Mask Testing

Testing the use and effectiveness of masks
Kris R Tirth Patel
Grade 10


For our results we believe that the cloth mask would beat the standard surgical masks in an air test since it covers most of the face it will be harder to blow air out of it. For the particle test (Independent) the surgical mask would break through since there are more gaps and the mask is from a denser material. As for the water test the cloth mask as a significant advantage and we believe that the cloth mask will win against the surgical mask because of its density and material. The electrostatic test (Dependent) is a bit hard to determine at times, since static electricty is built up from the imbalance between negative and positive charges, an example of friction can cause this. Because of the circumstances and how each mask can vary depending on the situation and the use of the mask in the past, we've decide that we will have multiple tests with new masks to decide this test fairly. But we are positive that the blue mask will attract more particles than the cloth mask. For our last and final test, we hypothesized that more light will pass through the blue mask because of the material and weight. The cloth mask is much more denser and depending on the colour of the mask, light will not pass thorugh. The standard surgical masks are always a light blue colour so they have a higher chance of passing light through than the cloth mask.


While reusable masks tend to have less protection against contaminants than their use and throw counterparts, they are better for the environment and tend to be cheaper.

When consumers buy masks they consider buying masks, they tend to value the protection, environmental impact, and cost of the mask to varying degrees. A self-conducted survey (Instagram polls) suggested that when buying masks people care the most about their protection, then its cost and they care the least about their environmental impact. We are going to weigh the factors off of this research.

Environmental impact of disposable masks:

Improper disposal of masks can both harm the environment and increase the chance of spreading the virus from person to person. 

In the United kingdom alone 102 million plastic, single-use masks are being thrown away in the trash every week. Around 100 million were found off of the coast of Hong Kong, they are described to be swimming in the sea like a hoard of jellyfish. According to SETAC, this plastic waste can persist in the environment for decades to hundreds of years.

A proper N95 Mask is used for airborne particles or to prevent contamination from liquids. This is used for serious medical emergencies or in chemical facilities, such as if a doctor is treating someone directly with the virus/disease. If testing acidic or dangerous chemicals this mask is used to prevent your face from contamination. For 2 N95 masks, it's about $8 on Home Depot, however, there are cheaper prices, 10 for $20. The reason this mask isn’t used as much is that it’s mostly for one time and in total it would cost too much money.

Cloth Mask (broad) - Washable - 4 for $10, Can get 25-50 for about $10-15

Surgical Mask - 50 pieces for about $10, but can get for free now from most places

Bandana - Might have at home, but if you don’t it's $3-4

N95 - 10 for $20

Face Shield - around $10


Dependent Variables 

- How many times you've used the mask (wear and tear)

- Amount of distance when spraying the water and the mask (water test)

- How dense the materials are (for all)

- Bandana

- The different powders (particle test)

- Amount of paper knocked down (Air test)

- air (air test)


Independent Variables 

- The spray bottle (water test)

-  Amount of paper (static test)

- Amount of air that was pumped in (air test)

- Radius of flour cloud/circle formed which stuck to the paper (particle test)


Air Test:

  1. Got a water bottle
  2. Cut pieces of paper and glue them on to the bottom of the bottle
  3. Applied a nozzle to the opening of the bottle
  4. Added duct tape to make a seal on the bottle
  5. Experimented:

1. Pushed on the pump

2. Observed the amounts of paper that moved

Particle passing test:

  1. Got a water bottle
  2. Cut off the bottom
  3. Taped a damp poster in place of the bottom
  4. Added 0.75 g of flour in the bottle
  5. Added face-covering in the neck of the bottle
  6. Added nozel of pump
  7. Created a seal with duct tape
  8. Experimented:

1. Push on the pump

2. Observed the amount of flower blown


Electrostatic Test:

I tested the electrostatic test for both Cloth masks and surgical Masks.

  1. Cut some paper into small pieces of paper
  2. Rub the mask using friction, any form of friction should do
  3. Gently place the mask on the paper, if static is attracted to the mask the paper will stick to the mask

You can try the water test too

  1. Rub the mask using friction
  2. Turn on your sink or faucet
  3. Place the mask next to the water, if the water bends, it attracts static
  4. If water gets on the mask, the mask loses its static charge

Water Test:

I tested if water can infiltrate the mask (ex. If you spill water on your mask, will it ruin it). Obviously, a good amount of water will ruin your mask, if you soak your mask into a large mass of water but we tested if small amounts of water could infiltrate your mask.

  1. Get two cardboard pieces, cut a hole in one of the cardboard pieces
  2. Put one cardboard piece in front of the mask, and one behind it
  3. Spray water into the hole where your mask should be. If the water comes onto the back of the cardboard, the mask is bad.



Who won the test?


Cloth Mask

Surgical Blue Mask

Electrostatic Test

Cloth Mask didn’t attract to static

Blue mask did attract to static

Water Test

Water filtered through and there are clear marks through each side of the mask

Water rolled off a blue mask and didn’t filter through

Particle Test

The radius of the circle caused by the flour measured 0.38cm (3/7)

The radius of the circle caused by the flour measured 0.29cm (4/7)

Air Test

1 piece of paper moved - makes it a lot harder to breathe


1 piece of paper moved - makes it slightly harder to breathe (6.5/7)





Electrostatic Test

The cloth mask didn’t attract static but the blue surgical mask did. We tried two different tests to test the mask's attractiveness of static and both results concluded in the blue surgical masks favour. When friction is applied to the mask it attracts more static, this is why when you reuse this mask more particles and fibres get stuck to it. The blue mask isn’t supposed to be reusable even though it can be. The blue mask is for doctors so it's disposable when you are done with the patient so now airborne virus/disease can infiltrate your body.

Water Test

In the water test, the water passed through the cloth mask and not the blue mask. This is because the blue surgical mask has layers that help it protect it from this. Since doctors use this mask so much, scientists made precautions so fluids wouldn’t affect the mask in any way. The three different layers help prevent fluids, filter particles and absorb the heat exhaled from the body. When testing water was on both sides of the cloth mask but only on one side of the surgical mask.

Particle Test

It was amazing how well the masks performed as compared to the control, the radius of the flour circle was half (two masks averaged together) of the control test. This is amazing as it visualized how much just a mask can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, however, the bandana did poorly in this test too, it only made a marginal difference from the control, perhaps this highlights how bandanas aren’t very protective and how they aren’t intended to be used as masks. 

Air Test

Masks and barrier devices performed very well as compared to the control test. However, all barrier devices did not perform similarly as thicker, reusable masks and high filtration masks performed significantly better than the bandana. Both the masks only managed to knock wiggle on a piece of paper but the reusable mask performed marginally worse sense the mapper vibrated more when test with this type of mask.


We found out that the best overall mask is a cloth mask. It’s cheap, reusable so it doesn’t affect the environment and is comfortable because of its material. No particles can get on it, unlike a disposable mask. So if you’re working or going to school this is probably the best mask out there. However, if you tend to stay at home and only go out once in a while you should use the disposable mask. It’s easier to breathe, waterproof, thin and very cheap. However, if you already have a bandana at home or prefer something that has a thinner material than the previous masks I mentioned then the bandana is the way to go. Overall it doesn’t affect the environment, easy to wear even though it might have the occasional slip-off, just be careful when wearing this mask since it does have a lot of negative effects. Hopefully, these tests have broadened your knowledge and made you think twice before choosing what you will go out with so you can help the environment, save money and protect yourself and others.


This helps us know what mask to wear and which one is the best for most people. With this information, people can effectively know what mask to wear when they leave their house.

Sources Of Error

For the air and particle test, it was hard to make tests airtight, and the masks could've ruined the tests since they were tough to keep on, it required more precision than we thought. The tests could've gone horribly wrong since it was hard to film the experiments with one hand but this could've been easily solved with some help. Still, if you're not focused enough, the tests can show errors in your findings. For the air test, the papers were hard to keep upright because of their flimsiness and weight so we had to use duct tape or clay to keep the paper straight and upright. If the paper was on an angle, our results could be proven wrong.

For our static test, the right amount of friction used and the quality the mask is in can affect how many particles will the mask attract and the newer the mask the fewer particles it will attract, and vice-versa. For the water test, the distance from the mask and the person spraying can be a variable that affects the test and can be a source of error. There was more chance of errors in the water test since the material between the mask could change the impact of our results. In this case, if the cardboard was too thick or too thin, our tests could show different results than what was supposed to happen.



Micheal, Page. "Examining the psychometric properties of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R." Science Direct


Lundman, Susan. "Myths & Debunks: 7 Face Mask Effectiveness Tests at Home." Genius Asain, YouTube


Bagchi, Alaknanda. "Waste, Unmasked: How Covid-19 Masks Have Affected The Environment" Hong Kong Tatler


Lary, Hung. "Myths & Debunks: 7 Face Mask Effectiveness Tests at Home." Genius Asain, YouTube


Tom, Stengel. "A Certain Type of N95 Mask May Do More Harm Than Good." Healthline


Lisa Lockerd. "Coronavirus Face Masks & Protection FAQs." Johns Hopkins Medicine





We would like to thank our school Joan Cardinal-Schubert for giving us the opportunity and chance to compete in this competition. Thank you to our teachers for looking at our information and were kind enough to give us feedback, especially Mr. Wee, Ms. Sung. In addition, we appreciate those who took the time to contribute to the tests and give us feedback. Last but not least, all members and volunteers of the CYSF for hosting this event. It wouldn't be possible without you.