Field Testing Face Masks

Field Tests
The video above shows how to field test face masks. In summary:
  • Fire Test: The middle ply is inflammable (the other 2 plies too)
  • Water Test: The mask holds water (on both sides)
  • Electrostatic Test: The mask picks up small pieces of paper
  • Light Test: The middle ply is translucent vs semi-transparent
  • Blow Test: The wearer of the mask cannot blow out a lighter flame

Additional Tests
  • Droplet Test: Place droplets of water on the mask's front and back surfaces. The front of the mask (the blue side) should bead the water, indicating it is water repellent. The back of the mask (the white side) should absorb the water, indicating it is water absorbent. (via ST)
  • Bacon Test: This is a medical grade test. Sizzle bacon (the original test, but frying anchovies, curry paste, belacan, ginger-garlic paste could be substitutes). If you could smell it, either the mask is not working, does not seal the nose and mouth or is not worn correctly. (Likely, passing the bacon test requires a properly fitted N95 mask.)
  • Recycle Test: Check the mask for stale odours and stains on the surface or on the bands. The presence of any of these suggests a recycled mask. (via WOB)
  • Breathing Test: Test a sample mask by wearing it at home for a few minutes to an hour before using the rest of the masks for journeying out of the house. If you feel dizzy or faint, the mask may be constricting airflow too much or the wearer is not breathing sufficiently forcefully through the mask.
  • Seal Test: Look in the mirror. When you breathe or talk, the surface of the mask should protrude and recede according to your breath. If it does not, it is likely you are not wearing the mask correctly. Seal the mask by pressing down at the nose bridge and the cheeks.
  • Tear Test: Extract the middle layer of the surgical mask and attempt to tear it. It should be hard to tear, and if torn, the torn edges should be fibrous, as compared to paper which tears easily and leaves clean edges.

  • The masks we bought from a mom-and-pop grocery store passed all tests except for the bacon test (and was slow in the absorbent test).
  • Face masks help mitigate the egress and ingress of the bug.
  • This post is not technical or health advice and is intended for readers' further research only.