Avoiding Breathing Your Hot Humid Exhale When Wearing a Mask?
May 9, 2020 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I have, historically, not done well when the air I breathe is hot and humid. Unfortunately, when you are wearing a mask, the air in your immediate mouth area under the mask is hot and humid. I know mask with valves are disallowed and defeat their protective purpose. Are there solutions?
posted by WCityMike to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wear a mask daily in Hong Kong whenever I’m out of the house and have just learned to exert myself less so my breathing is less intense, if that makes sense. I also remove my mask if I’m alone (for example, if I’m working alone in a classroom for a few hours) and have been working from home some days of the week so I don’t need to wear one every day. It’s also been nice to have a fan or air conditioner to promote a sense of coolness while wearing one - at the office I usually hate sitting under a vent but with a mask on it’s quite refreshing.
posted by mdonley at 2:57 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

I have a mask prototype I've been working on where the mask is constructed from the severed hood of a small women's jogging sweatshirt, inverted so that the part that would be the top of the head now sits under my chin, and the base of the hood stretches towards ties at my ears. It looks goofy as hell because there is FAR too much fabric that droops around my mouth and cheeks, and this fabric inflates and deflates a bit when I breathe, like some kind of cheap sci fi creature. But! The edges fit just as well or better to the contours of my face as a regular surgical mask (I sewed a bit of pipe cleaner in as a nose piece), and one benefit of all that extra fabric is that my moist exhalations (ew) are distributed over a larger space. I find it significantly less humid to wear.
posted by deludingmyself at 3:16 PM on May 9

trenchface is a thing for a reason.

i have to wear one for work - the only trick i have is to breathe through my nose as much as possible. it doesn't entirely solve the problem, but it's a lot less humid.
posted by megan_magnolia at 3:47 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Maybe you could wear a second mask over the mask with vents, which would allow you to breathe easier and not exhale onto the world? A bandana over the exterior of the vented mask might work too.
posted by COD at 4:55 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

I have to wear a n95 for my 12 hour shifts. I breathe through my nose, with my mouth open. I don't know why but it keeps me cool.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:56 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Yeah, after the first thirty minutes or so I'm really feeling it with my n95 while shopping. I breathe through my mouth and just deal with the fogged eyeglasses (any fixes for that, MeFis?)
posted by TrishaU at 5:39 PM on May 9

I read somewhere that breathing as though you are playing a flute so, kind of pushing out your upper lip and blowing down, would avoid the fog-up, and it does help. So I breathe in through my nose and out that way, and it is not so humid and when I do it consistently, fogs my glasses a WHOLE lot less.
posted by wellred at 6:30 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]

Kinda the opposite of a solution to the posted question, but if your glasses are fogging up, then your mask isn't fitting correctly. They're supposed to fit snug enough that your breath doesn't escape the mask around your nose (which defeats the purpose). There should be some sort of metal nosepiece that you can bend to adjust the fit.

If it's any consolation WCityMike, I've been using cloth masks over the last few weeks and it's been actually more pleasant on slightly warmer days. I think my breath doesn't immediately condense on the mask so the humidity is less noticeable.
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:36 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]

I hear the foggy glasses problem is solved by washing the glasses with warm water and soap (less than 20 seconds is just fine!).
posted by lhauser at 7:51 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Trisha asked about fixes for glasses fogging up while wearing a mask. I rub a bit of soapy water on the lenses. Helps a lot. Got it from an article that claimed that this is what surgeons do? Anyway, it works quite well.
posted by Zumbador at 12:13 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

Maybe try a Tommye mask if you can make or find one? It's designed to provide for better breathing and less carbon dioxide buildup.
posted by vers at 12:19 PM on May 10

I dragged my husband along to the grocery store the other day, whereupon we soon discovered that wearing the mask for the amount of time and exertion it takes for a big grocery shop is very uncomfortable for him. He gets short of breath and very anxious from breathing the hot, humid air.

At one point I noticed that we were briefly alone in our grocery aisle and he looked peaked, so I told him to pull the mask away from his face for a moment and get a few breaths, which helped. Here is my reasoning:

1. In Illinois, the governor's face mask order applies when we cannot maintain a six feet distance from others. There was no one within six feet when my husband briefly partially uncovered his face by carefully pulling one loop off his ear while keeping the other side on. Going to your destination at the least busy time can help maximize opportunities to loosen the mask.

2. The store has a "must be wearing a face covering" rule in place. However, no one at my particular Jewel seems to be running around policing people, and even some of their own employees have their nose sticking out of their mask (which is dumb but understandable; I too would have a very hard time wearing a mask properly for an entire work shift.) The point being, you are unlikely to get in trouble with the store for pulling your mask aside for a moment when no one else is nearby.

3. We are told, as civilians wearing non-medical-grade masks in public, that our masks are not so much protecting ourselves by filtering out germs as preventing ourselves from "speaking moistly" as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau hilariously put it. With that in mind, I would think it would fall within the realm of acceptable to wear your mask a bit more loosely than you currently do. I know that when I don't try to seal it over my nose at the top, I can feel more fresh air coming in. Meanwhile, you still have it in front of your mouth and nose preventing you from spewing droplets as you speak. You would, of course, still cover the occasional cough or sneeze with your elbow, practice social distancing, and don't go out when you are sick.

Obviously, I am a civilian and probably my reasoning on the topic does not necessarily jibe with all the current recommendations by experts in the field. It's more of a "do the best you can" and "it's probably better than nothing" approach, which may or may not be helpful for your objectives.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:40 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

I was in a Home Depot today which allowed a very small number of shoppers in at a time. The sparseness of customers allowed was impressive - obviously the management takes the pandemic seriously. But, a number of employees, had their masks pulled off their noses, even while answering questions from customers, or ringing up my purchase. (seems at odds with the diligence of installing plexiglass screens around the cash registers and the towel the checker held to take my credit card from me, as I paid for Clorox wipes from their Clorox mountain). I asked several employees I walked by to please pull their masks over their noses, but got the evil eye from every one but the checker, who pulled hers up and said "You're right, you're right."

Covid 19 testing is done in the nose - do people not understand that noses are important to cover, and that masking is little use if the nose is not covered? I know it's hot and uncomfortable, and covering nose and mouth is miserable for prolonged periods, but people, it's necessary, cover your nose!

If we leave our houses and enlarge our precious safe zones, we must also feel safe in public places. Half-masking will only contribute to spreading Covid. And if people can't depend on merchants to insist that their employees are on board 100% with masking, I will not be shopping in or eating in your establishment.
posted by citygirl at 8:26 PM on May 10

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