Caring for snorkeling gear
Your snorkeling equipment will probably come with the manufacturers advise for care and maintenance and you should follow that. Below are some general guidelines on caring for snorkeling gear to help extend the life of your equipment.
Before you use your new mask for the first time it’s necessary to remove a thin layer of silicone off the mask lens which is left over from the manufacturing process. If the film is not removed you will not be able to prevent your mask from fogging up in the water. To remove the film rub toothpaste on the inside of the lens and rinse off with water. Repeat this process several times. The mild abrasiveness of paste toothpaste removes the thin layer of silicone.
Before each snorkeling session it is necessary to apply an anti fogging agent to the inside lenses of your mask to prevent fogging during snorkeling. There are plenty of commercial anti fog products on the market which work well.
Many people find that their own saliva works fine, just spit, rub and rinse. Some people have had success with dish washing liquid or car windscreen washer fluid. Try to avoid alcohol or formaldehyde products that could damage the mask’s silicone skirt.
If you haven’t used your equipment for a while check your mask and snorkel for wear and tear. Do this before you set off on a snorkeling trip where replacements may be hard to find. Check the mask skirt for wear or cracks.
Test the mask strap, is it still elastic or has it become brittle and in need of replacement? Check the strap buckles and the snorkel clip. Check that the snorkel mouth piece is not worn and looks clean. Check fin straps and buckles too. It’s a good idea to carry spare mask straps, fin straps and an extra mouth piece with you.
Entering the water is probably the time that most masks get lost, especially while jumping off boats. Either hold your mask in your hand or hold it to your face as you jump. Be careful about putting your mask down on a swim platform where it can get knocked into the water or trodden on. If you have accessories like a camera or a torch use a wrist lanyard to prevent loss. We have seen several underwater camera housings and soft cases for mobile phones flood when a snorkeler jumps from a boat and camera impacts with the water. Techniques to avoid this are to have the camera handed to you once in the water or to jump with the arm holding the housing extended upwards so that your body absorbs the impact.
While snorkeling if your mask fogs up you will need to take it off and re apply your anti fog. Every time you remove the mask you will need to repeat the process so once you have your mask fitted comfortably it’s best to keep it on.
After snorkeling when you are floating at the surface it is best to keep your mask around your neck rather than on your forehead where it can get knocked off easily. When climbing in to a boat avoid chucking your mask in first where it can get squashed on the deck. Soak all your snorkeling gear in fresh water after each snorkeling session.
If fresh water is not available try to keep your gear wet in salt water until fresh water is available. This will stop salt water drying and salt crystals forming. This is especially important for electronics like underwater cameras and torches. Allow your gear to dry fully before storing it.
Store your snorkeling gear in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Clear silicone may discolour if it stored near darker colours so it’s best to store it separately. Pack the mask and snorkel in their natural shape, do not squash them into a small space and leave them for a long time because their shape will distort. Do not store your snorkeling gear near gasoline, oil or other chemicals that may degrade the rubber.
Transport your mask in a mask box or a padded case, preferably in your hand luggage so it cannot get crushed in transit. A mask box makes a great transport box for all your small breakables.