What is Nitrox?

by Bruce Konefe, ANDI Instructor Training Director #15

Nitrox can be any Oxygen and Nitrogen mixture. Nitrox could even be a 10% 02 and 90% mixture. When most divers think of Nitrox what then are really thinking of is mixtures with a higher concentration of 02 then normal air at 21%. A term that has caught on around the industry would be EAN which actually stands for Enriched Air Nitrox. There is another term you might here and that is “SAFEAIR”, this is a term used by ANDI. SafeAir is similar to what others call Nitrox except that ANDI does have a higher gas quality standards then the other agencies. This is something that sets ANDI ahead of the other agencies.

Nitrox was not a course that was easily accepted into the diving industry. During some of the largest dive shows around the world some of the largest agencies tried to boycott the agencies trying to promote this new thing called NITROX. There where some people that even called this a VOODOO gas. If it was not for agencies like ANDI and IANTD Nitrox would never be available today. These agencies had set the standards that just about all of the other agencies follow today. A lot of hard work went into making this a safer way of diving.

There are a lot of advantages to breathing nitrox compared to normal air. Just to start out with the quality of the air is actually cleaner then what comes from a normal air compressor. As you do know that are diving table are based around 79% nitrogen of normal air. With using a higher percentage of 02 there is less nitrogen in the mixture. With this higher concentration of 02 and a lower nitrogen level this allows us a longer No Decompression limits. A lot of divers to comment that they feel less tired and fatigued breathing nitrox then they would from breathing from a normal air tank. These are only just a few of the advantages that Nitrox does have over normal air.

You do not have to have a lot of experience in order to do Nitrox courses. Some agencies start them right out during there basic open water course. For those long term divers it is well worth the time and money to do a basic two day nitrox course.