FAQS

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing a Mask

You have so many different kinds of masks! Which ones are right for me?

Good question! Here's a chart we put together that compares our three collections: Essential, Universal and Active. You can read more about the individual mask differences on the product page(🔗) right below the description. You can also compare the main features by going to the All Masks (🔗) page, then clicking "Compare" on up to four individual masks.

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Three collections? I count more than that!

Fair point. Let's start with the Active Masks because those are the easiest, and there's only one type. Our Active Masks provide the benefits of layered cotton and a pm2.5 filter, but they're extremely lightweight and breathable (we used to called them our "Summer Masks"). You can learn more on their Category Page(🔗). We'll also include links to the other category pages below.

The Essential Masks are our premium model, for the reasons like the polypropylene moisture barrier you can read about here(🔗). Essential Masks can be broken down into three sub-categories: Essential Seattle(🔗), Essential Designer(🔗), and the Essential Black(🔗). All of our Essential Masks feature the same construction, but the Essential Designer masks are made in a factory in Europe, so we usually have higher quantities of those. The Essential Seattle masks are professionally made by hand here in Seattle, so we can offer a wider variety, but in limited quantities. If you see a Seattle Style mask you like, snatch it up before it's gone!

The Universal Masks( 🔗) come in two styles: seamless, or with a filtered exhalation valve. All of our Universal Masks are quilted, which means there's a layer of electrostatic batting between two of the cotton layers. We have the Universal Masks made to specification( 🔗) for us in Asia, at a lower cost than our Essential Masks. This lets us offer our customers a high-quality fitted mask with all the qualities you would expect in a premium mask, at a significantly lower cost.

Finally, all Puraka Masks feature a few very important elements in common: multiple layers of 100% natural cotton fabric, a nose clip to reduce glasses fogging, adjustable ear straps, an under-the-chin extension for superior coverage, and a pocket for one of our electrostatic carbon pm2.5 filters. Most importantly, all Puraka Masks are made to an international standard for protection from airborne particulates.(🔗)

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That's a much better answer, but you're not off the hook yet. You mentioned something about an Essential Black mask? Why does that one cost less than the other Essential masks?

You didn't let that one slip past you! The Essential Black mask is a nod to the basic black mask we started Puraka with back in 2018. It's made in Europe to the exact same standards as all of our Essential Masks, but we price it lower because we think it's important to make a premium protective facemask available to anyone who needs one. And black goes with just about everything.

Mask Styles & Protection

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What makes a Puraka mask different from other masks?

Puraka Masks are cotton particulate masks with a special pocket for disposable PM2.5 Filters. We’ve designed them to offer you the best of both worlds: filtering capabilities significantly higher than a fabric mask, with far less inhalation resistance and potential heart damage than an N95 Respirator. In other words, we’ve designed Puraka Masks for protection suitable for the workers, care providers, and anyone needing enhanced protection suitable for everyday use.

A Puraka Mask is not intended as a replacement for an N95 respirator, and there’s a very good reason for this. N95 masks fit tightly against your face, forming an air-tight seal between your mouth & nose and the outside world. This provides a high degree of protection, but this also makes it significantly harder to breathe. For a medical professional who is frequently exposed to airborne virions, the extra protection might be worth the increased strain on her heart caused by the N95 respirator. For the rest of us, wearing an N95 mask during everyday activities is probably going to cause more harm than good.

On the other end of the spectrum are cloth face masks. The purpose of these masks is to decrease the chance that you will unknowingly spread the virus to others. This is a great reason to wear them, and if everyone wore a face mask we would probably see a big decrease in infections. However, most cloth face masks do relatively little to protect you from airborne aerosols or harmful microscopic particulates in your environment.

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I don't like having the logo on the mask. Can I remove it?

As a pre-COVID mask-maker, the primary purpose of a Puraka mask has always been protection, so we've traditionally approached our branding similarly to a company like 3M, with the idea that our logo is proof of quality. However, because masks have become such an everyday part of our lives, the fashion aspect needs to be treated as importantly as the protection aspect, and we understand you may be less likely to wear a mask featuring a logo. Our next line of masks will feature a more discrete logo on the corner of the mask. If you have a mask with our full logo, we do not recommend removing it unless you are relatively experienced in needlework.

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Do your masks protect against COVID-19?

Puraka's mask and disposable filter system were designed with a very specific goal: preventing the inhalation of airborne particulates, without putting unnecessary strain on your lungs. No mask is 100% effective at protecting from viral transmission, and any claim that a mask offers "total protection from the Coronavirus" is not based on real science.

Airborne virions like the Coronavirus about 120 nanometers across. Our filters are made from the same non-woven fiber as an N95 mask, which are engineered to capture nanoparticles of a similar size with a high degree of efficiency. The main difference between our masks and an N95 respirator is that our system of a fitted mask + PM2.5 Filter puts substantially less strain on your heart than a sealed N95 respirator, while being laboratory tested to reduce airborne particulates by just few percentage points less (around 90% vs 95% for an N95).

Of course, the most effective thing you can do to stay healthy is wash your hands and practice appropriate physical distancing. 

For more on protection, visit our education page.

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Can your masks and filters be worn immediately?

Yes! Because the masks are made of 100% natural cotton, with no powders or preservatives, they are comfortable and safe to wear right out of the package. Don’t forget to place the filter inside!

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Will the mask and filters sufficiently protect from coughing / sneezing of others who are within a few feet proximity?

The mask protects others from you as much as they protect you from others. It's important to have a mask before you're working with symptomatic people (or yourself become symptomatic), because of the Coronavirus' unique ability to spread pre-symptoms.  No mask will prevent the transmission of all germs, but these masks filter approx 90% of fine particulate matter, compared to 60% from a surgical facemask, and only a few percentage points less than an industrial respirator.

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Can you describe what your masks are like?

Every mask is made of cotton, with adjustable ear straps and space for a square filter. All the adult masks have an adjustable nose piece, and all of the children's masks do as well. The mask is made per CDC best practices by using tightly-woven cotton fabric.

All of the masks are adjustable. Each mask has three things that are the same: adjustable ear straps, an adjustable nose piece and a pocket for a filter.

All of our masks (seamless or valved) all have the flexible plastic coated wire nose piece. All of our masks (seamless or valved) can be washed. The PM2.5 Filters are not washable and should be thrown away after use.

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Which have more breathability, the Summer or Essential masks?

The current run of Essential Black masks uses a slightly denser cotton since we manufactured them at the height of the global fabric shortage and couldn’t get the exact density we wanted. This might make them a little harder to breathe through for some people. All of the other Essential masks are very easy to breathe through. The Summer Masks are perhaps just a little bit easier to breathe through.

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Which have better filtration, the Summer or Essential masks?

Essential masks utilize the PE moisture barrier, which will provide some additional filtration if you are using the masks without a PM2.5 Filter.

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Which masks have more of an electrostatic charge?

A PM2.5 Filter gives any mask an electrostatic charge. Our workplace line of masks has built-in batting, which has its own charge even without a filter.

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Is there a difference in moisture collection?

The only difference may be with the Summer Masks, which utilize an innovative “open pocket” design for the filter. This reduces the amount of fabric you have to breathe through, which could help to minimize the moisture buildup.

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Is there a difference in density?

All of our masks use a similarly dense cotton weave. The current line of Essential Black is somewhat more dense due to fabric availability when we had them produced.

If the Summer Mask doesn't have batting/PE, is it only protecting the mask user with the use of a filter?

Any mask is going to provide a certain degree of protection to the wearer and those around him/her. Without the electrostatic batting or polyethylene moisture barrier the Summer Mask may be less effective than the other models when used without the filter.

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Do Summer Masks have a tightly woven 100% cotton shell?

They do. A Summer Mask has two layers of tightly woven cotton.

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What makes the Summer Mask's pocket innovative?

The pocket on most masks is like a traditional “pocket”, whereas the Summer Mask is more like two outer clamps that hold the filter in place. If you look at the picture of the back of the Summer Masks, you can see that the filter fits into the mask via the two outer edges instead of into a pocket like the other masks. This allows us to eliminate one layer of cotton between your mouth/nose and the outside of the mask. It’s quite comfortable!

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How are contaminants cleared from batting?

Contaminants are only cleared from the batting by washing the mask. Visit purakamask.com/mask or select Sizing & Care" above for washing instructions.

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What’s the difference between the Valved and seamless (Essential, Summer, Workplace)?

Generally, valves are great for people who wear the mask all day, but you must always use the filter. Masks without valves are better for casual use, like grocery stores, etc.

The rule of thumb is a valve mask is more comfortable for long-term use with a filter because the valve reduces the heat and moisture inside the mask. However the masks without the valve can be worn without the filter while still meeting CDC recommendations. Valved masks can never be used without a filter.

From a cost perspective, both masks will provide excellent protection when used with a filter, but the Valved Mask will always require you to purchase filters to use the mask, whereas once the risk of infection goes down, non-valved masks may be more comfortable to use without the filter, and you won't have to continue to purchase them.

Valve makes it easier to exhale. It does not affect performance or inhalation. The downside of the valve is we always have to use a filter with it because otherwise it's unsafe for people around you.

We ultimately recommend all customers use the seamless masks, especially in states where masks are required. Under most state rules, masks with valves are prohibited, or being prohibited, due to the danger to others. Even though our Valved Masks have a filter between the mouth and the valve, we don't want our customers to be harassed or stopped due to a misunderstanding.

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What standards do you hold your suppliers to?

We require each supplier to meet our exacting technical parameters, including N95-equivalent testing results and compliance with certification requirements for the filters, and cotton material and adjustable CDC-recommended ear straps on the respirators themselves. The only difference is that we've decided to shave off the extra days that would otherwise be spent optimizing the mask for a better unpackaging experience. We think getting you effective respiratory protection quickly is worth it, and we hope you agree.

For more information on supplier requirements, see our frequently asked questions on our educational page. Please note all masks that ship from China undergo a mandatory quarantine period and other carrier-specific preventative measures before importing into the United States. The CDC says "there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods."  See CDC FAQ page.

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Where are your masks manufactured?

Our masks are manufactured in Europe, China and the United States.

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Why did my mask arrive with Chinese lettering on the package?

The unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the time it takes us to manufacture respirator masks with N95-equivalent PM2.5 Filters and make them available to our customers here in the United States. Like most suppliers of respiratory products, even well-known companies like 3M and Honeywell, we do most of our manufacturing overseas.

Why does this matter? Normally, we work with our suppliers to have our masks branded and packaged so that you as our customer have a great "out of the box" experience with our product, even if it adds a few days to production. However, in the early days of the current crisis, we decided it was more important to provide our customers quality respirator masks with high quality PM2.5 Filters quickly than it was to spend time on branding. Some of the masks still in our inventory were sourced during this time.

We have always required each supplier to meet our exacting technical parameters, including N95-equivalent testing results and compliance with certification requirements for the filters, and cotton material and adjustable CDC-recommended ear straps on the respirators themselves. 

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How long do the masks last?

Our masks should last for at least 60 washing cycles if you use a delicates bag and otherwise take care of your mask. If your nose clip breaks, email customer support and we'll send you a new one along with instructions on replacing it.

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Is there a maximum amount of continuous hours the masks can be worn for any one wearing cycle?

No maximum. Because they are not industrial respirators, they don't restrict airflow as much, and can be worn for a longer period of time without putting significant strain on your heart.

PM 2.5 Filters

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What is the lifespan of the filters?

PM2.5 Filters will not lose their effectiveness, but the air resistance will increase over time as the non-woven fibers accumulate airborne particulates. The filter should always be removed as soon as it becomes noticeably more difficult to inhale. Generally, you should feel no difference until 16-24 hours of continuous use (about 1-2 weeks of casual use for daily activities). After that point, the resistance will begin to gradually  build up as more particulates are trapped by the advanced spunbond fibers. If you are using the filter everyday in the workplace, we generally recommend replacing the filter at the end of a 40-hour week. For active jobs like shipping, manufacturing or other manual work, we recommend 2 filters per week.

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Who certifies Puraka filters?

SGS is one of the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. Puraka relies on SGS to test, certify and verify that your filters exceed performance specifications. SGS is used by global companies because they are recognized as a benchmark for quality and integrity, and maintain a network of more than 2,000 laboratories around the world.

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Which direction do the filters go in?

Filters do not have a preferred direction and can be inserted either direction. It is recommended to wash your hands with antibacterial soap when inserting the filter and to avoid touching the filter to avoid passing germs.

For more on how to wear your mask, watch this instructional video.

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What’s the difference between the Puraka masks with PM2.5 Filters vs N95 masks?

The filter is a PM2.5 Filter that is tested to equivalent N95 standards. The advantage is the filters will provide less strain on breathing and optimize protection. The filter is the primary protection and the cloth mask holds the mask around your mouth and nose.

Puraka Masks are cotton particulate masks with a special pocket for disposable PM2.5 Filters. They are designed for enhanced, every-day protection suitable for the front-line workers, seniors, and anyone else for use in public settings outside of the home. The PM2.5 Filter paired with a fabric mask offers you the best of both worlds: significantly greater protection than a cloth mask alone, but with far less inhalation resistance and potential heart damage than a sealed N95 Respirator. Our respirator masks and filters are not designed to be used as surgical masks, and are not intended nor designed as a substitute for medical face masks or respirators used in a healthcare setting. Although our PM2.5 Filters are manufactured and tested to international standards that are functionally equivalent to N95, the filters are not intended nor certified for industrial usage.

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What goes into a PM 2.5 filter?

The outer layer of non-woven spun-bond polypropylene serves as a physical barrier for moisture and larger particulates, including particulates of activated carbon and melt-blown fibers that might detach from the filter material.

The activated carbon layer is also good for a few different purposes.  It acts as a deodorant and natural anti-bacterial, so it keeps the mask fresher longer. It also has electrostatic properties which allow it to capture small particulates that can't be stopped by physical barriers.

The melt-blown filter media is the most important layer. The individual fibers are much smaller than the non-woven spun-bond.  In addition to incredible mechanical filtration, the material also has electrostatic properties. That's why they use it for N95 respirators.

Visit our blog post on PM2.5 Filters to learn more.

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How do you price your filters?

We've had to increase the price of the filters due to the global scarcity, but we've created an option for existing customers to purchase via a subscription model, at a steep discount. This allows us to provide our customers a consistent source of high quality filters, while preventing re-sellers and third parties from purchasing the filters in bulk.

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Why not use a filter that blocks 100% particulates?

Any filter that provides 100% clean air is probably going to cause more harm than good on most days. Filters and higher ratings generally make your lungs work harder to draw air through the filtering material, which can be dangerous for sensitive groups, especially if you have a pre-existing pulmonary or respiratory condition. Our fitted PM2.5 filters, made of material tested to N95 standards, can provide a high degree of protection, with less discomfort and potentially dangerous heart strain.

Sizing & Care

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What size mask is right for me?

Figuring out your mask size can be a little trickier than knowing your shirt and pant sizes, but we've done everything we can to make things simple, including always using adjustable ear straps to help you achieve the right level of fit. Take a look at our sizing chart to find your size. If you think you might be somewhere in the middle, we recommend selecting the larger size, then shrinking your mask according to the directions below.

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My mask is too big. How do reduce the size of my mask?

All Puraka Masks are 100% cotton, and because we try to minimize pre-production processing as much as possible, our masks are NOT pre-shrunk. This means you can reduce the size of your mask by up to around 20% with the following steps:

  1. Wash your mask in hot water, either in the machine with a delicates bag or by hand, just be careful not to scald yourself!
  2. Put the mask (inside the delicates bag) in the dryer and run it on high heat.
  3. Check periodically throughout the drying cycle to make sure you don't over-shrink the mask
  4. When your mask is the right size, change the dryer setting to very low heat or just air, then dry the rest of the way gently.
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Are the masks washable?

Yes, they should be washed in the washing machine or by hand with soap and cold water. We recommend you wash the cloth when they change the filter, which should be after 16 to 24 hours of continuous use. Always use a mesh laundry bag when machine-washing.

It's important to not touch the front of the mask. Always wash your hands before and after handling the mask.

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How can I dry my mask?

The masks can be tumble dried as a delicate in a mesh bag on low or no heat.  You can also let the masks air dry, laid out flat to minimize risk of damage.

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Can I wash the filter?

PM2.5 filters can not be washed. We recommend replacing the filter when you wash the mask.

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Are there other ways to clean the mask?

Some of our customers use “hot pots” to heat the masks for a certain amount of time considered effective to neutralize viruses, but we have not experimented with this ourselves. We do sell an ultraviolet-light disinfection box that uses powerful “Type C” UV light designed to sterilize the front and back surfaces of the mask.

Learn more here.

SteraLight

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How does the SteraLight work?

The SteraLight is an ultraviolet disinfection device, used for surface sanitization of your masks, phones and other small objects using UVC Type-C light.

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What are the dimensions of the SteraLight?

6.9in x 4.1in x 1.2in (175mm x 104mm x 30mm)

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Will SteraLight disinfect the filters, too?

It will disinfect the surface of the filter, but it won't unclog them, so when they trap enough particulates it will become harder to breathe and the filters should be changed.

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Was the original Steralight’s 253.7 UV-C wavelength tested in an independent lab?

It was. We also performed secondary testing ourselves with UVC Dosimeters from American Ultraviolet.

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Was the NEW Steralight wavelength tested in an independent lab?

It was tested by the Guangdong Detection Center of Microbiology. We also performed secondary testing ourselves with UVC Dosimeters from American Ultraviolet.

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What improvements does the NEW SteraLight feature?

We changed the lights from diodes to mercury lamps, and placed a mirror along the top of the inner lid to help the light reach the mask more uniformly.

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I think something might be wrong with my SteraLight. Can I get a replacement?

The SteraLights are warranted for a one-year period. Customers experiencing problems with their box can contact [email protected] for assistance.

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Do you offer technical service for the SteraLight or send replacement parts?

We do not provide technical service. If a device is malfunctioning, we will replace it free of charge within a 1-year period. Please contact [email protected] for assistance.

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What is the manufacturer name & model for the new UV sanitizing box?

The Manufacturer is Shenzhen Beauty360 Technology and the model is SteraLight.

Subscriptions

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When does my subscription order ship out each month?

Your bank account will be charged one month from the date of your original order date. In order to keep our customers safe and to ensure they arrive on time, we ship two weeks prior to the charge date. For example, if you placed an order on August 1, your account will be charged next on September 1, but your masks will ship out around August 18.

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Why is the monthly fee for the six-month subscription higher than the 12 month subscription?

All new subscribers get a free SteraLight UV Box, Laundry Bag and two Universal Masks. Because the six month subscription requires a shorter commitment, we charge a few dollars more per month for the first six months to compensate.

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I signed up for the six month subscription bundle. If I don't cancel after 6 months, will my subscription fee decerease?

Yes, your subscription fee will go down! After the first six months, if you decide to remain a subscriber, your monthly fee will go down to the same lower rate as the subscribers who opted for the 12-month commitment.

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Why are we offering a filter subscription plan?

With colder weather and the corresponding third wave, we expect the benefits (high protection / low health impact) of disposable PM2.5 Filters will drive a surge in demand. Whenever a product becomes popular overnight, two things begin to happen: prices go up, and quality goes down. A subscription plan allows us to protect our customers from this trend by providing them with a consistent source of reasonably-priced, high-quality filters.

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Is there a shipping charge?

No, shipping is free. Puraka sends your replacement filters early to make sure they arrive at your home or business before or on your anniversary date. As a subscriber, you'll also get free shipping on any store orders of masks, filters or any accessory priced over $7.00!

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What are the other benefits of being a subscriber?

In addition to monthly replacement filters, subscribers receive all of the following:

  1. Automatic 10% discount on all store orders
  2. Free expedited shipping on all store orders (USPS Priority or First Class)
  3. Store credit for two free masks ($15) every six months.
  4. Exclusive discounts on new masks and other store products.
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Where do we sign up?

You can sign up for a subscription here.

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Is one person allowed to sign up for multiple separate subscriptions, each with the free twelve month UV sanitizer box promotion?

Yes. A customer may maintain up to four subscriptions. If you are interested in filter subscriptions for school or corporate use, please contact [email protected]

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Can the item count on a subscription change month to month?

The number of filters can be changed once per month, subject to the 15-day notice requirement.

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Are there any stipulations for how many or how few times I can change my filter amount or the address they get sent to?

No restrictions. We only ask that you limit the number of changes to once per month per subscription.

If the subscription fee was higher when the subscriber signed up than it is now on the website, will they be billed at the lower fee?

Of course. We won’t ever charge more for a subscription than the current low price. 

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How do I know when my subscription renews?

Subscriptions renew monthly on the anniversary date of the order. 

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How are subscription customers invoiced?

Subscription customers are charged monthly via credit card. When the customer purchases the filter plan, the system creates two orders. The first order is a regular order that gets filled immediately. The second order is a “recurring” order. This order will automatically charge the customer every month, on the same day the original order was placed.

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When can I terminate my subscription?

We offer options to subscribe for a mimimum of 6 and 12 months. After that initial period you can cancel anytime. The only limit is the cancellation must be at least 15 days before your monthly billing date, since we ship your replacement filters early in order to guarantee on-time delivery.

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How does a customer cancel their subscription?

Every subscriber has created an account to opt-in to a recurring subscription. There is an option to cancel a recurring order near the bottom of your account page. You can also email [email protected] with your cancellation request.

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How long does Puraka guarantee access to high quality filters?

We limit the number of new subscribers to make sure we can fulfill existing filter subscriptions for at least the next 6 months. 

Shipping & Returns

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How long does it take to process and ship my order?

Orders placed before 12:00 PM Central Time will be dispatched within 2 business days at most, but often will ship the same day. Shipping itself may take 1-4 business days, depending on how far you live from the fulfillment center shipping the order. These estimates do not include delays that the fulfillment and shipping company may encounter.

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How much is shipping?

Domestic US shipping is free for any order of two or more combined items or any filter order. For orders of one mask or other item, shipping is only $5. 

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What shipping methods do you offer?

For domestic shipments, we ship all of our orders via either USPS Priority Mail, or USPS First Class, depending on the weight of the item.  USPS normally treats First Class packages the same as Priority Mail, and estimates a delivery speed of 1-3 business days for both options.

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Can I do multi-product orders?

For multiple product orders, we will make every attempt to ship all items contained in that order at the same time. Products that are unavailable at the time of shipping will be shipped as they become available, unless you inform us otherwise. You will only be charged for products contained in a given shipment, plus any applicable shipping charges. You will only be charged for shipping at the rate quoted to you on your purchase receipt. The entirety of this shipping charge will be applied to the first product(s) shipped on a multiple shipment order.

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Do you ship internationally?

We currently ship to Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. If you would like us to enable shipping to your country, send us an email. We’ll figure something out!

For more on our return policies, visit our Policies, Terms and Conditions page.