Do Masks Really Work If You Can Smell Farts Through Them?

A wild “Karen” out there actually brought up an excellent question to consider:

If you can smell a fart through a mask, are they really that effective?

When a woman had a tantrum in Panera Bread over her refusal to wear a mask, she pointed out that face coverings couldn’t possibly work, as you can smell someone else’s fart through their pants.

She believed that since fabric can’t block the smell, it can’t prevent something carried through the air, like the COVID-19 virus.

The reality, however, is a little more complicated.


Your mask is meant to block droplets that come from your mouth and nose so that you won’t infect others, and they won’t infect you for the same reasons.

Of course, there’s always a chance it could happen, but for the most part, this is how masks work.

Photo credit: Pixabay

When it comes to farts and viruses, size matters. The smell of a fart has molecules that are about 0.4 nanometers. That’s tiny, which is why you can smell it through your pants.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is between 60 to 140 nanometers, which is considerably bigger.

It travels through droplets, which are bigger still—sneezes are about 100,000 nanometers and coughs, while smaller, are about 1,000 nanometers.

This Twitter thread goes more in depth…

We’re not going to go into ALL of the thread, but needless to say there’s a lot of great info in there.

Including… a recent study on masks found that some fabrics blocked between 5% to 80% of particles smaller than 300 nanometers. Anything larger than that can block a range of between 5% to 95% of particles, depending on the fabric, and if there’s layers to your mask, its filtration abilities go up.

So, just wear your mask already, okay?

What myths about masks have you heard? Let us know in the comments below!