A Filter Mask Upgrade

By , January 24, 2019

About the time I wrote the blog post N95 Dust Masks: Don’t Leave Home Without Them? I realized that I should order more masks to keep us stocked up for every day use and future eventualities.

I ordered another box of the 3M N95 disposables we rely on, but shortly after they arrived, a friend’s trailer home burned. People gathered for a couple days to sort through the wreckage. Local emergency personnel urged them to mask up properly for the job. Rather than expecting volunteers to find and buy their own masks, I sent my new box to town to supply the crew.

That left me without my replacement masks, but also provided a possibility to upgrade. I took advantage of the opportunity, and ordered a few masks that appear to offer improvements over those we currently use.

After shopping and price comparison, I chose two different kinds of mask, and bought a two pack of each pair.

These are the CCJK N 99 Dust Mask and the JKJK N 99 Mask.

CCJK dust mask

“I am BANE!” The CCJK dust mask (Photo: MIchelle L. Zeiger).

My criteria for choosing these included two main features, reusability, and the presence of exhalation valve(s).

Both styles can be washed and reused, at least the mask “shell,” with replaceable, disposable filter inserts. The JKJK features a single exhalation valve, the Fashion has two. Both are designated N 99, meaning they filter out 99% of airborne particulates, as opposed to 95% for N 95.

JKJK dust mask

The JKJK mask (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

Many single use, disposable dust masks include exhalation valves, but I’d never bought them, because I didn’t like an extra piece of plastic on a largely burnable fiber mask (minus the elastic headbands, of course). With the reusable masks, I feel the exhalation ports provide better coverage. They supposedly don’t fog glasses (more on that below) and keep moisture from building up where the mask meets the wearer’s nose.

Now that I wear contacts, I find that building the fire, my most common mask requirement, trumps inserting contacts in the triage of morning tasks. I want a mask that doesn’t fog my glasses as I clean the wood stove glass. I have yet to wear either mask to do that job (after all, the disposables I have on hand still work—waste not!) but trial fittings of the masks while wearing glasses show that the CCJK fogs glasses readily, the JKJK less so.

Both masks seem like they will fold up well for pocket storage, allowing every day carry. I hope the wire nose support, essential for molding the mask to one’s nose to create a proper seal, holds up to repeated use of this sort. We shall see.

In the future, I’ll likely purchase more of the JKJK. They are less expensive, fold flatter, fog less, and the replacement filters can be found easily. They don’t look as cool as the CCJK, but that’s not why I have them. Besides, “cool” is a relative term here, I feel ridiculous in any dust mask. The CCJK came with about 3 replacement filters for each mask, I bought a pack of replacements for the JKJK. Down the road, I could probably use stacks of facial tissue, which, after all, were originally designed as filters for military gas masks!

Or, I might try something else, as recent wildfires and the world’s growing air pollution problems seem to encourage filter mask development. It’s a booming industry!


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