Many scuba divers worry about the cost of filling their cylinders. As we discussed in a previous blog, we know how important it is to put quality air into our body to keep us safe. It is worth spending just a few dollars more to get a better breathing gas in our bodies. Is there a difference between Air and Nitrox? Absolutely!
Oxygen Enriched Air or “Nitrox” is the best of all worlds.
Normally we dive on 20.9% Oxygen, which is standard “Air”. You may not think that increasing the Oxygen from 20.9% to either 32% or 36% will have an effect on you. But it has. It has a very big impact on us physiologically! When the percentage of Nitrogen is lowered and the Oxygen increases, it lowers the Nitrogen absorption in our bodies, reduces the potential of decompression sickness, reduces the potential of Nitrogen Narcosis, increases your bottom times, shortens your surface interval times and the best part – it can increase your energy after a dive! A buildup of nitrogen in the tissues causes a sledging in the blood, which makes divers feel very tired and endure the sensation of being run down. By elevating the Oxygen levels in our tissues, our bodies do not have to work as hard and it helps with the tissue regeneration process.
The process for creating Nitrox
The process for creating Nitrox to use in refilling Nitrox cylinders is much more complicated than a standard air fill. Many scuba stores take 100% pure Oxygen and fill up a SCUBA cylinder to a certain point, then dump regular air on top to bring the Oxygen levels down to a more usable mixture for the diver. This simply is not the safest way to make a Nitrox gas fill. SCUBA cylinders and valves are not ready to handle super-enriched levels of Oxygen and can be explosive! Any SCUBA equipment that you want to use with Nitrox must be cleaned properly to safely allow higher Oxygen mixtures to pass through the valve and into the cylinder.
At Scuba Professionals of Arizona, we use a 50-50 Oxygen/Air mixture then top it off with hydrocarbon-free Air to obtain the desired Nitrox mixture to fill Nitrox cylinders. This ensures that we do not violate the design parameters of the scuba cylinder valve.
The process of filling scuba cylinders with oxygen-enriched gases also requires the scuba store to have a trained, certified, licensed gas blender on staff. Gas blending licenses are not easy to acquire but are necessary to make sure the technician is properly trained and knows how to correctly fill Nitrox cylinders. A blended-Nitrox fill takes more effort from the scuba store and the gas blender; however it ensures a safe gas fill and safe diving! When these Nitrox gas fills are combined with the cool water refrigerator filling station, it creates the perfect Oxygen mixture and a properly filled cylinder. Now you are ready to dive!
Develop your diving – learn to dive with Nitrox!
Experienced divers all over the world are now diving with Nitrox. It is not a new thing, in fact it has been around for decades! At Scuba Professionals of Arizona, we offer courses and certifications through Scuba Schools International (SSI). Diving is safer now than ever before! Now when you are on vacation and you complete three dives in the morning, you won’t be too tired to have fun in the afternoon. Unless of course, your wife wants to go shopping! That’s another story!
By Paul Wagenseller, Co-owner and General Manager at Scuba Professionals of Arizona