When Do We Change Masks? – Part 1, by ShepherdFarmerGeek

Editor’s Introductory Note: This is Part 1 of a three-part series.  It was written by one of the most prolific contributors to SurvivalBlog. We’ve posted more than 50 of his articles and letter over the past 15 years.

You have your N-95 filter masks. Now how to you get the maximum use out of them?

They’re “disposable.” But can you safely re-use them?

Does anybody have “enough” masks?

Fluorescent powder distribution. https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-4109-x


So, when DO we change masks? Well… The tiny virus-containing droplets take a LONG time to actually plug up a filter mask (unlike dust or smoke). The mask will still filter for quite a while, but with virus droplets stuck to it, it’s now dangerous to put near your eyes, nose and mouth.

Thought exercise: Imagine that you’ve smeared the outside of your mask with “deadly poison dust.” Now, if you aren’t really, really careful when you’re putting it back on you’re going to get dust RIGHT in your eyes! (And that’s an already known avenue of infection.)

Yes, you could just put your (non-vented) goggles on first, and THEN the mask. But it’s still risky. And, yes, it’s true that wearing SOME mask, even a mask you’ve already worn, is theoretically better than wearing NO mask because you’ve run out of them.

The other problem is what to do with a potentially contaminated mask in between wearing it? It’s smeared with “deadly poison dust,” remember? Where do you store it? How do you keep the dust from getting disturbed and getting on the other side of the mask, the clean side?

In a perfect world you’d have a $500 pile of masks and discard them after even one wearing. That’s why we call these “disposable” masks. But if this becomes a pandemic in the US and there are sick and contagious people out and about for more than a month (easily), you won’t have enough masks to do that, while going about your ordinary routines.

What to do? What to do?…


No matter what other strategies you use, you can minimize the occasions when you need to wear a mask. If you only wear a mask once a week your supply will last seven times longer than if you wear them every day, right?

So here’s a few thoughts:

1. Purge your refrigerator (and freezer) of stuff you aren’t keen on eating. Get rid of the old squeeze bottle of mustard and the Brussels Sprouts (although, I’ve got an AWESOME Brussels Sprouts recipe!). Get rid of the soda and any water bottles you’re keeping cold.

Make up a list of the core refrigerated foods you always eat, the ones you can make several different dishes from. Go buy a bunch of those foods and pack your refrigerator and freezer (and Deep Freeze). You already have your long-term storage food on hand, and – hopefully – you don’t need more rice or beans or wheat or canned meats and peanut butter! This is in addition to that.

3. While you’re at it, buy anything important you could run out of in the next month or two. You probably don’t “need” Q-tips or hand soap, but they make life easier, so now’s the time to buy a bit extra. Now, don’t go back to the store for the next month. Just think how many sick people you will avoid and how many zillions of germs (not just COVID-19, but Influenza A and Noroviruses) you’ll avoid inhaling or touching!

4. Get your prescriptions delivered by mail. Hopefully your insurance company offers this option (and its cheaper!).

5. Use your insurance company’s tele-medicine option online (yes, not as nice as seeing your personal doctor, but you don’t have to wait in a waiting room filled with people making disgusting sounds and shedding viruses like your cat sheds hair…). Another occasion you won’t need a mask for! (You might need a webcam for your computer for telemedicine. They’re cheap. Just don’t leave it plugged in for some hacker to use to spy on you…)

6. Use WalMart’s (or Fred Meyer’s) online ordering / drive-up pick-up service – it’s free!!! WalMart’s online interface is VERY well done and VERY easy to use. And you don’t go into the store at all – they bring it out to your car and you drive off (you already paid online). Voila! Why would you not use this?

7. Do everything you CAN online or by mail. Between WalMart and Amazon, the Shepherdess and I get virtually everything we need at this point.

Wipe your newly-purchased stuff (with hard surfaces) with bleach wipes if you like, or, do what we do and line everything up on pallet slats and lightly mist them with a diluted bleach solution from a spray bottle (3 Tbs / quart, made up fresh every time). The slats keep everything separated so they get good coverage and this speeds drainage of solution drips.

Make yourself an improvised floor-length apron out of tarp and some ribbon or paracord. Now your clothes and shoes won’t get bleach mist on them!

8. Stop shaking hands and hugging people out in public. I’m trying to start a trend of doing elbow bumps!

9. Combine your errands so you can do all of them at one time. Put on your protective gear, go do 4 or 5, or more, errands, get home. Now you only used ONE mask to run multiple errands!!

10. Think long and hard about attending any meetings, going to ANY movies or restaurants or events. Even church. Hopefully your pastor will have implemented many of the measures I (and others!) suggested in connection with my previous article, “Church Pandemic Preparedness” (https://survivalblog.com/church-pandemic-preparedness-shepherdfarmergeek/#comment-202150 )

God does not “guarantee” you won’t get sick just because you’re doing something religious. Send your pastor (and other leaders as needed) a nice email (or call them) to explain. Then watch your church’s online sermon streaming. Or maybe a friend would videotape the sermon for you if your church doesn’t have the tech?

It’s completely okay to miss a few services. You skip services when you’re sick, right? What could possibly be wrong skipping services so you don’t get sick?

Download some favorite worship songs from YouTube and gather around your PC. Or copy the songs to a datakey / flash drive and use my favorite: an MP3 player! Sing together as a family!
YouTube Downloader is your friend, and it’s free: https://youtubedownloader.com/en/ My favorite MP3 player (under $20, and a dozen more like it on Amazon) has a lot of nice features (and short wave!):

Yes, (unless you’re extra high risk) you could wear a mask and goggles to church, but they’re uncomfortable, and they’re a challenge to sing with. Mostly, you’ve got to have enough courage to have everyone stare at you like some nut. But, think of yourself as a trend setter, and being a good example for the rest of them.someone has to be first!

So, even if you have a lot of filter masks, extend your supply with these simple suggestions. And now you’ve stretched your supply and you start to realize that this thing is going to last longer than your supply. What do you do?!


There ARE instructions online for people who want to try making their own masks from furnace air filters and other materials. Very painful to watch… A lot of things can go wrong with that approach, but “desperate people do desperate things.”

Moral of the story: Don’t be that desperate person. Get masks, baby them and make them last!


We know that for most coronaviruses the maximum amount of time they can survive on a hard surface is 9 days. We also know that viruses don’t survive as long on fabric/porous surfaces. What we don’t yet know is how long COVID, specifically, lasts on fabric surfaces like filter masks.

So this suggests a clever strategy: place each contaminated mask in a bag (so it doesn’t contaminate your house!) marked with the date, and wait it out. Nine days. After nine days, all of the viruses on your mask and in the bag should have been inactivated.

If you have nine masks you can just keep rotating them. If you wear a mask in the morning and take it off for lunch, bag it, and put on a fresh mask after lunch. When you get out to the car after work bag the second one and take them home to wait it out.

I can guarantee you that nobody has enough masks to wear two a day for the duration of this pandemic (or even one a day each, for the husband and for the wife).


After studying about this pandemic extensively, I’ve come to the conclusion that our family’s new policy will be:

“ONLY put new or sanitized masks ON.”

As I mentioned in https://survivalblog.com/letter-wuhan-virus-shepherdfarmergeek/ “Don’t spray the mask with liquids (diluted bleach comes to mind) or bake them – the mask works by having a huge network of *fuzzy fibers* to attract tiny particles as they make their way through. If the fuzzies get clumped together by being wetted (and dried) they aren’t going to work.

The masks don’t actually block viruses – they’re too small to be stopped – but viruses in the air are usually embedded in tiny saliva droplets that are large enough to stop, although some free viruses will be caught by the fibers because of an electrostatic attraction.

Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) works. It kills viruses. But hosing down your masks risks clumping up the fuzzies. I do think it’s possible to give a contaminated mask a light enough misting with diluted bleach (diluted enough to (a) spray out of your spray bottle in a very fine mist, and (b) diluted not any more than necessary so there’s not excess water there to clump up the fuzzies.

And this is all conjecture until someone does the science. But back to the principle that SOME mask, even a mask that’s now not working quite as well as it originally did, is still better than running out of masks and going without any mask at all.

And you’ll need to weigh those risks with putting a mask on your face that’s already potentially coated with “deadly poison dust,” as I referred to it earlier. I think it CAN be done, but it’s risky, and certainly riskier than just putting a nice clean mask on your face!

So a bleach mist is an option.

(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 2.)


  1. After reading this article I became curious and found that the CDC has a video series on youtube regarding PPE donning and doffing, in case anyone wants to SEE how they do it. It’s boring, and feels a bit ridiculous, but still worth a watch for those who are curious. Either visit youtube or watch it under videos with duck duck go. Using duck duck go, under videos I searched “cdc ppe”.

      1. UV lights are very difficult to find and suddenly very expensive. Doom and Bloom Nurse Amy at the Doom and Bloom site discusses making your own masks as a last ditch effort.

  2. Here are some of the links that I Think may help to show what can be Done. I think that these are the most important at this time.

    Link to “Can You Reuse N95 Face Masks During Pandemic Emergencies?? By Dr. Joe Alton”


    Link to Beijing International Medical Center (IMC)


    Dr. John Campbell


    Keep up the good work

  3. What comes to mind is the claim that this virus lives on surfaces up to 3 days? Why not just take off the mask and put it out away from the house for 4 days – it will “self sanitize”. Am I barking up the wrong tree here?

    1. John, That’s one possible strategy. I haven’t seen any documentation yet of how long COVID-19 survives on fabric/porous surfaces, but generally coronaviruses survive about 9 days on hard surfaces. That would be the maximum wait time if you’re going to wait it out. And you’ll see that idea later in my article. Good thinking!

    2. That was my mask plan all along. Take the mask off and let it sit until the virus degrades. number masks for identification and logging. Hopefully research over time will tell us the optimal temperature and humidity to accelerate the deterioration, and solidly confirm how fast the virus degrades on household surfaces and masks at different temps and humanities? If possible, I was going to do this in my shed.

      My first plan was to avoid the mask altogether by staying home. Fresh fruit is about the only thing I need for at least a month or two, and canned fruit could be used in a pinch.

      Below is an article about the N95 masks. Interesting science but the big take away is that they are hard to install correctly.


  4. Just a word of warning about the mail. Covid-19 is in the post office. People in the plant have it and the plant isn’t being sanitized. I would handle all mail and packages from any delivery service as if it was contaminated.

    1. Just Some Guy, Our family currently sets out each piece of mail (and each item we score from WalMart’s pick-up shopping option) on pallet slats and mist them on all surfaces with a diluted bleach mix, and leave them to dry in the sun. We bought a one-gallon handheld pump sprayer that works very nicely.

      1. That sounds like a good idea. Since I work for the post office I just tell the clerks to throw out all non first class mail so I don’t have to come in contact with it. I do almost everything online so I get minimal mail anyway.

  5. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

    THIS study, publicized only yesterday, is being used to guide British mitigation efforts for COVID-19 (and inform the US efforts). Note the conclusions in the final four paragraphs. This is a huge experiment that’s going to have an utterly massive impact on our economy – and I think probably keel us over.

    From this paper and the rest of what’s going on I would expect these extreme measures – apparently essential to stop the virus – will trigger an economic collapse that’s just as bad but in different ways. Captain Rawles’ novels and warnings are about to come to life.

    The combination of these two crises will be more than most preppers are ready to weather. It sounds to me from the President’s announcements like there could be a few days to two weeks before the next round of measures are implemented. That MIGHT be all the time these preppers have to get topped off.

    I really hate to be the one to say it, but there is no cosmic rule that says we can only experience one crisis at a time.

    Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both.

    1. It’s the banking system that is terminal. Posted an excellent video early this morning that explains, https://youtu.be/xeeK6h0zXys . Watch for the dollar, and other currencies to fall next. Do get ready for a hyper inflationary collapse, and a severe depression. The world as we knew it is over. There is a paradigm shift occurring. Some just do not know it yet. Some will never know, and some do not want to know. We can’t help them.

      I’ll recycle my masks by sealing them in a plastic bag, and then decontaminate the outside of the bag, record the date on the bag, and then store it there for 9 days at 70F, and higher temperatures. If I do not have enough masks for rotation, then it will be soaked in 70 to 91% alcohol for more than 30 seconds at 70F, and then air dried. If needed in a hurry, it can be dried with a hair dryer, or in my case, just hang it over the wood stove. 21% bleach solution for more than 30 seconds, can also be used in place of alcohol, but I would thoroughly rinse out the bleach. If a hint of bleach can be detected, keep rinsing. It is that simple.

    2. Wow. Thanks for the article. I skimmed it long enough to realize just how bad this is. Will read it in more depth later today. I think many “civilians” who are just coming to terms with what is going on still assume that in 2 weeks or so, everything will be back to “normal”, schools open, back to work etc. I cannot even begin to comprehend yet what will happen if this is still ongoing a year from now.

      Part of me wonders though that as this virus at present is generally mild or even asymptomatic in the young and much more of a problem only in those who are older or have other medical conditions, whether the young adults may not start chomping at the bit to relax all of the suppression measures put into place. Would they not propose that as mostly the healthy young won’t be badly impacted by this virus, at least in its present form, that we should just get it over with, expose the entire population and accept that many of the old and/or sick are going to die? They might say that they are being especially penalized as their schools are closed, they can’t start careers, their lives are on hold, their student loans are going unpaid etc etc. and that it’s not fair to them to put their lives on hold for people who have already lived a fair chunk of their own. I’m not at all advocating this. Just wondering if we might be facing this. If the young decide to mutiny and refuse to social distance etc. this might be what happens. The Millennial generation is now our largest generation and there are many in Gen Z following behind them. Millennials are all old enough to vote now and so are some of Gen Z.

      1. Wow, What an evil scenario. Not much different than what happened during the Holocaust. Satan wants nothing but to kill and destroy all of God’s creation. Man is the Crown of God’s creation. Things are going to get worse, Ani, I am so sad to say: This is only the beginning. I am mourning the loss that is coming upon us and the complacency and lack of understanding that the general public exhibits.

        I study biblical prophecy and watch the news like a hawk. I listen to modern day Believers in Jesus who get words from the Lord. They predicted this virus back in 2017. They are predictng war on our Land and Mercenaries invading the USA. Everything is falling into place. We are in the Acharit Hayaamim. They are beginning now. We are in the beginning of the Days of Sorrow. Matthew 24 gives a description of what we are facing and so does Daniel 7-9. The Book of Revelation covers the same information but with more detail. Please read it. I do have to say that I have been a bit blindsided by the virus and the lockdowns. But this is what the New World Order/Globalists, which are really Satanists are doing to gain control of the whole world. They want to reduce the World population and control it. They will enact a digital Mark, which is the Mark of the beast. The technology is in place, now.

        I wish I could talk to you personally. Please read, Everyone of you, Revelation, Daniel,especially 7-9 Zechariah 12-14, Isaiah 17 and 24.

        We are going to see major signs in the heavens and in the earth in the coming months, Comets and huge asteroids, volcanic eruptions, worse plagues, Corona is only the beginning, earthquakes and a strong man of sin who is Charismatic and loved by the masses who will solve all of the worlds problems, will build the temple in Jerusalem, will make everyone come under a Logical one world religion, of which will institute Sharia/Noahide Laws. Then he will go into the temple like Antiochus did and demand that the whole world worship him as The GOD instead of Yahweh and His son Yeshua. The One world religion is only to get everyone into unity. Shariah law and the Noahide laws are the exact same thing. Mainstream Judaism, Islam and Catholicism are already in unity in that they believe in only One God, and the true Yeshua/Jesus of the bible is not him.

        But the True Messiah of all people will come in the clouds of heaven on the last day at the last Trump, just before He pours our His wrath on unrepentant mankind.

        Ani, this is the time to call upon the Lord God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua and to REPENT of our sins, we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory, and the sins of the World Our nations corporate sins and to beg him for mercy and protection, like Daniel did on behalf of the Israelite children to bring them out of Babylonian captivity. He WILL protect those who trust Him and CAll upon His name. He is faithful to his servants. God loves each and everyone of us individually and desires a personal relationship with each one of us. And He will talk to you and lead you and guide you with His Holy Spirit: Ruach Hakodesh.

        Please spend some time reading these scriptures that I am suggesting and pray and ask God to give you understanding and to open your eyes to see. If after you read them, if you want to talk to me about this, I will arrange for that to happen, okay? God gets all the glory. In the book of Amos 3:7 He says that He will do nothing without first telling His servants what he is about to do. He has told us and has been telling us for 2000 years… Now it’s the season. By the way, Tunnel Rabbit has an excellent grasp of what we are facing and the days that we are in. That is another reason why we give him the freedom to post as much as he feels led to do so.



        1. Hi Lily

          We have some theological differences of course but I too agree these are disturbing times. I wasn’t sure about posting what I did but I’m seeing so much online directed at anyone considered “old” by many of the young, be they 45 or 65 or 95. And of course the “ok boomer” meme and the “boomer reducer” meme etc. Add to that how many younger people continued to pack into bars and restaurants etc seemingly unaware or uncaring of the risks inherent in doing so and what they might transit to those more at risk. And I know what college students have said when I taught and there is a lot of generational friction which is really sad. So it makes me wonder. and yes, we only have to look back to the Holocaust and see what a supposedly civilized country did to all they deemed “inferior” to know what people can be capable of.

          I sure hope this isn’t where it all goes. I really truly hope that our young people recognize the worth of all lives, no matter their age. And I truly hope that our young people step up and contribute mightily to the efforts that will be needed. I know many younger people in both those generations so I try to have faith that we will, as a society, continue to try to protect those that are the most vulnerable among us. I know full well if this virus were to mutate(G-d forbid) such that it targeted young healthy people(as did the 1918 flu eventually) middle aged and older adults would work mightily to protect the young from it.

          1. Hi Ani,

            Concerning our young people. They, on the whole, haven’t been taught to love humans. Many of them have been brought up in broken homes, with both parents working, in day cares, and public schools that have not taught them true love and empathy for others.

            They’ve been taught to devalue human life. Animals are more important than people (I love animals, but human needs come first). Sex outside of marriage is okay. We’ve told them that abortion is just fine, if one is not yet mature/financially ready to raise a child. They’ve grown up hearing about Euthanasia for animals and recently, Eutanasia/assisted Suicide is okay if an old person or terminal person wants it. They’ve been allowed to be absolutely selfish and self serving, many of them. In the name of tolerance they’ve learned to hate that which they don’t understand. They’ve been taught that God is just a fairy tale, that evolution is the way things happened instead of a loving God speaking and creating by the power of His Word. They are being taught everything that directly opposes God’s Word and boundaries for people: sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, polygamy are all okay. Not liking your own sex and wanting to change it, is okay. So with a society like this, what are we going to reap?

            Not all young people are this way, of course, but a large percentage are. Most of our youth have been taught “socialism/ which is really a form of communism. They want big government to take care of them and pay for all of their needs. Bread and circuses.

            Now our government is taking away their fun and food, soon to cause them pain so that they will cry for more government help. If the government delays the help they will get rowdy.

            I do not have much hope for kindness being exhibited in the coming terrible days. The scriptures say that in the Last days, “the Love of many will wax cold”.

            But we who Know God the Father, must NOT allow our love to grow cold towards our fellow man, no matter what we are suffering!!!

            The days that are coming will be absolutely evil. Just know who you are in God, Know His word and do His will. Trust in Him.

            I am Not fear mongering. The fact of the matter is that we are living in the Last days and Satan hates God, His creation and the earth and wishes to use man to help him destroy it all and to have a remnant that will worship Him.

            But there is another remnant of Jews and Gentiles who love God the Father and the Creator and Will obey Him and His Word and will proclaim it to all who need His salvation. This remnant know God’s salvation and will receive eternal life.

            I am warning people to get ready and to prepare for it physically and spiritually.

            I think the door for preparation is just about closed.

            Please read the scriptures from the Old Testament that I gave: Zechariah 12-14, Daniel 7-9, Isaiah 14, 24, Amos, Ezekiel 38-39, Joel. Then read the New Testament to compare them with Matthew 24, Luke 21, Revelation. First and Second Thessalonians.

            Ani, I believe The Father God is speaking to you and guiding you. I think He is trying to reveal himself to you. You need to read these scriptures. Ask God to open up your understanding. Ask Him to protect you as you read and to show you that which He wants you to know and understand.

            I do not believe you are at our site just because you are a Survivalist. God lead you here for His purposes for your life and He loves you.

            We are far more than Survivalists here. We are children of God and are proclaiming His Word. We care for each and every reader who comes here for knowledge and help. Our care is not for just your physical Survival, it is also for Your Spiritual Eternal Well-being.

            But it is between you and God the Father and His written Word. So Please read His Written Word.

            May the Lord provide for all who call on His name and recite His promises that are in His word. If we proclaim and trust His promises He will supply our every need even during our lack.

            Much Blessing and safety, wisdom, understanding and discernment be given unto you,


      2. Ani & Avalanche Lily, I have read those exact notions online in Tweets by Millennials. “Boomers” such as myself are “expendable crewmen” at this point (Star Trek analogy there…).

        We’re just hogging the wealth and running the country into the ground. Maybe it’s best we just get out of the way and let these “smarter” youngsters take the reins.

        I don’t know how MANY of them are thinking stuff like this, but I know for sure that some of them are. And Lily is right, this is evil, stupid, shortsighted stuff. Heaven help us if that generation gets recruited into a Brownshirts movement…

        I grieve for those in the Church who have convinced themselves nothing “truly bad” can ever happen to us because we’re “Americans.” Because there “must” be a Rapture before anything awful like COVID or an economic collapse or invasion (my take: as “humanitarian aid,” at first). Very sadly, there are going to be a lot of shocked people in the days to come…

        Save the ones you love. Save as many as you can. Help them as much as you can without endangering those you have an obligation to protect and provide for.

        The morning is coming, but first the night…

        1. Lily and Shepherd Farmer Geek-

          Yes, I think that there is much at fault in how many of these younger people were raised and socialized and it is heartbreaking. In general, I have found homeschooled kids to be quite different and very into and appreciative of spending time with adults of all ages. As well, within the religious Jewish community, elders generally are revered, elderly Rabbis are deeply respected and this sort of sentiment expressed on Twitter etc isn’t found. So I know it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s really a matter of how children are raised and what they are exposed to. I just fear for what might happen in terms of “generational warfare” should this pandemic continue for any length of time.

          I’m glad I didn’t raise my son to act like that. He voluntarily called his grandmother to plead with her to stock up, stay at home and off the buses and trains so she doesn’t get sick!

    3. Wow, just on Page 1 of the report. Suppression is considered the best approach. I am not fond of that work unless used in a context of fighting fire.

      So, I tend to agree with your opinion, Shepherd. Rough ride ahead, buckle up.

      Carry on

  6. Hmm, about sanitizing n-95 masks ( or any other similiar type ), I’ve wondered if it was possible to put one in the oven at low heat to decontaminate to the used one.

    1. In oven – watch out for deformation of the relief valve rubber. I wouldn’t recommend for valved masks.

      I do think that the 9 day rotating approach combined with a UV germicidal lamp is a good strategy. Remember, the light can only kill what it comes into contact with – so rotate masks to expose all sides.

      If you are short on masks- 4 days might do it.
      K.B. linked to a good publication that came out a few days ago that we are using in my university health system to inform decisions. It supports the 4 day time frame… but be cautious – this is a small and single study – although from excellent authors.



    1. Old Guy, Thinly slice a bag of Brussels Sprouts and toast in coconut oil in a large skillet, then pour in a half-cup of water, put a lid on it and let them steam. Check on them in just a few minutes. Dump them out in a bowl.

      While the Sprouts are cooking, slice up a package of Polish sausage and fry it in the skillet once you’ve dumped the Sprouts. When fried to a lovely crispness, add the cooked Brussels Sprouts and stir to bring the entire dish up to serving temperature. This entire thing takes about 10 minutes and the dish is very attractive and flavorful!

      Bon appetit! 🙂

      1. Hmmmm. I’ll try it with the Italian sausage I just got at Costco.

        Our small county of 70K is 100 miles long by 20 miles wide, one Costco for all. The food court has no court now. There are stacks of pallets which are now piled outside the entrance to form barriers and fences. People are coming 50 miles including a ferry boat ride , from the Seattle megalopolis to this store now.

        Yep, the first foray by the Golden Hord.

  7. A great article!

    About trying to disinfect a mask, I can easily visualize the problem in spraying a mask and the likely damage that this can cause to the fibers of the mask. Even if set to deliver a fine mist, most sprayers probably deliver droplets that are too large. Thus, the “clumping” of the mask’s fibers.

    For the first time in my life, in the past couple of weeks, I have been using a vaporizer when I sleep due to allergies and such. This vaporizer puts out a considerable amount of cool vapor that wafts across me as I sleep. I have noticed that, even though I have the vaporizer placed near my pillow, the fabric of the pillow and sheet feel cool to the touch, but they never get to the point of actually feeling wet, as such.

    I am tossing this idea out for discussion. Just what would the effect be if a mild bleach solution was used in a vaporizer that was pointed toward the mask that was suspended in front of it? The vaporizer would be placed in confined space (where no one would be breathing the vapor).

    While this idea would, of course, require access to a vaporizer, I suspect that people could inquire with friends, particularly those with small children who often need vaporizers, and find one to use.

    Personally, I’m in good shape with regard to mask. The idea of rotating the masks seems to me to be the safest choice. Yet, some people ignored the advice to obtain masks before they disappeared from store shelves, and they have few masks to rotate.

    Is my idea a viable alternative for these people? “Asking for a friend.”

      1. Of course. That is why I said, “[W]here no one would be breathing the vapor.” I also mentioned that the idea would involve using a mild bleach solution.

        I have no credentials that would allow me to determine whether or not my idea is half-baked. I’m hoping that someone who has the training and education regarding the matter can address the issue. I don’t want to lead readers in the wrong direction.

        1. Survivormann99, great idea. And excellent idea, Wheatley, to NOT do that anywhere it can be inhaled! Outdoors might be best…

          Ultrasonic vaporizer humidifiers as low as about $20 on Amazon. Figure out which model will best direct the mist toward your contaminated mask. Time it so you stop before the mask is saturated – all you really want to do is sanitize the outer layer, not soak through the mask. Might only take a minute.

  8. Many crises come in three’s. This one could be corona virus, economic collapse, supply chain disruption AND food shortages coming up soon due to weather, locusts, grand solar minimum etc. Get cash, seeds, maybe grow bags for some, shampoo et cetera.
    Amazon has stopped shipping all but medical supplies and household items – just the things they don’t have anyway. Am I missing something? Time to go through the list of lists.

  9. There must be a range of temperatures that kill the virus but don’t harm the material. I would guess between 120 degrees F and 190 degrees F. I suspect an oven or autoclave would work given the right time

  10. When I dehyrate foods that may have a minimal amount of moisture in them, I bag them and put them in the freezer for a minimum of three days to kill any bacteria. Couldn’t we bag and date the masks, then put them in the freezer for a few days?

    Another way may be to transparent bag the masks, the let the sunlight disinfect them?

    1. Freezing bacteria and viruses prolongs their lives. It does not shorten them.

      Thawing glaciers that freed viruses has been used in (not very good) disaster movies.

    2. The mask will not stop airborne virus that are 0.3 microns, or smaller, but it will filter virus that is in a water droplets that are at least 5 microns in size and larger. And it keeps one’s hand away from the mouth and nose. My first choice is to use a period of time of 9 days at room temperature to allow the virus to become degraded, or use alcohol or bleach, as detailed earlier, should there not be enough masks. Even if the mask’s ability to filter is degraded somewhat, it should still be able to filter water borne particles that are 5 microns and larger. The mask would still be useful for most occasions, and effective if used outside of 6 foot in diameter distance from other persons. If one must conduct business at a distance, one should also attempt to meet outside, and stay up wind of the other person. However, I would expect 60 to 80% persons to eventually become infected if quarantine measures are not taken. We can only slow the process otherwise.

      As an experiment, after disinfecting the mask, and after it is dry, because I make my own nano silver, I would use a nano silver solution of the highest concentration I could, and would dip the mask in that, and let it air dry. This may, or may not improve the mask’s ability to protect. It would load the mask with silver particles that are 1 to 50 nm. Or if a less refined colloidal silver were used, 1 to 100 nm in size. One reason a mask of any kind is important, is to reduce the initial viral load when exposed. This would slow the onset, and severity of the disease in the early stages, and allow interdiction to occur. And a viral load that is very small, might be sequestered physically within the body, perhaps expelled, or swallowed and deactivated by stomach acids, or otherwise rendered ineffective. The virus needs to come in direct contact with the nano silver that is less than 10nm to be ‘killed’. During prolonged use, moisture from one’s breath would provide a natural barrier within the used filter’s matrix that improves the recycled mask to filter. Along with the nano silver embedded in a recycled mask, the ability of the mask to protect might be improved.

      The N95 mask as designed, is rated for about 20 minutes of use. Thereafter, the moisture from the breath may clog up the filter material to a point where the suction created by the next breath taken, may cause the mask to allow more air in from the sides where it does not seal well to the face. From that point forward, the mask no longer filters as designed, and the user expects, as only a portion of the air inhaled is actually filtered. Fitment is a serious concern not often mentioned, and few know to address. Without good fitment, the new mask is perhaps less effective, than a mask that has been soaked in disinfectant and recycled, yet fits well. A mask that must be reused, and it’s original ability to filter degraded, may actually be effective, albeit, a courser filter, that captures virus borne in water droplets, or spittle, and remains effective over periods of time greater that of a new N95 mask that is rated for only 20 minutes, and is clogged by moisture from breathing. Another important reason why masks are so important for every one to wear, is to slow the spread by carriers.

      1. Tunnel Rabbit, Regarding side leakage in an N-95 mask it’s possible to reduce that and get a better seal by lightly coating the edges of the mask with silicone caulk. Make sure the caulk is nice and smooth.

        Better masks have a wider rim that seals better to our faces. And better masks have adjustable straps so you can cinch the mask tighter and be sure you’re NOT having leakage.

        And just a reminder to everyone: having the “perfect” mask isn’t going to help you if your eyes get exposed or if you unconsciously contaminate yourself with your hands that have touched contaminated surfaces. Hand hygiene!

        More tomorrow…

        1. However, silicone caulk is smelly, and as mechanic, and carpenter with lots of practice with silicone, and latex gasket, and adhesive caulks used on many different surfaces and situations, most would have difficulty applying it well enough for the purpose. It’s tricky stuff. The principle is interesting tho, and perhaps has potential. Duct taping it to the face would be better. I have ski googles as protection for the eyes. These do seal well against the faces, however, they may fog up, so I also have several standard safety googles, that can be carried in a pocket just in case. However, the soft, and open cell foam weather stripping with self adhesive backing, could be applied to all, or most of the rim of some N95 masks. This would not be particularly difficult if the rim is wide, and would conform better to contours, and be comfortable as are ski googles. Inexpensive to try and can be used immediately.

          I would avoid building interiors with N95 masks, and prefer a military gas mask for that job, but those are probably expensive, or hard to find, now. A good alternative would be an industrial grade, P100 level respirator. These seal against the face well, and the filter inlets can be sealed with duct tape before being decontaminated. And if you do scuba, you’ve got your own 40 min air supply. It might be cheap this time of year to find this gear used. I might even use a portable oxygen tank to feed a military gas mask, or feed oxygen into a non rebreath, or other type medical mask made for delivering oxygen, or other similar. I could also easily put together a compact 12 vdc fan powered HEPA filter that is similar to my homemade fallout shelter filtering system. This can feed a CPAP air supply line, and provide positive pressure to any adaptable face mask. Necessity is the mother of invention. Hope some one can use some of these ideas. I’ll be self quarantined. Young or old, if anyone has preexisting conditions, or risk factors, the danger is too high. Anyone who frequents contaminated areas will likely become infected sooner or latter. We can hope only to reduce the viral load with these techniques and soften the initial onset of the disease. This may result in a less severe disease course.

          Boosting the immune system is probably a better strategy. Self isolation is really the best strategy that ensures one avoids the disease’s peak, and may see them though to a point in time when the disease has passed though the community, and hospitals might once again be available, or remedy found. We can expect several waves. It is mutating into less severe, and more virulent forms. Eventually 80% will get one form or another, and many will be reinfected. Reinfection may result in a deadly cytokine storm and near sudden death. Regardless, a high intial viral loads hits hard and may simply die on the spot. The CDC numbers are low ball, and WHO claims a higher 3.4%. The real CFR assuming hospitalization is available is closer to 6% with hospitalization. Without hospitalization of the 15 to 20% who need oxygen or ventilators to recover, most will probably not make it. We could see several million to 10 million deaths in this country, or more by the time several waves of this comes and goes. The math suggest more, however no model can predict how the virus mutates over time, or can predict the effect of successful containment efforts.

          Self isolation, then boosting the immune system. Masks and googles only retard the process. We lost the biggest part of our advantage, because the CDC failed us in multiple ways. I would avoid their advice in the future, and any vaccination. WHO probably knew it escaped their lab in Wuhan in Oct 2019, and did nothing to warn the rest of the world until just recently.

          Getting out of the cities and moving to the Redoubt is the first best step. At some future point, those in the Redoubt may restrict travel into the Redoubt. There is nothing in the city worth dying for. It will be very nasty and dangerous there, and you would be trapped there, as the banking/financial system also collapses, as it is already is, but in slow, then suddenly, in faster motion. They cannot stop the bleeding, and the damage to the global economy is hastening the process. The markets, including the Bond market is being artificially supported together, but they cannot effect the largest market that is the Forex, and prevent the dollar from falling. They are out room to maneuver. Their one trick pony, the FED, has no place to go, but to print us into oblivion. And this is exactly what has begun.

  11. Addition to my earlier comment: It may be necessary to first let any accumulated moisture in the mask be sundried first, before freezing. Just thinkin’.

  12. Around 160 degrees F sounds about right. I have some experience with plastics that were good to 165 degrees. Since I don’t know the materials and manufacturers could use different plastic compositions it would only be a good guess

  13. I’m tossing my 2 cents in as an RN with 15 years experience. It’s a bad idea to reuse any N95 mask that has been used for viral protection. In a healthcare setting such as this pandemic, reusing PPE is asking to get you and others infected. You “might” be able to decon it, but you are just as likely to destroy its integrity. In a desperate contingency, its probably worth trying (as in anything is better than nothing), but only if you’re desperate. These things are by nature flimsy and meant to be discarded. If you want a reusable, buy something like a MIRA if you can still find one.

    1. RB, Ordinarily you’d be right. But nobody has enough masks. Nobody. There are approaches that will damage the mask, the head straps or the valve flap. But there are other approaches that will not. Stay tuned.

      1. Yes, my mom was questioning me about the N95 masks I sent her and she noted that she thought they were supposed to be disposable and only worn once. I said, yes Mom, but we don’t have enough so if you wear one just for reasonable protection cause you go outside and not because you’re right on top of someone who is sick you will need to reuse it. But she still has refused to wear one anyway so far as she doesn’t want to look dumb and “only the Chinese people wear them in her area”. Sigh……

    1. Yes. To sterile instruments, these must be placed on a stand of some kind, high within the pressure cooker above the water, and where the hot steam can sterilize it after 45 minutes, at near 15 pounds of pressure. I doubt a mask would retain it’s original shape.

  14. For those talking about putting the mask in the oven or other places in the house, think on this, you have now brought a contaminated object into your home spewing germs everyplace and what if the decon method only helps send germs out better. Most what I just talked about comes from Army CNBC doctrine.

    1. That is why I would recommended using alcohol or bleach to sanitized the mask outside some time ago, rather than the 9 day time period at room temperature. There is a risk of contaminating the living quarters. And if there is more than one person in the household, the risk increases. And there is a risk another person might use a mask that has not had time to decontaminate.

  15. I just broke out my N95 masks. I’ve had them for a few years, 3 or 4. These are from Kimberly-Clark. The elastic bands have dry rot. They don’t stretch very far before they break. The good news is I have some left-over store bought elastic I bought to repair a pair of sweat pants. It worked great and it’s reusable.

    So I went out today to pick up some fresh veggies for salads. I’m in 2 different stores. I forgot to wear my mask. No real big deal, I’m doing the exact same things I do during every flu season. The precautions are the same.

    Topped of my car with gas. $1.79/gal at Sunoco. I haven’t bought gas that cheaply is several years. Between the oil wars going on between Russia and Saudi Arabia and the new coronamania there may be a silver lining in lower gas prices and, a little latter on, lower prices on goods in the stores after they restock, since there has been so much stockpiling by panicked shoppers.

  16. Consider NUMBERING your masks (e.g. mark them 01 ,02, 03…), then on paper and/or as an electronic note or calendar entry, record the date & location of each wearing of each mask. If you write the dates on your masks themselves, you’ll run out of room, and you won’t have info about high-risk vs low-risk history. With the NUMBERING plus NOTES system, if you find out covid-19 has been detected someplace you’ve been, you can figure out which mask(s) you wore there, and treat them differently. We line ours up in numerical order at maximum spacing on the tile floor of a walk-in shower in a bathroom we are not using for any other purpose. We use a different color for each person’s mask—color coded.

  17. Consider brilliant sunlight as a UV source. It would have to be a clear sky midday, but if it has enough UV to give you a serious sunburn, it has should easily have enough energy to destroy the protein structures of the virus.

  18. Also thought about this very issue a week or so ago. We have a few masks purchased a while back but are still in good condition. As I wondered how to possibly sterilize a used one (didn’t want to cook it, spray it, etc for all reasons given above) I remembered something I read way back about using sunlight (UV) as a disinfectant for clothing. Our outdoor clothesline now has about 10 masks hanging on the line with clothespins. When I first put the clothesline in, many years ago, I made sure it was in direct sunlight. With denoted rotation, each mask currently stays in sunlight all day for three or four days each. Not sure how well it will eventually work but all the fuzzy fibers, etc seem to be perfectly intact so far. Of course this requires sunlight. YMMV.

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