Air consumption is a skill that even the most advanced of divers are trying to master.

It goes without saying, it’s in your best interest to give yourself the most bottom time possible.

And how can this be achieved?

By improving your air consumption rate!

Here’s an example:

An advanced and beginner diver are both diving at X m.

Now that you have an idea of just how key improving your air consumption is, let’s jump right into some scuba diving air consumption tips!

Perfecting Your Breathing Technique

diver displaying breathing technique

This tip is first on our list as it likely will have the greatest effect on your air consumption rate.

When diving, everything should be conducted in a controlled and calm manner.

Beginner divers are often breathing in and out without putting much thought into it.

As you become more advanced, you start to find a rhythm where you’re only breathing where you really need to. Naturally, the fewer breaths you take, the less air you’ll use.

Master Buoyancy

Mastering your buoyancy will reduce your air consumption in a few ways.

First off, you’ll spend less time fidgeting with your buoyancy control device.

We’ve all been there.

Tapping your inflator several times and then deflating it when we’ve put too much air in. Not only does the act of inflating use air, but it’s also time we’re not focusing on being as calm as possible.

Another way that perfecting neutral buoyancy effects air consumption is that you’ll be able to spend more of your time in a relaxed state.

Keep A Record

Keeping a record of your air consumption is a great way to see your progress.

There’s a direct calculation that you can do to see the rate you consume air.

This calculation isn’t exact, because depending on what depth you’re at, you’ll consume different amounts of air.

Even if your breathing rate is the exact same.

However, it’s a pretty good estimate, so it’s widely used.

In the diving world, this is known as SAC (Surface Air Consumption Rate).

Sorry to bring math into this, but to calculate SAC you need the following variables:

  • Dive time
  • Total air consumed
  • Average depth of your dive
  • Absoulte pressure at that average depth

Dive Time

Dive time’s pretty easy to calculate. Check your dive computer or dive watch for that.

For the sake of this calculation, our dive was 25 minutes long.

Total Air Consumed

To find this, we need to subtract our starting amount of air from our end amount.

Then, multiply this by the size of the cylinder used on the dive.

In this example, we’ll say we consumed 100 BAR.

Average Depth

This figure can be found on most dive computers.

We’ll say our average depth was 20m (49ft).

Absolute Pressure

As we hopefully learned in our open water course, there’s an inverse relationship between the pressure water exerts on us and the air in our tank. The deeper we go, the lower the volume of the air in our tanks are.

This causes divers to consume air much quicker at depth.

This graphic from Scuba Tutor will explain it better than any text we could type!

Absolute pressure diving

Time For The Calculation

We’ve got everything we need. Now it’s time to calculate!

100BAR (amt consumed) * 10 (size of cylinder) = 10,00.

1000 / 20m (avg depth) = 50.

Air is 3x denser at 20m then the surface, so we’ll have to divide by 3.

This brings us to 50 / 3 = 16.6 liters/min.

And there we have it, in this case, our SAC was 16.6 liters/min!

Stay Fit

This goes without saying, the more fit you are, the less likely you’ll get tired.

If you’re not tired, then your kicking technique will remain consistent, allowing you get the most out of each propulsion!

Having the proper fins and fin kick technique is a great way to get the most out of the air in your tank! Learn more about choosing the best scuba diving fins for you.

FAQ

Conclusion

And there you have it, a complete guide to scuba diving air consumption. Keep these tips in mind on your next time, and you’ll be able to increase your bottom time!