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July 1997 Vol. 12, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Freshwater Rinse

from the July, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

"They're not set up for photographers -- they don't have a freshwater rinse tank on the boat."

"Can you believe it? They rinsed their dive gear in the camera rinse tank!"

"Rinse your equipment at the end of every dive."

How much of this stuff is myth and how much is reality? I've been skeptical. Over the past few years I stopped meticulously rinsing my dive gear after each dive. If I'm diving four times a day, how fast can salt corrosion build up? Just do it right at the end of the trip -- that's been my philosophy.

At the end of a trip, once back home, I have a large plastic trash can that's dedicated to dive gear. I fill it up with fresh water, dump all of my gear in it, and let it sit for two days. Now, Bob Wakentin of Southern Nikonos Repair has me thinking again. I called Bob and asked him his thoughts on just how quickly salt forms into hard deposits.

Bob's reply: "Hmmm, a simple question, but a complex answer. When you get out of the water after a dive and don't rinse off, how long does it take before you feel that salt buildup on your eyelids? About five to ten minutes. Right? Well, that's how long it takes. The time it takes for the water to evaporate.

"That's why cameras need to go into non-salt water ASAP. Dilution is the key -- the bigger the rinse tank, the better. Try this analogy. If you take a latex-based paint (water soluble) and brush a coat of it onto a board, then let it dry, put on another coat and let it dry, and do this 20 times, what you would have if you could do a cross section is 20 layers of paint. Take the same paint and dip the brush in water between coats, and do it 20 times without letting it dry in between. How many coats would you have in a cross section? Only one.

"The dipping in the water represents the rinse bucket. It's the drying out, or evaporation, that's the problem. When the saltwater evaporates, the minerals left behind harden. There's not a morning-after pill. Once the mineral deposits have hardened, nothing will dissolve them. If it wasn't for this salt-crystal mineral buildup, I'd be out of a job."

Okay, Okay, Bob, if there's a rinse tank available I'm going to dunk my equipment in it. It can't hurt.

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