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KN95 Face Masks vs. N95 Face Masks: What’s The Difference?

Posted by Source Ortho on 8th Jan 2021

KN95 Face Masks vs. N95 Face Masks: What’s The Difference?

As a medical supply company, one of the biggest questions we get from our customers is “What is the difference between a N95 and KN95 masks?” While the simple answer to this question is “not much”, there is a lot to discuss when it comes to the specific differences between masks and why those differences may or may not matter in terms of safety and performance.

Before we take a deep dive into the difference between N95 and KN95 face masks, let’s first get a better understanding of what each type of mask is and the level of safety they provide.


What is a N95 Face Mask?

An N95 Face Mask is a type of disposable mask that is typically used in medical environments. It is designed to sit closely to the face to prevent air leakage in and around the sides of the mask. N95 face masks have a high filtration rate making them the top choice for most medical professionals.

N95 masks are constructed of 4 different layers of protection and feature a metal flexible nose bridge for a better fit along with straps that sit behind the head.


Where are N95 Face Masks Made?

N95 face masks are manufactured in the United States for compliance with FDA standards for safety.


What is the Filtration Level of a N95 Face Mask?

N95 masks are able to effectively filter out 95% of airborne particles .3 microns or larger. This includes most allergens, viruses, smoke, and many other common airborne irritants.


What Is A KN95 Face Mask?

A KN95 face mask is a protective mask manufactured in China to meet international standards of safety. They are essentially the European version of the N95 mask. KN95 face masks also provide protection against 95% of airborne particles .3 microns or larger.

They are made of either 4 or 5 layers for protection, a flexible nose bridge for a secured and earloops to secure to the wearer’s head. Like the N95 mask, they feature a secure and comfortable fit to decrease leakage into and out of the sides of the mask. This is incredibly important for keeping the wearer and those around them safe from infection.


Where are KN95 Face Masks Made?

KN95 face masks are manufactured in China to meet the international standards for safety. While they are not manufactured in the US, they are made to be comparable to the N95 masks.

Similar to the N95 mask, KN95 face masks effectively filter out 95% of particles .3 microns or larger.

How Protective Are N95 and KN95 Face Masks Against COVID 19?

Both N95 and KN95 face masks provide a filtration rate of 95% for particles .3 microns or larger. While a single coronavirus particle is typically about .125 microns in size, it is important to remember how a virus is transmitted: through respiratory droplets that are much larger.

In order for a virus to travel from person to person, it must attach itself to a respiratory droplet which would be much larger than .3 microns. This includes the coronavirus. While the COVID 19 virus itself is .125 microns large, once it attached itself to a respiratory droplet before transmission, the particle size of the virus will have grown to around 1 micron in size. This makes N95 and KN95 face masks both very effective at helping to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.


Can KN95 Face Masks Be FDA Approved?

Since KN95 masks are typically manufactured outside of the United States, they would not be eligible for FDA approval under normal circumstances. However, due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic and shortage of N95 face masks in the US, the FDA released a Whitelist of approved KN95 masks that can be safely and effectively used in emergency medical settings.

To check if your KN95 mask is FDA approved, click here.


What’s The Difference Between N95 and KN95 Face Masks?

So now that we understand what N95 face masks and KN95 masks really are, what is the difference between the two? The answer is pretty simple, the only major difference is where they are made. N95 masks are made to meet US standards and KN95 masks are made to meet international standards, with both having the same standards for safety.

The only other major difference between KN95 and N95 face masks is the ability to earn NIOSH approved. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is a separate organization unaffiliated with the FDA that also measures and approves N95 masks. While certain N95 masks can be NIOSH approved, KN95 masks cannot be since they are manufactured outside of the United States. Some of the most well known NIOSH approved N95 masks are those manufactured by 3M.


Which Face Mask Should I Buy?

When it comes to deciding which face mask is right for you, there are many things to take into consideration. Most importantly, you must consider where you will be wearing this mask, it’s availability, and cost.

We have a lengthy blog post going over all of the different types of face masks and the situations that are best suited for. To learn more about the best masks for certain situations, click here.

In terms of masks availability, the N95 mask shortage that was prevalent in the beginning of the pandemic has mostly ended. N95 face masks are readily available for consumer purchase from many online retailers.

When it comes to comparing the cost of N95 and KN95 face masks, N95 masks are typically much more expensive than KN95 masks. With both types of face masks providing comparable protection, KN95 masks are generally much more budget friendly.



When it comes to choosing the best face masks for you, each individual will have different needs depending one their specific situation. Source Ortho is committed to providing our customers with the highest quality of face masks for sale. From N95 masks, to KN95, 3 Ply and other PPE products, we are here to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Use coupon code MASK20 for 20% off of all face masks