No matter what underwater sport you take part in a snorkel will most likely be a part of it. From scuba diving to snorkeling you will need a basic understanding of how a snorkel actually works. We get asked all the time “how does a snorkel work?”. To help you feel more confident we decided to break it down with everything you need to know.
There are a few different types of snorkels. Each will basically work the same with a few small differences. All of them allow you to breathe with your head under the water which is what we need them to do. Understanding how they work will give you the knowledge and confidence to advance your diving skills and even troubleshoot issues you may have while on the water.
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You may have heard of the recent trend towards dry snorkels. Quite simply these are a special type of snorkels that does not allow water to enter the tube. A float is attached to the tip of the snorkel that acts as a one way valve. This technology makes it so that in the presence of water the float will raise which closes the opening, thus not allowing water to enter.
Dry snorkels are relatively new to the game in the snorkeling world. When they were first introduced they were built into a specially designed mask. It had two snorkels with balls in the tube that would block water from entering the tubes. This type of snorkel has advanced since these early days.
Modern dry snorkels have advanced technology and are made using high quality material that makes it infinitely superior to the original snorkel. They are lighter and better at what they do. The extra bulk and weight featured in older designs have since been replaced with lightweight sleek snorkels.
Each snorkel manufacturer has a different way of doing this but all are equally useful. A plastic shroud over the top of the snorkel protects against any water coming into the tube when the tube is above water. When dipping below the water line there is a mechanism that will seal allowing no water to enter your tube. As soon as you resurface the mechanism will open allowing you to breathe naturally.
Dry snorkels are not completely dry. It is still possible to get water in your tube if the mouth piece is out of your mouth and drops below the water line. To combat this, manufacturers have created purge valves. A simple deep exhale will expel all the water from your tube leaving you to breathe normally. Be sure to always clean and care for your snorkel appropriately.
With the growing popularity of this sport, manufacturers are becoming more advanced with their designs. In the new design, your exhaled breath gets directed out of the purge valve. This shorter distance makes it so that the carbon dioxide from your exhale will get out of your tube quickly rather than staying inside and have you rebreathing it back in on your next inhale.
Cheap snorkels do not have this valve at the top and allow both air and water to pass through the tube. This is a safety concern and is especially not a safe option for children and those that aren’t strong swimmers. It also limits your experience as you cannot dive below the surface.
This type of diving differs from regular snorkeling. The goal of free diving is to essentially master your body. Divers try to push their bodies to new limits and depths. Snorkels designed for freediving will keep water out of your mouth for a more natural feel in the water. Unlike dry snorkels that take an extra second to purge the water in the tube, freediving snorkels have been specially designed to not need this time.
Dry snorkels do this by breaking the vacuum created by diving to deep depths. The deeper you dive the more compressed that air becomes which can lead to the purge valve sticking. As you can imagine, this is not ideal as you will need your breath immediately when surfacing.
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Snorkeling has become a beloved holiday tradition. Jumping into the water and swimming with the fishes allows you to escape reality to a place where time doesn’t exist. Knowing how your snorkel gear works and how to properly use it will help you make the most of it and leave you to enjoy your day.
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Does this answer all of your snorkel questions? If not feel free to ask us any questions in the comment section below.