When Covid-19 first began spreading in China, my wife’s family in Beijing asked if we could buy anti-virus face masks here in the States and send them some. By that time every mask where we live was sold out, too. But I know if a company can make a virus mask, a person can, too – and that might be good to know, so I’m sharing how you can make your own virus-killing protective face mask easily and inexpensively using a simple fabric mask and lemon juice.
A doctor friend worked in Africa with the CDC during all that Ebola stuff, and she shared the following: In America, 3M is the only manufacturer of disposable virus masks such as people are really wanting to buy (not the simple dust masks). Their process involves “Hyrdophylic” fabric (holds water – think cotton or silk, as opposed to nylon, for example) and citric acid (think lemon juice).
- Choose a bandana or scarf for yourself, made with “hydrophylic” fabric – cotton or silk are perfect in that these fabrics will trap and hold moisture from the air as you breathe in and out. The moisture – yours or others’ – is where these pesky viruses can ride; and your mask will help prevent them coming and going. Even those throwaway blue dust masks will work – the key is the lemon juice citric acid molecules you add to the fabric yourself.
- Citric acid deactivates viruses. It’s also very good for humans, so rest easy on that part. Most of us can get our hands on citric acid without fail – buy it in crystal form at your grocery store in the canning supplies aisle or buy lemon juice in the juice aisle. Soak, mist-spray (spritz) or otherwise wet your bandana with lemon juice or a solution of citric acid crystals dissolved in water – get citric acid molecules onto your mask. When moisture comes in contact with your mask, it’s held by the fabric and put in touch with the citric acid molecules: virus molecules in that moisture are rendered harmless to you and/or others. Zappo! Pretty cool, and definitely not expensive or hard to do!
- Hang it up to dry, put it in your pocket or purse, and wear it as needed (i.e. whenever you go out, maybe).
- I have started carrying a pocket spray bottle with me, filled with lemon juice, for occasional spritzing throughout the day, if I’m out long.
- Before reusing your mask after breathing through it a few hours, wash it and refresh its citric acid.
There are several reasons to have a mask with you and to wear it at times. Of course, everyone thinks about its ability to kill incoming viruses and thereby help protect ourselves. Just wearing a mask also helps reinforce new habits for keeping our hands off our faces, too. If we do happen to be carrying those nasties, a mask will help prevent our sharing and maybe spreading diseases to others. Simply wearing a mask increases everyone’s chances of staying healthy. There’s lots of reasons for wearing masks when our very air is dangerous. I also think wearing a face mask during times of community stress (pretty much everywhere now: today’s headlines had us up 25% worldwide in a single day today, from 80,000 cases yesterday to 100,000 today) can help quietly express a commitment to the well-being of one’s community.
Now, the science behind this, sorta. Those virus molecules ride in tiny water particles that are in the air. The hydrophylic fabric “holds” water vapor that comes into contact with it, and the citric acid is there waiting! It’s been known for some years, and confirmed in a 2010 NIH study, that “acid-based media cause inactivation and aggregation of HA glycoprotein spikes and virus . . . Citric acid induces a low pH transition in the viral HA protein thus rendering it unable to mediate cell entry.” There you have it, folks – science – use it freely: Citric acid (lemon juice) just turns off those virus molecules!
Knowing this, I am surprised not to have seen or heard anyone in our vast medical-industrial complex advising how we can each of us make a very suitable – and reusable virus-protecting face mask easily, cheaply, and fashionably (well, maybe).
Refresh the lemon wash daily or spritz often (Disposable N95 masks are depleted after 6 hours of use, and yours won’t last any longer). Get a pocket atomizer and always do a quick spritz of your mask before going out.
I share this with good intention for anyone with a bandana and a lemon and a desire to have an anti-virus face mask. I have to say I didn’t expect this to be my first blog entry for this site, and all the fears of pandemics will likely blow away in the next breeze; but I would feel remiss if I did not tell everyone I can – just in case.