Scuba tanks are an essential piece of diving equipment. Afterall, they provide divers with the air they need to stay underwater for long periods of time. However, there are so many different options of scuba tanks available at the dive shops , new divers may feel a bit lost when trying to decide on one. That is why we have gathered all of the most important information relevant to scuba tanks and compiled it here.
A scuba tank, or a diving cylinder, is a air cylinder used by scuba divers to store and transport the high pressure breathing air required by a scuba set. Scuba tanks provide air to the diver through the demand valve of a diving regulator. As the air is compressed, tanks carry an equivalent volume of free air greater than its water capacity when pressurized.
A functional scuba tank consists of two parts, a pressure valve and a cylinder valve. The pressure valve is a seamless cylinder, typically made up of cold-extruded aluminum or forged steel. Most commonly, aluminum is used for scuba diving. This isn’t necessary the best option for every diver, but it is the cheapest. For those renting a scuba tank from a dive shop, it will almost always be an aluminum-s80 tank.
Steel scuba tanks are commonly used in cold-water diving. This is because in cold water, the diver will wear an insulating thermal dive suit, which has a large excess of buoyancy. Steel tanks are denser than aluminum, so it works better.
The cylinder valve is used to control air flow to and from the pressure valve. Most commonly, cylinder valves will be made from brass, with a protective chrome plating finish. The valve will have a dip tube attached at the bottom, which extends into the tank to reduce the risk of liquid from getting into the air passages.
Most scuba tanks are made from either aluminum or steel. The pressures in a tank can vary, but the most common pressure levels are low (2400 to 2640 psi), standard (3000 psi), and high (3000 to 3500 psi). Scuba tanks are available in a huge variety of capacities. The three general classifications of tank coatings are painted, galvanized, and uncoated.
The standard aluminum 80 tank is what divers will most commonly see at dive shops and resorts. It is capable of holding about 77 cubic feet of air at 3000 psi. The problem with these tanks is the poor buoyancy. It is very positively buoyant at the end of a dive, which means divers have to start their dive with additional weight. Even then, you may struggle to stay neutral.
For those who feel that their air consumption is their limiting factor, choosing a larger tank, such as the high-pressure steel 100 may be a better option. This tank weighs the same at the aluminum 80 tank, but has a service pressure of 3442 psi. The high-pressure steel 100 has much better buoyancy than the aluminum 80 tank, and is favored by sports divers.
For divers who feel like they always return with plenty of air remaining, they may consider the aluminum 63. It is a smaller tank, and has much better buoyancy than the aluminum 80. The aluminum 63 provides 80 cubic feet of air.
Scuba diving tanks are not filled entirely with oxygen. This is a common misconception. Tanks do contain oxygen, but no more than is naturally occurring in the air we breathe, so around 21 percent. The majority of air in a tank is actually nitrogen, at around 78 percent. The rest is a mix of various gases, including carbon dioxide, argon, neon, and helium.
Generally speaking, the makeup of air in a tank is similar to the air we all breathe out of water. The only difference is air in scuba tanks is compressed, which allows for breathing underwater for a certain amount of time. Scuba tanks must have some amount of oxygen, as our bodies need it to function. However, too much oxygen can have toxic effects on the body when it is subjected to high levels of pressure. Oxygen can be especially toxic to the central nervous system, ocular function, and pulmonary function.
Too much nitrogen can cause decompression sickness. This is because when nitrogen is absorbed into the bloodstream underwater, it is under much more pressure than at the surface level. When ascending back to the surface, a diver must give nitrogen adequate time to dissolve from the bloodstream. Otherwise, nitrogen bubbles form in your joints and tissue which can cause extreme pain.
Some divers will opt for other gas mixtures. Nitrox is common, which has higher levels of oxygen than regular air. This prevents the likelihood of decompression sickness. However, if divers ignore the steps to avoid decompression sickness entirely while using nitrox, it can lead to oxygen toxicity.
The Luxfer Compact Brushed Aluminum 80 CF tank is an excellent scuba diving tank for those looking for an aluminum tank. It has 3300 psi. This tank is designed to maintain a negative buoyancy when underwater, regardless if the tank is full or empty. It is shorter than most tanks, making it easy to carry.
For those who prefer a steel tank, the 80 CF Scuba Dive Tank Faber Blue Steel may be a better option. The tank is nitrox ready. It has a negative buoyancy, which allows diver to explore with ease, and it turns to positive energy when empty which helps divers return to the surface.
A great high capacity tank for divers looking to stay underwater for extended periods of time is the Faber FX Series 100 High Pressure Blue Steel Tank. The specifically designed valve ensures you can’t overfill the tank. The strong steel is high-quality.
There are many different scuba tanks available, and different ones may be suitable for different divers. If you are considering purchasing a scuba tank, consider the following before purchasing;
Buying and renting a scuba tank both have important factors to consider. When renting a scuba tank, check the valve o-ring. These will typically not be replaced until they actually leak. Look for any fraying, nicks, or cracks. Listen to the tank and listen for any leaking. Also, check the valve-to-tank seal. If there’s a leak, there’s possibly a crack in the tank as well. To check for these leaks, submerge the tank in water and check for any bubbles. Request a new tank is any bubbles form. The valve action should be check as well, as if it’s hard to turn, it needs to be serviced.
Buying your own tank has benefits, especially if you are a certified diver and plan to dive regularly. The price of buying a tank one time will likely cost less in the long run, compared to renting a tank every time you go diving. Also, when you buy your own, you can be sure to have the exact tank you want, instead of settling for whatever the dive shop has that day. You can sure that there is no damage done, and if there is, you’re the first to know about it so you can be sure it will get fixed.
However, renting has the benefit of not having to lug a tank with you when you go traveling. If you go scuba diving far away from home a lot, it may be more convenient to rent. Many scuba divers opt for purchasing their own smaller scuba diving equipment, such as simple snorkeling equipment like a mask , and then rent their tanks.
If you are planning to go scuba diving in the future, check out my travel blog . Here, you will find the best articles with scuba diving tips, information, travel locations , and more. You can even use my blog to reach out to me with any questions you may have about scuba diving, travel, or anything else related. Enjoy your dive!