By Erik Dolson
Okay, this is my favorite so far.
An article in Business Insider described how three women who know fabric were appalled that people, including health care workers, were wrapping T-shirts around their heads as a mask against the coronavirus.
Lindsay Medoff and Heather Pavlu of Suay Sew Shop in Los Angeles, and friend Chloe Schempf, bought a $1,400 particulate-counter device and actually tested out various potential mask materials. They discovered that blue shop towels actually have good level of resistance to particles like the coronavirus.
So, I have abandoned furnace filters in my quest for the best mask we can easily make at home. Too expensive, too complicated. But I’ve kept some of the things I’ve learned, such as, pleats allow masks to conform to our face. And, tying a bow in string behind your head in Costco is far too complicated for a man, although I have no doubt a woman could do it in 7 seconds.
But this new mask is very easy and inexpensive to make, and therefore disposable, a requirement of mine. Here’s what you need: Shop towels, string, rubber bands (4), and scissors.
I lay one shop towel on the counter and put another one on top of it at right angles, so the perforations that allow us to easily tear the towels apart are not lined up on the two sheets. Then I folded in the pleats. For me, it was easiest to flop the towels over for each pleat, which are about one ince wide.
When I was done pleating, I wrapped rubber bands tightly around each end, with another rubber band fed under. I pulled one end of the second rubber band through itself.
I then cut a piece of string about the width of the mask, and tied it to the ends of the rubber band loops.
I pushed on the center of the mask which gives it shape, and then put over my head, with the string above my ears. I pull the bottom of the mask under my chin, and the top across the bridge of my nose.
On my mask, I also folded a piece of coated wire into a pleat and bent it down to bring the mask tight to my nose, but I don’t like putting a piece of wire close to my eyes and think there is probably a better solution.
Another improvement might be to use the wide elastic that “professional” masks use instead of string and rubber bands, but one goal of the project was to use items easily found, and this mask fits well.
Remember, this mask is a kludge, and you should use a proper N95 mask if you have one available. But if you can’t find one of those, or have decided to donate that mask to a nurse, a cop, a doctor, or the person who sells you groceries, then perhaps the Blue Moon mask could help you from getting sick with COVID-19, or prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to someone else.