Here Are Three Ways To Check The Quality Of Your Face Mask

here are three ways to check the quality of your face mask

Photo via NST

With the COVID-19 pandemic here to stay for a while longer than expected, the need to wear a face mask and to stay protected has never been more important.

While all masks may look similar, the quality can actually vary.

We spoke to Respiratory Specialist Dr Kow Ken Siong to get the lowdown on this.

He says a good quality surgical mask generally has three layers (3-ply):

  • an outer water repellent layer;
  • an inner absorbable layer; and
  • the middle melt blown filter layer.

Now that we know this, how do we assess the quality of the face mask?

Fret not, we've got you covered!

here are three ways to check the quality of your face mask

1. The Visual Test

Common sense would tell you that a 3-ply mask, logically, would need to have three layers.

So to check on this, cut open the face mask and you should observe three layers.

It should typically consist of a translucent piece, a white piece, and a coloured piece which could be either green, blue, or even white.

2. The Water Test

Now, the outermost layer of a good 3-ply surgical mask is designed to be waterproof to shield out any cough and sneeze droplets.

This is to help prevent you from inhaling contaminated droplets from others.

So to test your mask’s efficiency, pour water onto the outer layer of your mask and if the inner layer gets damp, then it is likely not a 3-ply mask.

What you should do next is to dispose this FAKE mask and not cry me a river!

3. The Flame Test

The middle layer is a filter, not a piece of paper. But how do we test that?

With a match or a lighter, safely set fire to the fabric - If it burns like paper, you can just throw the mask away as it's useless.

Another way to detect the quality of your face mask, is to put your mask on and light a candle - If you can extinguish the candle flame with your breath with your face mask on, then it's not a proper 3-ply mask.

Now, you would need to sacrifice a mask to perform all these tests.

So it's best that you do the test at the end of the day before you throw yours away, to reduce wastage.

All this came about after the government found that some face masks with substandard quality were being sold for as low as 50 sen per unit, lower than the ceiling price of RM1.


by Roshini Ravindran