Cheap & cheerful face mask

see copyright notice. Page created 5-Aug-2020. Use the button groups above to navigate quickly around the site.

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I absolutely hate wearing a muzzle (aka "face covering"), especially in hot weather. I actually feel more vulnerable to infection now; before they became compulsory in shops, I could go shopping without my hands coming anywhere near my face - but not any more.

I do have proper masks, which I'll use when I can't avoid being close to other people indoors. But for situations such as when I'm the only passenger on a bus, or a customer in an almost empty shop, I've devised this design based on an unbleached coffee filter. It's obviously nowhere near as effective as the real McCoy, but unlike some it's comfortable to wear, easy to don and doff with its single, velcro-fastened neck band, and the colour is unobtrusive. Most of the components are reusable, and the "disposable" part has so far cost me zilch, thanks to a box of 4-cup coffee filters which has sat in a cupboard, unopened, ever since I bought a coffee machine! So far bus drivers, shopkeepers and fellow citizens have accepted it without comment - and even occasionally with a smile (or at least a slight wrinkling of the upper cheeks, accompanied by a muffled sound which I take to be a chuckle).

[Composite of mask photos]

The mask itself is cut from a filter cone for a good fit, with the sides just a tad shorter than the original cone depth. Small pieces of parcel tape are folded round for reinforcement where the strap holes are punched, and at the top of the crimped seam to prevent it pulling apart. The straps are cut from a large rubber band (which you can pick up for free in streets frequented by postpersons - wash it well, of course). At first I tried knotting them onto the filter cone but, like shoelaces, they inevitably untied themselves. So now they're held in place by spiral-twisted wire ties, as supplied with food bags (and which I usually don't use, so they too are effectively free). The fastening is made from two rectangles of heavy-duty self-adhesive Velcro - I bought some to repair a portable umbrella, so... you get the picture. Black PVC tape is stuck on in place of the peelable backing, with holes punched for the band, which is folded over and secured with more PVC tape. When the filter cone needs replacing, the wire ties can be unwound and re-used (a few times) along with the strap assembly.

N.B. For obvious reasons, this mask should be worn only in dry conditions!

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