nitrox diving

Nitrox Scuba: The Beginners Guide To Enriched Air Diving

Nitrox is a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, containing a lower proportion of nitrogen than is normally present in the air – reducing the risk of decompression sickness when used as a breathing gas by divers. It’s also known as Enriched Air Nitrox or EANx.

What is Nitrox diving? Recreational and technical scuba divers typically use a blend of Nitrox in their tanks to allow more time to be spent underwater. Find out more about Nitrox scuba: the beginner’s guide to enriched air diving here…

Getting Started

Nitrox scuba diving has become extremely popular – you’ll be able to spot the green and yellow tanks of oxygen-enriched air in dive shops around the world. There are some things you need to know about nitrox diving before you decide if it’s right for you.

Just like any piece of scuba diving equipment you need to understand and be able to properly use it to prevent any potential risk. And you need to remember that this gas mix doesn’t necessarily let you dive deeper.

You’ll need specialised training as there’s a need to use special gear. This may include:

  • A dive computer programmed to be used with this gas mix
  • An oxygen analyser for oxygen and nitrogen analysis
  • Regulators and tanks that are oxygen clean for technical enriched air diving
  • Lubricants and materials needed for cleaning

Basic Facts and Figures

Nitrox mixes usually contain more than 21% oxygen and less than 40%. Technical diving uses one of two Nitrox-based mixtures: Nitrox 1 that contains a 32% combination of pure oxygen and air with 68% nitrogen, and Nitrox 2 that combines 36% pure oxygen and air with 64% of nitrogen.

Nitrox vs Air

The benefits of Nitrox over regular air include:

  • Increase in underwater bottom times – divers can extend their no compression limits by reducing the amount of nitrogen absorbed
  • Longer repetitive dive times – extremely useful for divers who complete multiple dives per day
  • Shorter surface intervals – due to less off-gas during a surface interval this shortens the time considerably
  • Reduction in the risk of decompression sickness – as the amount of nitrogen inhaled is lessened it quickly dissolves into the body
  • Less tired after diving – by reducing a diver’s nitrogen absorption this may result in reduced exhaustion following any dives

The Risks of Diving with Nitrox

Use of Nitrox may cause a reduced ventilatory response which may result in a loss of consciousness due to breathing dense gas at deeper limits.

Another main concern is the potential for oxygen toxicity – this can happen due to the increased levels of oxygen in the mix. There are two factors that need to be taken into account to avoid this – the amount and the length of exposure known as the oxygen limit.

Nitrox depth limits estimates are done by Nitrox diving calculations. The maximum operating depth of Nitrox with 36% oxygen, for example, is 29 metres. A dive computer will be able to give you all the necessary information you need – including bottom and surface interval times.

A back-up plan is to take a waterproof plastic dive table with you for underwater reference. This will provide you with imperial and metric calculations based on set standards – and can easily be stored in your emergency dive kit.

Technical Diving Courses

Learn Nitrox scuba diving with Koox, and you’ll be taught how to use speciality dive equipment – and how to properly configure special gas mixtures for longer immersion times. All courses include theory, practice, and an exam by a certified professional from the International Diving Research and Exploration Organisation.

Nitrox certification documents are delivered to the Koox Dive Shop on the day of the course completion – and will be recognised worldwide.