all particles that are 0.3 microns in size.

Interestingly enough, this specification makes the HEPA filter roughly the equivalent of the N95 mask filter. Actually, I think it’s a bit better; although I won’t guarantee it, as the specifications are written in such a way that it’s a little like comparing apples and oranges.

The language just isn’t the same in the two specifications.

Nevertheless, a HEPA filter is supposed to be able to remove most bacteria and viruses, in addition to particulate matter, so it’s ideal for our purposes.

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The HEPA filters I bought are actually designed for use in a home air cleaning system. I could have just as easily used one for a vacuum cleaner, but these were readily available and reasonably priced. By buying them online, I saved myself a trip to the store.

As you can see from the photo above, the filter itself is accordion folded and placed in a plastic housing that holds it that way. As the housing doesn’t match the shape that I need, I just removed the filter medium itself and cut off a section the right size to fit in my bottle. Let me stress – you can do this with any HEPA filter you can find; you don’t need the same filter that I used.

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To make my filter unit, all I did was to hot melt glue that accordion-folded filter into the 1-liter bottle. That was actually a bit tricky, as it was hard to get the glue gun down into the bottle to work.

But it is essential that the filter is glued all the way around and that there not be any gaps where air can flow through, without flowing through the filter. You’re better off using too much glue, than not enough.

Finally, I took the bottom of the bottle and glued it to the bottom of my filter unit, inverted. It’s hard to see in the picture above, but the arrow is pointing at a gap in the plastic, where the base of the bottle was indented.

There are five of these gaps between the base and the upper part of the bottle, as installed, giving plenty of room for air to get in.

The idea behind installing the base like this is to act as a baffle, keeping droplets of aerosol from coming into the filter unit and hitting the filter medium itself. While it is still possible for droplets to get in, I felt that it was best to make it as difficult as possible, so that my filter would not become clogged from damp spittle.

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I added a second layer of filtration, taping a double layer of activated carbon filter into the bottom of the mask, with duct tape. This is a backup to the other filter, should anything get through it.

Activated carbon has been used in a large number of different types of filters designed to capture microscopic pathogens of the type we are trying to protect ourselves from.

Related: Medicinal Uses for Activated Charcoal

Using the Mask

In order to use the mask, the two bottles are screwed together by the coupling. Then your chin is the curve of the cutout in the mask and lifts the mask up to your face, pressing the top of it against your forehead.

Slip the elastic band around your head to hold it in place.

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One of the good things about this design is that it allows you to change your filter element as needed. You can make one mask and several filters, changing them as needed.

This should be every eight hours at the most. If the filter seems to be becoming clogged, change it more frequently.

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Rich M.
By Rich M. March 13, 2020 12:24
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81 Comments

  1. Jesse L.Belville,PA-C March 13, 15:30

    Totally ridiculous. do you have a patent on it yet?? very nice LOL and easily done by most. Now you will be responsible for a run on heppa filters and activated charcoal.. Isn’t it grand..

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  2. Bob March 13, 16:08

    Thank you!! Very timely info!!

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  3. Runner March 13, 16:13

    I do mystery shopping and I can just see myself going into a bank with this on my face

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  4. Hadrian March 13, 16:44

    Or you could just buy a properly rated mask :/

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  5. Wannabe March 13, 16:58

    Need to stop suggesting these home remedy fixes. Unless this particular design has been tested and proven both in the lab and in the field it is utter bull shit. You are going to get someone killed or at least sick.

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    • Miss Kitty March 13, 17:16

      Otoh, it’s better than nothing. The principal behind it is solid, the materials are easily obtained, and it provides at least a physical barrier against contamination. Since commercially made masks are sold out everywhere, people who didn’t get them earlier or are in the process of using them up are SOL.
      Do you have a better alternative to the currently unavailable commercially made masks? Please let us know if you do.

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      • Wannabe March 13, 20:42

        Miss kitty, are you willing to trust your life and health with this device? Or a member of your family? Too little too late , if you don’t already have a mask you know can protect you by now than tough cookies. You are not going to get one anytime soon and that is the reason why we prep. To have things on hand BEFORE something like this happens. No one to blame but ourselves. And no I don’t have a better suggestion because I am not going to point someone to something that is ineffective to keep you safe. My God people!! Would you make up some bio suit in hopes it might protect you from dangerous biological substances? Would you build your own fire suit in hopes it will protect you from a fire and walk through the flames with uncertaintity because you couldn’t buy a suit you know will protect you. Stop and think folks. Can’t have a better than nothing mentality unless you are talking about a condiment on your sandwich because they don’t have what you want.

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        • Miss Kitty March 14, 01:05

          Do I WANT to, no. May I HAVE to, maybe.

          Do you personally have enough masks to use EVERY SINGLE time you set foot outside of your house for the next three months? (Because the CDC is saying now that the virus may have pretty much died off about then.) So if you personally go out once a week each week starting this week and feel that you need to wear a mask every time, that’s about 15 masks just for you. Now multiply that time by each member of your family, by how many times they are required to go out, and add in extra masks for days you are making multiple trips out, it’s raining, masks that tear or otherwise get damaged, to keep at work or in your car for emergencies, extras for friends or relatives (well, maybe YOU wouldn’t, but others would), etc….

          The point is, “enough” very quickly turns into “uh oh”. While it’s OBVIOUSLY better to have the name brand, top of the line, medically certified “proper” product, there may come a time when we may HAVE to get creative and repurpose, improvise, or create from scratch what we need.
          That is why we are here, to expand our skills, learn, and think outside the box. Not to belittle those who are legitimately trying to help us with our quest for knowledge, or to harangue those who are willing to acknowledge that some of the information is useful or interesting.

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        • Lilly March 14, 03:54

          Have a better suggestion, let’s hear it

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        • JC March 14, 06:32

          Wannabe–you are an idiot! Have you NEVER heard the old adage SOMETHING is better than NOTHING??? This is actually a very valiant design!

          Miss Kitty is SO right AND encouraging!

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    • Straydog March 13, 17:41

      That’s why you are a wanna bee. Field expediency is imagination that works. American ingenuity. Go back to your cave and let Bernie take care of you…

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      • Wannabe March 13, 20:34

        So stray dog, are you willing to trust your health or your life with this device? Or your spouse or kids for that matter if you are married or have kids

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        • Johnny3 March 13, 23:54

          IF…. nothing BETTER is available…. YES, and you would be a fool not to also!

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        • Big Dave March 14, 01:58

          If you do not comprehend field expediant, Too bad for you.

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        • JimG March 19, 14:20

          If I needed it, absolutely!!! The design is solid and the barriers are effective.

          Being a naysayer is not helpful. Coming up with solutions is.

          I have been industry for years and used plenty masks in Nuclear Plants. As someone who comes up with solutions to problems, this is simple and usable.

          I am not going to make one, because I am taking other precautions. But if I were around a lot of coughing and spitting sick people it would come in handy.

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        • Sam March 19, 17:03

          In a life or death situation heck yes I’d make one. Or I guess you could just depend on some kind, gentle, giving person to give you their extra masks? Or you could always just steal somebodies …Really Wannabe???????

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        • AlienJeff March 21, 15:38

          If I had nothing else, and I HAD to… sure I would… in an instant.

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    • lor March 13, 18:56

      Wannabe this is for a worse case scenario.

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    • Jay L. Stern March 13, 19:05

      Claude is to be congratulated on his concept and use of readily available materials. Yes, there can be sneakage of unfiltered air around the edges of the mask, so it can be improved. You should be ashamed of yourself for your baseless, negative comment. If you don’t like his idea, why not come up with an improvement? I have a full-face respirator but the filter cartridges are currently difficult to find — and when found, they are “expensive.” I did find and buy a supply. Otherwise, I was thinking of a solution along the lines Claude suggests. I may still do so and post the result on this website. Good for you, Claude!

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      • left coast chuck March 13, 23:38

        Actually, the article was written by Rich M. who is one of the most frequent article writers on this list.

        Claude writes very few of the articles himself. There is a small group of writers who post frequently and the occasional writer who posts infrequently.

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    • Lilly March 14, 03:51

      Have a better suggestion, let’s hear it

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    • Jen March 14, 09:14

      Better than nothing!!!

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    • AlienJeff March 21, 15:29

      Get someone killed you say?
      In some situations it would be better than nothing…. and just MIGHT save someone’s life!

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    • Yo Momma March 22, 23:05

      Do you have a better alternative or are you just jealous that you didn’t come up with it before someone else did. Anything used to protect yourself is better than nothing at all. Any type of barrier is going to at least be a barrier. So unless you can provide a sure proof I suggest you just sit back and be quiet. As I’m sure your momma told you growing up “If you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all”.

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  6. Hottuna7 March 13, 17:17

    Excellent idea and execution. I can make it but, I am not creative enough to visualize the how. Thanks for your efforts and the share.

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  7. Collaborator March 13, 17:22

    Do you have a Spanish version of these work instructions?

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    • red March 23, 11:57

      If not, try goggle translate or some other place. That’s what I do when sending articles to family in the Sierras, in Chihuahua, but also always send a copy of the original.. niio

      Reply to this comment
  8. Jacuzzis March 13, 17:24

    Just a suggestion about fastening the filter inside the small bottle. Perhaps some silicone caulk/glue might be easier to place/work with inside the bottle and form just as positive a seal….plus it would allow a bit more time to work with. It would take a bit longer to “cure” or harden though…shouldn’t be a drawback to the intended purpose however. Hot glue would still be my choice for fastening the bottom on though…as this would allow a good, secure bond to use to twist and untwist the filter bottle in and out.

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    • Miss Kitty March 14, 10:49

      My friend has used aquarium caulking on various projects – perhaps it would work on this. I don’t know how well it would bond to a light plastic like a bottle, though.

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  9. Collaborator March 13, 17:27

    Do you have a Spanish version of this work instruction?

    Reply to this comment
  10. A. E. March 13, 17:54

    Interesting read on how long the corona virus lives outside the human body:
    https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-03-11/tests-show-coronavirus-lives-on-some-surfaces-for-up-to-3-days
    VERY SURPRISING!!!

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    • left coast chuck March 14, 01:58

      Interesting but two caveats: 1 It’s the LA Times, folks. Not terribly credible as a news agency. 2. The experiments have not been validated yet by any other source. It’s what one lab is reporting. The comments indicating, “Yeah, yeah, I’m on board,” are just some “scientist” who read the report and thinks it might be valid. Not to be The Emperor’s Buck Naked guy, but too often the news breaks breathlessly with some scientific discovery only to, later buried deep on page 23 in an unheadlined article, publish a clarified article which indicates that nobody else could replicate the test.

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  11. bratzgirl March 13, 19:25

    The way my day is going, I needed a good belly laugh.
    Thanks

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  12. Terbear March 13, 19:35

    I need a windshield wiper to clear the fog…I can’t see anything and I can’t breath through the small hole in the bottom. The mask may work for Darth Vader but this isn’t Star Wars

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    • Big Dave March 14, 02:06

      Can not brethe thru a half inch hole? I swim and snorkle on that much

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      • left coast chuck March 14, 04:00

        Maybe he needs to use Cat Spit on the inside like we used to do with dive masks. I wonder if they are still making it.

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        • Yosemite April 20, 18:59

          We use human saliva on the inside of mask when scuba diving/snorkeling or just swimming with a mask … far cheaper an more effective on he various non fog sprays…..Plus some of those Non Fog sprays have some chemical or detergent in hem that will cause your eyes to sting and burn.

          Also cutting a slice of potato and rub the inside with it an rinse i with fresh water is another trick divers use to prevent fogging

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    • Govtgirl March 27, 11:24

      But it could be. We’re thinking worst case scenario. I think the parameters Rich used, real world available supplies, make it very practical. Look at what is around you. Considered googles and a lower shield, but everything I read about how to wear a mask talks about how important the fit around the nose is. Even if you don’t like the design, the filter selection is clever and the ability to reuse the mask useful. By the way, in a worst case scenario, no one is going to a bank or cares what you are wearing.

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  13. Spike March 13, 19:51

    Anybody caught wearing this mask where I come from wouldn’t want to show his face in public afterwards because of all the ridicule he’d take.
    If you’re that scared, stay home. Otherwise, some goggles and a handkerchief should suffice. You’re only trying to avoid the spittle on mucous membranes.

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  14. left coast chuck March 13, 20:02

    OTOH, you could make a quick and simple mask out of a paper towel and two rubber bands.

    The Japanese government is way ahead of ours in emergency preparedness as I have mentioned before. They conducted a contest in which contestants submitted their ideas for emergency gear and comfort products in case of an emergency. They then had a panel of emergency response personnel review all the suggestions they got. The EMTs picked what they thought were the best ideas and then the Japanese government made spot PSA videos to show in between programs how to make and implement the various suggestions. Such as a DUH!!! moment I had when I saw the suggestion to put a plastic bag into a backpack and use a couple of twist ties or twine to close it so the water doesn’t spill out. The other was how to make a personal flotation device using 1 liter plastic bottles and a large T-shirt. There are many others from emergency slippers to bowls and spoons out of paper products, raincoats, insulating coats using newspapers, probably about 25 or so very helpful hints on how to make make-do items for personal protection and comfort in an emergency.

    Finally we come to the face mask. They show a spot where one folds a paper towel into about one inch folds and applies a rubber band to each folded end, looped through itself, it holds the end of the mask and fits over the ears. Repeat on the other side. While it isn’t an N95 mask — and by the way, there are also N99 masks which do the same thing as the N95, only filter more particles and cost more — Now you have a face mask that while not ideal, does work. I tried it. I couldn’t get the rubber bands to stay on the ends, so I stapled them to the ends of the paper towel. I obviously need more training in rubber band applications.

    Want more filtration? Use two paper towels folded together.

    It is not as effective as the mask portrayed in the article, but it also doesn’t look quite as weird as the mask in the article.

    If you wear glasses, they will help protect your eyes from spraying droplets. If you don’t, get a pair of the lowest power readers you can find or go to one of the big box eye glass stores and buy a cheap pair of frames that you like with the windows glass lenses. You can wear them and they will protect your eyes from stray droplets of body fluids. They will cost more than cheap readers, but they won’t distort your vision like even the cheapest pair of readers will. You can wear the readers only when you are in contact with people, otherwise they can go in a plastic baggie to keep them from spreading germs inside your pocket.

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    • CJ March 19, 21:00

      My own cheap solution if I think I need a mask, is to fold over a white men’s hankie, dab with anti microbial essential oils on the out side and tie it around my face old western bandit style. They can be soaked in a bleach solution before washing if you feel the need. With that, extra vit D3.

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  15. red March 13, 20:16

    Black walnuts hulls are supposed to be antibacterial. In a pinch, there’s a lot of things that can be used. niio

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  16. Terbear March 13, 20:25

    how do you clear the fog on the inside as you die from claustrophobia?

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    • left coast chuck March 20, 00:46

      My suggestion requires that you purchase something ahead of time. Any sporting goods store carrying snorkel or scuba gear or a dive shop carries anti-fog “stuff” for want of a better word. When I was scuba diving there was a product called Cat Spit that worked quite well to keep your dive mask clear. I last dove in the late 70s, so Cat Spit despite the cutesy name may no longer be available but any sporting goods store carrying snorkel or scuba gear will have something.

      I believe Rain-X, a product to keep your windshields clear of moisture might also work. You can find Rain-X in auto supply stores.

      And finally, you can do what the cheapies of my dive group did, spit in it and rub the spit all over the face plate with your finger. That will also keep the face plate clear of fog.
      It helps if you haven’t overindulged in alcoholic beverages or other drink and foodstuffs that leave your breath somewhat redolent. So refresh your recollection about what you had for dinner and after before applying spit on your face plate.

      I might add that in my experience, human spit wasn’t quite as effective as Cat Spit but it was a handy expedient if you forgot to stop at the dive shop before heading out.

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  17. RG March 13, 20:55

    hmmm, with most infectious aerosols low, I’m wondering about one of those (3gal?) blue small drinking water bottles with the filter attached on the top, maybe with a one way valve to keep down the fogging. 🙂

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    • left coast chuck March 13, 23:36

      I have 3 gallon water bottles and I can’t possibly imagine walking around with it in my arms or somehow attached to my head. I think, RG, you used the wrong size. While a 3 gallon bottle is smaller than a 5 gallon bottle, your definition of small and my definition of small are widely disparate. The 3 gallon water bottles I have are 16 inches high and 9 inches in diameter at the bottom.

      I don’t have a very active imagination, I will admit, but I just can’t envision how that would be employed.

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  18. left coast chuck March 13, 23:46

    I could be wrong because I am only looking at the picture, but I think the larger bottle is a 2-liter bottle rather than a 3 liter bottle. I buy seltzer water in 2-liter bottles. It’s cheaper than buying fancy imported water that has natural CO2 in it such as Perrier or some other brand. With a bottle that had seltzer water in it, I don’t have to be overly concerned with cleaning it as the water was purified before being bottled and once the bottle is empty, there are no remnants of CO2 in the bottle. Even if there were, it is relatively inert.

    Whereas if one uses empty soda water bottles, there is always the possibility of some trace amounts of sugar left in the plastic which could lead to mold under the right conditions. Be a bummer to find out that your stocks of rice and beans were moldy just when you needed them—well actually, it might be more than a bummer, it might be life-threatening.

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    • red March 14, 20:26

      chuck: It doesn’t happen here, but you know where we live. We think it’s muggy when humidity hits 25% 🙂 Molds and fungus need oxygen to live. That’s why they feed best in old growth forests, with plenty of decaying, buggy trees.Greenhouse operators use dry ice to kill meld and fungus and to feed plants. niio

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  19. IvyMike March 14, 00:22

    I decided to get my semi-annual haircut and eyebrow weed whacking today in case places shut down over the next few weeks. I walked up to the counter to sign in and before she could say a word the stylist sneezed on me. They should’ve had Fear The Reaper playing.
    Masks might matter on these rare occasions but the main thing is not to touch your face. We’ve been practicing ‘not touch your face’ discipline all week, it’s harder than a kung-fu lesson from Master Pai Mei.

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  20. Free State Paul March 14, 00:58

    I was told by a nurse friend that Coronaviruses, flu viruses and rhinoviruses are mostly contracted by touching a contaminated surface and then touching eyes/nose/mouth — not from directly breathing in aerosol droplets. Therefore, the main benefit of the mask is that it prevents you from touching your face and reminds you not to touch your eyes.

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    • Govtgirl March 27, 11:34

      You are absolutely right. Saw a great meme of a guy wearing one of those doggie cone shields around his face so he couldn’t paw at his eyes, nose or mouth.

      Reply to this comment
  21. left coast chuck March 14, 01:49

    Well, this non-event is certainly giving us a good preview of what a real crisis would be like. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but folks in the PDRK are going crazy at the stores buying stuff they won’t use for a couple of years. People are actually lined up waiting to get into Trader Joe’s.

    I predict in two weeks one will be able to fire a cannon down the main aisle of Walmart and not hit a single living thing except the mice, rats and roaches. Nobody will be shopping because they have already bought more than they can use. E-Bay may be filled with adds for packages of t.p. and paper towels.

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    • left coast chuck March 14, 17:36

      Well, it didn’t take long for that prediction to come to pass.
      This is taken from Yahoo’s news site. Now, I must post a caution: Yahoo is noted for non-news, so I make no representations as to the accuracy or veracity of this post.

      “Matt Colvin stayed home near Chattanooga, preparing for pallets of even more wipes and sanitizer he had ordered, and starting to list them on Amazon. Colvin said he had posted 300 bottles of hand sanitizer and immediately sold them all for between $8 and $70 each, multiples higher than what he had bought them for. To him, “it was crazy money.” To many others, it was profiteering from a pandemic.

      “The next day, Amazon pulled his items and thousands of other listings for sanitizer, wipes and face masks. The company suspended some of the sellers behind the listings and warned many others that if they kept running up prices, they’d lose their accounts. EBay soon followed with even stricter measures, prohibiting any U.S. sales of masks or sanitizer.

      “Now, while millions of people search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.

      “It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” he said. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”

      If true, aw gee, what a shame. I wonder if he will declare bankruptcy when the credit card bills start coming in. This is one of those “Life give you a test that teaches you a lesson” moments.

      Reply to this comment
      • Miss Kitty March 15, 02:14

        Served him and all the other profiteers right! That being said, he could load up his car and sell the stuff out of the trunk in any mall parking lot… until the security guard runs him off, that is.

        Reply to this comment
      • AlienJeff March 21, 16:28

        He could still sell them off in small quantities to anybody interested. There is little doubt he could still find a lot of potential buyers, but he would have to satisfy himself with less gains than he’d envisioned.

        Again, the “better than nothing” principle at work.

        Reply to this comment
      • Yosemite April 20, 19:05

        LCC

        It is true. He got busted an publicly humiliated an shamed.
        He ended up donating all 17K+ to First Responders i think.

        Reply to this comment
  22. Wannabe March 14, 22:16

    Goodbye to this site. I am done. Have a great and safe life. Trust Jesus because He is the only way to eternal life. Thanks to all who have helped me in my preps.

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  23. sylvia March 15, 01:42

    could you use coffee filters if hepa were not available

    Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty March 15, 02:23

      To Jerry rig a “mask” like Left Coast Chuck was describing, maybe. Don’t know how effective either one would be…otoh, at least the cops won’t die laughing at you like they would seeing you in the bottle mask, which probably works better but is utterly ridiculous looking and looks like you’re about to stick up the store!

      Reply to this comment
    • Jay L. Stern March 18, 00:05

      From: Jay L. Stern
      Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2020 4:46 AM
      To: support@askaprepper.com
      Subject: Re: There is a new comment to How to Make Your Own Mask for a Pandemic

      Coffee filters are not designed to stop micron or nanometer size particles. They are useful to retain large particles or particles that will stack on top of each other to form a bed. What I am experimenting with — and will show on this site presently — is a depth filter. I’m making it from paper toweling lightly coated with oil. I’m using spray-on cooking oils like olive or canola. Then, I am wrapping the toweling around a toilet paper core. In the center of the core will be carbon granules. I will describe how to activate it later. I will also describe the holder. What this does is to make a “labyrinth.” Sub micron particles do not always follow the air stream so as it twists and turns, the particles tend to impinge on whatever substrate is present. This constitutes a “depth filter.” The oil keeps the particles from being reintrained into the air stream. The activated carbon is to trap any oil mist that might be aspirated as well as any organic vapors to which you are exposed in the course of whatever task in which you may be engaged. I am trying to make this as inexpensive as possible and to use materials that are readily available. Again, I have to thank Claude for bringing up this subject.

      — Jay L. Stern

      Reply to this comment
  24. shotsal March 18, 05:23

    Any consideration for a flapper valve of some sort? This would extend the life of the filter by keeping moisture out. One idea: glue a piece of tape into the cap assembly to restrict airflow from leaving by way of the filter assembly?

    Reply to this comment
    • Jay L. Stern March 18, 07:06

      Yes. We are working on a design that I’ve previously used in a line of ground water samplers that I patented. What I am looking for, like Rich did, was something that everyone can do. Use a piece of latex rubber sheet. Disposable gloves are a good source. Puncture the mask with small, smooth-rimmed holes in a tight configuration. Circular or square is not relevant. You want the open area to be not less than the area of your nostrils. It should probably be more to account for restriction of the openings by the latex membrane. Cut the latex membrane big enough to cover the holes and about 1/2″ more all around. Tape the membrane over the holes LOOSELY. That is, tape top and bottom and leave the sides free. You want the membrane loose enough so that it will rise when you exhale through the holes, but tight enough to flop over the holes when you inhale.

      Reply to this comment
  25. lmo506 March 21, 16:23

    Great job. I for one think this is a great idea. If you don’t have a mask, If you have to leave the safety of your house in a crowed environment. Right now ,everyone should be hunkered down and plan on at least 3 months so order a mask ( you wont get it ) or build your own. Again thanks for sharing this info

    Reply to this comment
  26. Miss Kitty March 25, 02:07

    Joanne’s Fabrics posted a video on YouTube on how to sew a pleated fabric mask, with detailed directions and a list of materials needed. They are washable, reusable and lightweight.

    They are also asking that people volunteer to make some up for first responders and hospital staffers until the equipment pinch is resolved. It’s a nice way to help out senior citizens, too, who may not have access to masks otherwise.

    Reply to this comment
    • A. E. March 25, 10:19

      One would have to hope that they would be usable. It might be time wasted, and false hope that they would protect properly. Yes, in a tight pinch, maybe, but only maybe, they would protect from the micro particles. I hope so.

      Reply to this comment
  27. The Lil Lepruchan April 1, 23:57

    Thank you for your sharing. It is people like you who got Apollo 13 back with duct tape, cardboard and inventing thinking, and yes they were betting their lives on it.
    I like your application of Vacuum cleaner HEPA filters, as I had suggested it to be used on the exhaust of certain Ventilators that exhaust air into the room. A simple plastic or even cardboard box taped up with duct tape enclosing a HEPA filter, connected to the exhaust would prevent Covid 19 from escaping, and make another ventilator usable. The only thing people need to be sure of with yours, is the fit on their face to be sure it is sealed.
    Covid 19 will like in the air for some time, the large droplets from sneeze or cough fall to the ground rather soon, but not the small micro droplets.
    People need to think about when they went outside on a very cold winter day and seen their breath, this is the micro moisture droplets that you are always breathing out. If you are a carrier, you don’t have to cough or sneeze to spread it. Just breathing will do it. When you are walking through stores, or out in public, even though you are keeping your distance, you are walking through the air that someone just breathed out. Pray they weren’t infected.

    Reply to this comment
  28. Chuckster59 April 17, 17:02

    I have an N95 mask that is a pain in the @ss to breathe through because it has no vent in it. Can’t do much but sit or walk real slow without running out of breath.

    Anyone have any SAFE ideas about how to make it vented? Have duct tape, will travel. ;o)

    Reply to this comment
  29. The lil leprechaun April 20, 18:45

    First of all, every man woman and child should wear a mask when they are out in public. That is the only way to stop the spread. The 6’ distance is great if everyone in the line doesn’t have the virus. But it someone has it and you move forward to the spot they were in, you are breathing in the virus floating in the micro droplets they left behind. Wearing any mask helps stop the virus because it absorbs the moisture and holds the virus. The vented masks should only be used by those who have tested and do not have the virus. The masks with the vent allow the moisture in your breath to escape and with it the virus.
    Wearing any face mask from bandanas to N95 is better than social distancing. Bandannas give about 25% protection from the virus and greater in spreading it if you have it.
    You can make a mask from blue cloth like shop towels. Fold over in 1” folds, use rubber bands on the ends of the folded mask, fold over and staple. Wear mask with sharp part of staple outward.

    Reply to this comment
    • Govtgirl April 21, 05:07

      Risk here is very, very low. I do not feel threatened, but lately have been wearing a mask when shopping mostly for politeness. If someone has shown up every day to work at Walmart risking exposure, the least I can do is wear a mask. Also keeps me from touching face. I have enough masks to last until gov halts shut down. Hope he doesn’t extend it. I found your explanation on mask construction very, very clear. Am going on my 3 week shopping trip Wed and plan to buy a box or 2 of shop towels. Thank you.

      Reply to this comment
  30. Yosemiite April 20, 19:45

    LCC,Red an Everyone

    It has been sometime since I have been in here . For some reason I lost all contact and notifications.
    So that being said….

    I know something that will work that I have not seen mentioned anywhere is a properly fitted full face gas mask with the NBC filters.
    I have my old M-117 gas mask with a sealed bag of NBC Filters . The NBC filters are properly expired as I got them in the early 80s.

    Next if one has a beard they are NOT going to get a seal and the bugs will be in your beard.

    What do you do when you come home from your outing.
    Most people will walk inside…. Their shoes and clothing could easily be contaminated and the person should shower and wash thoroughly wash hair an everything thing and scrub with soap…to decontaminate.

    NEXT
    What about using those thin pads that women use in their underwear for leakage?
    They are sterile until unwrapped. They are designed to collect moisture….I am not sure of their micron filtration if any.
    They are self adhesive so the pad would need to face outwards so it would need to be put within two layers.
    Maybe in between two coffee filters or perhaps some velcro cloth mask or some sort of pouch so it could be changed out as needed or just properly disposed

    It might not be as good as a HEPA Filter but it is certainly better than just a surgical mask or simple paper or cloth masks or bandanna.
    They are relativity inexpensive an usually readily available

    NEXT..

    Why can’t some mask be decontaminated in a microwave?

    Granted there are plastic or other parts that will melt if in there too long or on too high of a temperature.

    Stay Safe and Stay Healthy!

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