Nitrox – Enriched Air

Why Dive With Nitrox?

1 Longer Bottom Times

Recreational nitrox (21 – 40% oxygen) contains a lower percentage of nitrogen than air. The reduced percentage of nitrogen in recreational nitrox allows divers to extend their no-decompression limits (or dive time) by reducing nitrogen absorption – the less nitrogen there is in a diver’s breathing gas, the slower his nitrogen absorption will be at a given depth. For example, according to the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association) no-decompression dive tables, a diver using Nitrox 36 (or NOAA Nitrox II) may stay up to 50 minutes at 90 feet of sea water, while a diver using air may only stay a maximum of 30 minutes at this depth.

2 Shorter Surface Intervals

A diver using nitrox absorbs less nitrogen for a given depth and dive time than a diver using air. This means that the nitrox diver has less nitrogen to off-gas during a surface interval, which can shorten the required surface interval drastically. For example, a diver using Nitrox 32 can repeat a 50 minute dive to 60 feet after 41 minutes, while a diver using air must wait a minimum of 8 hours to repeat the same dive (according to NOAA’s no-decompression dive tables).

3 Longer Repetitive Dive Times

Nitrox becomes especially useful for divers who engage in more than one dive a day. A diver using nitrox will have a longer allowable bottom time on a repetitive dive than a diver using air because the diver using nitrox has absorbed less nitrogen. For example, after a dive to 70 feet for 30 minutes, a diver using Nitrox 32 can stay at 70 feet for a maximum of 24 minutes if he immediately reenters the water. However, a diver preforming the same series of dives on air may only stay at 70 feet for 19 minutes on his second dive (according to NOAA’s no-decompression dive tables).

4 Reduced Exhaustion

Many divers claim to feel less exhausted after a dive on nitrox than after a comparable dive on air. By reducing a diver’s nitrogen absorption, nitrox may also reduce a diver’s post-dive exhaustion.

 


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