Are you searching for the best mask for smoke and dust? Do you live in an area with air that is heavily polluted or suffers from the occasional smoke from natural wildfires in the surrounding areas? If your answer is yes, then you need the best smoke mask that you can find so that you will not be suffering from chronic lung diseases.
It is not enough that you wrap your scarf or bandanna around your mouth. The holes in the fabric are still big enough to let most of the dangerous particles through and into your respiratory system. You will need a true smoke mask with a government-certified air filter so that you can safely breathe in the air outside.
One would think that any face mask will do, but not all of them can filter all of the harmful irritants in smoke. You will need true smoke protection masks to prevent you from inhaling all those nasty stuff. This article will teach you what mask to wear for smoke, how they work, and why it is important that you use them when needed.
You will also learn about the factors you need to consider when shopping for a mask to filter smoke. Furthermore, you will be receiving a couple of recommendations as follows.
Table of Contents
- Best Mask for Smoke Reviews of 2020
- 1. 3M 8511 Respirator
- 2. LotFancy N95 Particulate Respirator Mask
- 3. BURVAGY Disposable Dust Mask
- 4. BASE CAMP BC N95 Respirator Mask
- 5. BASE CAMP Dust Breathing Mask
- 6. IKJK N95 N99 Respirator Mask
- 7. 3M Rugged Comfort Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
- 8. HIYUTOY Disposable Dust Anti-pollution Mask
- 9. ECO-GEAR Anti-pollution Face Mask
- 10. SolidWork N95 Dust Mask
- 11. ANALAN Dust Anti-air Pollution Mask
- 12. Benehal Disposable Dust Mask
- What is a Smoke Mask
- How Does the Smoke Mask Work
- Types of Smoke Masks
- Why Do You Need a Mask for Smoke
- Buying Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Mask for Smoke Reviews of 2020
1. 3M 8511 Respirator
This is one of the best options for a mask for smoke protection. It is mainly because of its soft and lightweight construction. There are very few masks available that are a joy to wear than this one. Even though the filter media is still as efficient as ever at blocking harmful particulates, it is still easy to breathe while wearing this mask.
I also liked that this face mask for smoke protection comes with 3M’s patented Coolflow breathing valve. This helps regulate the amount of heat, water vapor, and carbon dioxide that tends to build up inside other masks.
It is also reassuring that this 3M smoke mask is certified N95 by the NIOSH. This means that it can filter even the smallest particles suspended in the smoky air, like ash, soot, and other nasty stuff.
I find the adjustable nose clip very helpful indeed. Unlike other disposable masks, the nose clips used in this smoke mask are easy to shape to fit the bridge of the nose. They also make a good seal without pinching the nose too hard.
2. LotFancy N95 Particulate Respirator Mask
This smoke mask has a 4-layer filter design that helps keep even the tiniest airborne particulates out of my respiratory system. This is the reason why it got a well-deserved N95 NIOSH rating. If you see ratings like N95 written on a smoke mask, it is guaranteed to filter out most of the airborne particulates.
This particular face mask for wildfire smoke puts a lot of emphasis on providing comfort for its users. First of all, it has adjustable elastic bands. If the mask still feels loose, you can tighten up the elastic bands a bit until you feel that it is perfectly secure on your face.
Although this is an N95 mask for wildfire smoke as certified by the NIOSH, it does not restrict one’s breathing. Moreover, even though the mask is made of four different filtration layers, it still feels cool to wear, thanks to its built-in exhale valve.
Another feature that I love about this mask is that it can be folded in half for easier storage and portability. Unlike other filter masks for smoke that you have to be careful when placing in your bag, you can fold this one right in the middle and keep it in your pocket.
3. BURVAGY Disposable Dust Mask
The first thing I noticed about this mask is the price. You can get a pack containing 20 pieces for just a little over $20, which is one of the best deals that you can find online or offline.
The great thing about this smoke mask is that it is constructed with five layers of materials. One of these layers is an activated coal layer, which does not only filter small particles in the air but also blocks foul odors.
The mask also comes with two straps that go around the neck, providing a secure but still comfortable fit. With these straps, you will not feel that your ears are irritated in any way.
Of course, this mask is rated N95 by the NIOSH, which means that it can be used when there is too much smoke or debris hanging in the air. One example is when there is a wildfire in the area near your neighborhood.
4. BASE CAMP BC N95 Respirator Mask
The first thing that I noticed is that this mask comes in several different colors, which is a refreshing manufacturing choice for Base Camp. Just because it is a PPE, it does not mean it should just come in one bland color scheme.
Although the mask looks nice, it is still an N95 rated mask as certified by the NIOSH. This means it can block particles that are wider than .3 microns, which is less than five percent of all the solid particles suspended in the air we breathe.
There is no need to worry about moisture and heat buildup inside the mask whenever you breathe because it has an efficient discharge valve that opens up whenever you exhale. It also shuts closed when you inhale.
It is a neat feature that you can easily fold it up and stow it away in your pockets when not in use. You can also easily pull it out and use it anytime.
5. BASE CAMP Dust Breathing Mask
The thing that I liked the most about this mask is its nylon mesh construction. This makes the mask breathable, non-irritating, and moisture-wicking. This makes it perfect for outdoor activities.
This is designed to stay on the face once worn. First, this has an adjustable nose bridge support made of soft aluminum, making it seal better and help the mask sit on your face more securely. Furthermore, the neck strap is quite thick and has ear loops integrated within.
This mask also has two discharge valves. This means that there will be even less resistance when you are breathing. The two valves will make sure that there is an insignificant amount of carbon dioxide and moisture inside the mask.
The most impressive feature of this mask is that it has an N99 rating given by the NIOSH. This means that it can filter up to 99% of all foreign particles in the air.
6. IKJK N95 N99 Respirator Mask
The thing I truly liked about this mask is that unlike the others, it is made primarily of a cotton-blend material. This makes it highly breathable even in places where it can get pretty warm. Even though the material is breathable, it can still filter particulates in the air quite readily.
I am also glad that it is N99 rated by the NIOSH. The filter inserts will not have any trouble handling particles that are larger than 0.3 microns in diameter. It can also handle pollution conditions up to PM2.5, which is not that common with smoke masks.
This mask is reusable. However, the filter inserts are not. This means you need to dispose of them properly. The mask itself can be washed along with the regular laundry.
It is also quite easy to use. To my surprise, it is one of the easiest to wear among the masks in this list. The ear loops are quite soft and elastic. This can fit most people’s faces without any problem at all.
7. 3M Rugged Comfort Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
The thing that I love the most about this product is that it is a true, honest to goodness respirator. This mask uses heavy-duty filter cartridges that do not only filter the solid particles in the air but also block harmful fumes from reaching your nose and mouth.
It is very comfortable despite the way it looks. The adjustable head harness perfectly distributes the weight of the mask all over your head so it will not be much of an issue.
Even though this is an industrial-grade smoke mask, it provides the user with a wide field of vision. It is because the mask and filters are positioned lower on the face. This means they do not obstruct your vision.
It comes with 3M’s proprietary CoolFlow exhaust valve. This means that even if you will be wearing this mask for the good part of the day, it will not heat or fog up inside. You will be able to work in relative comfort without compromising your safety.
8. HIYUTOY Disposable Dust Anti-pollution Mask
The first thing that surprised me about this particular mask is that it is very affordable. You can get a pack of twenty for just under $14. This equates to each mask just costing a couple of cents each. While it is one of the cheapest masks for smoke, this does not instantly mean that it does not work as well as the others.
This disposable smoke respirator is made of five layers of different filter materials, including one layer of activated carbon. Aside from protecting you against the harmful particles floating in the air, the activated carbon can also get rid of odors, making it easier to breathe.
This mask is also made of non-woven fabric, thus allowing it to breathe while still filtering most of the dust and microscopic debris suspended in the air. It is rated N95 by the NIOSH, which proves its ability to filter up to 95% of all the dust in the air.
The best thing about this mask is that it has a large breathing valve. This allows the heat and condensation created by the user’s breath to escape quickly.
9. ECO-GEAR Anti-pollution Face Mask
The thing that I truly love about this smoke mask from ECO-GEAR is that it comes in many different colors and designs, not just the normal black or white color options. This is great for people who like wearing bright colors to break the monotony of their regular outfits, like the ones who like wearing colorful socks or ties with their suits.
Just because these masks do not take themselves seriously when it comes to colors and designs, it does not mean that they are not serious when it comes to breathing and face protection. This mask comes with an N95 NIOSH rating, which means it can protect the wearer against dust, debris, pollen, and even from viruses.
I am pleased that this mask has two exhaust valves. These valves effectively prevent carbon dioxide and moisture from building up inside when the user exhales. This also prevents the inside of the mask from heating up, thus keeping the face of the user always fresh and dry even worn for hours on end.
10. SolidWork N95 Dust Mask
This disposable smoke mask is also a great choice as you can easily adjust it to fit any face shape. The adjustable bridge support makes it easy to create a complete seal around the face.
I am happy with the efficient exhaust valve that is integrated with each of these disposable masks. This helps keep inside cool and comfortable. Even though there is only a single valve, it works somewhat as efficiently as those with two valves.
I liked that this mask is also NIOSH certified N95, making it great for filtering all the tiny dust and other irritants in the air, including smoke. It can even block viruses as they are much bigger than the 0.3 microns that these filters can keep out.
Another detail that I am so impressed with is that the elastic band that holds the mask to the face is pretty durable. It is welded onto the mask, preventing it from tearing off. This is nice for people with rather wide heads.
11. ANALAN Dust Anti-air Pollution Mask
Another of my recommendations is this anti-air pollution mask from ANALAN. I love it mainly because of its wonderful customer support. If one has any valid complaints about the product, the company has no qualms giving refunds and even lets customers keep the mask. Not that many companies have this sort of confidence in their products.
I am also glad that they use eco-friendly bamboo fabrics for making their masks. Although this is unorthodox, bamboo filters are very efficient. The filters can work on par with synthetic filters.
Even though there is no exhaust valve, it does not feel stuffy inside even when worn for hours. The mask is designed to release built-up CO2 and moisture. This is better at regulating the heat inside than other masks that have exhaust valves.
I also love that this mask comes in several designs. This is great for people who commute daily to work. They can coordinate their masks with their daily outfits. You can choose from three different designs depending on your mood for the day.
12. Benehal Disposable Dust Mask
This is one of the top smoke masks for many reasons and one of them is the fact that it is N95 certified by the NIOSH. This means that the mask can filter 95% of dust and other irritants that are present in the air and smoke.
This disposable smoke mask is pretty easy to wear. It can also quickly and easily create a seal. The elastic bands hold the mask securely against the face. It also features adjustable nose clips to ensure a perfect fit for your face.
I like the exhaust valve that comes with this mask. It is large enough to promote ease in breathing and keeping the inside of the mask dry and cool. It is not so large that smoke and dust can get through the valve when they open up when you exhale.
I am also happy that you can fold the mask in half to fit inside my pants pockets. This also makes it possible for me to carry several masks in my satchel.
What is a Smoke Mask
Although there are many different kinds of face masks out there, a smoke mask, to be considered as such, needs to obtain an N95 rating. Having this rating means that this particular mask can filter out 95% of particulate matter suspended in the air.
These include soot and smoke, especially if you live in a densely populated city where the pollution levels are quite high. It could be because of the millions of cars and other vehicles traversing the roadways.
A smoke mask can help the regular commuter survive the daily grind of commuting to and from the office. If you thought that you do not need smoke protection just for your commute to work then you are wrong. You should not wait until it is too late and you already have a serious respiratory condition before you think about wearing the mask.
Smoke masks come in all sorts of designs but they all function the same way. With that, your choice is just a matter of personal taste or comfort.
How Does the Smoke Mask Work
Smoke masks, also known as particulate respirator masks, are devices that you use to cover your nose and mouth. It serves as a physical barrier between your respiratory system and the smoke and pollution in the air. If you find a mask that is labeled N95, then that means it can at least filter out 95% of all airborne particles.
On the other hand, a smoke mask certified as P100 can filter at least 99.7% of particulate matter in the air. These are the kinds of masks that the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) approves the use of, especially in highly polluted areas.
The filters used in smoke masks are usually made up of fine plastic strands that are pressed onto a fine screen mesh. This creates a complex, irregular netting pattern. The manufacturers then take these screens and form them into face masks. Some face masks are reusable. You just replace the filter inserts when they are full.
Others are disposable and can only be used for a couple of days at the most. The very fine irregular netting will physically catch the small particles as they try to get through the filter. The N95 and P100 certified smoke masks can capture particulate matter in the air that is as small as 0.3 microns wide. These are things that are too small for the naked eye to see.
As a reference, a human red blood cell is around 7 microns wide and you can fit a thousand of them on a pinhead. Many smoke mask filters are charged with static electricity, allowing the filter to attract the small airborne particles to stick to them, much like how a magnet works on fine iron shavings.
The plastic fibers in the filter will forever retain their static charge, so you do not have to worry about it not being able to do its job. If you are forced to subject yourself to poor quality air, you will need to use a smoke mask. One example is when there is a wildfire near your area and the wind sometimes blows the smoky haze into your neighborhood
It is because this polluted air can contain particulate matter that can cause severe irritation to your respiratory system and/or make existing heart and lung diseases worse. One thing to remember, though, is that smoke masks cannot protect you from toxic fumes and chemical vapors. There are industry-specific respirators meant for such applications.
Types of Smoke Masks
Smoke masks can generally be categorized into two types – disposable and reusable. Although there are few reasons why you should choose one over the other, know that both breathing protection devices work well in filtering harmful contaminants in the air.
Disposable smoke masks look like they are made of paper but they are made of a blend of different material fibers. The entire mask works as a filter, which means you will have a large surface area that can filter more air so that you can breathe a whole lot easier.
Disposable masks can be used for up to three days in a row when used regularly and up to a week or two when used for under an hour at a time.
Reusable masks, on the other hand, are made of synthetic fabrics that are both breathable and elastic. The most common mask materials these days are polyester and neoprene. These have removable, disposable filters that you have to change periodically or until they are full.
The masks, themselves, are washable and reusable. However, you need to dispose of the filters once used. Regarding the filter ratings, anything that is rated N95 or P100 is recommended. It does not matter which of the two you choose. The P100 is only very slightly better at filtration than the N95. The difference is often negligible.
Why Do You Need a Mask for Smoke
Most people think that wearing a bandanna or surgical mask is enough to protect themselves against smoke. The truth is that those things hardly do anything to protect your respiratory system from the harm brought by all kinds of smoke.
First of all, cloth bandannas are extremely porous. This means that the holes in the fabric can only block larger particles and debris, like ash and dust carried by air. They do nothing against the microscopic particles in smoke that cause the most damage.
Surgical masks are not also that useful. It does not filter contaminants in the air. They are almost as useless as bandannas when it comes to handling smoke. The reason why doctors and other people in hospitals wear masks is so that they will not negatively affect the fragile health of their patients.
The reason why you need proper breathing protection against smoke is that it does pose a serious medical threat. If you live in an area where wildfires are common occurrences, you need to know that wildfire smoke contains millions upon millions of microscopic debris that can cause severe respiratory irritation and infections.
This can also worsen existing lung and heart conditions. Now, if the wildfire smoke travels down to urban areas, it gets mixed with the pollution-filled air of the city and raises the ozone levels in the air, which was already high, to begin with. Going outside during those conditions without proper breathing protection can put their health and lives in danger.
In cases like this, it is important that people just stay in their homes. However, if they need to go out, they should wear smoke masks that are either N95 or P100 rated just to be on the safe side.
There are thousands of different brands and models of smoke masks. Selecting just one can be quite tricky. Hopefully, this simple buying guide can help teach about the important things that you need to look for in a good smoke mask.
NIOSH Rating – The NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) is the government body that is responsible for giving certifications for PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) certifications. If a smoke mask is certified by this agency, you can be sure that it can function as it is supposed to.
When you are shopping for a smoke mask, search for either N95 or P100 NIOSH ratings. This means that the mask can filter at least 99% of all particulates in the air.
Fit – The smoke mask must fit perfectly over the user’s nose and mouth. The smoke mask needs to create a complete seal around the nose and mouth. There should not be any gaps around the edges that smoke can get through. Ideally, the mask should be stretchable so that it can conform to the shape of your face and create a complete seal.
Also, you should choose smoke masks that have adjustable nose bridges. The bridge of the nose is usually the part of the mask that tends to produce gaps in the mask. Usually, masks have a soft metal band around the bridge area that you can pinch to fit perfectly on your nose.
Coverage – Smoke masks are supposed to protect your respiratory system so they should at least cover the nose and mouth. However, if you will be going into environments with foreign particles in the air that can also irritate your eyes and skin then you should get masks that cover more of your face than just the nose and mouth.
Some smoke masks or respirators have goggles to protect the eyes and most of the skin on the face. These masks are usually used in manufacturing processes, like metal grinding and woodworking. However, if the smoke and pollution outside get too much then these masks will be viable options.
Weight – The mask should not weigh so much that it feels uncomfortable after fifteen minutes or so. Even though the mask performs a heavy-duty job, it should not weigh more than a couple of grams.
Now, even if the mask itself is made of rather dense materials, like neoprene, the straps should at least make it so that the weight is equally distributed. This means that when the mask is fastened on, it should not feel awkward to wear at all.
Durability – It is only normal for you to want to get the most use out of your smoke mask. This is why you need to check which ones are more durable than the rest. For disposable masks, the average length of use is just a couple of months, so when you find a brand that promises up to a week of regular use then you should be pleasantly skeptical.
Check online reviews of the product to confirm if the brand does deliver on its promise. For reusable masks, you need to check both the removable filters and the mask itself. Find out how long the filters usually last before you need to replace them.
You also need to learn about the mask itself, like if there are any special care instructions for it, and how to store it properly so that it can last for as long as it can.
Care and Maintenance
This will depend on what kind of smoke mask you prefer to use. If you care to only use disposable masks then you need to know a couple of important things, like how to tell if it is already at its capacity. You also have to be aware of the proper storage of the spare ones.
One thing to determine about reusable masks is how often you need to wash them. It is also crucial to learn how to wash, dry and store it properly. Thankfully, there are always care instructions printed on the packaging of the masks or the tag. Usually, though, they can all be hand washed (many are machine-washable too) and just need to be hung out to dry.
If the filter has become too discolored then it is time to replace it. If you have been using the mask quite regularly and enduring a significant amount of smog and pollution then you will need to replace the filter after two or three days. This goes the same for the disposable masks.
However, if you find that you are having a hard time breathing through the mask after just one day of use then you need to replace it immediately. For unused disposable masks, store them somewhere cool. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight. The light and heat will cause the mask to get brittle.
Also, make sure that the original packaging is sealed tight. Do the same when you are using a reusable mask. The only difference is that you should wash and dry it beforehand and store it in a plastic bag without a filter insert. This way, you can wear it immediately whenever you need to.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most popular brands of respirator mask for smoke?
The challenge of first-time buyers of smoke masks is the sheer number of choices that they have. However, if you are looking for those that have been consistently getting top marks from people who have bought them, you cannot go wrong with trusted brands, like 3M, LotFancy, BURVAGY, BASE CAMP, IKJK, HIYUTOY, ECO-GEAR, SolidWork, ANALAN, and Benehal.
These are the brands that come highly recommended by the people who have used them, so it is very likely that you will receive the same kind of satisfaction.
How to use the smoke mask?
Most people think that using a smoke mask is just as simple as taking it out of the packaging and placing it over the nose and mouth. However, those are not the only steps involved.
For most disposable smoke masks, there are a couple of extra steps. First, place the mask over the nose and mouth then position the elastic straps behind your head so that the mask will not slide up or down your face.
Next, make sure that the mask makes a complete seal over the face. There should not be any gaps along the sides of the mask where smoke can sneak in and get into your nose and throat. Lastly, pinch the soft metal band on top so that it fits comfortably over the bridge of your nose. This will further seal the mask over your face and make it feel more comfortable.
When it comes to reusable smoke masks, you have to do the same thing as if you are using a disposable mask but with a couple of additional steps. First of all, before wearing the mask, make sure that there is a filter inserted inside; otherwise, wearing it will be futile.
Furthermore, if the mask has them, make sure that the exhaust valves are open just enough that you can breathe as you normally would.
What is the warranty?
Most disposable smoke masks do not come with warranties. However, when they do, they only cover returns on damaged packaging and contents. On the other hand, when it comes to reusable masks, the warranties will depend on the manufacturer. Some offer three months when it comes to manufacturing defects or if it got damaged due to normal use.
Other manufacturers are a bit more proud of their products, giving the users limited lifetime warranties. This covers normal wear and tear but not damage caused by user error. If you will be buying masks online, it is best to go with sellers who provide free returns if you find that the ones delivered to you do not fit properly.
Some manufacturers understand that it can be hard to find a properly-fitting smoke mask when you cannot try them on first and just rely on a fitting chart. This is nice since an improperly-fitting smoke mask is useless. It is because smoke can still find its way inside the dust mask.
Where to buy the smoke mask?
It would be better to buy the smoke mask in a brick and mortar shop. This way, you can do test fittings before buying them. As mentioned earlier, a smoke mask must fit over your face perfectly without any gaps along the sides for smoke and dust to sneak through.
However, the problem here is that most hardware and hobby stores rarely have more than one (if any) smoke masks on the stock. Unless you are lucky, it is unlikely that your local shop has a perfectly-fitting mask on their shelves. This is why it is still more convenient to purchase smoke masks online. How will you find the perfect fit if you cannot do test fittings?
The best thing to do in this kind of situation is to buy them in small numbers. Buy the smallest pack of masks of different brands that are available. Fortunately, smoke masks are not that expensive so you can get a couple of packs to compare without making a dent on your wallet.
In terms of reusable masks, you do not have to worry about the fit too much as they are usually one-size-fits-all deals.
What do the NIOSH ratings mean?
As mentioned earlier, one needs to look for the ones that are certified N95 or P100 when shopping for smoke masks. Now the question is, what do those letters and numbers mean?
The letter at the front of the rating is the classification of the filter that indicates how resistant to the effects of petroleum it is. N means that the filter is not resistant to petroleum. R means it is somewhat resistant. P means that the filter is petroleum-proof.
The number in the second part of the rating is the number of particles in the air that the filter can block in terms of percentage. For instance, let us take the most common rating, N95. This means that the filter is not resistant to petroleum and can block up to 95% of all airborne particles, which is 0.3 microns or larger. This is roughly the same diameter as a virus cell.
How do smoke masks work?
The way the smoke masks work is quite simple. The most important part of the whole mask is the filter membrane. This is the part that blocks the foreign particles from getting inside your respiratory system. Think of it as if it is a fishing net. The holes are just large enough to block small dust and other harmful particles but still open enough to let clean air through.
This means that you can breathe in clean air but the harmful particles suspended in the atmosphere get trapped in the fibers of the filter membrane. Speaking of the filter, the way these are made is different from weaving fabrics. It first starts with a fine mesh, which already can catch large dust and dirt particles.
However, it is made even finer by giving it a liberal sprinkling of extremely fine plastic fibers. The fibers are charged with static electricity so they stick to the mesh, thus creating an irregular mesh pattern. The pores in this resulting filter will only let very small particles through.
The filters used in smoke masks have such small pores that they will not even let particles that are bigger than 3 microns wide. For perspective, the thinnest human hair is already 40 microns thick.
If you want to protect yourself from the harms caused by smoke, you need to get an appropriate smoke mask. These PPE devices can effectively filter particulates in the air that cannot even be seen by the naked eye, including most of the irritants in smoke.
If you need help picking out the best mask for smoke, consider the buying guide and the recommendations provided above. If the amount of smoke in your city has proven to be too much for your lungs, you will need to get yourself the best smoke mask as soon as possible.