Comprehensive Mask Testing
What are the best masks to protect you from Covid-19? There are hundreds of different brands making a lot of claims, that's why we're testing every mask in our laboratory to see how they measure up. We're testing surgical masks, non-medical 3 ply face masks, N95 masks, KN96 masks, KF94 masks, and cloth masks.
To learn more about our full testing methodology, please click here.
Particulate Filter Efficiency (PFE) is the standard by which masks are evaluated.
We test to the ASTM standard using a PFE machine to blow .01 micron latex particles through a mask at an airflow of 85L/min in order to max out the mask’s filter.
The machine then uses optical scanning technology to report how many particles slip through.
- 98-99% = 25
- 95-97%. = 20
- 90-94% = 15
- 80-90% = 10
- 70-79% = 05
- 00-70% = 00
Air flow resistance is tested Pascals (pa) to determine how breathable the mask is. Our machine is calibrated to test from 0 - 600pa. Since we are testing for resistance, the lower the resistance, the more breathable the mask will be.
Experts say that a resistance of less than 15 ML/H2O (or 150pa) is ideal for a mask that you wear all day long, but we have found that masks in the 100pa range are much more comfortable.
Surgical masks and N95 masks have different standards for what is considered good breathability, which is reflected in our scoring.
Surgical Mask Breathability Score
- 100 = 25
- 125 = 20
- 150 = 10
- 175 = 05
- 200 = 00
N95 Breathability Score
We apply a different score to N95 or FFR equivalents because the NIOSH standard allows for up to 250pa.
- 150 = 25
- 200 = 20
- 250 = 10
- 300 = 05
- 350 = 00
Ear loop strength, build quality, and comfort. This test is somewhat subjective, which is why we start by giving every mask a score of 25 and subtract when we find issues.
Points are deducted for:
- Design flaws: Is the mask constructed correctly? Are the earloops welded to the correct side of the mask? Etc
- Nosewire quality: If the nosewire is ineffective or poorly assembled we also subtract a maximum of 5 points
- Earloop Strength: 10 point deduction if earlobes break too easily.
- Airgap seal : If the earloops are too loose the mask doesn’t seal correctly.
What (if any) odor is the mask giving off. This is the most subjective of the tests, but also incredibly important. We recognize that this can change from box to box and are willing to update this score when provided with additional evidence.
- No smell or pleasant smell = 25
- Slight smell = 20
- Noticeable smell = 10
- Offensive = 5
- Unbearable = 0