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Equalizing Hands-free

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2005
Hello all,

I know that there's a humongous thread on this in the technical forum but my question, too basic (perhaps) to ask there, is simply this - is it impossible to do hands-free equalizing unless you're wearing a nose-plug?

Or am I totally missing the boat?

I feel so free and easy in this particular forum that I'm going to ask another, ignorance-demonstrating, question: is it physiologically feasible for humans to fill their sinus cavities with water instead of air? I know that it would sting and be hard to do and all that, but I just want to know if it's actually possible.

Have a good one.
Two short answers:

1. Yes you can do hand free qualization without nose clip. I do it with nothing but my mask on. Disadvantage: this kind of equalization can be kinda slow.

2. Some people realy use sea water to equalize the sinuses.. Especially in 'no limits'.
Ricochet - many thanks for the quick answers. I'll go back and read the other thread more closely now and see if I can make more sense of it.

As for the sea water equalization - wow!
Welcome to DB, feel free to ask.

Hands free can be done, no nose clip, but it often takes quite a lot of practice. Others are just lucky and have good genes. There is a ton of info on this in various threads.

Flooded sinuses is not my area (uck) but I think it is possible and practiced by some very deep divers.

Look for more information on wet equalization/sinus flooding before playing with that, you can get horrible infections.
yes definitely be careful. A long time ago when i didn't know anything about safety with your ears, i tried to fill my nose and sinuses with water and sink to the bottom of my pool. I got a horrible pain in my sinuses and ears and they hurt quite bad for a few days. A bad idea to try without someone who really knows what they are doing
I can equalize hands free but recently purchased a nose clip anyway. When I open my eustachian tubes underwater under the influence of a pressure differential, I hear the sound of air moving from one area to another, but the process takes time. It's not like I open my tubes and at that moment the two pressures are equal. If I swim down to 10 feet, I need to take a certain amount of time to do it. If I don't either 1) I will squeeze my ear, which will cause further hands free eq. to be impossible, or 2) I will have to stop before that happens and hold my tubes open allowing my ears to "catch up"
I can do it but it is very hard and slow. I would have to work at it for a long time before it would work properly I imagine. I just use my left hand and get on with it.

First time I copped it was years ago as a kid -- I yawned and wondered why my ears were popping, then later learnt about diving and when I soon heard people could equalize without their hands I set about attempting it myself!

I found that if I forcibly blocked my nose, the pressure applied (trying to attempt to push a gentle breath of air out of my nostrils -- then blocked) was in turn applied to my ears and they equalized. I toy around with it every now and again when I'm swimming and hope I could eventually do it but I really don't think I'm commited enough to learn it because it isn't entirely necessary when there's a free hand going down. :)

It's one of those gene things more than anything, some people can do it without batting an eyelid and others will have to train for weeks/months/years before they can successfully do it too.

On that water in the nostrills business, here's a decent tip if you have trouble equalizing. Or if you find your nose is a little stuffy, take a couple drops of seawater on the tips of your fingers, stuff them into your nostrils and inhale deeply -- the saltwater helps to keep the mucus and nostril flesh soft, which in turn helps you breathe and equalize.

If the water isn't particularly clean where you're diving, I recommend you do what I do -- get a clean container or little (squirt top preferably) bottle for nosedrops or throatdrops or anything like that -- clean and disinfect, pour the clean boiled water in there, put a nice dose of salt in there, mix and bring with you to make use of before your dive (great trick if on holiday and must dive despite that niggling cold you got from winter at home :vangry

This works best when the water is still tepid to warm, if you have a thermos -- even better.

Desperate? Let your nostrils fill with water while floating on the surface, come up for air, make a disgusting -- snorting grunt like a pig to let the saltwater get in there. Expel with a big hocking spit. Now you're ready to go diving with your temporarily cleared nose rofl
I do it just by contracting a muscle in the ear(i think that is m.tensoris tympani).I don't use any nose clips,swallowing or nose sealing.I do that for as long i can remember(since i was five yrs old?!)Don't ask me how i do it,i have no idea how to explain,i just do it. I guess that's one of those "geneticly encrypted" things...
I'm one of the lucky ones too - always been able to equalise hands free, both in scuba and freediving. Having said that, last year my ear perforated twice (2nd time because I didn't have a long enough break before getting back in the water) - I don't seem to get any warning with pressure building up, one minute its fine, and then its not! I was also diving the first time it happened in cold water with a bit of a sniffle as well - not a good idea!

When I started freediving I couldn’t equalize completely inverted. With much practice I can now even equalize hand frees, but not consistently. I doubt I will ever get to the point I consistently dive without touching the nose, but I currently use handfree equalization in two places. When I start the dive it gives me the ability to pull with both arms and get going down more efficiently, or if spearfishing, use the arm not holding onto the gun. When doing this I don’t always get a complete equalization, but it's enough to stoke with the arm once and then bring the hand back to the nose. My first equalization with hand on nose is about at 12 feet (3 meters).

The other place is when spearfishing and I have lined up on a fish with both hands on the gun but the fish descends a little before I can get a good shot. Usually in this situation the decent is at an angle and gradual. Being able to equalize without taking the hand from the gun to the nose and back again means a lot less movement at a critical time when movement could scare the fish away.
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I can do it handsfree occasionally as well. The big thing that I notice is that when i'm doing it handsfree I have to keep doing it constantly like 10 little clears as opposed to one big clear when I'm using my hands. The more i'm in the water the easier it is.

I've also noticed that because my descent rate is slower on scuba I rarely if ever use my hands, in fact i hardly ever notice feeling the need to clear, it just happens.
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