How to take care of your mask

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How to take care of your mask

Congratulations to buying your own mask! For most new scuba divers their mask is their first piece of diving equipment and with proper maintenance and care, a good mask can last for years and hundreds (or thousands) of dives, before you need to replace it.

We have compiled a list of tips and tricks and all the things you need to know on how to take care of your very own mask!


 

Preparing your mask when you first buy it

During the manufacturing process a thin layer of silicone will develop on the lens. This film of silicone will cause rapid fogging that is resistant to conventional anti-fog measures (we’ll get to these later!). It is important to remove this layer prior to your first dive. To remove it, you will need to scrub the lens inside and out with a mild abrasive. Toothpaste is ideal but a liquid scrub will also work:

  • Take a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and rub it into the lens with your fingers. If you can, let it dry overnight, before rubbing it in to the lens. Make sure to rinse clean your mask thoroughly.
  • We have heard people recommending a mixture of salt and liquid soap – but be extra careful with this method that you do not damage the lens of your brand new mask.

brand-new-mask

You will hear a lot of controversial opinions on the topic of burning your mask to get the silicone layer off, but we DO NOT recommend this method. Firstly, it will invalidate your warranty and secondly, it may alter the temper of the glass or weaken the seal of the skirt holding the lens in place. While this topic is a whole can of worms in fiercely fought across the internet, we simply don’t feel the risk is worth it, having seen what a shattered mask can do to someone’s face…

We’d also recommend buying a neoprene mask strap and some spares for your save-a-dive kit. This makes the mask much more comfortable, especially for ladies with long hair. A small selection of spares (buckles and straps) also goes a long way to making sure your dive trip isn’t affected.

 

Preparing your mask before the dive

It is completely normal for your mask to fog up during the dive, even after the film of silicone has been removed. Normal fogging can be easily prevented with after-market anti-fog agents or saliva. Rub either onto the lens and then rinse. Some of our Instructors and Divemasters use baby shampoo – preferably the ‘no more tears’ type. (From our experience, the Thai baby shampoo seems to sting a lot… Poor Thai babies!)

There are all sorts of different tips and tricks shared among the diving community: We have heard that rubbing a piece of cut potato on the lens can help as well, but we normally don’t see potatoes on our dive boats. We’ve also been told that if your saliva is too sugary because you had too many biscuits in the surface interval, it doesn’t work as well to de-fog your mask – but this might just be another diving myth…

You should always store your mask in a secure place as a dive boat can be a dangerous place for dive masks. Care should be taken to not leave your mask in a location where it might be exposed to dropping weight belts or tanks. We recommend attaching it through the chest strap of your BCD to prevent this from happening. We regularly see people putting their mask over the tank valve, which is also where we’ve seen the most masks disappear overboard when the wind or waves pick up!

 

On the surface

When entering the water either from a boat or a beach, place one hand over the lens of your dive mask and hold it securely in place. This will help ensure your mask stays in place during entry and will help deflect any direct impact of water on the lens caused by the jump into the water or any approaching waves.

correct-entry-procedures

 

It is best to avoid putting your mask on your forehead at any time during the dive – and not just because people can misinterpret this as the sign of a panicked diver. Several factors can cause the mask on your forehead to be dislodged and subsequently lost. If you want to temporarily remove the mask from your face, place the mask around your neck.

Before you descend down on to your dive, we recommend splashing your face with water on the surface. The cool water will bring your skin temperature down closer to the water temperature and as a result you will have less problems with a mask that fogs up.

 

Post dive care of your mask

Before storing your mask away, you should soak it in warm, fresh water to dissolve the salt crystals – but make sure the water temperature is not over 48°C/120°F so your mask doesn’t get damage. Once it’s clean, make sure to pat dry your mask with a towel before putting it back into the mask box.

Never use the air from a scuba tank to dry your mask (or dustcap, or anything really) as the sound or air rapidly escaping a scuba cyclinders will freak out most dive Instructors and Divemasters around you. Also avoid using direct sunlight to dry off your mask as this will very quickly discolour and disintegrate the silicone.

Once your mask is clean and dry you should store it away in the mask box that you received when you first bought it. Your mask will mould eventually in a tropical environment due to the humidity environment, so we highly recommend buying a mask that has a replaceable skirt.

mask around the neck

 

A lot of high-end masks actually can be completely taken apart, for example to swap the regular lenses for prescriptive lenses and also spare parts are readily available through the manufacturers. This can save you a lot of money in the long run if you can replace the broken parts rather than buying a complete new mask if anything breaks.

 

Photo credits: Rob Kelly, Danny Lee, Aqualung, private

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