What Are Surgical Masks Made Out Of? [Video]

With an influx in disposable “face mask” products appearing everywhere, I wanted to provide a thorough explanation of what a Surgical Mask is and what it’s made out of.

For a product to be labeled as a Surgical Mask, it must pass FDA approval indicating that it’s made out of the correct materials and is able to filter out at least 98% of particulate matter like the novel coronavirus.

What are surgical masks made out of?

A surgical mask is made up of five parts:

1. Elastic ear loops

2. Nose wire

3. Three layers of what’s called non-woven fabric, which is basically fabric made from plastic.

The top layer of this fabric (the colored side) is called spunbond polypropylene. This is made to protect you from external water droplets, like if someone sneezes in your face. Most viruses and microscopic bad guys travel on water droplets that we can’t see, so this outer layer is really important protection.

How to test a face mask at home

USA face mask materials

A quick way to test any mask is to pour water into it and see if it holds, which you can see if you check out the video embedded above. Now this is a quick test, but I’m sure you can imagine that professional organizations like the FDA and other approval bodies do something a bit more sophisticated.

How the pros test face masks

The official version is called a Synthetic Blood Penetration test, where they take fake blood (even better than the stuff they use in movies) and spray it on our masks to see if any of that blood gets through. From there they basically put fake blood into a container, crank up the pressure to 120 millimeters of mercury, and spray it at my masks for a few minutes to see if anything gets through. The lab we used to perform this test was Nelson Labs based in Utah, who actually invented many of these kinds of tests.

We tested 32 masks, and they passed.

Are Armbrust American masks any good?

Of course! Not only that, but we’re one of the only FDA-registered manufacturers selling quality surgical masks directly to you, the consumers.

We are using only the best materials. Our meltblown filter material -- the inner layer of a surgical mask -- has a BFE and PFE (that’s Bacterial and Particulate Filtration) of 98% or better. This means that our masks will stop anything larger than 0.1 microns from getting through (hint: the CoronaVirus is about 0.1 microns).

We’re also ramping up to produce our own spunbond non-woven fabric and meltblown filter material, which again makes us one of the only U.S. manufactures doing so.

I hope this was helpful in explaining a bit about our product and how we think about building things in America for Americans. (And don't forget to check out the video above!)