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Larry Klinger   Sep 23, 2021

Human beings clearly cannot breathe underwater—which is why you should have a scuba tank with you during your dives. These tanks usually contain regular filtered air, trimix, or nitrox. Divers typically use nitrox air in their tanks if they want to spend more time underwater.

What exactly is nitrox?!

Nitrox is just what it sounds like: nitrogen mixed with oxygen. It’s also known as Enriched Air Nitrox (EANx) due to its increased oxygen percentage. This specific element sets it apart from other common diving gases.

Both recreational and technical divers use this breathing gas. In recreational diving, this breathing gas helps you absorb less nitrogen since it has more oxygen. Nitrox mixes usually contain more than 21% oxygen, but should not go above 40%.

Technical diving uses two nitrox-based mixtures: Nitrox I and Nitrox II. Both mixes combine pure oxygen and air. Nitrox I contains 32% of this combination, while Nitrox II has 36%. They also contain 68% and 64% of nitrogen, respectively.

What are the Benefits of Nitrox Diving?

There are a few substantial advantages, which include,

1- Longer Bottom Times.

Divers who use nitrox absorb less nitrogen, making them stay underwater for longer. They’re also less likely to get decompression sickness. It’s worth noting that older divers and those who’ve experienced decompression sickness or physical injuries can reduce no-decompression limits with the gas. It can even give you twice as much diving time at 50 to 100 feet in some cases.

But if you’re using a nitrox tank while diving, you shouldn’t go over your maximum depth or bottom time. You should also look at your depth gauge closely during dives. If you have a dive computer, setting a depth alarm is essential for nitrox diving. This alarm will warn you immediately if you’ve gone over your maximum depth.

2- Less Fatigue

Research hasn’t justified this advantage yet, but there are divers who report less fatigue with nitrox. But many divers believe that less nitrogen means fewer micro-bubbles in a diver’s bloodstream and less decompression stress. It can also make you less tired and drained after diving.

3- Longer Dive Times

Dives on air always have pretty short repetitive dive times, which is disappointing for divers who dive in exciting environments that beg to be explored. But absorbing less nitrogen on your first dive with nitrox gives you more repetitive dive times. You’ll also get around five more minutes at 70 feet when you use the gas. It may not seem like much, but those extra five minutes can be precious, depending on your dive.

4- Shorter Surface Intervals

Breathing nitrox also gives you shorter surface intervals. This is a great advantage, especially if you want to dive again. You’ll have less nitrogen to get rid of, which can make a remarkable difference in the time it takes to de-gas on the surface. But if you don’t want to put yourself or your dive buddy at risk, you should look at the correct times for surface intervals on dive tables before the actual dive.