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Thread: Why the heck are all wetsuits black?!

  1. #41
    Senior Member Pod of New England MerMarla's Avatar
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    My Custom fit, royal blue (exterior) 1/4 inch (6mm) wetsuit jacket, and farmer-john (bibbed pants) were lined in red, so it was reversible. Made in 1973. You can still get them if you want to pay for it... back then this wetsuit (with hood, mittens, and booties, extra spine pad and knee and elbow pads) cost $500 that was the discount price the dive shop gave me for being an assistant instructor. So I guess good wetsuits really haven't gone up much in price. I would think around $800 for a basic 1/4 inch custom fit suit with out all the extras I got would be a reasonable price. Off the rack, $400-600 US. Of course it costs more for printed fabrics. They don't sell much and costs just a little more to produce.

    Hope this helps!
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  2. #42
    Senior Member Pod of New England MerMarla's Avatar
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    Why are wetsuits black someone asked? Because way back when in the early days of SCUBA diving wet suits, mask and fins were made of rubber, a powdery substance called carbon black is mixed in to the pure rubber to give it strength, and resist running (melting) and losing shape. Car tire manufacturers, using new rubber, are made similarly, It also helps resist cracking. When neoprene hit the market, rubber was still used on the faces for abrasion resistance. You can still purchase neoprene with both faces smooth or texture, or one face in nylon (pretty much any color) and one face either smooth or textured. The smooth or textured faces are usually black for strength purposes. It has only been recently that you can buy white neoprene (you can even get both sides in the nylon knit in white!). Other neoprene colors (not the nylon color) I believe I have seen are yellow and green.

    Hope this helps!
    (((HUGz))) and Bubble 'z
    Mermaid Marla
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  3. #43
    Senior Member Pod of Oceania Mermaid Jaffa's Avatar
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    Well there's the technical reason!

  4. #44
    Senior Member Euro Pod Echidna's Avatar
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    Which still doesn't explain why the nylon coated suits are also black in majority, as the coating could be any colour.

  5. #45
    Senior Member Pod of Oceania Mermaid Jaffa's Avatar
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    Maybe the dye colors cost more? I dunno. I don't understand either, why its still all black when you have modern technology to make the colored neoprene.

  6. #46
    Wetsuits used to be every color under the sun back in the 80's!!! Most suits back then were custom built, unlike today where everything is stock suits. Problem is that nobody wanted to wait 8 weeks or more for their suit. They all "WANT IT NOW!"

    She wanted it now too!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRTkCHE1sS4

  7. #47
    Junior Member Pod of Cali ILovePrettyFish's Avatar
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    I have a mint green wetsuit. I am only starting to get into diving, so not too well-versed with the diving stuff, but in surfing there are a few pretty wetsuits out there plus increasing indie designers making their neoprene pretty those are usually only about 3/2 or 5/4 max.
    Pretty . Surf. Ocean . Love - Welcome to The Mermaid Tribe
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  8. #48
    Senior Member Pod of the Midwest
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaGlass Siren View Post
    its "warmer" because black retains light/heat. that's why people always say to wear white shirts because its reflects light/heat
    White actually "retains heat" better than black.

    ***Physics Alert***

    White is reflective against photons (visible and inferred) aka light, which also means it doesn't absorb the photons and convert to thermal energy (higher kinetic energy average of the atoms in the mass (what you actually measure when you measure temperature)) aka heat.

    Black is absorptive, which means it absorbs photons and converts to heat. The ability to absorb also gives the ability to transmit, which allows covering heat back to light. Interesting the amount able to be converted effects wavelength and intensity, which is why when things get really hot (think heated metal) they start to glow. At more reasonable temperatures, say our body temperature or even an ice cube, the light being transmitted are in the infrared or lower (the background radiation of our cold universe is measured in microwave. (Wikipedia has a graph that shows what temperature give off what energy).

    With this information I can dress appropriately for a hot day at the pool. If I am going to be in the sun I want to wear white to reflect the heat from the sun away instead of absorbing it. If I am going to be in the shade all day I want to wear black (or shirtless as I have a bit of a tan) so that I can radiate any excess heat I do have away.

    In the water infrared is heavily absorbed, which means under the water heating or cooling isn't done much by infrared. However convection does. With more atoms in a given space for liquids, vibrations are transferred from one object to another easier than air. Convection works by atoms with high kinetic energy (hot) vibrating and bouncing off atoms with lower kinetic energy (cold), transferring some energy from hot to cold until equilibrium is reached. Also the bigger the difference in temperature the faster the transfer.

    Because convection is physical contact of atoms, material color does not matter, however material type does in two ways. First is the rate it can transfer heat from A to B, the second is how much heat can be stored.

    This is why when you touch a metal spoon when its at room temperature it feels cold, the steel or whatever it is made of can transfer heat quickly to the rest of the spoon, taking the heat from your hand, which causes you to feel cool. This is also why 85° water feels cooler than an 80° air temperature, water can absorb and hold heat more to raise in temperature so it can continue to leave you.

    Last thing to note is wet suits trap water between your skin and the neoprene, causing the trapped water to heat up from your body. Over time the difference in temperatures equalizes and heat loss is reduced since the water surrounding you is heated. Without the wet suit as you swim you leave this pocket of warm water for cooler water, thus making you cold. Same reason on a hot day a breeze feels nice but sucks on a cold day. When there is no wind you develop a heat bubble around you. When the wind blows it pushes that heat away and brings fresh air in. If it is hot out you are pushing the air that could be as high as your body temperature away, allowing for more heat to be released from your body. If it is cold out this heat bubble is leaving you, which causes a higher difference in temperature between air and your skin, so your skin loses heat faster.

    ************

    Now with that information, we can figure out why wetsuits are black and we want them that way. When you are in the water you are dealing more with convection, so color makes little difference, but thickness does. When you get out however that warm water bubble you made in your suit drains away, leaving you skin to neoprene. The black neoprene can absorb the sunlight and heat you back up faster.

    As mentioned in a previous post it is just easier to make without dyes and its from the material it is made, but when dyes are cheep, there is still a reason to go black

  9. #49
    Senior Member Euro Pod Echidna's Avatar
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    very interesting, thank you for the input!

  10. #50
    I was looking for more of a nude colored wetsuit so I could wear it with my tail and top and swim in the ocean without the wetsuit being super obvious. I had no luck. I feel like I'd look really weird wearing a black wetsuit with my tail.

  11. #51
    Senior Member Pod of Cali Ashe's Avatar
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    Maisy, I think that there's nude colored neoprene. Maybe you could sew up a tail base to wear underneath your real tail!
    she believed she could so she did
    formerly known as Kalani
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  12. #52
    Senior Member Euro Pod Echidna's Avatar
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    I was prepared to sew my own suit, but I couldn't find coloured neoprene anywhere.

    There is a Japanese wetsuit manufacturer though who has every colour imaginable as option.
    The suits are made for surfing/surface paddling however, so I don't know if they are good for diving.
    (I even asked them about it back then, never got a response.)

  13. #53
    I'll do some more research. Thanks for the idea Kalani. I just cannot swim in the ocean because it's sooooo cold. I'm pretty cold blooded so that doesn't help either

  14. #54
    Senior Member Pod of Cali WaterDragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echidna View Post
    I was prepared to sew my own suit, but I couldn't find coloured neoprene anywhere.

    There is a Japanese wetsuit manufacturer though who has every colour imaginable as option.
    The suits are made for surfing/surface paddling however, so I don't know if they are good for diving.
    (I even asked them about it back then, never got a response.)
    I've never been diving in my life do I don't know if this is at al plausible but would it be possible to make a skin/slip cover out of colored fabric to go over a black wetsuit?

  15. #55
    Senior Member Pod of the Midwest
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    Quote Originally Posted by MerMaisy View Post
    I was looking for more of a nude colored wetsuit so I could wear it with my tail and top and swim in the ocean without the wetsuit being super obvious. I had no luck. I feel like I'd look really weird wearing a black wetsuit with my tail.
    Ahh the color nude...the largest spectrum of colors with one name.

  16. #56
    Senior Member Euro Pod Echidna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaterDragon View Post
    I've never been diving in my life do I don't know if this is at al plausible but would it be possible to make a skin/slip cover out of colored fabric to go over a black wetsuit?
    In theory, yes. I thought of it too.
    Problem is the more layers you wear, the more drag you get, the harder swimming is and the more uncomfortable you feel.

  17. #57
    There actually was a TED talk about this... and about designing wetsuits to deter sharks or making them difficult for sharks to see.

    https://www.ted.com/talks/hamish_jol...nk?language=en

  18. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by Merman Chatfish View Post
    Ahh the color nude...the largest spectrum of colors with one name.
    There used to be a "Flesh" coloured Crayola crayon when I was a kid....

    Now we have different skin coloured emojis!!!

    Times change!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  19. #59
    I look exactly like the asian emoji.....

  20. #60
    Senior Member Pod of Cali WaterDragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echidna View Post
    In theory, yes. I thought of it too.
    Problem is the more layers you wear, the more drag you get, the harder swimming is and the more uncomfortable you feel.
    well that wont work well at all. Sorry, I'll keep trying top think of something.

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