There is nothing worse than diving with a foggy dive mask! A comfortable, well-prepared dive mask is essential to an enjoyable dive. How frustrating is it to be unable to efficiently communicate with your buddy because his or her mask not only blocks views of the beautiful sea life, but also contributes to missed hand signals?
There are a few methods that divers have long touted as the best way to prepare a new mask for diving. Most will tell you that toothpaste is the magic cure. While regular white toothpaste is helpful (NOT the gel kind!), there is an additional step that will defog your new mask for good.
Step 1: Choosing the Right Dive Mask for You
When shopping for a mask I cannot stress how important it is to try various brands and sizes. Every face is different and while I stand firmly stand behind my Scuba Pro Spectra Mini, I have a small face and landed on this mask after trying multiple different brands.
When testing a mask you will want to hold the mask up to your face, inhale through your nose and see if it sticks. If you get a good seal and you like the feel of the mask skirt on your face, then you can try it on and make sure that it is easily adjustable. Whether you buy a clear skirt mask or a black skirt mask is purely based on personal preference. Black skirt masks tend to cut the sun's glare which is good for underwater photographers. A good quality mask will cost around $75 to over $100.
Step 2: The Dreaded Mask Burning
Yes, this is the scariest part of preparing your brand new dive mask. All new tempered glass masks have a factory layer of silicone that causes the mask to fog when exposed to heat, such as heat from your face. Side note...for the love of Nemo DO NOT attempt to burn a mask with plastic lenses! #commonsense. By removing that layer of silicone with a lighter, you can permanently set your mask up for success.
There are definitely people out there that will tell you not to attempt to defog your mask with a lighter, and it really comes down to how comfortable you are with handling fire. So kids, please have a grown up complete this step for you! As a dive instructor that has to replace her mask every few years, and has prepared countless dive masks I can personally attest that this method works if done properly.
- Do NOT burn the outside of the mask. Only burn the inside of the mask lenses.
- Hold the flame to the lens only. Try to keep the flame clear of the skirt.
- Burn the glass until it turns black. You will see the factory coating burn away as you do this.
- Be careful not to burn yourself! Your lighter will get very hot. I have had my fair share of overheated fingers. Take breaks in between lenses.
- Do NOT burn plastic or prescription lenses.
After burning your mask the lenses will be very hot. Set your mask aside and let it cool before moving on to Step 3. Glass has a tendency to break when exposed to sudden changes in temperature!
Step 3: Rub Toothpaste into the Burnt Mask
Use regular white toothpaste to rub around the burnt silicone. The abrasive properties in the toothpaste will help remove any remaining factory coating. Rub this around for a good couple of minutes. If you have the time, some will say you can set your aside for an hour or so before rinsing. I, however, am paranoid about leaving burnt black matter in my mask and usually rinse it right away. I have never had an issue with this.
Hold your mask under tepid water and rinse with baby shampoo so as not to leave any soapy residue that could burn your eyes later. If you managed to get any of the burnt mixture into the sides of your mask then you might need high pressure water to remove it. Naturally, this burning method is more aesthetically pleasing for black skirt masks. Sometimes it is harder to remove all of the black residue from clear skirt masks. Consider this when purchasing your mask.
Once you have thoroughly rinsed your mask it is ready for diving! Please note that you will still need to defog your mask with one of the following methods before you go diving:
- Spit: Yes spit! In diving we say the "greener the cleaner ;-)"
- Baby Shampoo: Banyan Tree Divers prepares a spray mixture of baby shampoo and water for our dive guests. Each mask is sprayed before we enter the water. Baby shampoo ensures no soapy tears!
- Store bought anti-fog: You can purchase small bottles of defog from any dive shop. They are small and fit in your BCD pocket, which is handy if you need to defog again on the surface before your descent.
A proper fitting, well prepared dive mask is, in BTD's opinion, the most important piece of dive equipment one owns. Take the time to prepare your new mask and you will have countless enjoyable dives ahead. Always protect your mask by securing it before you enter the water, and once you put it on, leave it on.
Cheers, and HAPPY DIVING!