Your dream holiday in Australia is about to be accentuated by a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, where you plan on snorkelling through pristine waters full of vibrant colours and rich marine wildlife. As you arrive at your destination, the boat stops, and you put on your mask, fins, and snorkel. You plunge into the crystal clear water, swim over to the coral, and see… a hazy fog. You tip your head up, and realise your mask is all fogged up. You give it a wipe, take off again, only to have the same thing happen moments later. A foggy mask can be one of the biggest hassles of any snorkelling or dive trip, and since it is relatively easy to prevent, so we here at Passions of Paradise thought that we’d give you some tips to help you so that, when the big day comes, you can spend your time wondering at the marvels or the reef, rather than cursing your mask.
The most common reason a mask will fog up will surprise you: It’s designed to. During the production process, silicone film can form on the glass lenses which can cause increased fogging when new. More specifically, that ‘film’ or ‘separation agent’ on the glass when it is manufactured that makes it more prone to fogging is there to make the mask look really good under the neon lights of the dive shop. By making the mask look shiny and new regardless of how long it sits in the store window, manufacturers help sell masks by making them look good right out of the case.
There are a few simple tricks to combat this film, and get rid of it so that your mask is less prone to fogging. One Dive Instructor tried-and-tested trick is to use a cleaning agent with a small abrasive additive to it, such as Jif (in Australia) or Comet Cream Cleaner (in the USA). This will scrub away the film and make the mask less prone to fogging. Just be sure that, after a good scrubbing, you completely and thoroughly clean the cleaner off the mask, as remaining particles could damage your eyes or irritate your skin. For those less inclined to use cleaning chemicals, abrasive toothpaste does the same trick. If you scrub the lenses of your mask with abrasive cleaner or toothpaste, you should notice that the fog is greatly reduced, if not gone altogether. When using this method, only scrub with your fingers or a soft cloth—an abrasive material like a wool pad will scratch your lenses, defeating the purpose!
Once your mask has been properly cleaned, you can add a bit of anti-fog solution to your lenses before you jump in. There are many brands available commercially, and they work very well, making them a great addition to any dive or snorkel travel kit. But what if you are a bit more cost-conscious? Well the good news is a mixture of any soapy solution and water works just as well. That empty mini-shampoo bottle from the hotel you used to wash your hair that morning? Fill it with water, and you’ve got a ready-made anti-fog that works just as well as anything you could buy from the shop. Does your dive boat have a place to wash cups or dirty dishes? See if you can swipe a few drops of dish soap, rub it around the lenses, then give it a quick dunk in water, and you’re good to go; any type of soap will work (but be careful of harsh chemicals such as laundry detergent or ultra-concentrated dish detergent.)
These handy tips are sure to help you get the most of your snorkel or dive when you visit the reef. You’ll enjoy your experience much more when you’re not constantly struggling to see or clean your mask. So grab your gear, and get ready for an awesome time!