Is Nitrox For You?

I recently wrote about trending Cressi scuba fins and here are some personal thoughts about nitrox for beginner divers… Please note these are based on my personal experiences, so please follow accordingly…


If you are a recreational diver, diving on up to 40 percent nitrox, there is no discernible increased risk in using your normal regulator, BC and so on. Only the cylinder and its valve require changes, and they can be cleaned for use with pure oxygen for relatively cheap. After that, just ask for clean (double-filtered) air in each fill if you don’t want nitrox, and they won’t need re-cleaning.

So what is all this talk of special “nitrox-ready” regulators? It’s a sales gimmick, a lick of green and yellow paint. For technical divers these coded regulators are a great way of simplifying which regulators are for bottom mix and which for deco, but that is a limited market.

Still, if you want your equipment cleaned for oxygen use (over 40 per cent is considered pure O2 for cleanliness purposes), your local nitrox facility can have it done for you.

Myth 2

Without a nitrox computer, I can’t take advantage of the increased no-stop times. A nitrox computer is a great bit of kit – you can stay down forever, it seems. That is fine in the Red Sea, where multi-level diving is the order of the day, but for the average scuba diver, we are talking wrecks, quarries and the like – square-profile diving, perfect for use with the nitrox tables.

The training agencies have been very helpful in producing special tables with the new no-stop limits, based on the mix you are using. So you can stay on your favorite wreck quite a bit longer.

If you are not interested in staying down longer, but just like the idea of a significantly safer breathing gas, work out from your natty nitrox slates how deep your mix will go (stay safe, keep to 1.4bar ppO2 level) and dive as you would for air using your existing computer.

You will come up less saturated with nitrogen, and will probably feel better (less post-dive fatigue).

Myth 3

I won’t be able to get nitrox when I’m on holiday. Dive operators overseas are not daft. You are likely to find your next dive destination’s center to be more nitrox-oriented than your shop back home, the quality good, and a fill cheaper than your local dive shop.

Myth 4

The demand will never be that great. The head of two large training agencies in Israel told me: “All our divers who go on beyond their entry-level courses take a nitrox course – if you find one who has not, he didn’t learn to dive in Israel.”

Sounds ridiculous? It is all a question of mentality. Nitrox diving has been accepted by the training agencies unanimously. So, when you are conducting courses and come to the section where you plug the continuing education, put nitrox in there with other speciality courses.

It is easy to sell when the advantages are made clear, and it is also part of the Swiss Bank philosophy: “If the customer has to go elsewhere for just one service that you don’t offer, he won’t come back.”

Whatever your involvement in diving, you can’t afford to ignore nitrox. They call it the breathing gas of the future. I think they’re right.

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