What to Do if Your Snorkel is Filling with Water

When enjoying your day in the water, there are few things less pleasant than inhaling a bunch of unexpected water. So, what is the fastest way to clear your snorkel so you can get back to swimming?

If your snorkel gets filled with water, the most common method you can use to clear it is return to the water’s surface and forcefully blow the water out of your snorkel. Freedivers use the displacement clear described below. If your snorkel comes with a purge valve, you can also use it to drain any water out.

In this article, we’ll go over the various reasons why your snorkel will fill up with water, the different ways to clear your snorkel, whether you’re above water or submerged, and discuss what you can do to prevent water from entering your snorkel from the start.

Displacement clear and forceful exhale methods demonstrated.

Why Is My Snorkel Filling with Water?

There are a couple of ways water can enter your snorkel. The most common way is that you go too low in the water and submerge the open end of your snorkel. If you get caught under a wave, you can also end up accidentally swallowing water.

If your snorkel’s breathing tube is above water and you’re still taking in water, your mouthpiece may either be an improper fit for your mouth, or it may be damaged. Keep a spare mouthpiece with you any time you plan on swimming.

You run a higher risk of receiving a damaged mouthpiece if you rent a snorkel; if you are going this route, inspect the mouthpiece to ensure there’s no damage to it.

What Should Be Done When Water Gets Inside the Snorkel?

If there’s one skill that takes practice as a snorkeler, it’s clearing out your snorkel should water get inside. If your snorkel fills up with water, you will want to clear it out as quickly as possible. Use these three methods to clear your snorkel quickly and easily.

Exhale Forcefully with the Blast Clear.

This method of clearing a snorkel is by far the most popular. The blast clear involves forcefully blowing the water out through the snorkel to eject it out through the tube. Remember you can’t do this if water gets in at the end of exhaling. You also need to keep a little reserve air in your lungs at the end of a free dive to do this.

Use Your Purge Valve (if you have one.)

A purge valve in a snorkel is a one-way valve that’s installed close to the mouthpiece. Much like a bathtub drain, the purge valve drains water out of your snorkel when you exhale.

Be aware that some snorkels come without a purge valve, such as cheaper snorkels and the more expensive, specialized “dry snorkels.”

If your snorkel comes with the purge valve below the mouthpiece, it clears your snorkel almost effortlessly. If you aren’t fully comfortable while you’re in the water, using the purge valve to get the water out of your snorkel will be a godsend.

If you want to buy a snorkel and don’t want to spend a ton of money on a dry snorkel, look for a snorkel that has a purge valve on it.

Using a purge valve correctly

When You’re Freediving, Use the Displacement Clear.

You can use this clearing method if your snorkel doesn’t come with a purge valve. You start this clear while you’re still underwater. This clear is far easier than doing a blast clear.

  • As you come back up to the surface, look straight to the sky and reach one of your hands straight up to the surface
  • Once your hand touches the surface, puff a small amount of air into the tube. Ensure the end of the snorkel is lower than your mouthpiece; looking up as you surface accomplishes this.
  • The air you blow into the tube will displace the water and cause it to exit the tube.
  • Once you make it to the surface, look down, so your snorkel is pointing upward. Now you have cleared the water from your snorkel.

Practice this clearing method as it’s relatively counterintuitive and may be difficult at first.

Regardless of which clearing method you use to get the water out your snorkel, you will want to inhale cautiously through the snorkel. You don’t want to take a full breath too soon, since you may have some water left in the snorkel.

If you need to clear the snorkel again, do it and take another cautious breath through the snorkel as a test.

Knowing how to clear a snorkel quickly is essential not only for your comfort but also for your safety. Below are some methods to help you keep water out of your snorkel, so you won’t have to employ any of these clearing strategies in the first place.

If you need help picking a snorkel, read this post to learn about the different types and see my recommendations.

How Do I Prevent Water from Filling My Snorkel?

When snorkeling, you can take a couple of different actions to make sure the inside of your snorkel stays water-free. Here are those two actions:

Keep the top of your head above water.

The open end of a snorkel is right above the top of your head; if the top of your head is underwater, the snorkel tube is about to be underwater. 

When you’re swimming, even in calm waters, keeping your snorkel above water isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, unless you enjoy choking on the water every five minutes, do your best to keep the top of your head above water.

When snorkeling in a beautiful locale, where the fish and reefs are colorful and dancing right below you, you may get tempted to look straight down to see all the beauty on full display underneath you.

This movement will lower the snorkel and scoop the water. While you’re swimming around, keep your head tilted slightly upward, looking roughly a meter ahead, to keep your snorkel above water.

Purchase a “dry snorkel”

Dry snorkels have a mechanism attached to the tube called a float valve. This float valve prevents any water from entering the snorkel, so you never have to clear the tube. Dry snorkels are a favorite of beginning divers and anyone that has difficulties with clearing out a snorkel.

A float valve will completely seal the snorkel when you submerge it, or you get hit by a wave. This valve prevents all water from entering your snorkel. This float valve mechanism works by using a buoyant material to lift the hinge and push a flap over the snorkel’s opening. Once you come back to the surface, and the snorkel is no longer submerged, the float valve opens up again.

Dry snorkels are also longer than regular snorkels, meaning you can go lower underwater until the valve shuts, and you’re no longer able to breathe through the snorkel.

See the Cressi Dry Snorkel line on Amazon

While snorkeling, knowing how to keep water out of a snorkel, and knowing how to clear water out of it when water does get in is critical to your:

  • Enjoyment
  • Comfort
  • Safety

However, these clearing methods may take a little bit of practice. Take some time and practice these clearing methods to use them at a moment’s notice comfortably.

However, if you have the money to get a snorkel with a float valve built into it, I recommend purchasing it. 

When you swim with a dry snorkel that uses a float valve, you run much less of a risk of accidentally inhaling water, and you almost completely remove the need to clear out your snorkel.

Now You Know What to Do When Your Snorkel Fills with Water.

Clearing your snorkel sounds easy when you read about it, but they can be much more difficult to do in practice when you’re swimming. Practice these clearing methods (especially the displacement clear) until they become second nature to you.

If you don’t want to worry about water entering the snorkel, get yourself a dry snorkel with a float valve. This valve won’t always keep the water out, but you won’t have to worry about clearing your snorkel as much.

Sources:

http://www.scuba-tutor.com/diving-skills/snorkel/

https://www.leisurepro.com/i/snorkel

https://ninjashark.com.au/blogs/topic/how-does-a-purge-valve-work-on-a-snorkel

https://www.scubaverse.com/everything-need-know-snorkel-part-3-clearing-snorkel/?cn-reloaded=1


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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