Since the start of the outbreak of COVID-19, mask has been a hot commodity that everyone is looking for and its prices has skyrocketed.
With the increasing demand of mask, all kinds of mask have surfaced in the market and in this blog, we'd like to share with you how to choose the high quality mask that offer you the maximum protection from the virus.
The composition of a 3-ply disposable surgical mask
As we all know that the disposable mask should be comprised of 3 layers, which are non-woven layer(outer), meltblown layer(mid) and non-woven layer(inner), so what are these layers actually?
SINCARE Mask 3-ply composition
What is non-woven fabric?
Non-woven material is made from staple fibres (short) and long fibres, bonded together by different methods such as chemical, heat, mechanical or solvent treatment. Usually the fibres used in the non-woven layer are longer and thicker, providing the strength to the mask. Unlike woven fabric, non-woven fabric doesn't have the tiny holes therefore it is water repellent, preventing fluid seeping through which might transmit the virus and bacteria.
Simple water test for non-woven fabric layer
To check the quality of the non-woven fabric used in the mask, you can simply pour some water on the inner layer of the mask to see if the mask is able to hold the water without any leakage, and after the water test there should not be any water absorbed by the inner layer because it is water repellent.
What is meltblown fabric?
Meltblown is produced when polymer resin goes through a extruder, a machine blows hot air to melt polymer resin to microfibres with the size as small as 0.1 micron, and then all these tiny microfibres form a layer of meltblown fabric. Because of these tiny microfibres, Meltblown fabric usually has a high density, therefore it acts as a filter in the mask.
Meltblown fabric is the most important layer in the mask as it decides the filtration efficiency of the mask, and it's the most expensive raw material in the mask especially when the demand of mask has skyrocketed. To reduce the cost of the mask and get a maximum profit, some factories produce the mask by replacing the meltblown fabric to non-woven fabric or even a piece of paper. So how to tell if the material used in the mid-layer is meltblown or not? Here're 2 methods.
Method 1: Burn the mid-layer (Meltblown fabric)
This is to test if the meltblown fabric is replaced by a paper that looks similar to meltblown fabric. When meltblown is in contact with fire, it will melt, however if it catches fire, that means the mid-layer is replaced with paper. However if the mid-layer (meltblown fabric) is replaced by non-woven fabric, it will melt as the meltblown fabric does, so in this case, how can we tell if the mid-layer (meltblown) is replaced by non-woven fabric?
Method 2: Visually compare the patterns of meltblown fabric (mid-layer) and non-woven fabric (1st and 3rd layer)
Here're the pictures of meltblown fabric used in surgical masks from different brands and you can easily tell the differences from the pictures.
HOGY Surgical Mask
(Produced by HOGY Medical, a Japanese medical company specialising in disposable medical products)
Produced by P.T. Arista Latindo, a manufacturer produces disposable medical products in Jakarta.
(Uses BFE99 highest grade of meltblown fabric)
Produced by BaiRun Medical Technology, a medical device manufacturer based in Jiangsu Province, China and distributed by SINCARE Medical Asia Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)
Get your SINCARE Mask here.
RIVIC Face mask
Non-woven fabric is used as the mid-layer instead of the meltblown fabric. It will significantly compromise the bacterial filtration efficiency and pose a higher risk to get infected by virus & bacteria.
From the comparison above, it's not difficult to tell the differences between the meltblown fabric and the non-woven fabric.
Meltblown fabric looks more solid, appears like a piece of paper and it's not transparent, while the non-woven fabric used in the mask is thinner and more transparent than the meltblown fabric. When the mid-layer is replaced by the non-woven material, the capability of the mask to stop the spread of the virus and bacteria will be significantly compromised.
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