Ever wonder why some divers have those green and yellow tanks while others the typical grey?
You over hear them talking about ‘Nitrox’ and ‘Enriched Air’ and you’re all like..
What is Nitrox?
Why is my air ‘not rich’?
And how do I get my hands on one of these green and yellow tanks?
What is Nitrox?
The air we breathe every day above water is the same air we breathe out of our tank when we scuba dive. This ‘surface air’ is made up of 21% Oxygen and 79% Nitrogen.
Nitrox is a general term for a gas that is made up of any combination of Oxygen and Nitrogen.
Nitrogen + Oxygen = Nitrox
(Our scuba tanks are not 100% oxygen, a common scuba myth we busted)
And Enriched Air is…?
Very often the terms Nitrox and Enriched Air are used interchangeably, however Enriched Air refers to any combination of Oxygen and Nitrogen containing more than 21% Oxygen. Aka any combo is Nitrox, but only above 21% Oxygen is considered Enriched Air Nitrox. In recreational diving the Oxygen content will not exceed 40%, with the most common percentage of 30% and 32%.
Now that we are little more well-versed in all things Enriched Air Nitrox (EAN)… Why would we choose to use it, what are the benefits of Enriched Air Nitrox?!
Benefits of Enriched Air Nitrox
Increased no decompression limits – AKA MORE DIVE TIME
One of the main reasons divers choose to use Nitrox is the allowance for longer dive times. It is the amount of Nitrogen we breathe into our bodies that limits our time at depth. The higher percentage of Oxygen not exceeding a partial pressure of 1.4ATA in Enriched Air allows the diver to stay at a safe depth longer than a diver using surface air who must return to shallower depths to apply their no decompression limit sooner than those on EAN.
Enriched Air Nitrox does not allow you to go deeper than surface air, but it does allow you to stay down there longer. Those extra minutes could be all the difference, as we all know you never know what you can see on a scuba dive!
Shorter Surface Intervals
A diver using Enriched Air Nitrox absorbs less nitrogen on any given dive than a diver using air.
With less nitrogen in your body, the time required to ‘off gas’ in between dives is decreased. Giving you less time needed to kill in between dives and getting you back in the water sooner!
Longer Bottom times on Repetitive Dive Times
If you like to do multiple dives in a day… we’re looking at you!
When you plan to dive for multiple days, it makes sense to introduce less Nitrogen into your body. The less Nitrogen you use, the more time your body is allowed at any given depth. A diver using Enriched Air Nitrox will have a longer bottom time allowance on a repetitive dive than a diver using air because the EAN diver has absorbed less nitrogen.
Great for vacations when all you want to do is dive, dive, dive!
Speaking of dive, dive, dive… diving all day can get pretty exhausting eh?! It can really take it out of you, in a great way, but still!
Now we got to be honest… this benefit has yet to be scientifically proven however, many of our divers report less feeling of exhaustion/fatigue when switched to Enriched Air Nitrox. If you think about it, with a lesser concentration of Nitrogen, your body spends less energy absorbing and ‘off gassing’ that Nitrogen.
So… seems to us like this could be very very true!
There you have it, the many benefits of Enriched Air Nitrox!
Staying underwater longer and getting back in the water sooner… with less fatigue?! Sounds like a divers dream.
So what is the next step, how do I actually get me one of those green and yellow tanks?!
Enriched Air Certified
In order to dive with an Enriched Air tank you must first get certified. But don’t worry, it is super easy and painless. The entire course is completed out of the water and can be done from the comfort of your own home through PADIs Enriched Air Course or here at the Coconut Tree Divers Roatan!
For more on what you learn and what it takes to be Enriched Air certified check out our EAN information page here
If staying down longer and getting back in the water sooner sounds appealing, then don’t hesitate to become an enriched air diver.
We would love to have you come dive with us!