The use of nitrox has been used by technical and recreational divers for decades. More recently, nitrox has been gaining popularity for use at nearly every atmosphere. There are several pros to using nitrox worth mentioning.
First and foremost, is the fact that nitrox air (in reference to diving) is the reduction of nitrogen in the composition: nitrox, refers to any nitrogen/oxygen gas mixture with an oxygen concentration higher than the 21 percent found in normal air. Normal air is approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases, primarily argon. An increase in oxygen correlates to a decrease in nitrogen, which as all divers should know, is the source of decompression sickness – DCS – “the bends” – nitrogen narcosis -Caisson disease, etc.
Longer bottom times
Dive times can be prolonged by absorbing a smaller amount of nitrogen – due to the lower nitrogen concentration in the nitrox mix, less nitrogen is absorbed which means the dangers of decompression are reduced and a diver can stay at maximum depth for a longer period. The advantage of extended bottom times also means properly managing your available gas and the same. It’s important to remember not to exceed your maximum depth or bottom time.
Longer repetitive dive times
Dives on conventional air have relatively short repetitive dive times. This can be disappointing when in an exciting environment when all the time in the world still isn’t enough. When using nitrox, less nitrogen has been absorbed on the first dive meaning repetitive dive times can be increased by 5+ minutes at depths of about 70 feet. On the surface, five minutes may seem inconsequential, but when exploring the underwater world, five minutes can make an incredible difference.
Shorter surface intervals
Less nitrogen means less nitrogen to get rid of, which can make a remarkable difference in the time it takes to de-gas on the surface. It is still of the utmost importance to refer to adjusted dive tables for proper surface interval time in order to prevent incident or injury.
Shorter Decompression Times
Another benefit is shorter decompression times. If only nitrox is used at decompression stops, the stops can be much shorter which means more time for diving.
It is imperative to understand the risks and challenges of diving with nitrox, just as it’s important to be properly trained before attempting use of any diving equipment. Once you understand the potential risks and simple requirements of using nitrox as a breathing gas, diving nitrox is as easy as inhale, exhale, repeat.