SOMEONE CLEVERER THAN ME once said that the British and the Americans were two peoples separated by one language. In fact there are lots of cultural differences between us that can, in many ways, make Americans seem more foreign to Brits than some non-English-speaking Europeans.
In diving, one of the great divisions between us comes at that moment when we are about to don our masks. Americans will carefully administer to the inner side of the glass some liquid for which they have paid good dollars, and look rather distastefully at us while we drool and smear instead.
Spitting in their masks is obviously something that would be seen as totally unhygienic to anyone from the western side of the Atlantic, while for us it’s part of the commonality of diving.
I hate to think what’s actually in those patent mask-defogging bottles, and have visions of lines of men queuing up to spit in a bucket in some Far Eastern sweatshop. Let’s not go there! Either way, our masks don’t fog up.
We’re all agreed that a fogging mask is more than simply annoying. New masks are made in an environment that leaves an invisible residue of silicone over their glass. Dampness in the air within the mask that you wear caused by your own exhalations and skin warmth is allowed to condense in the mask, and it will form tiny precipitations that cling to this silicone.
The glass appears to steam up. If it did not cling to the glass, it would simply run harmlessly down into the nose-pocket and be expelled with other water when you clear your mask.
Whenever I get a new mask, I rub a pea-sized nodule of white toothpaste around on the inner side. It’s sufficiently abrasive to remove that residue of silicone. I rub this around until my fingertip is red raw, and the technique works for me.
I have seen others risk damage to their masks by applying the flame of a cigarette lighter to the same end.
After this preparation, I resort to the spit-and-wipe method each time I dive. This discourages the condensation from clinging to the glass. Naturally, you rinse the mask before you jump in the water, although should I forget I simply do it when submerged.
We all have our quirks. I have a good friend who is blind in one eye. He demists only the side of his mask in front of the good eye. It doesn’t look very good in photographs of him, however. I’ve told him so.
Some years ago, a US mask manufacturer offered a product that was guaranteed never to fog up. I was sent one for test, and it certainly lived up to its promise. It never fogged up, thanks to some sort of fog-resistant coating.
The company was called Miller Masks, but it seems to have been unable to compete with the factories of the Far East and to have vanished.

The Product
Today, Analox, the company well-known for its nitrox analysers, offers a product called Frog Spit, which comes in a tiny resealable tube.
Analox sent me a sample. You spread a single drop evenly over the inner surface of each lens of a mask and let it dry. One application is said to last for multiple uses of the mask. Hey presto! You have the equivalent of a Miller mask.
I took advantage of the new TUSA Ceos Freedom Pro twin-lens mask that had been sent to me to try, and without doing anything else to prepare the glass I treated one side only with Frog Spit, leaving it to dry.
I was careful to spread the liquid evenly over the lens, using a fingertip. Without any rinsing, I let the coating dry. I then tried breathing heavily into the mask.
The untreated side misted up, while the treated side did not. I had to be sure to be generous with the coating, however – my first attempt left patches that misted up.
This was all very well, but what would be the effect of a good dose of sea water on the coated side Would it simply wash off, leaving me with a now misting-up glass

Well, I can report that Frog Spit is good for a couple of dives at least. However, it was a bit like that famous “curate’s egg”.
The young curate, frightened of offending his bishop when invited to breakfast, found that his boiled egg was bad. When the bishop enquired as to how his egg was, he replied that it was ”good in parts”.
My application of Frog Spit was obviously good only in parts and a good proportion of the mask misted up during each dive, although never enough to completely obscure my vision.
I suggest that you need to give it a good dose and swill it around, leaving it to dry for several days if necessary.
You can refresh it by giving your mask another coat from time to time. If you are lucky enough to be diving in a warm climate with low humidity, as you would find out to sea in Egypt, it dries very quickly.
The manufacturer assures us that Frog Spit is a biodegradable product, which is safe and effective for use on all types of masks, goggles and protective lenses. It is designed to work equally effectively in cold and hot conditions.

Toothpaste and spit, almost free!

PRICE £6 for a 2oz bottle with flip-top applicator, or £4 for a compact 4.5ml pump bottle.
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