Friday, April 19, 2019
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Conversion of AirLife Trach Mask to a dust and particulate filtration mask

Conversion of AirLife Trach Mask to a dust and particulate filtration mask Info (c) 2003 Victor Radin Permission granted for Not-For-Profit Personal Use ONLY, please no republication without permission.

Victor has granted us permission.


1. This is probably in total violation of any and all suggested use of any products listed here.

2. The manufacturers are unaware of this non-approved use, and are NOT LIABLE IF **I** SCREW UP MY OWN HEALTH.

3. You are responsible for your own use of this information. It works for me. It may or may NOT work for you.

4. Modification of any of the original products listed WILL CERTAINLY void any warrantee, again- YOUR RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE THIS INFORMATION.

Now that THAT'S out of the way- on to the good stuff...

This project began as a method of getting me back into the workshop after a tracheotomy. Woodworking can be a dusty, dirty, and if you're trached- DANGEROUS- hobby. It's bad enough breathing sawdust and wood shavings through your mouth and nose, but having that crud going DIRECTLY into the lungs isn't any fun at all.

All of the "normal" particulate masks work wonders over the mouth/nose, but don't fit over a trach tube without leakage. The trach masks used to supply humidified air or O2 while sleeping make for a good seal, but there's no filtration.

Enter the mind of a severely warped and twisted individual (that would be me)... Remember that old cliché about necessity being a mother? Well, it's more like the NEED to get back to working wood was the harsh mistress.

So- here's the progression of what I found-

Using glue to hold filtration pads to the mask is a BAD, BAD, BAD idea.

- Slow-cure glues tend to ooze and be absorbed by the filter materials-rendering them useless. Strike ONE

- Fast-cure glue (superglue) out-gasses for a long time, and can cause nasty chemical burns to the trachea. Strike TWO (and the recovery time was strike THREE)

Then I opted for the KISS principle- Keep It Simple Stupid... The simpler the better.

Here's what I finally came up with...


- Airlife Adult Tracheostomy Mask catalog 001225
- AOSafety Cool Max Respirator

Tools Needed:

- Scissors
- 3-3/4 inch diameter disc
- Dental floss or other STRONG very thin string. ( I used suture silk)


1. Take apart the Airlife mask.
a- The clear dome pops out of the base, and then you can, with a little effort...
b- Pop the hose connector off.

2. Prepare and trim the Filter material
a- Cut the sides off the Cool Max mask, allowing it to expand to a semi-flat sheet.
b- mark your 3-3/4" discs on the mask material
c- Cut out ONE disc.

3. Make the filter dome.
a- Center the disc on the clear dome and gently form it down the dome to the flange.
b- Secure the filter material to the dome using dental floss- a slip knot and about 4-5 windings seems to work well.
c- Tie off the floss with a surgeon's knot. I'm SUCH a show-off. You can use a square knot if you want.
d- Leave the thread ends about 2-3" long for now.

4. Reassemble Dome to mask base.
a- Place dome (round side up) on the inside of the mask base
b- Force the dome into the base. It stretches a bit, but not much- takes a bit of pressure to get it in there.
c- Adjust the dome so the large opening is UP- spin it a few times- this helps the base seat better to the dome and filter material.
d- Turn the mask base inside out, and TRIM any excess threads or filter material.
e- Turn the base rightwards again, and YOU'RE DONE.

That's the whole procedure. In the time it took to write this, I could have made a dozen of these silly things- YES, it's THAT dammed simple.

How I tested it for effectiveness:

Totally non-scientific, but logical. No animals were harmed in the testing of this product- well except the field mouse that got caught in the trap, but that doesn't count.

I put a thin coat of petroleum jelly (vaseline) on the inside sides of the mask base. Sawdust just LOVES this stuff. I wore the newly made trach filter, a well-sealed mouth/nose respirator (NOT a filter mask) and forced breathing only thru the trach.

I then started up my lathe and began sanding- this kicks up LOTS of dust and crud. 10 minutes later the black shirt I was wearing (and I) were covered in sawdust, from beard to belly. Sawdust on the trach collar, outside of the mask and respirator, the works.

I cleaned off the loose dust with compressed air, and removed the masks. Nothing trapped in the respirator- as expected, for US$50 it had better freaking seal properly.

Checked the inside of the trach mask. CLEAN. Not a speck of sawdust trapped in the vaseline. There was some residual moisture, this acts much like an HME in some respects, trapping some of the humidity- a nice side-effect for another use later.

That's the story- I'm back to work in the shop as of tonight-
First project:
Finish the Rifle Stock (50 cal blackpowder) and assemble the thing for this summer. It's gonna be GORGEOUS!.

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