The world around you is constantly changing. Personal protection and self-defense gear are some of the most important things you can invest in for your and your family’s safety. If a chemical bomb were dropped near your home, are you prepared to be able to breathe without getting sick? It’s not very likely that you have a gas mask stashed in the bedroom closet, but you can improvise and make your own.
If you do have a gas mask or you build one, you will need to maintain it for it to work effectively when you need it. Various factors can make the mask ineffective if it has not been maintained, such as the condition of the filter, age, and moisture. However, if you use these instructions on how to make a gas mask and make them part of your personal protection gear, you can create one in very little time, and with items you have around the house.
What is a Gas Mask?
If you aren’t sure what a gas mask is, it is simply what the name sounds like, a mask that filters gas in the air so that you don’t breathe in toxins. Gas masks protect your lungs from contaminants in the air, including:
- Infectious agents
- Airborne diseases
Some gas masks prevent the toxins by simply filtering the air through a cloth or cloth-like material, while others use a charcoal filter to deactivate particles in the air before the particles reach your lungs.
Make Your Own or Buy
There are advantages and disadvantages to both buying your mask and making your mask. If you buy a gas mask, you have a guarantee of safety and quality in the materials and workmanship. However, it’s not practical to carry one around with you everywhere you go, and if you don’t maintain it regularly, all you have is a funny-looking face mask.
On the other hand, you can make a gas mask with items you normally have around the house. Even though it will filter out a lot of materials, it won’t be as effective as a standard or military-grade face mask. Still, if you don’t have one, making one is better than risking breathing in toxins.
Soda Bottle Gas Mask
This is the most common do-it-yourself gas mask project and one of the easiest to make. Most of the items needed are found around the house and cost less than $5.00, and no professional skills are needed.
- Cutting tool, i.e., sharp knife or razor
- Permanent marker
- 2 or 3-liter soda bottle
- Foam insulation strip or heavy-duty tape
- Disposable face mask, preferably N95
- Wash the soda bottle and remove the labels.
- Cut the bottom of the soda bottle off.
- Use the marker to draw a U on the bottle that matches your face size; if it is too big, air will get inside, and the mask won’t work. If it is too small, you won’t be able to wear it.
- Trim the bottle following the U shape. Continue to trim until it fits snug. Make sure you have about 6 inches between your chin and the cup.
- Trim the foam rubber and glue it around the U-shaped opening to make the mask comfortable. If you don’t have foam rubber, you can use duct-tape or pieces of cloth to keep the edges from being sharp.
- Cut the face straps off of the hospital mask and set them to the side.
- Push the face mask into the soda bottle with the outside of the mask facing the lid of the soda bottle. Use tape to seal the edges of the mask to the bottle. The tape will allow you to remove the mask and put a new one in as needed.
- Staple the face mask straps to the sides of the bottle so that you can attach them to your face.
- Remove the lid and try the mask on, making sure you can breathe but that there are no gaps that allow air inside.
This gas mask is a simple mask that filters the air before you breathe it in. You can add a charcoal filtration to absorb chemicals using the steps outlined below.
If you want added protection, you can make this charcoal filter and tape it to the bottom of your face mask. The charcoal will absorb any toxins before the air passes through to the face mask and into your lungs.
- Aluminum can
- Cotton rounds or cuts up t-shirts if no cotton rounds
- Activated charcoal
Making the Filter
- Poke holes in the bottom of the can to allow air inside.
- Cut the aluminum can in half.
- Pack the bottom of the can with a cotton round or layer of t-shirt material.
- Pour a layer of charcoal over the cotton.
- Add one more layer of cotton or material and cut a hole in it.
- Use duct tape to attach the filter to the spout of the mask you made previously. Make sure the tape is secure and that no air is seeping in from the sides.
You now have a gas mask with a charcoal filter. You can take the tape off the filter as needed to change out the charcoal.
Store the gas mask and filter in an airtight bag until it is needed. Store these instructions with the mask and add the supplies so that you are always ready if a mask is needed.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a gas mask only to discover that it is too old to be of use; use these instructions and make your own. It takes less than an hour using everyday household materials. If nothing else, you have a mask the next time you paint your house.