Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Enhanced anti-virus face mask.
Official advice, e.g. from the World Health Organisation, is that face masks are a waste of time.
I’m not surprised: why would a virus be stopped just because it has to pass thru a bit of fabric? Obviously it might land on the fabric, but that won’t do it any harm, plus it might get dislodged and travel onwards into your mouth next time you breath in.
Morover, I suspect the seal around the edge of those masks you see people wearing is not too good.
In contrast, if the mask is soaked in soapy water, that will tend to kill Corona virus. Hence my home made enhanced mask pictured above which I’ll wear next time I have to go to a shop for groceries.
It’s made of 10mm thick foam rubber. If pulled tightly over the mouth, that ought to form a good seal round the edges.
Soaking it in soapy water obviously increases the resistance to air passing thru the foam rubber. If the rubber is completely saturated, the resistance is far too much. But the degree of resistance is easily controlled by squeezing some or most of the water out before putting it on.
Obviously it would tend to dry out and thus become useless after a while, but the actual degree of drying when I’ve worn it in a centrally heated room for five minutes seems to be negligible according to the moisture detector device pictured below. Plus anyone wanting to wear something like this for an extended period could easily carry a hand held device for spraying water on the mask from time to time to keep it moist.
The set up in the picture protects the mouth, but not the nose, so I need to take care to breath in only thru my mouth while in the shop. A “mouth and nose” protecting model ought to be feasible.
Clearly it’s desirable to maximise the AREA of foam rubber thru which air has to pass. That’s what the grooves in the rubber are for. The “groove side” of the mask faces my mouth, while the other side is not grooved and faces the outside world. The grooves help draw air in from AROUND the mouth rather than just the area of an open mouth: roughly 40mm x 30mm.
I’ll wear a standard white face mask over this contraption so as not to look too eccentric!
If you want to try this, it’s entirely at your own risk. I have no medical qualifications or other relevant qualifications in this area. This “soapy water mask” idea is certainly not guaranteed to give you total protection, but it might improve your chances. Plus soap (and similar substances like washing up liquid) give off various odours and chemicals and I have no idea what undesirable side effects might arise from breathing those in for an extended period.
If any undesirable side effects seem to arise from this idea, or if I come across any suggestions that there might be such side effects, I’ll put a note to that effect right here as soon as I can.
Stop press (4pm 31st Mar 2020). Latest enhancement: two foam rubber plugs to go up my nose. Soaking them in soapy water, squeezing out most of the water and leaving them up my nose for 5 minutes does not seem to irritate my nose - if you're interested....:-)
Stop press (1st April). There's a guide as to the best materials for DIY masks at this site.