What are the main types of earplugs?
Design-wise, there are three common types of earplugs. Almost all earplugs fall into one of these categories:
Foam: Earplugs in this category are typically made from memory foam that is compressed and inserted into the ear canal where it expands to create a noise barrier.
Silicone: The earplugs in this category are not designed to be worn inside the ear canal, but instead, are custom fit to sit around the entrance to the ear. Their custom-molded design provides a tailor-made fit for each user.
Flanged: A flanged earplug is specially designed to modulate and simultaneously reduce outside noise. Musicians often wear these kinds of earplugs to reduce outside noise levels and protect the ears, while still being able to identify treble and bass notes.
How do earplugs differ?
Earplugs can differ in design, durability and feature sets. Not all earplugs are designed to block out as much sound as possible. Some of them, like Hi-Fi versions, let through some sound in order to give wearers a slightly reduced sense of the noises around them. Other earplugs may include a cord for easier insertion of the earplugs and improved removal.
Some earplugs also come with a band that wraps around your head in order to securely fasten your ear protection in place. By using a band, you will greatly reduce the likelihood of your earplugs falling out. The Howard Leight QB1 Quiet Band Hearing Protector is a good example of a band-based earplug.
Not all earplugs offer equal durability, either. The material that your earplugs are constructed from will largely dictate how well they hold up. Foam earplugs, for example, do not typically last as long as their silicone counterparts.
Lastly, some earplugs are designed to stay within the ear better than others. They may come with a no-roll feature (as some foam and other ones do) or an ear-friendly shape – either way, keep an eye out for earplugs that have this convenient feature.
Does the design of the earplug matter?
All earplugs are effective at reducing noise levels from the surroundings. Still, the design of your earplug will directly correlate with how effective it is at muffling noises. Earplugs that are designed for comfort and convenience may not offer a high level of noise protection. Not only that, but this can also influence how the earplug is worn. A foam earplug, for example, may be more difficult to insert into the ear canal than a push-in version. And, of course, they will both offer different levels of noise protection.
In short, design is one of the most important parts of an earplug. It will influence a number of other factors including noise protection, insertion, removal and durability.
How do I use earplugs?
Depending on the type of earplug you purchase, you may need to take a quick course on using your new ear accessories. While they may seem straightforward to use, some earplugs do need to be properly inserted to receive maximum noise protection.
Many foam earplugs fit this description. In order to get them deep enough into the ear canal, you must use the roll, pull and hold method. Do this by rolling the earplug between your pointing finger and your thumb, thus compressing it. Once you’ve done this, pull back on your ear lobe to expose the ear canal entrance. Finally, insert the rolled-up earplug into the canal. It should take the foam approximately 20 seconds to expand and conform to your ear canal.
A small number of foam earplugs do not need to be inserted using this method. Other earplugs are specially designed (their tapered design allows them to be easily inserted) to be easy to apply. Simply push them in and they’re in place.
How do I know which earplug is best for me?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell which earplug will meet your specific needs. Quality – at least when it comes to earplugs – is entirely subjective. Earplugs can come with features that are useful for a range of applications. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will work well for you. Understanding that all earplugs are different is the first step to finding the ones that will be perfect for your needs.
Why might I want a metal detectable earplug?
If you work in an environment that has high standards for safety, you may be required to have metal detectable earplugs. In the event that you lose your earplugs, the metal materials inside of these earplugs will make them easy to locate. This will prevent mishaps and ensure that your work environment continues to meet its high safety standards. This E-A-R Yellow Neon Metal Detectable Corded Ear Plug is an excellent option in this category.
Corded versus uncorded
The debate between corded and uncorded earplugs ultimately comes down to preference. Some people find that the cord connecting the earplugs gets in the way. Other people find it to be useful, as it provides them with an easy way to keep track of their earplugs. It also helps them remove the earplugs quickly. If you work in an environment wear the cord could get tangled or accidently cut, you may want to consider not getting a corded option. These corded earplugs offer excellent value and come in a handy push-in style.
Reusable versus disposable
Some earplugs are designed to be worn a handful of times before they start to degrade. Others are meant to be reused, offering excellent durability. Which type of earplug you use is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer the cost savings that they’re able to achieve by reusing their earplugs. Other people like the hygienic benefits of being able to use earplugs a single time. Both reusable and disposable earplugs can come with the same features, so the debate really boils down to what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for added protection from noise, you can also browse our large inventory of earmuffs.
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