Surgical Mask: features, quality verification, variations and application

Surgical mask (3-ply mask)

A surgical mask is one of the most popular masks besides the KN95 mask, N95 mask, etc.

Layers of surgical mask

  • The outer layer: Outer layer consists of plastic such as polypropylene, polyester, polyethylene, polycarbonate, polystyrene, etc. This layer is hydrophobic in nature, which will prevent water to enter the mask. It is mostly available in green or blue color. 

  • The middle layer: Middle layer consists of a filter that adheres micro-organism such as bacteria via electrostatic property.
  • The inner layer: Inner layer is hydrophilic in nature. When a person sneezes or coughs, the inner layer of the mask absorbs the fluid particles.   


Not all the masks are surgical masks. Some of these masks do not have all three layers. They can either be single or double layer masks. Also, the available 3 ply masks may not be of good quality. Thus, here are a few ways to check the quality of the masks.

  • Visual test:- By the process of palpation and visualization of the mask, one can identify if it has got three layers or not. You can also tear apart the mask to check the quality of an inner layer.
  • Water test:- Take a mask on a table. Drop few drops of water on the outer and inner layer respectively. The outer layer should not absorb water and vice versa.
  • Breathing test:- Wear the mask that you are going to test. Burn a lighter and place it in front of you. Now, try to blow out the flame. If the flame goes off, know that mask is not good to wear.

Packaging of surgical mask

In the context of Nepal, you can now find 50 pieces of surgical masks in a box or plastic. Before making a decision, you need to consider the following things.

In Plastic In Box
Might contaminate May not contaminate
Cheaper Quite expensive
Not good for storing for a long period of time. Good for storing for a longer period of time
Suitable for common people Suitable for bigger organizations such as hospitals.

Besides these, I have also noticed ear loops of surgical masks attached with the help of a glue gun instead of a punch machine. These are cheaper than the punched ones but can detach from the masks easily.  


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