Aluminum vs. Carbon vs. Steel Scuba Tanks

Aluminum vs. Carbon vs. Steel Scuba TanksOne of the most overlooked aspect by most divers is how their scuba tanks are made. However, they have to pay attention to this because it affects diving in one way or another. Also, it always pays to know some bits of information about the equipment you are diving with.


Want to know the difference between the two? Check out this quick comparison list.

Material – Generally speaking, tanks are made of two materials: aluminum alloy and steel. But there is a recent addition in the form of carbon tanks. Each has varying properties and features that make it ideal for a particular purpose. As you might have guessed, aluminum alloy is much softer than stainless steel. While softer, they work as well for general use. The walls within, however, is thicker than that of steel. Because of this, aluminum tanks are generally heavier than those made of steel. The downside of aluminum? It doesn’t handle overfilling well. Steel, on the other hand, is tough and damage-resistant. They also support higher capacities compared to aluminum. However, it can rust without proper maintenance. Finally carbon’s material is amazingly strong, yet extremely light in terms of weight. However, carbon fiber tanks are pricier than the first two.

Identification – Unless you’re doing metalwork for a living, it’s quite a challenge distinguishing which tank is made from steel or aluminum. Good thing these days, some states require stamping of information on dive tanks, including its construction and material. However, the stamps use some form of codes, which you must learn to read. For example, it the tank says “3AL” your cylinder is crafted from aluminum alloy. If it’s “3AA”, then your tank is made from steel. Carbon fiber tanks are marked with “3FCM”.

Buoyancy – The type of cylinder you use has an effect on your buoyancy. Steel tanks are less buoyant than aluminum, thus you will need less weight when diving with one. When using aluminum, it is the other way around. Carbon fiber tanks are usually lighter than steel. As a general rule, you have to add about 5 pounds per 2 kg to your weight base when you’re using an aluminum tank.

Top Picks on Scuba Tanks

Luxfer Compact Aluminum 80 CF Tank

Luxfer Compact Aluminum 80 CF Tank-2With maximum fill pressure of 3300 PSI, this 80-cubic feet tank is a favorite choice among modern divers. When empty, it weighs 34.7 pounds. This tank is designed to maintain a bit of negative buoyancy underwater, even when there is no air inside. Luxfer is industrial strength aluminum alloy. According to customers, the tank can be used not only for scuba diving, but also as filling source for PCP air rifles. When it comes to price, this 80CF tank beats others with the same 3300 PSI.


Faber FX High Pressure Steel 100 CF Tank

Faber FX High Pressure Steel 100 CF Tank-2This tank makes an excellent choice for divers looking for a durable high pressure steel tank. It has DOT E-13488 specification, meaning overfilling is not allowed. Maximum fill pressure is 3442 psi, and weighs 34.3 pounds when no valve is attached. Every package comes with a valve and tank boot. Customers say that it is an awesome scuba tank to invest on. Compared to aluminum tank, its buoyancy and weight distribution is pretty sufficient. And, even after 50 diving sessions, the tank looks good as new.


Cyl-Tec 80cf Scuba Diving Tank

Cyl-Tec 80cf Scuba Diving Tank-1Having the most popular size of a dive cylinder, Cyl-Tec’s 80 CF scuba tank is built from high strength aluminum alloy. The tank is designed following the standards of US Department of Transportation. Package comes with a new combo valve. Based on customer feedbacks, this scuba tank is of good quality, and comes with protective plastic webbing on the surface. Other than scuba diving, the 80CF works well for compressed air applications or paintballs.


Sherwood Aluminum 100CF Scuba Diving Tank

Sherwood Aluminum 100CF Scuba Diving Tank-2Sherwood’s high quality tanks are trusted by divers for years. Maximum fill pressure is 3300 PSI. Capacity, on the other hand, is up to 100CF. It weighs a total of 46.2 pounds, and comes in three different colors including black, yellow, and no paint. According to user reviews the diving tank is perfect, hydro tested, and offers a great deal for all sorts of divers out there.

How you choose your tanks has an impact on your diving sessions. Therefore, it’s required that you pay extra attention to the type of tanks that suit your diving environment and personal specifications. After all, your oxygen source will go through it so choosing the finest one there is must be of great priority. Aside from the type of scuba tank, it is also important that you select its accessories accordingly. Valves, O-rings, and carriers are just some of the attachments you want to consider purchasing.