The simple test that lets you see if your face covering works

30 July 2020, 11:57 | Updated: 30 July 2020, 12:07

You can check your face mask works with a simple test
You can check your face mask works with a simple test. Picture: PA
Polly Foreman

By Polly Foreman

The new 'candle test' can test whether your face mask is working properly - here's how it works.

It is currently mandatory to wear face masks in shops, supermarkets, takeaways and public transport in England.

The government guidelines state that everyone - apart from those who are exempt - should wear a covering in these settings, or risk a £100 fine.

There are a number of different face coverings available to buy, whether disposable or reusable, and there's a simple test you can do to make sure yours is working properly.

Read more: Coronavirus isolation period for those with symptoms 'to be increased to 10 days' amid second wave fears

Simon Kolstoe, a senior lecturer in Evidence Based Healthcare at the University of Portsmouth, wrote about a face mask 'candle test' in The Conversation.

In the test, you light a candle and then blow it through the face covering. If the flame blows out or sways it mens that too much air is passing through.

He said: "Initially, the distance coupled with the strength of exhalation could be investigated, but then face coverings made from different materials and critically with different numbers of layers could be tried.

"The design of face-covering that made it hardest to divert the candle flame will probably provide the best barrier for projecting the virus forward and through the face covering."

Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport
Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport. Picture: PA

What is a face covering?

Face coverings differ from medical-grade masks in that they can be as simple as a home-made cloth.

The government website states: "A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth.

"You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings.

"You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.

Read more about face covering guidance on the website

From July 24, face coverings have been mandatory in shops in England
From July 24, face coverings have been mandatory in shops in England. Picture: PA

"Face coverings are not classified as personal protective equipment which is used in a limited number of settings to protect wearers against hazards and risks, such as surgical masks or respirators used in medical and industrial settings.

"Face coverings are instead largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of virus that causes coronavirus infection (COVID-19)."


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