Learning the basics of dive masks

If you're planning to go scuba diving, you'll need a dive mask. Though it's a critical piece of diving gear, most people give little thought to their masks. Often, beginning divers believe that all masks are universal. That is, any single mask can be worn comfortably and effectively by any person. Unfortunately, masks aren't that simple. They have different shapes to fit the unique contours of each individual. In effect, that means that your diving mask can play a key role in your experience underwater. Below, you'll learn about the different types of dive masks you can buy, how to defog your mask and how to properly care for it so it maintains its usefulness over time.

Types of dive masks

The original diving masks used long ago were constructed with one large plastic pane across the face. They offered little protection for the nose and would flood easily, leaving the diver's vision impaired (until the water could be blown out of the mask). This type of mask is still available and is usually inexpensive. Later models offered a single window that sits closer to the face. This provides less room for flooding as well as better vision. Similar models may have two windows: one for each eye.

Most recently, a new type of dive mask has emerged. These offer a double-window. The innermost window sits close to the face while the outer window expands the diver's view. There are two distinct benefits to these types of masks. First, the double window is designed to minimize any refractory error in vision. Earlier masks were plagued by windows that caused divers to misperceive the distance and size of objects. A double-window mask resolves this problem. Second, if the portion of the mask between the outer and innermost windows floods, the diver's eyes are protected.

Defogging your mask for clear visibility

The most common problem that inexperienced divers have with their dive masks is that they fog up while submerged, obscuring their vision. There are ways you can prevent that from happening before you dive. First, you'll need to use soap and warm water to wash the lubricant that manufacturers put on the masks. This lubricant is used to protect the mask while it is sitting on the retail racks. Unfortunately, the lubricant causes fogging. Second, use your saliva and wipe the entire surface on the inner part of your mask's window. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to avoid using your saliva, use a few drops of mild shampoo. Wipe the entire inner surface of your mask's window, including the seals. Rinse the mask out before diving. You shouldn't have any problems with fogging.

How to care for your dive mask

If you want your mask to continue being effective for a long time, you'll need to maintain it properly. Rinse it out after each dive. Then, dry it off completely and keep it away from direct sunlight. The sun can begin to erode your dive mask's silicone. Finally, when you store your mask, make sure the window is facing upward. If you place your mask with the window resting on a surface, it can easily get scratched. You may not care about a tiny scratch now, but you definitely will during a dive. Even small scratches can obscure your vision.

Your diving mask is critical to how much you enjoy your experience underwater. Caring for your mask and preventing it from fogging while you're submerged isn't complicated. It simply requires a little time and attention to detail. After you choose the type of mask you want, take the steps to defog before diving. Then, care for your mask by rinsing it out after each dive and storing it properly. That way, your mask will be ready for your next diving adventure.