Snorkeling is an ingenious apparatus that allows you to breathe underwater. It is an aid to breathing as opposed to a breathing aid. It means that rather than providing any breathing benefits, it simply allows you to breathe air from the surface.
But how does a snorkel work and what’s the difference between the mechanisms used in wet snorkels, dry snorkels, and semi-dry snorkels?
How Does a Snorkel Work?
A snorkel tube either connects to your mask or goes in your mouth. With the former, you can breathe through your nose and your mouth. With the latter, you breathe through your mouth.
The snorkel tube goes above the surface of the water so that when you breathe, you’re inhaling air from above the surface.
Snorkels consist of a flexible tube with a mouthpiece/connection on one end and an opening on the other. They also include a mask clip to attach to the mask.
How Does a Wet Snorkel Work?
A wet snorkel is the most basic form of snorkel. It is a J-shaped tube attached to a mouthpiece that goes above the surface.
They may also include purge valves, although these are more common in semi-dry and dry snorkels. Purge valves allow the user to “purge” the mask of water.
How Does a Dry Snorkel Work?
A dry snorkel includes a float valve mechanism near the tube’s opening. If the snorkel is fully submerged, the float valve will seal and prevent water from getting inside.
It means that the user won’t get water in their mouth if they are hit by a wave or dip underneath the water.
How Does a Semi-Dry Snorkel Work?
A semi-dry snorkel combines the features found in wet snorkels and dry snorkels. It has a purge valve and also includes a splash guard, which stops some water from getting into the tube.
How to Clear Your Snorkel Mask
Your mask must be clear at all times. Not only do you need it for visibility but having a clear mask will protect your eyes and keep them dry.
Whether you’re scuba diving or snorkeling, there are several ways that your mask can fill with water. Luckily, clearing your mask is quite easy.
Snorkel Mask Clearing Step One: Relax
Getting water in your mask can be a scary experience. You can’t see, it’s uncomfortable, and your first reaction is to panic and immediately pop up. But it’s not uncommon and even if you can’t get back to the surface, it’s not particularly dangerous, either.
It’s possible to clear your mask underwater and without opening your eyes, so stay calm.
Snorkel Mask Clearing Step Two: Exhale Firmly
Angle your head down and exhale firmly through your nose. This will ensure that the water doesn’t go up your nose.
Snorkel Mask Clearing Step Three: Press Firmly and Blow
Press the mask firmly to your head, tilt your head upward, and list the bottom seal of the mask while exhaling again through your nose.
This should clear your mask. If not, simply repeat the process until the water has disappeared.
Snorkel Mask Clearing Step Four: Seal the Mask
Keep breathing through your nose, look down, and seal the mask to your face again.
Improving Your Mask Clearing Skill
Mask clearing is one of the first things that you will be taught when learning to scuba or snorkel. Whether you’re clearing a fully flooded mask or a partially flooded mask, it’s important to stay calm, follow the techniques above, and persist until you get the desired results.
Practice makes perfect, and mask clearing is something that you will master in time.
How to Keep Water From Getting Into a Snorkel Mask
The first step to keeping your mask water-free is to buy a high-quality mask. You should also shave the areas where the seals will go, and this should help to create a tighter seal.
Finally, avoid using moisturizer or sunscreen and spend some time adjusting the mask and making sure it fits tightly.
How Long Can You Breathe Underwater with a Snorkel Mask?
You can breathe underwater with a snorkel for as long as you stay near the surface and have a clear tube. If you dip below the surface using a dry snorkel, it will prevent water from getting into your mouth but it will no longer draw oxygen from above the surface. In such cases, you’re basically holding your breath, and most people can hold their breath for between 45 and 120 seconds.