Some divers are blessed – they carry around the most eco-friendly defog possible – their own spit!
But, with everyone rinsing their spit filled masks in the communal rinse bucket, this does sort of creep me out.
Also, my spit is defective. It doesn’t matter how much I prepare my mask, either. I have scrubbed and scrubbed, “toothpasted”, flamed, and scrubbed some more. I always fog.
Besides spit, the next, most common defog you will find on a boat is made with baby shampoo. Thankfully, if it was bought at the local health food store, it’s probably safe for the environment. But, unfortunately, the typical product you can buy at the dollar store, and the one most likely to be used by operators, is NOT eco-conscious.
The threatening component of dollar store baby shampoo are called Sodium Alkyl sulfates (AS). They are used in consumer laundry powders and are widely used in specialty products such as hair shampoos, cosmetics, toothpastes, etc.
“Aquatic algae have exhibited toxicosis at AS concentrations from 10mg/l to 1000 mgfL. and terrestrial plants are adversely affected byconcentrations as low as 1 mg/L in applied water. One study indicated that waterfowl may be subject to increased risk of hypothermia indetergent·polluted vaters; AS (19 mg/L) was found to dissolve the vaterproofing oils in feathers of exposed ducks.” Read more: https://www.aciscience.org/docs/11_Alkyl_Sulfates.pdf
As Stream2Sea grew, and our eco-conscious body care products, which are free of Sodium Alkyl sulfates, became popular, I kept getting testimonials on how well our shampoo worked as a mask defog. I had what we’ll call a “light bulb moment.” I thought, “Why hadn’t I tried that before?” Needless to say, It worked brilliantly.
So, I jumped into the lab and whipped up a batch using our tested and proven eco-safe ingredients. I removed the fragrance, UV protector and conditioning agents. I like my defog a little more thick and believe the guar gum can also leave a slight film on the lens to help reduce fogging. It worked great for me, so I started giving out samples to friends and Divemasters – they all loved it!
Our friends at Rainbow Reef Dive Center and the Illustrious Juliet Charter sure had some great feedback on our first round of testing:
“Great product all around, good for the environment and the wallet.”
“It’s a fantastic product that I can’t wait to use with my students.”
“this is my new favorite defogger.”
So, I finally had this great formula that worked better than anything I’ve used. Now, I needed a great package. I custom ordered 10,000 bio-based bottles made from sugarcane rensins and was ECSTATIC when I found a sprayer made from post consumer recycled bottles.
I, personally, like the spray bottles. It disperses the gel evenly and prevents big globs on the lens. I tested it out on a dive when all of the sudden… The dust cap came off, hit the deck, and rolled right over board!
“ACKKK!!!” I dove for it and, thankfully, got it back. I then decided the convenience of the sprayer didn’t justify the potential pollution from the cap. I went back to work, sourced a recycled flip top cap and made the change. Of course, our marketing images already had the sprayer, but I figured that was OK and people would agree with the change.
Our final mask defog is a product that I can be proud of and I’m ecstatic to bring to the dive community. The defog itself holds up to its name multiple dives in a row, and our bottles are sustainably made from sugarcane resins, with the new caps made from recycled flip-flops. Our mask defog is just another way to protect what we love.
Autumn Blum, Stream2Sea Founder and Cosmetic Chemist