We’ve all been using masks a lot more in the last couple of years, and it’s taken a bit of getting used to. One of the main issues people have noticed with N95 masks in particular is the odour they produce. Why do N95 masks smell like chemicals?
N95 masks can smell like chemicals because of the preservative chemicals used when making them. These chemicals help prevent bacteria from growing on the masks and preserves their cleanliness until distribution. The packaging of N95 masks causes chemical smells to remain on the masks even after use.
Read on to find out more.
N95 masks aren’t supposed to have a smell most of the time. There are instances where they may smell like chemicals when first taken out of the packaging. This can happen because there are chemicals used in the making of the N95 masks. These chemicals can include formaldehyde, dioxin, or aniline, and are used to preserve the mask. The chemicals can also provide protection from certain bacteria when you are using an N95 mask.
Since there are chemicals in the make-up of the mask, the smell of the chemicals is sometimes unavoidable. When an N95 mask does smell like chemicals, it shouldn’t be a huge cause for concern. It is a good indication that the correct steps have been taken to sanitise the mask before distributing it.
You might notice your N95 mask develop a smell as you wear it. This is also something that you shouldn’t worry about. It is the impact of your breath on the mask. This is something you may not be used to being aware of when you smell because we are used to our breath being carried away from us. But with the wearing of masks, our breath has nowhere else to go. So, a smell can develop within the mask, mixing the chemicals and our own breath together. Remember, it is recommended to discard your N95 mask after around five uses. An odour is likely to build in this time. If you don’t like the smells that occur with these masks, you can buy other protective masks such as level 2 surgical masks.
Similarly, to N95 masks, KN95 masks are also made using chemicals, hence the chemical smell. It is the same chemical treatment process for both masks that work to sterilise the masks before use. This process uses chemicals such as formaldehyde during production and these chemicals bind to the mask material. Then KN95 masks are packaged in plastic that stops the chemicals from becoming airborne and being removed from the masks. So, when you pull a KN95 mask out of the packaging to use, you often will notice a bit of a chemical smell.
As we’ve said, this is a good sign that the mask has been created and sterilised properly. It means that you are well protected by wearing the KN95 mask.
The best way to get a chemical smell out of a mask is to use an essential oil on the mask. Natural, antibacterial oils are the best option. Tea tree oil is commonly used to get chemical smells out of masks for people who don’t want to smell the chemicals. It is easy to source and an easy fix to the smell problem. All you need to do is add a few drops of the essential oil you choose into a sink of hot water. Then take the masks out of their packaging and move them around the water. This will help mix the essential oil and water together. The heat helps to wash the oil scent into the masks. Let the masks soak for 5-10 minutes. Then take them out and hang them to dry. This should be enough to get chemical smells out of your masks.
It’s a good idea to give the masks a small spray with some form of disinfectant before wearing them. This is an extra precaution to keep you safe after removing the chemical smell from the masks.
KN95 masks often have a slight sterile and chemical smell. They are made with the intention of being sterile safe masks to protect against a range of bacteria. With this purpose in mind, multiple chemicals are used in the production and packaging process. So, having a slight chemical smell bind to the mask material is inevitable.
If the masks have been stored for a while, they can develop a stronger smell. This smell can also differ depending on where the KN95 masks were manufactured. Also, if you buy protective face masks online, the storage and shipping process can change the smell of the masks. But, if they have been properly packaged, they will still protect you no matter the smell.
In general terms, there may be many reasons your mask smells weird. It may be that harsh chemicals were used in the production of them. It may just be that your breath has built up in the mask over time.
There are a few other general reasons that your mask might smell weird. If you are a smoker, then this can leave an unpleasant smell on your mask.
If you ate something with a strong odour, then this could also be leaving a smell on your mask.
Anything which leads you to have a dry mouth could also be producing a bad smell. Sleep apnoea, medications, and lots of these things can lead to a dry mouth and produce bad breath.
So, there can be any number of reasons your mask smells. You’ll have to look at your own habits and think about what is leading to the bad smells. If it’s none of your own and the masks are new, the chemical smell is coming from the mask itself.
When you get some new masks and they smell right out of the packaging, this is a sign that chemicals have been used to produce them. There’s a simple way to get rid of the smell that we touched on earlier.
Essential oils are going to be your best bet. Add a natural, antibacterial oil to a sink full of hot water. Thoroughly soak the masks in the water and let it sit in the sink for around ten minutes.
Once the time has passed, squeeze the water out of the mask. Then, leave it to dry and the smell should be gone.
If this doesn’t work, the chemicals may simply be too strong. In most cases, though, this should do the trick.
For cloth masks, you can give them a good wash and hang them outside to dry. This can help freshen the masks up and remove unpleasant odours.
Cloth masks are a great reusable protective option. We have triple-layered unisex reusable cloth masks available alongside many other surgical and daily protective masks in our Paragon Tools shop. Be sure to grab yourself a pack of protective masks today!
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