KF94 or KN95 mask? What's the difference and which should you use?

By Thomas Talhelm July 1, 2021

 Face masks, in all their various forms, are back.


They never really went away, but with cases from the delta variant of COVID-19 on the rise and some schools, businesses and other establishments recommending or requiring them once again, it's time for a refresh on which masks are the most effective at preventing the coronavirus.


What do KN95 and KF94 mean?

Before we start, let’s get to know what N95 means. “N95” is a certification provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an agency within the Center for Disease Control (CDC). According to the CDC website, N95 masks are “the most common of the seven types of particulate filtering facepiece respirators.” The “95” refers to the fact that they filter out 95% of airborne particles.


KN95 is an equivalent qualification given in China, and KF94 an equivalent qualification in South Korea for the standards those countries use to determine the effectiveness of face masks.


What's the difference between KF94 and KN95 masks?


KF94 masks

The "KF" in KF94 stands for "Korean filter," as the disposable mask is made in South Korea, and the "94" refers to the mask's 94% filtration efficiency.


Its design also differs from KN95 masks, as it has a larger pocket in the front with an adjustable band.


KF94 masks can come in both child and adult sizes and are available to purchase in multipacks and a variety of colors.


Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told the New York Times the KF94 mask is made of a similar material as the N95. The notable difference is the KF94 has ear loops instead of elastic bands.


KN95 masks 

KN95 are made in China and rated capture 95% of tiny particles, or about 0.3 micron particles. These masks are considered the Chinese equivalent of N95 masks.


They feature a tentlike shape that creates a little pocket of air between your nose and the fabric, which makes them appealing to many people: They feel easier to breathe through, less obstructive and stifling.


Anyone can wear these masks in low- to moderate-risk environments, such as going to the grocery store or an outdoor gathering. Even KN95 masks that don't meet NIOSH standards for filtration efficacy are probably still more protective than basic surgical masks and cloth face masks made of cotton, nylon or another nonmedical fabric.


Which should you use?


It turns out, the difference between KN95 and KF94 masks is minor for the factors that most users care about. KF94 is the “Korean filter” standard similar to the China KN95 mask rating.


Don't get confused between the N95, KN95 and KF94 masks: while all serve the same purpose of covering the nose and mouth and prevent COVID-19, each have a different filtering standard. Most importantly, choose fitting and high quality masks from reliable retailers like MARIFUL.


MARIFUL provides a few different types of masks to choose from, including cloth, disposable, face shields, KN95 and KF94 masks.