Friday, August 7, 2020

Respirator Masks for Dyeing Yarn

When you are dyeing yarn with commercial dyes, it is important to consider safety and personal protective equipment.  You should always dye in dedicated pots and equipment that isn't used for the preparation of food.  When dealing with dry dye powder, you need a particle mask or respirator to make sure you don't inhale any dye particles. 



When I dye with acid dyes, I wear a deluxe rubber respirator. This is a "Moldex 8000 Series Assembled Respirator" that uses replaceable NIOSH P100 Particulate Filters.  I don't use any vapor cartridges for my dyeing practices, but check the listing for more details about when those would be necessary. I purchased this respirator from Dharma Trading Company, the same website where I source most of my dyes.  Unfortunately, due to the pandemic these respirators have been sold out for months, and as of early August 2020 there hasn't been a restock date given.  


Rubber Respirator Masks Recommended by Indie Dyers
I crowd sourced recommendations for masks and respirators from other indie dyer business owners.  Please note that I haven't tried these brands or ordered from some of these websites unless noted below.  Multiple dyers recommend the website Grainger for ordering respirator masks.  They have a lot of half mask respirator and filter options that are currently available.  Some of these recommended models may be available on other websites, too.  

  • 3M 7500 series respirator - Note that this listing does NOT include the filters.  See below. (Here is another link directly to the 3M website but I don't think you can order from them directly: 3M 7500 series respirators
    • P100 filters for the 3M respirators. There are disk filters (that look like pink disks) and combination cartidges (these look more like a box with a cap). I believe that either of these will work with the 3M 7500 and 6000 series half mask respirators.  
  • 3M 6000 half mask respirators - Some of the options through Grainger include the P100 filters and others you purchase the filters separately.  Please read the listings thoroughly! The 3M filter options listed below should work with this mask.  
    • P100 filters for the 3M respirators. There are disk filters (that look like pink disks) and combination cartidges (these look more like a box with a cap). I believe that either of these will work with the 3M 7500 and 6000 series half mask respirators.  
  • Honewell North 770 Series Half Mask Respirator - Please note with your selection as some of these come with the respirator cartridge included and others you need to purchase the cartridge separately. I would select one with a P100 filter option.  
  • Prochem is selling single NIOSH certified N95 masks. As of 8/7/2020 they are only selling masks to existing customers.  From their website: "We have limited supplies and need to supply to our existing customers that need these on a regular basis to conduct their businesses. The manufacturers have increased pricing and we have a limited supply of masks available. We will keep you updated as information is made available to us. Thank you for your understanding!"

Recommended Options that were out of stock at the time I wrote this post: 



More Useful Mask Information

When should you wear your mask? Whenever you are dealing with dry powder. I wear my respirator mask whenever I am working with dry dye powder and some other powdered chemicals.  I wear it when I am speckling, preparing stock solutions, and other similar techniques.  Once dyes are dissolved in liquid, I take off my mask.  Many dyers prefer to work from stock solutions because then you can limit the amount of time that you are in contact with the dry powder.  

Make sure that you're working in a well ventilated area away from children and pets.  

Make sure your mask fits properly! When you are wearing a properly fitting mask all of the air you breathe will go through the filters.  If air goes in and out around the edges of the mask then it does not fit correctly.  Please refer to the manufacturer instructions on proper fit for your mask.  

What other safety equipment do I need?
You should wear safety glasses/goggles and wear gloves when dealing with powders.  I personally prefer to wear nitrile gloves over latex because these were my favorite gloves from when I worked in a lab.  

What is the difference between N100 and P100 filters?  These are both good for protecting the wearer from small particles.  The "N" means that these are not resistant to oil.  The "P" respirators are oil proof.  Source

How do I know if I have a real N95 or P100 mask?  Due to the global pandemic, some companies are marketing items as N95 masks that aren't actually NIOSH approved. Please read the following article from the CDC on Counterfeit Respirators / Misrepresentation of NIOSH-Approval. Try to make your purchases from a trusted vendor.  

Can I wear a homemade cloth mask/bandanna for dyeing yarn?  No.  Cloth masks won't filter out the tiny dye particles.  

What should I use if I cannot get a N95/P100 mask or respirator?  If you cannot locate a proper dust mask to wear while using dye powder, I recommend sticking with food coloring (or other dyes that are already available in liquid form like Rit Liquid dyes) until you can acquire proper safety equipment.  I know that these masks are harder to find right now due to the pandemic but you shouldn't compromise your safety.  It is possible to create stunning colors on yarn with food coloring!  


Have Fun Dyeing Yarn!

Want some fun tutorials on how to dye yarn?  Check out the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel!  I love to dye with a variety of dye types and techniques to apply color to yarn.  You will find a combination of techniques using food safe dyes and commercial dyes.  

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This post is meant as a resource and personal recommendation for respirator masks. I am an indie dyer not professionally trained on these masks. You should make your final decision for all safety and PPE based up information available on the dye manufacturer websites.  

I am located in the United States of America so these recommendations are based on regulations here.  

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