As a scuba diving instructor working in Gran Canaria, the most common question people ask me is, ‘How can I make my air last longer?’ But why is conserving air when scuba diving so important for divers?
Put simply, more air means:
- Longer dives
- Increased bottom time
- Greater chance of seeing more marine life
- Becoming a more confident scuba diver.
Here are the ten ways to conserve air when scuba diving.
1. Breathe slowly and deeply.
The top tip to conserve air when scuba diving is learning to breathe properly underwater. Getting into a rhythm and taking longer, deeper breaths will allow your body to absorb more oxygen. By exhaling fully this will reduce the ‘’dead air’’ volume and will eliminate Carbon Dioxide. Reduced Carbon Dioxide levels will delay the urge to take another breath. You should never purposely hold your breath or expand your lungs beyond their capacity. Instead, you should pause for one second after taking a breath. This will allow fresh oxygen into the lungs and create a nice breathing pattern. In order to conserve air when scuba diving you may want to practice breathing slowly and deeply on the surface.
2. Swim slowly
As the fable goes, slow and steady wins the race! Scuba diving is a recreational sport, not a race. Doubling your speed will require about four times as much energy, more energy equals more air consumption. In order to conserve air when scuba diving you should relax and swim at your own pace.
3. Buoyancy control
Controlling your buoyancy is very important when trying to conserve air when scuba diving.
If you are constantly having to add air to your BCD you will have less air to breathe! If you are using a lot of energy trying to descend or fighting to stay off the bottom you will become overexerted and breathe more.
One of the ways to control your buoyancy is by using your BCD (buoyancy control device). Although there are many different types of Scuba BCDs available they all serve the same purpose, this is what you wear during dives to help you float at both the surface and deep in the water.
Being neutrally buoyant when scuba diving will:
- Save energy
- Decrease the number of times you inflate and deflate your BCD
- Reduce the risks of accidents
- Conserve your air consumption
4. Being streamlined
Make sure your equipment is nice and trim. This will decrease resistance when swimming. Make sure your gauges and other diving gear are appropriately tucked away to create less drag. You should also swim in a horizontal position.
Other ways to reduce resistance include:
- Keeping your hands by your side.
- Look into buying shorter hoses to keep your hoses close to your body.
- Make sure any accessories are tucked away. Snorkels, Knives, SMB’s will all create drag if dangling by your side.
- Look into buying a BCD with more pockets in order to carry all the necessary equipment.
- Make sure the equipment you are carrying is necessary. Avoid bringing items you will not need.
5. Reduce leaks
In order to conserve air when scuba diving, check your equipment. You should check all the connection points for any air escaping. Check your O-rings, SPG, inflator hoses and regulators for any mild free flowing. Before entering the water, turn your tank on and check that the equipment is in good condition if it isn’t, It is important that your equipment is checked by a qualified professional. You cannot put a price on your safety.
Yes, that is correct. The right pair of fins can help conserve air when scuba diving. Fins propel us underwater, they are responsible for our movement. If you invest in a pair of more efficient fins you will use less energy when diving. Less energy will conserve your air consumption. Feel free to get in contact with our team for any recommendations on the type of fins you should buy. Check out Divezones’ blog on how to choose the right fins here.
7. Make use of your snorkel
Snorkels are a fantastic way to swim on the surface without reducing your airtime. Whether you are swimming on the surface, waiting for other divers or in wavy conditions, a snorkel will allow you to breathe whilst still conserving the air in your tank. I can advise using a fold away snorkel. This will allow you to put your snorkel in your pocket reducing the resistance on the dive.
8. Stay Warm
You should wear the correct exposure suit to conserve air when scuba diving. Heat is energy. This energy needs to be replaced by metabolism which uses oxygen to produce it. Diving in cold conditions can also cause stress and fatigue all of which will eat into your air supply! Whilst diving in Gran Canaria, we use 7mm exposure suits. You should conduct research on the water temperature of your diving destination before arrival. This will make sure you are prepared and preparation is key to conserving your air.
A diver who is physically fit will be able to cope with strenuous conditions such as swimming into a current. They will be physically able to deal with the situation and it will not affect their rate of breathing. If you are unfit when the workload increases you will begin to breathe heavier and faster.
Ways to maintain a healthier lifestyle which will conserve your air include:
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke
- Avoid alcohol and high-fat content food
- Participate in light to moderate exercise three times a week
- Have a healthy and balanced diet
10. Practice makes perfect
The best way to conserve air when scuba diving is to relax. This will come with practice. The more you dive the more comfortable you will become and the better your buoyancy will be. Even professional divers never stop learning. You could look into advancing your skills with an additional course such as the peak performance buoyancy course. It is important to remember that a higher rate of air consumption doesn’t mean you are a less skilled diver. Here are some additional factors that could be contributing to your airtime:
If you would like to conserve air when scuba diving follow these ten top tips and then just chill. Stressing about air consumption will only make you breathe faster! At Leagues Ahead Diving here in Gran Canaria just let us know if you feel you are a heavy breather. We can help you work on some techniques and offer 15ltr + tanks to allow you to enjoy the dives to its fullest.
I like what you said about using a snorkel to swim to the surface while scuba diving to reduce your air time. My wife and I would like to take a tropical vacation next summer, and we want to scuba dive as part of that. We’ll be sure to look into our options for using a snorkel when we go.
Hi Dylan! Thank you so much for your feedback, I am glad we could be of some help. I hope that you have some lovely dives on your vacation! Thank you once again, Sophie 🙂
I know that my main issue with air consumption is simply the fact that I am 6’7″. I just have bigger lungs that naturally use more air. That being said, I will take your advice and do what I can to improve.
Hello Phil! Firstly thank you for taking the time to read this blog post, I hope that it can be of some use to you! Yes, you are correct, being tall does have many advantages but it can affect your air consumption when scuba diving. Following these tips should help you and you can also ask for a 15+ liter tank from your diving school of choice. Happy bubbles and thank you for the comment. Many kind regards, Sophie from Leagues Ahead Diving
Dylan thank you for the information. Controlling buoyancy is very important I completely agree, but I have a problem with it, will try to use your advises
Hello Mary, thank you for reading our blog post! If you have any questions on how to improve your buoyancy please feel free to get in contact with us directly! Otherwise follow the tips in this article and just practice, practice, practice! Thank you for commenting, many kind regards, Sophie from Leagues Ahead Diving
I really liked what you said about practice makes perfect. The more you dive the more comfortable you will become and the better your buoyancy will be.