Diving on Nitrox - one Master Bunnie Phil Beavan gives us some advice

Now this is the thing...

So we’re off to the beautiful island of Bonaire for a couple of weeks' diving and one thing popped up. We’re going to dive Nitrox, have the certification but can't remember a single thing about it!

Now our dive agency (whoever that may be) will say we should do the whole course again or at the very least read the manual from cover to cover (yawn). 

Sage advice – but we're bunnies who can’t be bothered.

So what do we need to know? What’s the important stuff? What do we need for holiday Nitrox?

We asked Master Bunnie-ish Phil Beavan to give us the low down and dirty guide to Nitrox...or at least something we could be bothered to read:

Diving with Nitrox

"Nitrox is all about depth limits, you can’t dive as deep on Nitrox as you can on air so that is the most important thing to keep in mind – if you are on Nitrox you need to dive shallower than on air.

Set your computer for the mix that you are using, it will give you depth alerts, and if you don’t know how to set your computer then either ask the dive centre or jump on YouTube, there will be a video there you can follow."

Whilst we suggest that everyone needs to properly understand their dive computer Nitrox depth limits vary depending on the mix. The most common are EANx32 and EANx36 – these have maximum depth limits of 34m and 29m respectively. So the message is this: as the mix number increases, the depth limit decreases.

For the uninterested bunnie, EAN simply stands for Enriched Air Nitrox.

Here comes the maths:

“The maths is actually very simple.  Divide 1.4 by the mix number and then subtract 1 before multiplying by 10... so for EANx32 just do 1.4 divided by 0.32 to give 4.375, subtract 1 which gives you 3.375 and then multiply by 10 to give you 33.75 – this is your maximum depth in metres, 33.75 metres”.


Phil did tell us to remember this however: “This gives you a limit, not a target, so don’t go as deep as you, for want of a better word, ‘can’. Depth is really important; going beyond this depth can be really, really bad, nothing like as forgiving as when diving on air”.

He also flagged that there is a very common misconception that diving on Nitrox means there is no risk of narcosis or ‘getting narked’ which is not true, “Diving using Nitrox has no impact on narcosis. We all learn in our first dive courses about narcosis and we call it nitrogen narcosis because nitrogen is the only gas we really need to think about... but it should be called gas narcosis – using Nitrox changes nothing, you are still breathing gas.”

So as we pack for Bonaire, we're going to revisit our enriched air manual and refer back to the above words of wisdom.

Dive Bunnies = Happy Diving x


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