There’s nothing more annoying than jumping in the water with a nice clear snorkel mask and only to have it slowly fog up on you during the snorkel. No matter how many times you rinse it out it just keeps fogging up. So, to combat this creeping layer of fog on your lens, here are the reasons why the mask is fogging, and five easy steps to keep a mask fog free forever.
Ok, so far as I know, there are three reason a mask will continue to fog up, no matter how much anti fog you rinse it out with. The first reason being is that it still has that thin transparent film on the lens left over from the manufacturing process. I don’t really know what this film is because it’s invisible, probably something silicon based to keep lenses from sticking together, but whatever it is, it keeps the mask in a perpetual fog once strapped to a face and then submerged. The second reason for continuous fogging is if you have an older mask that once upon a time used to stay fog free but now just keeps fogging up, the likely cause for this is a build of oils on the lens—most commonly from left over sunscreen that inevitably ended up on the glass through repetitive lathering sessions before the snorkel. And the third reason is a combination of things that did or did not happen prior to the snorkel. These things could be that you didn’t put enough, or any anti-fog in your mask. Or, you put the anti-fog in your mask, rinsed it out, put the mask on your face, and then waited around on the boat while the other snorkelers got ready and the tropical sun and your own body heat in your face ruined all the magic behind the anti-fog solution.
The 5 Steps
1. Burn it or toothpaste it
The reason we burn a mask or vigorously rub an abrasive toothpaste on the inside lens of a mask is to remove that invisible layer leftover from manufacturing. Cleaning it with anti-fog will not fix this. The fire option works best and is really quite simple. There’s a tutorial video here, or just wait for the safari and one of the guides will do this for you. The toothpaste option does work, but it can take several attempts before it removes the entire layer.
2. Keep sun screen and other oils off the lens
- A buildup of body oils and sunscreen on the lens will have the same affect as the invisible production film. If you are putting suncream on, just make sure you wash your hands with soap before you start to rub the anti-fog in your mask as your finger will likely still have the thick oils on them, which will quickly be spread all over your mask. If you find that your mask is fogging up again after a period of if working fine, these oils are likely the cause and you’ll do best to burn it again. I burn my mask before every trip just to be sure.
3. Rinse the mask out with anti-fog
- You should always rinse your mask with some form of anti-fog before every snorkel. Not at the start of a trip or at the beginning of each day, it has to be before each snorkel session. Anti-fog can be anything that you purchased, baby shampoo, dish soap, or even spit. The baby shampoo option is the best in my opinion as it doesn’t sting the eyes even if there’s a bit leftover after you’ve rinsed it out, but it’s also gentle on the environment. The other option are not unless otherwise noted.
4. Don’t put the mask on until you’re about to get in the water
- It’s always a good idea to put the mask on just before getting into the water. If you put it on and wait around in the heat your face is going to be just to warm for the magic of the anti-fog to work well and your mask is just more likely to condensate. Also, if you are particularity warm, like you’ve just been lying in the sun and now about to jump in the water for your snorkel session, it’s a good idea to cool your face off with some cool water before gearing up.
- Basically this should be your routine every time you go snorkeling. It might seem a little neurotic in the beginning, but eventually you’ll do it without thinking and it will just be part of your snorkeling process. After all, there’s nothing worse than only being able to see blurry colors of what you assume is the reef and its luminous tropical fish.