Let’s Start our discussion about What is a snorkel purge valve and how it works? from some historical points. In the beginning, warriors and hunters probably used reeds as snorkels to hunt or hide underwater. As snorkeling gained popularity as a vacation activity, manufacturers began improving the original tube design. You can go snorkeling using a simple plastic tube, but you’ll need to blow the water out of the tube when you return to the surface after a dive.
Finding a way to make things simpler is what was needed. A purge valve was installed at the snorkel tube’s elbow due to development efforts. Those unfamiliar with snorkeling may be perplexed by the concept of a snorkel purge valve and its function. So, What Is a Snorkel Purge Valve?
What Is a Snorkel Purge Valve?
The purge valve is a one-way valve that allows water to be expelled from the snorkel. Water will be drained from the tube as you return, and if any water gets into the snorkel, you may “blow” it out into the ocean. The use of a purge valve simplifies breathing during snorkeling.
It drains slowly, so you would believe that it is ineffective. Let me tell you when you resurface, a full snorkel that was filled throughout your dive will quickly drain.
There will still be some water in the snorkel, but with a steady expulsion of air, you may release it back into the ocean. After that, the snorkeler may continue to breathe normally while submerged. You can check out our detailed article about How to clean a snorkel tube?
What Does The Purge Valve Do?
The snorkel’s curve contains the purge valve, a water drain reservoir. It may appear awkwardly large piece of plastic to lug around, but its functionality is amazing.
Even though a snorkel may seem like a little piece of equipment, installing a purge valve can significantly affect the snorkeler’s experience.
Classic snorkels are designed to be used on the surface of the water and will quickly fill with water while submerged. Water is still there when they get back to the surface. In the past, breathing would be impossible until the stagnant water was cleared away.
Holding your breath for an extended period proved taxing after a dive, and all of that is modified by the purge valve.
The purge valve on a snorkel allows water to drain out of the device, either by gravity or a short ejection of air.
A one-way valve prevents water from entering the system. Despite being submerged, the tube will not fill with water. If the mouthpiece seal is broken or the snorkel’s breathing tube is punctured at its top, water may enter.
It would be possible to fill the snorkel with water by pouring it in at the top; the excess would escape through the purge valve.
Expelling water was a bit of a hassle until the invention of snorkels with purge valves. To continue watching what was going on below the surface, you still needed to dive until your lungs were on fire to blow the water out of the tube.
Therefore, many people didn’t bother. After emerging from the water, they relied on gravity and the air in the ocean to expel the remaining water from their systems.
How Does The snorkel Purge Valve Work?
A traditional snorkel without purge valves consists of nothing more than a plastic tube. The snorkel only had two outlets via which water might escape.
Either via the top, where no water would have stayed, or the mouthpiece end, where some water would have remained in the curve. Water may drain out with a purge valve, as in a bathtub.
When you come up for air after a deep dive, the water will pour out of the tube if it’s full.
There is still the risk that airflow will be blocked if water gets into the tube upside down on the surface.
You can send all that water rushing back into the sea with a little breath, and a little blow or even an exhale can do the trick. It’s a huge time saver when snorkeling.
Do You Need A Purge Valve On A Snorkel?
No matter what you say, you can still snorkel even without one. The majority of snorkel rentals can even be standard snorkels without one.
But people are starting to recognize their values and adopt them. They’re a must-have for any serious snorkeler due to the significant convenience they provide to the activity.
It is possible to snorkel, dive, and emerge without ever going below water, and having this option opens the door to a more seamless experience.
This innovation has also solved the long-standing issue of water getting into the snorkel when snorkeling. Clearing the water tube is necessary before large waves, splashing, or diving. It’s been a godsend for folks who hate taking sips of water or the sensation of having water in their tubes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Snorkel Purge Valves
Purge valves used to be standard on diving masks, but they’re now rarer.
Many scuba divers question the relevance of purge valves in modern diving. Some may claim that the purge valve is unnecessary as the diving mask has evolved. At worst, an unnecessary layer of complexity increases the likelihood that the diving mask’s many mechanisms may fail, rendering the mask unusable.
Still, certain divers insist on using them. Some people enjoy the simpler mask clearance that purge valves provide, whether because they prefer a more classic mask design or because their mustache makes their mask more prone to leaks.
Advantages of mask purge valves
The main advantage of the dive mask purge valve is that it can make clearing the mask of water easier. Specifically, you can clear a purge valve mask without using your hands.
Mask clearance involves expelling water from inside the mask while underwater. With modern dive masks, you clear them by gently exhaling from your nose while holding the skirt at the sides of your face. The silicone skirt on most masks is supple enough that exhaling with your nose will force water out under the skirt below your nose (along with the air bubbles of your exhalation). With practice, mask clearance is a skill that any diver can master if they use a quality dive mask.
Mask-clearing exercises are essential for novice dives, although many dislike them. After all, having your mask flood and then cleaning it out is an unpleasant experience in the best of circumstances.
The mask’s purge valve alleviates part of the bother and discomfort of clearing the mask. Holding the mask skirt at your side or adjusting your face’s angle is unnecessary. In some cases (though I’ve noticed this isn’t always the case), you may need to tilt your head slightly to see out of a standard mask. You may easily clear your mask without using your hands with a purge valve.
Purge valves may also be useful for you if:
- Your choice is a mask with a lot of volumes or a vintage design.
- You prefer keeping your facial hair untrimmed.
- You’re an underwater photographer, scientist, or explorer.
- If one of your hard contact lenses were to pop out, you wouldn’t want to risk losing it by cleaning the mask.
Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the first two, as I like low-volume masks and don’t have any facial hair myself. A purge valve probably wouldn’t do me much good because clearing my mask is simple. But there’s no denying that masks with a retro aesthetic are sick, and trying one out might be a lot of fun. If I use one of those, maybe I’ll learn to love the purge valve. I prefer avoiding leaks altogether than constantly adjusting the purge valve because of stray hair.
A purge valve is useful if you use contact lenses that you don’t want to lose if one of them pops out. If you clear your mask and your contact lens falls into the purge valve, don’t worry. During mask clearing, a conventional mask might send your contact lens tumbling into the ocean.
It appears like divers using tools that need both hands would benefit the most from the purge valve. The most common examples are photographers and filmmakers. Purge valve masks might be helpful for scientists and researchers who are collecting samples, making measurements, or constructing objects beneath the water.
However, I have snorkeled and dived for scientific study without problems related to mask clearing. Clearing the mask won’t be necessary if you locate one that fits you well.
Disadvantages of mask purge valves
As for the drawbacks, purge valves on snorkel masks mostly have two: 1) they can make the nasal pinch more difficult, or 2) they can fail altogether.
Silicone skirts with a completely molded nose pocket are standard on today’s dive masks. Older models of dive masks have a cylindrical chamber that your nose fits into. When you pinch your nose, your fingers would fit into the little nooks on either side of your nose.
The high-quality silicone skirts are quite comfortable, and the current style makes them even more so. Because learning to equalize your ears is one of the most important skills for a diver, so any technology that makes it simpler is welcome.
While purge valves on today’s masks try to be as subtle as possible, they might nonetheless contribute some stiffness to the nasal pocket. This can make the mask less comfortable around the nose and prevent the nose pinch from working properly.
Dive masks with purge valves are an added layer of complication on top of an otherwise straightforward and tried-and-true design, much like snorkels with the same feature. That’s why purge valves present an additional point of failure in a scuba mask, even if they’re well-made.
If you don’t take the time to clean your valves thoroughly after each usage, they are more likely to become clogged or fail altogether. Some people don’t like using dry or semi-dry snorkels for the same reason.
So, does Snorkel Purge Valve Worth it?
A snorkel with a purge valve is a must-have for recreational snorkelers. It might not be easy to clear water from a J-type snorkel if you are not a frequent snorkeler.
Free divers and spear fishers, who are accustomed to using a snorkel without a purge valve, often prefer not to have any extra pieces generating drag. Hence J-type snorkels without purge valves are popular among them.