By Erik Dolson
There’s growing support for all of us to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but N95 masks are hard to find and the ones available should probably be reserved for nurses, cops, doctors, grocery clerks and post office employees — you know, people who keep the wheels turning.
So I was looking online for DIY Covid-19 masks, and there were many good ideas. Some were more complicated than others, and some you wouldn’t want to throw away. I thought the best mask would be easy, cheap, and disposable, so I made one. I call it the “Opus.”
Here’s what I did.
one full size paper towel
two #4 cone coffee filters
two longish rubber bands
hole punch (optional)
Fold the two bound edges of one coffee filter about an eighth of an inch (one mm) from the pressed seam.
Put this filter inside the unmodified filter so that it fits exactly.
Run pieces of tape over the two pressed seams of the outside filter from one side to the other. This is to reinforce these pressed seams, which are not very strong. I went lengthwise, and then added two more pieces of tape, overlapping the first, on each side to further strengthen the outer cone.
Punch two holes all the way through the nested filters about an inch and a half from the wide end and through the tape (you did put enough tape there, didn’t you?) I also reenforced with those little circles you can buy at stationary stores. The tape might be adequate.
Put a rubber band through each hole. (See all the tape?)
Cut four pieces of string, about the length from elbow to extended finger tips. Tie a string to each end of the two rubberbands.
“Flag fold” a paper towel so that forms a triangle, a cone when opened (great in a coffee emergency if you’re out of filters).
Fold the pointy end of the paper towel triangle up so it will fit snugly inside your coffee filters. Tape point to itself. Push towel into the mask, and trim the excess off the wide end, maybe leaving just a little extra. You choose..
Put the mask on, and tie the “top” strings that are attached close to your nose down and behind your neck. Tie the “bottom” strings up, above your ears to the top back you your head. Make both fairly tight.
Adjust for good, snug fit. You can use paper towel trimmings to prevent air leakage on either side of your nose.
I had no way to test, have no idea what particle size will make it through all three layers, and offer no guarantees. I do know when the mask fits well, air goes through the three layers and not around, because the mask will flex on inhale and exhale. When N95 masks become available, those are what you should use.
In the mean time, my “Opus Mask” may keep you from getting the virus, or sharing your virus with others.