How Does a Snorkel Mask Work?

How Does a Snorkel Mask Work

Believe it or not, but there are many people out there who have no idea how a snorkel mask even works. While this may seem more than a little amusing to anyone who is a hardcore snorkeling enthusiast, it’s actually quite understandable.

It’s an especially valid question thanks to the increasing popularity of full-face snorkel masks. Just about everyone can wrap their heads around putting on a mask and snorkel tube set and then floating along the water surface, enjoying the views below.

But full face snorkel masks? We’ve seen more than one curious onlooker completely flabbergasted when they see someone wearing a full-face mask dive underneath the surface and carry on breathing as if they were still on land.

How Does a Snorkel Mask Work

So what’s the deal? How does a snorkel mask work? Is it really possible to breathe underwater while snorkeling? Read on and all of your snorkeling ‘nuts and bolts’ questions will be answered.

Airflow In, Airflow Out

The first thing to understand is what exactly a snorkel mask is intended to do. Snorkel masks are designed to let you swim along the surface of water while being able to enjoy the incredible views that lie below. They’re attached to a snorkeling tube that will allow you to breathe without needing to take your face out of the water.

In regards to the snorkel tube itself, there’s no denying that the biggest fear shared by nearly everybody who is nervous about snorkeling for the first time is that they won’t be able to breathe. They worry that they’ll end up choking on a mouthful of water as soon as they try to take their first breath when using a snorkel tube.

Truth be told, it’s definitely a fair concern to have. Snorkel tubes can indeed be pretty uncomfortable – even more so if you’re already nervous.

A traditional snorkel tube works by keeping the top part of the snorkel above the water, allowing you to breathe air in and out while you keep your face submerged. However, depending on the water conditions and mask quality, you can indeed end up taking water in through the top of your snorkel.

How Does a Snorkel Mask Work 3

For this reason, we actually recommend that many first-time snorkelers go with a full face mask. It can help to relieve a lot of their anxiety about water leaking in. Not only that, but it’s also far easier to wrap your brain around using a full-face mask, considering that they can allow you to breathe naturally through either your nose or your mouth.

Unlike traditional setups where the mask and snorkel tube are two separate pieces, a full face snorkel mask combines them into one easy-to-use piece. The snorkel tube is built into the top of the mask and works in much the same way as it would with a traditional mask.

One key feature of full-face masks is that many of them feature an innovative ‘dry top’ technology that will seal the top of the snorkel tube should you submerge. This helps to seal the tube and prevent water from entering your mask. Thanks to these dry-top snorkel tubes, even first-time snorkelers can dive right in (no pun intended) and have an immediately enjoyable experience.

Many masks also feature an auto-purging valve located at the bottom of the mask that will purge any water that does happen to seep into the mask. In addition to that, they’re also designed with separate airflow chambers that help to prevent your mask from fogging up. These separate chambers work by diverting the moisture-laden air that you exhale.


In all honesty, it’s quite simple to break down just how exactly a snorkel mask actually works. They’re far easier to use than a full set of scuba diving equipment, that’s for sure! Hopefully this brief guide cleared up any questions you may have had about how snorkeling works and put any fears you may have had to rest.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how it all works, there’s no better time than the present to start planning your next snorkeling excursion!

Where will your adventures take you? The Bahamas? Thailand? Bali?

There’s a vast ocean out there waiting to be explored!

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