What is the best way to clean your mask and snorkel after a trip in saltwater?
Just got back from a snorkeling trip in the sea and have rinsed the mask and snorkel with fresh water, but is there and soap or anything I should use to clean it better? Want to have this set for a long time in great shape!
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Re: What is the best way to clean your mask and snorkel...
No need to use soap or fancy cleaners for snorkel or dive gear. The important thing is just to get the salt off, and plain old fresh water will do the trick.
The best way to clean your gear, is to fill a bucket or a tub with warm water, and then dunk your gear several times to rinse it out thoroughly. In some cases I like to swish it around underwater, and maybe rub the rubber parts to ensure a thorough rinsing. After that, let it drip dry and store it in a cool, dry, *dark* place.
Salt and sunlight are the two things that'll kill your gear in no time at all, keep it safe from that and it should provide good use for a long time.
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I use baking soda, warm water and bottle brushes for pretty much anything that goes near my mouth. My hydration bladder gets that treatment often especially after a long trip, as has my snorkel a couple of times. You could try find a platypus or camelbak cleaning kit at your local outdoors store.
A broken frame on a nice mask, that is a bummer. I am only aware of replacement lenses, but not replacement frames. If you want to save on costs, you can find a used similar mask or a mask that uses the same style of lens that is interchangeable with your current model. I suggest looking on ebay, craigs list, and of course the internet.
From what you've described, you have a self-draining snorkel (at least it would be if working correctly). There will be a simple diaphragm valve at the lowest point of the snorkel, it's usually made of a silicone rubber disc and in use is held closed by external water pressure. It can also be held open if there is any grit or sand in it, if it is damaged or if it's simply hardened with age.
All you can do is clean it and make sure it seats correctly. If it has failed in any way or if the diaphragm is simply missing then buy a new snorkel as they don't need to be expensive.
There's a good reason that many divers still prefer a simple j-tube snorkel and it's because there is nothing to go wrong. I personally do use a self-draining snorkel but I'm careful to inspect and clean the valve before and after every use and always have a spare snorkel in my dive bag.
On an unrelated matter, if the snorkel has any kind of device on the open end to prevent water from entering then I strongly recommend that you remove it. They're restrictive to airflow and are potentially dangerous. There is no substitute for simplicity and for learning to use a snorkel correctly.
"A snorkel must fit comfortably in your mouth, allow you to purge water out of the mouthpiece and hose quickly and help you to swim efficiently. But, the most important characteristics to remember when choosing a snorkel are its length and the diameter of its barrel.
Snorkels must not be too long or too short. If a snorkel is too long it will be difficult to breathe because the barrel will fill up with carbon dioxide. Every time you breathe out carbon dioxide through your snorkel your breath must travel up and out of the barrel of your snorkel to allow you to draw oxygen back down the barrel and into your lungs. If your snorkel is too long you will only push a percentage of the carbon dioxide up and out of the barrel during your exhale. You will need to inhale oxygen before all the carbon dioxide has been pushed out; leaving the percentage of carbon dioxide entering your bloodstream higher each time you take a breath. This cycle could lead to suffocation. If a snorkel is too short it will constantly fill with water, requiring you to constantly force the water out of your snorkel which can be very exhausting.
The inside diameter of your snorkel must be approximately three quarters of an inch or 1.9 cm. If the snorkel is thinner than .75 inches it will be difficult to breathe because there will not be enough room in the barrel for you to draw enough air into your lungs. This will cause you to breathe harder and rapidly, which could cause hyperventilation. If the barrel is thicker than .75 inches it will be too large and will be uncomfortable to use and attach to your mask.
Learning to attach your snorkel to your scuba mask to make sure it is easy to grab and use is an important part of safe scuba diving practices. Snorkels are attached to the left side of your mask with a snorkel keeper. Snorkel keepers are either plastic or rubber and most use a post-hole closure. Each snorkel keeper is different and attaching your snorkel to your mask with a snorkel keeper requires practice. If you will detach your snorkel from your mask after each dive you should practice attaching your snorkel, as it can be a little tricky. Alternately, you can leave your snorkel attached to your mask if you are diving more than once in a day.