Often times we are asked about the Nitrox Diver course, because people want to go deep diving. But Nitrox is not for deep Diving!
This is a misconception we hear nearly every week. We wanted to take the opportunity to write an article about Nitrox Diving and Deep Diving. This will get a little bit technically, so if you don’t like numbers, better stop reading here. 🙂
But if you are not sure to take the Nitrox Diver course or not, or it has been a while since your Nitrox course, take the opportunity and read our article!
So what is Nitrox anyway?
Nitrox – or also called EAN – (Enriched Air Nitrox) is just another gas 😉 Probably till now you have been Diving with Air which is composed of 21% Oxygen and 79% of Nitrogen. (To keep it simple in Diving we round numbers) When we change the percentage of Oxygen in the mix we get Nitrox. Anything between 22% and 40% is considered Nitrox, but the most common mixes are EAN32 (32% O2 & 68%N2) and EAN36 (36% O2 & 64%N2)
The maximum amount of oxygen in recreational Diving is 40%, because pure Oxygen is highly inflammable and it gets to dangerous over 40%.
So why do we do that?
First of all: There is no perfect gas. Everything we mix has advantageous and disadvantageous. Augmenting the amount of oxygen has a ‘refreshing’ effect on the body and you feel a bit fitter after diving, but most important: We have less nitrogen in our body.
Nitrogen is the enemy in diving. Always. You still got 150 bars left in your tank but your diving computer is beeping like crazy because you’re getting close to no-stop-time? That is the nitrogen in your body! With Nitrox you can stay much longer at depth and enjoy your dives more. Have a look at this table to see the difference:
As you can see at -24m we can stay 55min with an EAN36 instead of 30min with normal air. This is nearly double the dive time, so double the fun! Also keep in mind that this is only for the first dives, for multiple dives this will get even better with Nitrox. When you want to do 3 to 4 dives a day – for example on a liveaboard in Egypt – Nitrox is the only way to go.
So why no Deep Diving with Nitrox?
Because Nitrox has one big disadvantage: You can’t go as deep as with air. This is the main danger of Nitrox and the reason why you need to be a certified Nitrox diver to breath Nitrox. It is forbidden to dive with Nitrox without being a certified Nitrox Diver!
Hopefully you remember the partial pressure laws from your Open Water Diver course. Augmenting the amount of Oxygen means we have a higher partial pressure of Oxygen in our body and there is a limit: 1.4 bars of O2. This is the number you have to remember for recreational diving. We are not allowed to go over 1.4 bars of Oxygen at any moment.
While diving with air the 1.4 bar limit is at -56m which is far away. But for example with an EAN36 the MOD (maximum operation depth) goes down to -29m! So we have to be careful while diving with Nitrox. Wearing a computer which knows what you are breathing is a must! Your computer calculates how deep you are allowed to go, have a look at this table to see how deep you can go with which gas mix.
So, should I do the Nitrox Diver course?
The Nitrox Diver course, also called PADI Enriched Air Diver Specialty, is normally done in half a day. It’s a good course to combine with your Open Water Diver or the Advanced Open Water Diver. You have to be at least 12 years old. Especially if you plan to dive in Egypt, Maldives, the Caribbean, … (places where there is a lot of Nitrox Diving) you should definitely get your Nitrox Diver and enjoy the benefits of Nitrox.
It doesn’t matter which certification you have at the moment, you can start the Nitrox course at any time, because it is a PADI specialty. If you have any question regarding the Nitrox course just write us and we will help you!