Where to buy N95, KN95, and/or KF94 masks?
January 29, 2021 9:02 AM   Subscribe

We have and use cloth masks for most encounters and excursions, but I'd like to purchase a few masks for our household specifically for the occasional unavoidable trip or encounter that feels higher risk. Where can I go and have a good chance of not buying counterfeits?

Based on various news stories, I don't trust purchasing face masks from Amazon.

I noticed the following retailers mentioned positively in a thread on the blue recently:

https://www.protectly.co/
https://bonafidemasks.com/
https://www.ctbiotech.com/

I don't know how to vet them. CT Biotech looks to be almost exclusively inexpensive masks manufactured in India. What does that mean? Is India to masks what Mexico is to hand sanitizers? Etc.

Any guidance would be helpful.

(The last question like this was asked in late October. It feels worth asking again as things may have changed quite a bit in three months.)
posted by Nonce to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't received our masks from Bona Fide yet but the ordering process was smooth and shipping (on their end) was fast. I was skeptical after looking at the website but it does seem legit.
posted by JuliaKM at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2021


I have had good experiences with buying KN95s from Protectly. That said, I also have no way to truly verifying if what I'm getting is the real deal. They seem right though.
posted by soy_renfield at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2021


I have recently ordered a bunch of Powecom K95 masks from Bone Fide Masks. These masks have been tested by the CDC and are supposedly up to the KN95 standards. Counterfeit masks are almost impossible to completely eliminate but this was, for me, as good as I think I'm going to get.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:10 AM on January 29, 2021


Very pertinent question -- definitely don't just trust blindly.

Vet N95s here: CDC Approved Manufacturers. CT Biotech does not appear to be on that list.
posted by Dashy at 9:10 AM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


I've successfully ordered masks from Bona Fide Masks recently, and have been very happy. The masks I ordered actually appear to be on the FDA list and come in black (very important), and they arrived very quickly. I'll be ordering from BFM again.
posted by Transmissions From Vrillon at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


I found this article helpful and bought the Powecome KN95 from masks Office Depot with free shipping. The article has several links to FDA emergency approved masks.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 9:17 AM on January 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


I just ordered some 3PE NIOSH N95 Respirator Masks from Protectly this past Saturday, and they showed up yesterday. So they're clearly in stock with fast shipping from Portland OR to Cleveland OH.

They do have CDC approval & certification (under the name "Pacific PPE Corporation".)
posted by soundguy99 at 9:18 AM on January 29, 2021 [6 favorites]


I am satisfied with my box of 20 N95s from https://surewayhealth.com/.
posted by jpeacock at 9:30 AM on January 29, 2021


The CDC very helpfully put out a bulletin about which masks might be counterfeit, and which masks have or have not passed NIOSH testing.
posted by cooker girl at 9:36 AM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


I like these KN95s from Vida. They are listed on the FDA's EUA list, and they have a sustainability program to recycle the materials - they provide an envelope for you to mail them back for recycling after use. They also fit me really well - no gaps.
posted by bedhead at 9:46 AM on January 29, 2021


As some additional information: I recently bought Powecom KN95s from Bona Fide Masks (in part because they did well in the NIOSH tests (which are listed on the same page as the bulletins about counterfeits, as linked to by cooker girl above.)

I just looked at the bulletins and see that there is one bulletin about potentially counterfeit Powecom KN95s from May 2020. There are pictures included in each PDF of the assessment reports. Comparing the pictures from the potentially-counterfeit bulletin with the masks I have (as well as the pictures in the assessments that did not conclude the tested Powecom masks were counterfeit), there are some subtle differences in construction on the potentially-counterfeit ones. Mine look like the presumed authentic ones.

Powecom also puts a sticker (with a scratch-off coating) on each package, with a code to verify authenticity. To be transparent: I had a lot of trouble scratching off the coating completely and then reading the tiny print that was still flecked with bits of coating. And then I entered it on my phone and the verification system seemed incompatible with my phone’s browser. Then I entered it on my computer and it returned the message that this code had already been entered at [time.] BUT that time was a few minutes prior (in a China time zone.) I *assume* their system registered the number I entered on my phone and just did not successfully display the message confirming authenticity. So although I can’t say 100% that I know the masks I got were authentic, I can confirm that their verification system functionally makes each verification code a one-time-use thing, so presumably, spoofed stickers with the same code as an authentic package would be easy to detect.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:04 AM on January 29, 2021


N95s are more available through industrial supply stores that already had existing contracts with N95 manufacturers/distributors. So if they sell N95s next to confined space harnesses and workplace generators, you're probably a lot safer than getting them from a store that only sells masks for the pandemic. Keep in mind that their sites are not very user friendly, masks usually come in quantities of 10 or more, and shipping can be prohibitively expensive for small orders.

Here are some stores:

Zoro
Grainger
Magid Glove
Digikey
Gemplers
MSC Direct
Uline

Cross reference model numbers with the manufacturers' sites to make sure you know what you are getting. All N95s are not the same. Some are specifically geared towards welding, come individually packaged, have special probes, or are resistant to oil streams; all of which may not be useful and dramatically increase the price.
posted by meowzilla at 10:49 AM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


I recently, and dubiously, ordered some 3M N95s from Clinical Supplies USA. 3M has a "safeguard system" where you can enter a code and lot number from the box into a website and get confirmation that the box is authentic--once. My box returned as authentic. Not an ironclad guarantee, but something. Shipping took about a week. Price was absurd, about $6/per, but that seems to be the going rate for 3Ms among stores that actually stock them and look vaguely like they might not be scammy.
posted by praemunire at 11:10 AM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


I ordered from Powecom K95 masks from Bone Fide Masks. Easy ordering and quick ship. The fit is very good.
posted by Ferrari328 at 11:54 AM on January 29, 2021


I did the same and had the same experience as soundguy99. Protectly shipped fast, and I received them in just a couple of days.
posted by General Malaise at 11:54 AM on January 29, 2021


Heads up: I placed an order with Clinical Supplies USA yesterday, and got a refund notification this morning with no further explanation. So they may be out of stock on some of their masks...
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 1:14 PM on January 29, 2021


If you have a Costco membership they have both N95 and KN95 masks. The KN95 masks are $1 each and rather weirdly listed on their site as FLTR95 masks but are supposed to be KN95 masks from the reviews. I just ordered some so no personal experience with them yet but Costco is supposed to check each shipment is authentic. FLTR is listed on the FDA site as well so I expect they'll be real.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:11 PM on January 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


I also ordered the 3PE N95s from Protectly based on a previous Ask and the model number checks out on the CDC approval list. I think at the time I ordered them they were still going through the NIOSH approval process but they were completely up front about it. What I like about them is that you can use the straps around your head or reset them to work as ear loops. They arrived quite quickly and they are American made if that is a consideration.
posted by Preserver at 5:27 PM on January 29, 2021


Protectly isn’t cheap, but they ship same/next day and the products seem to be good quality. I ordered from Bona Fide Monday and there’s been nothing shipped, so while prices are better, I’d go with Protectly if you just need something to cover your face ASAP.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 7:39 PM on January 29, 2021


I just got ten apparently authentic 3M 9205+ NIOSH-approved N95 masks off eBay for $5 each.
posted by nicwolff at 8:26 PM on January 29, 2021


I found this article helpful and bought one of their recommendations
https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-disposable-face-masks.html
posted by PSB34me at 4:47 AM on January 30, 2021


I've placed a few orders with WellBefore (formerly known as Honest PPE) and have been satisfied with their speed, quality, and authenticity.

I think they're on the high end price-wise, at least for the mainstream-brand N95s and KN95s, though they have an in-house brand that's super-inexpensive, and some of the more expensive ones have nice features like adjustable earloops and head-loops. And they have several options in black, which is weirdly important to me.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:18 PM on January 30, 2021


I like the headband style Powecom KN95 from Bone Fide Masks. Good fit and comfortable to wear. I can make one last for five 8-hour shifts. Aaron Collins on YouTube does in-depth reviews and independent testing.
posted by gray17 at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


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