Nitrox or Helium, either way, in sidemount!
For a while now, Nitrox (oxygen enriched mix) and or helium based mixes, aka trimix, have been the sole toys of technical divers. It is true in a way, and thanks God to these different mixes, man (ok, women as well!) are pushing the limits of scuba diving and helping understand the intricacies of deep, very deep diving as well as decompression models. If Nitrox is not new, nor is helium, they are still seen as ‘voodoo’ mixes.
A Nitrox diver certification allows for great bottom time (no pun intended!) , less nitrogen intake and shorter surface intervals between subsequent dives. That is great stuff, so great that one agency in particular, only has its divers use Nitrox 32 (enriched air with 32% of O2 content). But there is a downside to this: oxygen is as narcotic if not more narcotic than nitrogen, the other gas that impair our judgment, pass 30 msw. We need oxygen, but a too high content of it will lead to what we call, oxygen poisoning or toxicity. This is simply due to breathing an oxygen rich content at depth. What happens is that our body can only tolerate a certain partial pressure of oxygen. What is partial pressure of oxygen (PpO2), would you ask?
To put it simply when we talk about PpO2, it’s as if we were breathing only oxygen or if O2 was acting alone in our breathing mixtures. A too high PpO2 becomes a problem to us, divers. These studies come mainly from the medical hyperbaric medicine.
So to reduce this O2 content technical divers use Normoxic or Hypoxic mixes. One is breathable at the surface and the other one is not enough rich in O2 to be breathed at the surface and implies travel gases.
Now that you understand, a bit better (I hope) the concept of Voodoo mixes, let’s bring this thread back to recreational diving!
For the Nitrox and Deep diver, the next step in line, after having successfully passed the Sidemount Open Water program, would be to join either an Advanced Nitrox or Advanced Recreational Trimix course (ART).
If I had to choose, I’d go for the ART course directly. As it offers ‘clear head’ deep diving (max 48msw) and it makes of a great transition to Technical diving and expose divers to rigorous dive planning and protocols that will be used during their next course (i.e Normoxic trimix).
Now add this with diving on the Razor Sidemount System and you got yourself the sexiest dive rig since the creation of the Inspiration Classic Rebreather! (reference to an ad for AP in dive magazine – I do not own or intend to own an Inspo) So join us on our next ART sidemount course and explore the fun of mix gas diving and the freedom of sidemount scuba diving!
After getting your scuba gear sorted, it will be time to hit the water and get those scuba skills sharpen and ready for some Voodoo scuba diving!