Earlier today I saw the offer for Scorkl. If you’ve ever seen ‘Spare Air’s’ patented product then you know what it looks like. It’s exactly that, but with different branding, plus extra dangers.
You may remember that in the past we warned you about the artificial gills offer.
I feel this article is necessary, as on the surface their offer seems excellent. A way for potential divers to start diving for very little money. That means it will tempt a lot of people that can’t afford training or equipment.
Spare Air is a small 3000psi canister with a regulator on top. The purpose of this device is that if you run out of air while diving, or encounter equipment malfunction, you stick Spare Air in your mouth and you have 5 minutes roughly to get back to the surface. That product is targeted at divers, and I’ve not got any problem with it.
Scorkl’s offer is a clone product, as far as I can see. It has the same capacity, regulator, psi, but with a deadly twist!
The Scorkl isn’t being marketed as a way for trained divers to get to the surface in an emergency. Instead, it is being pitched at non-divers with zero training. They present it as a way to start diving, instantly and without training.
This means completely untrained people will buy their product and follow their advice on diving to 20m. I know this for a fact, as in the comments page on Kickstarter, there are non-divers stating that this is their intention.
Only when they run out of air will they know it’s time to surface, as they have no dive computer. They know nothing of safety stops, they’ll just suddenly run out of air. When they do they’ll hold their breath and try to panic-surface from 20m. Pulmonary barotrauma here we come!
If you aren’t a diver you may not realize the problem. Air expands as you reduce pressure. So if you hold your breath while surfacing from 20m (as you’ve run out of air) then there is a good chance you will die.
They say you shouldn’t dive beyond 20m using Scorkl but here’s another problem; an untrained diver without equipment doesn’t have the necessary equipment to know how deep they are. This means people without training will be diving to an unknown depth, with an unknown quantity of air, often unsupervised. And often entirely alone!
The next problem is that Scorkl supposedly provides you with 10 minutes of air. However, we already know that the Spare Air product has the same capacity and pressure, and only provides air in most cases for between 3-5 minutes. Unless the laws of physics are a bit flexible around the Scorkl, it’s a safe bet that it will really only provide the same time as Free Air’s product.
You probably think you’ve heard the worst of it. Nope, they went the extra mile.
If you’re a scuba diver you already know that your tanks need to be inspected every 2 years, and can only be filled with air by a certified shop. This is because contaminates in the air supply stop being an inconvenience under pressure, and become lethal. Special filters, equipment, and training is required so as to avoid killing divers.
Their method of filling the tank….is a foot pump. An actual foot pump, much like you’d use to inflate a football. They have a little filter device on the end of the pump, that isn’t certified, but there is at least that. Just to clarify, having done the math I believe you would need to pump for many hours to get even 3 minutes of air into their tank using the supplied foot pump. And I strongly suspect their optimistically designed filter isn’t going to compare to the legally required alternative.
I’m not a fan of slamming someone’s business. However, in my opinion (as everything in this article is my personal opinion) it is important that we warn potential divers when things will endanger them.
I cannot warn you strongly enough that if you are an untrained person, this device is as likely to kill you as let you have 3 minutes of entertainment after you’ve spent 3 hours pumping air into the tank.
The comments section of their campaign is also some essential reading. Many divers have donated $1 so they could warn others that this is essentially a form of suicide.
I’m not linking to the campaign, even though it would help this article, as I don’t want anyone to be tempted by the price. I want everyone to dive, I really do, but if you can’t do it safely then please stick with snorkeling.
The product creator has contacted us to tell us what we got wrong. We have responded with a follow on article covering this response, and that can be found here.
Colin is an inventor, author, guitar player, amateur scientist and steampunk enthusiast. During his years as a ships navigator his luck was so consistently bad that he was briefly known as ‘Jonah’, presumed cursed, and subsequently barred from setting foot on any boat docked in Ireland. Due to his misadventures he spent more time underwater than most divers will achieve in a lifetime. Not deliberately, but he was still down there!