So, you searched high and low, tried on a couple hundred masks, and finally got
just the right one for you, hunh? Congratulations on the new gear! It's always fun to have new stuff, especially when
it's scuba gear!
Before you go diving your new mask, though, we recommend cleaning the inside of it with toothpaste. Yep, you heard us right...
Toothpaste! Here's why:
Your mask was manufactured by someone cutting out the right pieces of glass and placing them in a mold. This mold closed
up and hot liquid silicone was injected into the mold. When it cooled, the mold was opened and out popped your mask. In most
cases, there were some other parts that were then snapped in place, and your mask was ready for sale.
Normally, the silicone sticks to the inside of the mold... That is, they open the mold and expect the mask to drop out, but
instead it sticks to the inside of the mold like an egg might stick to a frying pan. To keep this from happening, a lubricating
spray is sprayed liberally on the inside of the mold and all over the glass lenses prior to injection. Think of it as PAM
baking spray! This substance is called, "mold release" by those who are familiar with it, and it's clear and odorless.
Now, shifting gears, there's another thing you need to know... Why your mask fogs up.
Your mask fogs because there's ultra-humid air inside of your mask while you're wearing it. The glass is cooler than the air
inside your mask, and so much like a soda can on a humid day, water condenses and forms little droplets, right on the surface
of your mask lens.
The interesting thing to note here is that water will not condense on glass. Instead, a catalyst is required. Water will
condense on dust, dirt, oils from your skin, or any other particulate matter... Even on mold release.
So... If you dive without cleaning that glass on the inside of your mask, you're going to have a serious fogging problem.
Many people do all sorts of things to prevent this - the most common is to purchase some sort of wonder-fluid that you can
spray or smear on the lenses of your mask, which will prevent fogging. The wonder-fluid accomplishes this by "coating" the
lens... That is, applying a layer of some sort of clear substance which will prevent the humid air from touching the mold
release. Of course, this is predictably effective only until the substance washes away.
Instead, we recommend the more common sense approach of cleaning the mold release off of your mask's lenses prior to diving.
This can be accomplished with toothpaste... Put a dollop of any brand of toothpaste on your finger, add a little water, and
scrub the lenses of your mask liberally. Many of us are really picky about this, and we'll scrub for ten minutes or more.
Still others scrub both sides of the lenses. We've tried lots of other cleaning agents - some have used dishwashing detergent,
baby shampoo, or Windex. Nothing seems to work quite as well as plain ol' toothpaste.
Once you're done, rinse well... Some people's eyes get irritated later by the mint in the toothpaste.
...So will your mask be fog-free from then on? Well, yes... Until you get a little dust or dirt on the lenses of your
mask. But now that you've polished the lenses with toothpaste and gotten all of the mold release off, you'll find
that dusting them off is easy. Simply rub a little saliva on the lenses with your finger just before putting the mask on
(rinse afterward) and your lenses will keep a constant "spit shine" on them, and fogging will never be a problem.
...And you'll never run out of wonder-fluid again.