Congratulations! You just spent some quality time on our website learning about masks and you choose a package that you love. The gear arrived at your house, you watch our video on how to size the mask and it fits perfectly. You are ready to get in the water and get wet…..but not so fast!
Whether you plan to use your new mask for the first time in the pool, your first adventure in the ocean or just can’t wait to pack it in your luggage for your big dream vacation that leaves this Saturday, your mask is probably not quite ready as ready to take its first big plunge as you are. Before you use your mask for the first time, there is a simple but very important step that needs to be taken. If you ignore it, the chances are very high that you mask will continuously fog no matter what you do.
The source of the problem actually occurs while your mask is being made at the factory. As you can probably imagine, the production process involves the molding of silicone compounds to produce a high quality mask skirt that is soft and seals well against your face. There are a variety of lubricants and mold release compounds that are used during the manufacturing process in addition to the liquid silicone itself. As a result, it is very common for a very thin, but invisible, “oily” film to adhere to the glass lenses of the mask. This is a very normal occurrence during the production and assembly of your mask, but until that film is cleaned off and removed, no amount of spit or mask defog products will keep your mask from fogging up once you get into the water! Even if you let a little water in and swish it around to clear it while you’re snorkeling, that nasty fog will reappear again in just a few minutes.
A mask that constantly fogs can be an extremely frustrating situation for any snorkeler and will temp you to toss that shiny new mask right into the recycling bin. But the solution is actually very simple and can actually be accomplished in about ten minutes. You just need to “scrub” that film off the glass lenses of your new mask before you use it for the first time! Yep, it’s really that easy, and it’s something that you only need to do once when the mask is new – if you do it correctly!
All that you really need is access to water and a sink and a cleaning solution. There are several great products available that are inexpensive and designed specifically for cleaning off this film. Some of the ones that I like are: McNett Sea Buff Mask Cleaner and Jaws Scrub Mask, but just make sure to follow the instructions. I have also successfully used regular dish washing soap (like Joy or Dawn), and non-gel toothpaste also works well for this easy task.
No matter which product you use, the process is the same. First wet the inside of the mask and dump the water out. Then I apply a couple of drops or dabs of the cleaner to the inside of each lens and thoroughly rub the cleaning solution around the entire glass surface with a finger. Make sure that you get to all the edges and not just the center of the lens. Once you have rubbed each lens for a few minutes, rinse well with water using your finger to swish it around and loosen up the goo, dump the water out and repeat the whole process again. Because I really appreciate having a clear and fog free mask while snorkeling, I like to repeat this cleaning process at least 2 or 3 times on a new mask just to insure that I have completely removed the residual film from the glass lenses. After all, 10 to 15 minutes of scrubbing time is a very small investment if it means having a trouble free mask for years! I have usually not found it necessary to scrub the outside of the lens, but what the heck, it sure can’t hurt!
Now for those of you adventurous types who enjoy exploring those narrow, dimly lit hallways and backrooms of the inter-web, you may stumble across another method for removing that residual film from your brand new mask using fire……yep, that’s right, FIRE! While I have heard that a few brave (??) souls have tried it with success, the idea of holding a candle or lighter up to my brand new mask gives me the chills. There are just so many opportunities for this to go very wrong that I would strongly recommend that you totally forget that you ever came across that idea!
Just remember that once that manufacturing film has been removed from your new mask you will still need to use some type of defog each time you dive. But now that the film has been removed, your defogging will be effective in helping to keep your mask clear. So grab your new mask and start scrubbing so that we can go discover the world beneath the waves…
By Roy Jamason
Written Oct. 12, 2015