Verify the quality of your mask at home using any of the three 10-second tests below.
Test  What You Need Test Directions
#1 A Lighter

1. Put on your KN95 mask.

2. Hold and activate a lighter six inches from your mouth.

3. Try to extinguish the flame by blowing on it.

Certified mask: You will not be able to blow out the flame no matter how hard you try. Poor quality mask: You can put the flame out. Why? Certified lab-tested KN95 masks are made of strong but breathable full mesh nylon which meets stringent standards for inspiratory resistance (<=350 Pa) and expiratory resistance (<=250 Pa). (“Pa” is short for “Pascals”, the international unit of measurement for air pressure.) What this means is that the material obstructs contagions during inhaling and exhaling while allowing comfortable air circulation. 

#2 Sweet and Low

1. Put on your KN95 mask.

2. Empty the contents of a pack of Sweet and Low on a spoon or flat surface.

3. Try sniffing with the mask on and the mask off, noting any difference.

Certified mask: You catch the fragrance, but only faintly. 


Poor quality mask: You can still smell the saccharin in full force.

Why? A certified lab-tested KN95 mask has a filtration rate of >=95% and is designed to filter out at least 95% of particles sized three microns or larger. Sweet and Low® is the brand name for saccharin. Saccharin particles are about seven microns in size, so if you can whiff Sweet and Low’s super-sweet scent full strength through your mask, its filtration ability may be insufficient. 

#3 Water

1. Hold your face mask by the elastic bands, with the inside of the mask facing up.

2. Fill the mask with water.

Certified mask: The mask cups the water with zero leakage. 


Poor quality mask: Water leaks from the mask.

Why? Official surgical masks must have a waterproof layer to protect the wearer from splashes of biological fluids. Worth noting that according to OSHA, your mask can be washed and reused as long as it “maintains its structural and functional integrity and the filter material is not physically damaged or soiled.”