If you’ve been on a plane you’ll know the horrible feeling you get in your ears as it starts to descend.
Maybe you’ve sucked on candy to make the pain go away. There is a chance you’ll suffer from the same kind of pain while snorkeling.
It’s why equalizing your ears is hugely important, but you’re probably wondering if it’s possible to equalize a full face snorkel mask.
Can You Equalize A Full Face Snorkel Mask?
Yes, you can equalize your ears using a full face snorkel mask. But in order to equalize the pressure in your ears you’ll need to be able to pinch your nose, which can only be done on specific models. If you’re unable to reach your nose you won’t be able to equalize while snorkeling.
Why Full Face Snorkel Mask Equalizing Is Important
Boyle’s law: pressure and volume are inversely related.
Some people might be wondering why equalizing when wearing a snorkel mask is important in the first place. It boils down to Boyle’s law, which states that pressure and volume are inversely related. The pressure underwater increases as you dive deeper and deeper.
If you don’t equalize a couple of things are going to happen. Let’s look at them in a little more detail so you know how serious this is:
- The mask
You – As the pressure gets more intense your air spaces are going to start shrinking in volume. These include your lungs, sinuses, and ear canals. A failure to equalize can lead to things like perforated ear drums that usually take a few weeks to heal. In extreme cases, people do die.
The mask – It’s not just natural air spaces that need to be equalized. Artificial air spaces do too, which is your full face snorkel mask in this case. Without equalizing the mask it’s going to start squeezing on your face really hard and it could burst blood vessels in your face.
To equalize a mask you need to exhale through your nose without pinching it.
You Shouldn’t Need To Equalize A Full Face Snorkel Mask
Keep in mind, full face snorkel masks were designed to be used for surface snorkeling. Not scuba diving or freediving. So you shouldn’t really be going deep enough for increases in pressure to affect you in a negative way. Companies are honest about the benefits they offer snorkelers:
- Natural breathing through the nose and mouth
- A 180 degree panoramic view of the ocean
- Anti-fog technology that helps you see clearly
- No jaw fatigue chewing on a snorkel mouthpiece
- Built-in dry top snorkel system to keep water out
- A purge valve to help you blow water out easily
And a few other cool benefits. But at no point have I ever heard full face snorkel mask companies recommend diving deep under the water.
It doesn’t mean you can’t fully submerge yourself and swim around under the surface of the sea. It just means you should only go so deep while snorkeling. Without equalizing your ears you’ll begin to feel pain when you’re around 4-5 feet under the water.
That should be deep enough to swim with all the wonderful fish and other sea creatures you come across. Plus if you use a full face mask that allows you to equalize your mask and ears you’ll be able to go a bit deeper.
Equalizing isn’t the big (supposed) problem when it comes to full face masks, which we’ll touch on later.
Full Face Snorkel Mask Equalizing Tips
If you love pushing things to the limit you’re going to snorkel deeper than a few feet no matter what anyone says. You must be wearing a full face mask that allows you to pinch your nose. Let’s look at a few more tips to help keep you as safe as possible down there:
- Equalize early and often
- Wear snorkeling flippers
- Don’t dive when congested
- You must stay in control
Equalize early and often – Don’t wait until you’re in pain before you start trying to equalize. Early and often is a mantra you should always follow. Keep this in mind and you’ll avoid any pain in the first place. If you run into any difficulties proceed towards the surface.
Wear snorkeling flippers – You should be wearing the best snorkeling fins whenever you’re in the ocean, but they’re essential when you’re going deeper than normal. You’ll be able to swim a lot faster and they’ll help when you find yourself in danger.
Don’t dive when congested – The average person takes a few weeks to fully recover when they’ve had a cold. If you’re congested equalizing is a lot harder than normal. Unless your symptoms have completely cleared up it’s probably best to stick to surface snorkeling.
You must stay in control – Problems tend to occur once you start panicking. When you’re unable to stay in control it can lead to bad choices. You have to take advantage of every second underwater when you’re trying to survive on one long breath.
Other Ways To Successfully Equalize Your Ears
Pinching your nose and blowing air into your sinuses is called the Valsalva maneuver. It’s the most effective and common way to equalize your ears. There are a couple of other things you can do too. We’ll touch on them in case they come in handy one day:
- Moving your jaws
1 – Swallowing – We spoke about sucking on candy in airplanes. This works because you’re swallowing. I wouldn’t recommend taking candy and chewing gum snorkeling, but you should still be able to swallow without them.
2 – Moving your jaw – Moving your jaw from side to side might seem weird, but it makes complete sense when you know the science behind it. The method stretches your Eustachian tubes equalizing your ears in the process.
Alternative Solution If You Want To Dive Deeper
When snorkeling you can only stay under for one breathe once you’re fully submerged. I know some snorkelers will be able to go pretty deep if they can hold their breath for a minute or so. Some things like shallow shipwrecks can be found roughly 15 feet under the sea.
If you want to experience these types of wonders you might be better using a traditional snorkel mask. The kind specifically designed to let you equalize your ears with one hand and thick gloves. Just make sure you find the best quality snorkel mask on the market.
It will come with some of the benefits full face snorkel masks provide, but you’ll be able to go much deeper than normal. Most people who want to snorkel casually will still be better sticking with full face masks.
Full Face Mask Equalizing Isn’t The Real Issue
Maybe you’re reading up about full face mask equalizing because you’ve been hearing deadly stories pop up on the news. The thing people are most concerned about when it comes to full face snorkel masks is carbon dioxide, which is another story altogether.
Just be careful which companies you’re buying a mask from. Big brands carry out a large amount of tests before bringing them to market. It’s foreign knockoffs causing the biggest issues, so don’t automatically choose a full face mask because it’s cheaper.
Is Full Face Snorkel Mask Equalizing Possible?
Yes, full face snorkel mask equalizing is possible. But you have to be wearing the right mask. If you don’t have access to your nose you won’t be able to pinch it, which means you won’t be able to equalize your ears. Going too deep without equalizing will cause all sorts of problems.