Home For Divers Classroom How to Pre-Treat a Dive Mask

How to Pre-Treat a Dive Mask

By Tec Clark
© ScubaGuru.com

Summary: New dive masks have a residue on the lenses, which needs to be removed prior to first use. We will explore the best agents and the best techniques to use for safely getting rid of this residue as we prep or pre-treat the dive mask.

DEAR TEC: I recently bought a new mask. I love it but it keeps fogging. I used a really good de-fog product I purchased at the dive shop, but it still fogs. During a dive another diver asked if I prepped my mask? He told me one way and another person told me another. Can you "clear this up"? (pun intended) Joe G., Portland, OR.

DEAR JOE: I will be happy to "clear this up" (nice one) for you and others as this is an area of diving that has not really been standardized very well. Besides, there is some bad information out there too. Let's look in detail at how to prep or pre-treat your dive mask.





I have seen it countless times; a diver with a new mask so fogged you can't even see his eyes – even after repeated applications of a defog solution! This can be extremely frustrating and even dangerous. What is happening here with new masks is that during the manufacturing process a thin film of silicone accumulates on the mask lens. This silicone is resistant to any of the conventional de-fogging measures. The solution is to "pre-treat" or "prep" the mask by removing this film prior to its use.

1. To remove the film, use a slightly abrasive agent like toothpaste. Avoid gel type toothpaste and go for common white toothpaste. NOTE: THIS IS FOR GLASS LENSES ONLY, NOT PLASTIC (POLYCARBONATE) LENSES. Plastic lens masks, such as the freediving favorite AquaSphere Sphera mask, scratch easily and may even come with an anti-fog agent already applied to the lens. Toothpaste, or other abrasive agents, as well as fingernails may scratch and ruin plastic lenses! If you decide to pre-treat your plastic (polycarbonate) lens with toothpaste, do so at your own risk. One way to minimize scratching plastic (polycarbonate) lenses is to use a soft, wet washcloth and rub lightly in a circular motion.
2. Take a thimble-sized amount of toothpaste and rub it on both sides of the DRY lenses. Give it a good circular rubbing with your CLEAN fingers.
3. Rinse the lens while rubbing away the toothpaste. Note that toothpaste may accumulate in the edges, so use a little more water pressure if needed to remove it, or you may use a soft, wet washcloth.
4. Once the toothpaste is rinsed away, DRY the lens with a clean towel or rag.
5. Repeat these steps, drying the lens in between each application, 5 to 7 times.

A couple items for you to note: Some instructors say not to use mint toothpaste as it will sting the eyes. This may be true, but a very thorough rinsing after each application should be fine.

A note on SoftScrub®: Also, many instructors say to use an abrasive cleanser like SoftScrub® to remove the film. SoftScrub® claims it is safe to use on glass but I am not a fan of abrasive cleansers for treating a mask. They have several chemicals that may be harsh on the silicone skirt and harsh on the skin. And, if a mint flavoring can sting the eyes if a little is left in the edges, imagine a cleanser – that could really be problematic. If you decide to go with a SoftScrub® cleanser to pre-treat your mask, follow the method above and in the video, using a very sparing amount, rinsing and drying thoroughly. DO NOT use SoftScrub® products that contain BLEACH! And DO NOT use SoftScrub® on plastic (polycarbonate) lenses! Again, it is best to avoid the abrasive cleanser and go with plain ole toothpaste.

A note on Fire: Floating around in the cyber-expert world is a technique of using fire to burn off the residue coating on a lens. DO NOT DO THIS! There is no need for this procedure as there are simply too many things that can go wrong and could easily ruin your mask.

Be safe, gentle and conservative when pre-treating your mask. And use some good common sense – like no fire, nor bleach. Following these steps and the instructions in the videos should get your mask ready to go! Remember, that pre-treating the mask does not prevent it from fogging on every dive. You will still need to de-fog your mask properly before each and every dive. For more information on that, see my article How to Defog a Diving Mask.



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#7 Tom Seely 2014-03-29 00:50
Great tip. I've also found sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) works well - for readers with gel toothpaste
#6 Robert Winsor 2013-09-14 21:19
Your nice videos are helpful, but I recommend adding a couple of simple things to help further. One, show water beading off the lens before the removal of the coating. Then show that water no longer beads off when the coating has been removed - the water sticks to the surface. It's converting the surface from hydrophobic (water beads) to hydrophilic (water sticks). Fog actually sticks to a hydrophobic surface nearly as easily as a hydrophilic (to a certain degree) - try fogging either with your breath and you will see this is the case. The point of making the surface hydrophilic is that it *helps* keep water on the lens - a very thin layer of it - because water beads can't form on water. Anti-fog spray helps to keep that very thin layer of water sticking to the lens, and that's how anti-fog is generated.
In my experience, it doesn't take much effort to remove the coating. But the water bead test can help a person realize if they have done enough to eliminate the coating.
#5 moon 2013-08-03 11:03
If i hv used the new mask in the pool for testing, can the toothpaste method still work for my new mask?
#4 ferryharyono 2013-08-03 05:22
Hi Tec,
I've got a brand new scuba mask with prescrition lenses.
Question: How to pre-treat the lenses to avoid fogging?
Thank you
#3 P.Halliday 2013-07-12 18:01
Thanks for this!
#2 Darren Coleman 2012-08-26 01:48
Thanks for this superb post. I'm currently diving in Palau with a new mask. I was having all sorts of problems. Cleaning with toothpaste then using baby shampoo has worked a treat. Superb advice. Thank you!

Diving in Palau is sensational. You've got to get out here!

Once again, thank you sooooo much!

#1 N. Broom 2011-04-20 21:04
A Q-Tip can be used to help clean the hard to reach spaces at the edge of the mask.

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