As people start to return to work and school, one issue that they will be dealing with is what to do with their masks when it is time to eat. If you put your mask on the table, you run the risk of it getting contaminated with whatever is on the table. You could fold it up to put it in a bag or purse. But then you just touched the outer side of it and contaminated your hands. A better alternative is to use a beaded diffuser mask chain. Not only would it solve this problem, but it can be a stylish accessory as well.
When I run errands and need to make multiple stops, I usually take my mask off in the car. The summer heat makes it too uncomfortable to keep the mask on in my empty car. I have either been gently resting it within the clean cupholder, or hanging it off of the gearshift. Neither situation is ideal.
Or, if I go for a walk in my relatively quiet neighborhood, I rarely encounter other people out and about. But when I do, and I see that they are wearing masks, I should be putting my mask on too as we pass each other. Even from opposite sides of the road, I want to respect their safety. Carrying a mask in my hands or pocket the rest of the time just isn’t that comfortable or sanitary either.
I saw an ad for a mask chain from a local boutique and thought this was a great invention. However, that one was quite long. The mask would actually rub up against the table if it was worn while eating lunch at work.
Other companies that make mask chains were selling them for up to $75! That was definitely more than I wanted to spend.
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DIY Diffuser Mask Chain
Then I remembered the diffuser bracelets that I have made out of beads and lava stones. I figured if I could make a mask chain that included lava stones, I could then add essential oils that have other beneficial properties to them.
One essential oil that is helpful during these times is Thieves oil. It is a blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary oils. Its name comes from the fact that it is made of the same blend worn by thieves in the 1400’s. They robbed those dying of illnesses. The blend of oils was a way of protecting them from the germs. If you are interested in purchasing Young Living Thieves Essential Oil and would like to become a member so that you can get the wholesale discounted price, click here.
You could use any fragrance that you like on these mask chains. My advice would be that if you are choosing a lighter color lava stone, you should avoid using oils that are dark. That way, they do not permanently stain the lava stone, or leave dark smudges on your neck. Also, some lava stones are dyed, and the dye is not necessarily colorfast. I discovered that one day after taking off a bracelet that had blue lava stones, only to find my wrists were blue too!
Problems with Alternatives to Mask Chains
Another alternative to mask chains and lanyards would be to place the used mask in a paper bag until ready to put it on again. That would mean to remember to pack a bag every day, and then having to go find that bag every time you take off the mask. By using a mask chain instead, the chain is always around your neck, ready to go throughout the day.
As I discussed in my post about Back to School tips for parents, I have seen online that some teachers and parents are buying small, round, zippered cases originally designed to hold earbuds. They have the children fold up their masks at snacktime and lunchtime to store in the cases. However, if you see the size of these cases in real life, it is clear that a mask would have to be folded multiple times to fit inside.
If it is folded so that the outside of the mask stays on the outside, that means your hands are touching the part of the mask that has germs from other people on it (the exterior surface) as you are folding it. So, really, you should be washing your hands AFTER folding it. This means getting up to go to the sink without a mask on. This puts everyone you pass at risk of any germs you exhale along the way.
If you fold the mask inside out so that you are touching the part that was up against your face, and then putting it in the case, you have to make sure that your case gets washed every night as well. When a child does this and haphazardly folds the mask, they run the risk of having the outer and inner surfaces touching, contaminating the inner surface. If the child puts that same mask on again after lunch, they are now directly exposed to whatever germs were on the outside of the mask.
Mask Chains are Convenient and Easy to Use
By using a mask chain with clasps attached to both ear loops of the mask, you simply just remove the mask by unhooking the mask’s ear loops from your ears. Fold the mask horizontally so that the outer surface rests up against your shirt. It literally just takes a couple of seconds.
In terms of the length of the mask chain, it depends on the size of the person wearing it. The chains I made are almost 20 inches long from end to end. That way, when the mask is hanging from it, it is long enough to be away from my mouth, but short enough that the mask does not rub up against the table.
If I wear the mask chain in the car, I make sure that the chain and mask sit over the seatbelt. That way the seatbelt does not tug at the mask or chain as I move. Then my mask is ready to go if I am using the drive-through or curbside pickup.
So Many Choices!
If you have never made your own jewelry before, you are in for a treat. When you go into the bead section of your local craft store, you will find hundreds, or even thousands, of different choices.
Glass beads and semi-precious beads are sold in strands that are usually anywhere from 4 inches to 8 inches long. (Most are around 8 inches.) You can get an entire strand of all one type of bead. Other strands include a coordinating assortment of beads.
Since I was aiming for a mask chain that was about 20 inches long, I selected three 8-inch strands of beads. I can use the leftover beads on other pieces of jewelry that I make.
Being that you will want to disinfect your mask chain each night, I recommend choosing beads that are smooth instead of textured. Also, I would avoid any type of metal bead. The metal beads sold in craft stores would tarnish or flake if exposed to cleaning products. The metal beads also tend to have intricate designs cut out of them. This creates lots of nooks and crannies for the germs to hide in.
For my “sea glass” mask chain, I used 2 packs of sea mix glass 8 mm round beads, 1 pack of aqua 8 mm Aurora Borealis glass beads, and 1 pack of aqua glass painted round 8 mm beads. I also added two beads from a strand of turquoise lava stones to use as diffuser beads.
For the gray mask chain, I used two packs of grey luster glass 8mm round Czech beads, one pack of glass synthetic opal matte gray 8 mm beads, one pack of hematite round 8mm stone beads, and two 8 mm black round lava beads to use as diffuser beads.
If you are making a mask chain for a child, I would suggest using plastic beads. I have never had an issue with my semi-precious stones or glass beads breaking in any of the bracelets I have made over the past two years. However, I also know that children might be a little rougher when taking the mask chain off. So plastic would be a safer choice for children.
Another benefit of the plastic beads is that there are so many great choices of kid-friendly designs, including footballs, soccer balls, animals, etc. Children love being able to customize what they wear. They can choose their school colors, favorite team colors, or rainbow designs. The possibilities are limitless!
Other Supplies You Will Need from the Craft Store
- While you are in the bead aisle, look for bead stringing wire. It is sold in spools. Avoid any string made of silk, suede, or porous materials for this project. Those would be harder to disinfect as they would stay damp longer. I chose the Beadalon 7 strand bead stringing wire that is 0.15 inches (0.38mm) wide. The beads will completely cover the wire, so it does not really matter which color you choose for this project.
- You will need two lobster clasps to attach to the ends. These are what the ear loops from your mask will attach to. Make sure that the clasp is at least 15 mm large. That way the opening will be big enough to fit the ear loop.
- Crimp beads are used to “lock” the lobster clasp and beads in place. If you are using crimp bead covers, it doesn’t matter what color your crimp beads are.
- Crimp bead covers make your mask chain look more finished. The crimp bead itself gets crushed during the crimping process.
- A crimper tool fits around the crimp bead perfectly to pinch it shut. You could probably use regular pliers for this. However, the crimp bead will not be as rounded when you are done.
- Optional – If you get a bead design board, it will help you keep your beads from rolling around as you are laying out your pattern. However, you could also lay out a dishtowel and measuring tape and line up the beads on that.
Once you make one of these mask chains, you will see how fun and easy it is. They are also much more affordable than the ones sold in boutiques, especially if you buy the beads on sale. Mine ended up costing less than $10 each, plus the tools that can be used again for future projects. So you can make a different chain for every day of the week if you wanted to!
Another added bonus is that the mask chain can easily be worn as a necklace. Just hook one of the lobster clasps into the other clasp. I love multi-purpose items!
Watch the video below to see how to make a beaded diffuser mask chain, from start to finish.
Mask Chain with Diffuser Beads
- 1 Tape measure
- 20 inches Assorted glass, semi-precious, or plastic beads See notes below for beads I used.
- 1 spool Bead stringing wire
- 2 Lobster clasps at least 15 mm long
- 2 Crimp beads
- 2 Crimp bead covers
- 1 Crimper tool
- 1 pair Needle nose pliers
- 1 pair Scissors
- 1 Bead design board (optional)
- Use the tape measure to determine how long you want your finished mask chain to be. Drape the tape measure around your neck. The ends should be a few inches below your chin, but not so low that your mask will touch the table edge when hanging.
- Use scissors to cut a piece of the bead stringing wire about 6 inches longer than you want your finished mask chain to be.
- Thread one end of the wire through the small hold on the lobster clasp. Fold over about 2 inches of it.
- At the opposite end of the wire, thread one of the crimp beads and pull it all the way to the other end, next to the lobster clasp. Thread the short tail of the folded end of the wire through the crimp bead.
- Make sure that the two parts of the wire are parallel and not twisted. Put the crimp bead in the outer groove of the crimping tool and squeeze. Then put the crimp bead in the next inner groove of the crimping tool and squeeze. Rotate the chain 90°, put the bead in the outer groove again and squeeze to round off the crimp bead.
- Use the needle nose plier to pick up a crimp bead cover. Place the cover around the crimp bead, and use the plier to gently squeeze the cover until the two halves meet.
- Arrange the beads on the bead design board in the pattern you wish. Or, lay the beads on a towel with the tape measure along the edge to the length you wish. If you are using diffuser beads, place them high enough up so that the beads will lay on your skin, not your shirt. (For me, this was about 4 inches up from each end of the 20 inch long chain.)
- Thread the beads onto the wire.
- Thread the other crimp bead after the last decorative bead.
- Thread the end of the wire through the small hole in the second lobster clasp and fold the wire over. Thread the tail of the wire back through the crimp bead.
- Use the crimping tool to squeeze the crimp bead the same way you did in step 5.
- Add the crimp bead cover using the pliers.
- Thread the tail of the wire back through the first few beads, then trim the excess with scissors.
- Beadalon 7 strand bead stringing wire that is 0.15 inches (0.38mm) wide
- 2 lobster clasps
- 2 Crimp beads
- 2 Crimp bead covers
- Crimper tool
- Bead design board
- 2 packs of sea mix glass 8 mm round beads
- 1 pack of aqua 8 mm Aurora Borealis glass beads
- 1 pack of aqua glass painted round 8 mm beads.
- Two beads from a strand of turquoise lava stones to use as diffuser beads
- 2 packs of grey luster glass 8mm round Czech beads
- 1 one pack of glass synthetic opal matte gray 8 mm beads
- 1 pack of hematite round 8mm stone beads
- 2 8 mm black round lava beads to use as diffuser beads
If you would like to find out how to make your fabric masks fit more securely on your face, check out my post about how to attach a nose bridge.
In the comments section below, let me know which combination of beads you use to make your own mask chain.