How does a snorkel work?

In particular, snorkeling is a very well-liked pastime in the warm waters around tropical islands. It enables you to explore the underwater realm while still on land. Anyone may easily access it. It requires minimal equipment and no special training. A snorkel, mask, and fins are all you need to explore a coral reef.

Snorkelers utilize gear, such as a mask and snorkel, that enables them to observe the underwater world while floating on the surface and breathing through the snorkel tube.

Air exchange takes place when the tube’s top protrudes above the water’s surface.

How does a snorkel operate, though? One of the most frequently asked questions by novice snorkelers is this one.

how does a snorkel work

Let’s find out how does a snorkel works:

When swimming face down in the water close to the surface, a snorkel allows the user to breathe without taking their head out of the water.

The apparatus is made to be comfortable and to effectively exchange gases between your lungs and the fresh air above the water.

Your diving experience will be enhanced overall if you have a better understanding of how they operate. Additionally, it will boost your confidence when submerged and enable you to see potential problems with your snorkel.

Examine the various types and their operations now.

snorkel work

Snorkel Tube Types

Typically, snorkels are just tubes with set curves that end in mouthpieces.

Because they are the simplest and most convenient to store for usage on the surface, scuba divers choose this style.

Due to its simplicity and ability to reduce drag through the water, freedivers who can descend to considerable depths on a single breath and depend on being as streamline as possible only employ this type.

However, snorkels come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from the straightforward J-shaped kind to more sophisticated snorkeling gear with one-way purge valves for simple clearing and floor valves to prevent water from getting into the tube if you dive down. They range from traditional, entry-level designs to more sophisticated dry and semi-dry snorkels.

snorkel work 1

Snorkels come in three main categories:

1.Wet Snorkels (Traditional or Classic Snorkels)

The conventional design is a straightforward J-shaped tube that ends in a mouthpiece. They are thin and frequently constructed of silicone or rubber, which makes them flexible and simple to store.

The most basic of the three varieties is a wet snorkel, sometimes referred to as a J-tube or J-style snorkel.

The snorkeler must continuously control their airway when using these snorkels. The snorkeler must hold onto enough oxygen after a breath-hold dive to clear the snorkel above the surface. Upon submersion, the classic snorkels fill with water, and the powerful exhalation at the surface forces the water out of the tube.

This calls for expertise and repetition.

marine life

These conventional snorkels often don’t have any unique features to keep water out of the tube or facilitate water drainage. Wet snorkels are therefore not a wise choice for novices.

With traditional snorkels, you can attach it to your mask or goggles using the included clip or fastening. Changing the height will guarantee that it reaches the mouth at the proper level and prevent any discomfort.

They are intended to rest on your face and head to the left. The mouthpiece’s curved shape is to blame for this. When snorkeling near the surface, it is essential to have it pointed straight up to reduce the chance of water getting into it.

2.Semi-dry snorkels

These snorkels are the most adaptable of all snorkel varieties and successfully balance comfort and utility. When snorkeling at the surface, the splash guard on the tube’s top helps to keep water out.

Additionally, the snorkels have a purge valve at the bottom that makes it simpler for users to drain any water that does enter the tube.

A semi-dry snorkel has a one-way purge valve that makes it simple to flush water out in the event that it does manage to get into the snorkel, which is typically caused by large water splashes or choppy surface waters.

For snorkelers who have some past experience and intend to go underwater, semi-dry snorkels are preferable. Scuba divers, spearfishers, and freedivers all frequently choose this style of snorkel.

Additionally, the silicone mouthpiece attached on these varieties typically has a flexible tube part that hangs off the side when the user is scuba diving.

coral reefs

3.Dry snorkels

Snorkels that are dry or dry-top often incorporate a float valve in addition to the same qualities as semi-dry snorkels.

This unique flotation device, which is attached to the tip of the snorkel, acts as a one-way valve. As it rises and closes the opening, it prevents you from inadvertently swallowing water or, maybe, getting water in your lungs, both of which are safety concerns.

When the snorkel is fully submerged, as can happen if the user dives underwater or is snorkeling in choppy water, this mechanism shuts the tube and prevents water from getting inside.

Dry snorkels are the best choice for novices because they are the only kind of snorkel that prevents water from entering the breathing tube when submerged.

This characteristic, however, also retains air inside the snorkel tube, increasing undesirable underwater drag and buoyancy. As a result, dry snorkels are not recommended for sports like free diving, spearfishing, or scuba diving where the wearer spends a significant amount of time underwater.

Along with scuba fins, dry snorkels have become more and more popular pieces of scuba gear during the past several years among divers.


The functionality of a contemporary dry snorkel also depends on additional comfort elements, which include:

  • Flexible Tube: the portion of the snorkel between the strap attachment point and the mouthpiece is a flexible piece of pipe.You can change the mouthpiece’s position with a flex for a secure and comfortable fit.
  • Purge Valve: Water that is dripping down the snorkel gathers in the area at the bottom under the mouthpiece. typically modest amounts rather than gallons. The valve opens when air is blown into the snorkel, forcing water to exit.
  • Splash Guard: The thing that covers the snorkel’s upper aperture is made of plastic. Its purpose is to keep the snorkel tubes from getting wet or sprayed by waves. The snorkel must not be submerged for it to function. It is crucial, particularly if you are snorkeling in rough water.

Actually, dry snorkels aren’t completely dry. For example, if it drops below the surface when it is out of your mouth, there is a chance that water will enter the tube.

It’s important to remember that this type is a newcomer to the diving scene.

Purge valves, a useful defense against this, are included by snorkel manufacturers. To get rid of any water in the tube, all you have to do is exhale deeply.

Dry snorkels can be purchased as a full-face snorkel mask or in the traditional tube design with a separate mask.

float valve

Full-face snorkel masks

With a full-face snorkel mask on, breathing through the mouth and nose is simple and uninterrupted. To keep the mask from fogging up, these masks keep the airways apart. In order to prevent flooding of the full-face mask, the snorkel component on top is a dry snorkel design.

Breath-hold dives are less frequent among novices. This is why newbie snorkelers favor full-face snorkel masks so much.

Due to the significant air pocket that is confined close to the snorkeler’s face, diving down is rather challenging. But they do keep water out of a snorkeler’s airways, which makes them more comfortable for novice ocean explorers. A full-face snorkel mask might be significantly more comfortable for non experienced snorkelers than a traditional snorkel with a mouthpiece.

snorkeling vest


For individuals interested in trying snorkeling, it’s crucial to comprehend how it operates as well as the kinds of abilities and gear needed. You ought to be better equipped for a secure and pleasurable snorkeling excursion now that you are aware of the answers to these concerns.

You need to know how to use a snorkel properly in addition to knowing what it does when used for diving. Because of the breathing, snorkeling will take some getting used to, but if you persist with it, the experiences you have will astound you.

Remember that learning how to snorkel properly takes time. Enjoy yourself, go slowly, and be calm.

diving mask


Can You Use a Snorkel to Go Underwater?

If you have a dry or semi-dry snorkel, you can go underwater with one. You can also acquire a full-face snorkeling mask because they are all made to let air in but keep water out. Without these types, the tube will fill with water if you fully submerge below the water’s surface.But still, only for a time while you can keep your brief.

Snorkeling: Can You Breathe Underwater?

When utilizing a snorkel on the surface, breathing underwater is simple. It’s crucial to note that you can only do this when swimming on the water’s surface with the snorkel tube above the surface. Try scuba diving if you want to be able to breathe underwater longer.

Do I need to try scuba diving to breathe deep underwater or can I just use dry snorkels?

Unfortunately, you cannot use a dry snorkel while fully dive underwater. Since no water may enter through the tube, dry snorkels—whether they are typical J-shaped snorkels or snorkel masks—are referred to as such. The main benefit is that you won’t inadvertently spit water into your mouth, reducing the risk of choking. But your lungs still require new oxygen.

How Much Time Can You Spend Underwater with a Snorkel?

The amount of time you can hold your breath while totally submerged varies. There are snorkels that allow for longer amounts of time because they have a little air supply that lasts for up to ten minutes, but they are more expensive.

sea turtles

Leave a Comment