What are the benefits of diving on nitrox?
When longer bottom times, shorter surface intervals and longer repetitive dive times are just some of the many benefits of diving with nitrox... Why wouldn’t all divers want to take advantage of this?
What is Nitrox?
The term ‘Nitrox’ actually refers to any gas mixture composed (excepting trace gases) of nitrogen and oxygen. This includes atmospheric air, which is approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases (primarily argon). A particular mixture of nitrox is referred to by the percentage of oxygen in the mixture. In scuba diving, we usually only use the term ‘Nitrox’ when actually referring to tanks filled with Enriched Air Nitrox (EAN) which is a gas mixture more than 21% of oxygen.
What are the benefits?
Longer Bottom Times
The Nitrox used in recreational diving is between 21 and 40% oxygen. EANx32 and EANx36 are two of the most popular mixes of nitrox used in recreational diving across the globe. The increased percentage of oxygen also means a lower percentage of nitrogen than air. The reduced percentage of nitrogen allows divers to extend their no decompression limits or dive time by reducing the amount of nitrogen absorbed by the body. This means that the less nitrogen there is in your tank, the slower your nitrogen absorption will be at a given depth. Below is a no decompression time comparison between Air, EANx32 and EANx36 for a dive at 18 metres. Air (21% Oxygen) - 56 minutes. EANx32 (32% Oxygen) - 95 minutes. EANx36 (36% Oxygen) - 125 minutes. That is a difference of 69 minutes between air and EANx36! This extra time can make a huge difference when trying to get that perfect photo of the reef or watching the majestic manta ray you travelled so far to see!
Please note that these times are taken from the PADI Air & Nitrox tables. The times provided by these tables are for planning purposes and are intended to be used as a guide. Please ensure that you follow your own personal dive computer for your own NDL times.
Shorter Surface Intervals
Divers who use nitrox absorb less nitrogen than another diver carrying out the same dive profile/time on air. This means that the diver using nitrox does not have to 'off-gas' as much nitrogen during their surface interval. This in turn means that the diver using nitrox is ready to kit up and get back in the water much sooner than the diver on air!
Longer Repetitive Dive Times
The benefits of diving with nitrox are more apparent for divers who are carrying out repetitive dives and especially so on the likes of a liveaboard where divers are commonly carrying out 3+ dives per day over the course of 7 or 10 days. On these types of trips, diving with nitrox over air will allow much greater bottom times due to the reduction in nitrogen absorbed.
Studies have shown that divers who breathe nitrox feel less tired after diving than that of divers who breathe air. This is thought to be linked to the reduction in nitrogen being absorbed when breathing nitrox.
Sign me up!
If you are a diver who wants to experience all the above, giving you more time diving, less time on the surface and less post-dive fatigue then follow the link below to book yourself on to one of our PADI Nitrox Diver courses or packages. Speciality Diving Courses