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How deep can you dive with a Snorkel Mask?

Wie tief kann man mit einer Schnorchelmaske tauchen?

Most snorkelers prefer to swim comfortably on the surface of the water. From there you can explore the fantastic underwater world and discover the unique wildlife. Diving may account for 10% of water sports, but it’s one of them.

Whoever discovers something interesting in a few meters of water will surely want to take a closer look. This means that you have to dive. But how deep can you dive with a snorkel mask?

With a snorkel mask you can dive to a maximum depth of 1 to 2 meters. The reasons for this are that the mask already presses strongly against the face at shallow water depths due to the trapped air. In addition, snorkel mask wearers cannot equalize the pressure (e.g. by holding the nose shut while breathing out).

An important distinction, however, is whether in this case a full face mask is meant, which covers the whole face, or a set is spoken of, which consists of diving goggles and snorkel.

With a snorkel that comes with a mouthpiece you can dive much deeper. The masks press much less on the face and a pressure equalization can also be done.

How deep a person can dive with a snorkel depends essentially on their ability to hold their breath and their fitness. But what is the difference between diving with a snorkel and diving with a snorkel mask?

The main difference is breathing. With a snorkel mask you breathe differently than with a snorkel. In the following we will therefore go into these and other differences in more detail and explain the respective advantages and disadvantages of snorkel masks and classic snorkeling.

Breathing with a classic snorkel

In a classic snorkel, snorkellers bite on a mouthpiece made of a plastic such as silicone. The diving goggles also block the nose so that no water can penetrate. However, this also means that you cannot breathe through your nose with a classic snorkel.

A number of people find this difficult. Not being able to breathe through the nose is also unusual for children. Those who still breathe through the nose blow the moist air directly into the inside of the glasses, which quickly leads to fogging of the mask.

The construction depends on the mouthpiece through which the patient inhales and exhales. Our experience shows, however, that this unsettles beginners and is particularly problematic for people who suffer from claustrophobia. In addition, the jaw musculature tires after a while and forces an emergence.

The classic technique is far from optimal. The manufacturers have also discovered the problem and have developed snorkel masks that cover the entire face.

Breathing with a snorkel mask

Snorkel masks are also called full masks. They combine snorkel and diving goggles in one object and allow natural breathing through nose and mouth.

Snorkel masks can do without a mouthpiece, so that you can breathe in them like above water. However, the supply of air is somewhat limited. The masks are therefore not suitable for people with breathing difficulties.

The masks offer much more space and usually sit comfortably. For beginners, children and people with claustrophobia snorkel masks are better suited.

Snorkel masks cannot do without a tube. The tube sits on the upper side of the mask and supplies the wearer with fresh air.

The frequently occurring problems with simple snorkels do not exist with snorkel masks. Instead of a mouthpiece, which is stuck in your mouth during snorkeling and quickly leads to fatigue of the jaw muscles, you can take a selfie with a snorkel mask grinning. In addition, fogging of the snorkel mask is much rarer and an action cam can be attached to the mask.

Does water get into the snorkel while diving?

In the past, a certain amount of water that got into the snorkel and flowed directly into the mouth was quite normal.

Nowadays you see more and more dry snorkels, which are equipped with a splash guard and a float valve at the upper end of the snorkel to prevent the penetration of water. Water that has penetrated the snorkel is flushed out through a blow-out valve.

Classic snorkelling is only partly dry snorkelling and therefore suitable for diving. In contrast, almost all snorkel masks have such a technology.

Why snorkel masks are not suitable for diving

SUBEA (the manufacturer of the original Easybreath snorkel mask) advises against diving with their snorkel mask. Basically there would be three problems. Firstly, the float valve only works vertically.

When diving down, however, snorkelers lower their heads forward and turn their bodies. When diving in, the snorkel’s tube lies horizontally in the water and there is a possibility that water may penetrate. Snorkelers should first sink straight down and then turn around in the water.

On the other hand, the air trapped in the mask creates a strong pressure on the face. It becomes unpleasant already from a water depth of one to two meters.

Furthermore a (simple) pressure compensation with the mask is not possible. Normally one would hold one’s nose shut and exhale vigorously to get rid of the pressure on the ears. If you wear a snorkel mask, you only have to yawn to balance the pressure. And who is yawning in the midst of the fantastic underwater worlds?

Dangers when diving with a snorkel

If you want to dive with a snorkel or a snorkel mask, you have to be aware of the dangers. The greatest danger is unconsciousness while still underwater. The weight of the water compresses the air in the lungs.

If you dive deeper than a few meters, you will soon notice that our lungs are not designed to suck in air. On the surface, you breathe without much effort, but 10 meters deep in the water, inhaling feels like sucking on a closed tube. Breathing out continues to work in certain water depths.

When snorkeling with a blow-out valve, the used breathing air is blown out of the snorkel. Otherwise it can accumulate in the snorkel. The CO₂ concentration then increases with each exhalation, which quickly becomes dangerous. Inhaling CO₂-rich air feels like suffocating.

A further source of danger is the too fast emergence. With increasing water depth the air is compressed further and further in the diver’s lungs. The air takes up less space than at the surface. Who emerges now from a water depth of 10 meters too fast and holds thereby always the air, makes within shortest time from five litres air in its lung for example ten litres. The lungs can’t stand it. The alveoli can burst, resulting in further dangerous injuries.

Divers need to know their limits. Diving is not a sport in which the aim is to constantly outdo one’s own best values. Instead of putting yourself in danger, you should rather enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.

Conclusion

A snorkel won’t turn you into a mermaid. With a snorkel mask you can explore the underwater world, but the masks are not suitable for diving. Even the manufacturers of the masks advise against diving deeper than 2 meters. A normal snorkel is a better choice for diving, but as always, safety must be paramount.


Sources

[1] https://www.apotheken-umschau.de/Dekompressionskrankheit

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