materials testing

There's a recent study on the filtering effectiveness of household materials. It found that two-layer masks of natural silk and high thread count cotton provide virtually the same protection as an N95 mask (given correct fit). Natural silk has an electrostatic charge, as found in N95 masks.

I'm interested in these materials because I need to wash the masks and I don't have an autoclave. Plus, I'm finding N95 masks to be unbearable outside in summer, and I've read studies that sweating inside these masks can be dangerous on multiple levels. Natural cotton and silk are much cooler against the skin than anything artificial. (I'm in NYC, and my partner is an essential worker who is outside all day.)

I made a sample of the origami mask using paper, then did it again using an old (loose-weave) dish towel, just to see if I could do it. It was more difficult, but worked fine. (I made the piece that comes up the bridge of the nose shorter.) I'm using fabric glue to hold it together - no needle holes.


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  • User

    This was such great information, in the end, no one can beat nature. btw now you can customize your own design mask with the same protection level for Halloween Coupons at couponcodify.

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  • Engineer

    This is a great find, Sheryl!  Thank you for sharing.  The combination of silk and cotton seems to provide strong filtration properties in a washable format.  

    • Most silk and cotton are hydrophilic. So aerosol will stay on these fabrics. The best is to find a tightly woven/knitted silk fabric, which is also waterproof. N95 or polypropylene are water repellent, so they repel aerosol. This is the first defense before we consider filtration efficiency.


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