In No Man’s Sky, oxygen is life. Well… That’s technically true in the real world, too. Spacefaring can be a messy deal, though, and you’ll need lots of supplies to survive out there in the vastness of deep space. It’s a good thing then that No Man’s Sky players have an entire universe full of easily accessible raw materials to be plucked from any planet’s surface. But not every material has equal value. As a matter of fact, the most important elements you’ll always need to uncover (for your own survival) are carbon, ferrite, sodium, and oxygen.
It’s great that sources of carbon and ferrite are scattered all over the place; you’re hard-pressed to travel five feet on any planet’s surface without bumping into several varieties of minerals and plant life that provide ample quantities of the aforementioned elements. Sodium, which powers your suit’s Hazard Protection system, is slightly rarer, but still pretty common.
But then there’s oxygen, the life-giving element that powers your suit’s life support systems. Oxygen is also fundamental for crafting important equipment and tech such as the Portable Refiner and the Antimatter Housing component. Not to mention you need it for charging Portal glyphs later on in the game. It’s a lot tougher to find oxygen in comparison to the other common elements, but there are a few reliable ways to get it no matter which star system you’re in.
So how do you find oxygen in No Man’s Sky? We’ve broken it down to four major ways to get this resource depending on how far into the game you are.
How to Collect Oxygen Early on
Collecting oxygen is much easier once you’ve repaired your suit’s Scanner, which happens in the early phases of the game as long as you follow the main story quest. Once you’ve repaired it, you can press C on mouse and keyboard or press L3 on any controller to rapidly scan the entire environment.
Oxygen plants in the environment will appear on your HUD as red “O2” markers, and you can run over to any of those oxygen plants without specialized gear and immediately harvest each of the available raw units of oxygen.
The resource also occasionally appears in several other places you might find on any given planet, including the planet you begin your journey on. For one, you might find several units of oxygen laying around inside of the various containers and storage boxes that you run across while scavenging outposts and abandoned shelters.
There are also some plants and minerals that drop oxygen when you break them down with your trusty Mining Laser. You’ll need your suit’s Analysis Visor tool in order to identify which objects can drop oxygen. Once you’re in Analysis Visor mode, you can scan unidentified plants and minerals, telling you which materials they drop. But since the distribution of plant and mineral types is randomized, you might not find any oxygen-based lifeforms in your starting zone.
There are a few things that always drop oxygen when beamed to death with a Mining Laser. You can easily identify them by the name Hazardous Flora. These always drop oxygen units no matter which planet you find them on.
How to Save Oxygen as You Play
Saving money is making money. So it goes with resources in No Man’s Sky: saving oxygen is making oxygen. That means not using it as a pure consumable when there are much better options available.
It’s worth noting that oxygen is actually the least efficient way to recharge your life support in the game. You really shouldn’t waste it refilling your lungs; it’s better spent crafting Antimatter Housing and Unstable Plasma. You can instead refill your life support instantly with Life Support Gel. This requires zero oxygen to craft and always refills your gauge to 100 percent — regardless of how low it goes.
The gel is created from 20 Carbon and one Di-hydrogen Jelly. Both of which are more common than oxygen. Di-hydrogen, for instance, is found in just about as many places as the life-giving element. Yet it comes in much greater “fields” of Di-hydrogen crystals. These can often yield Crystal Fragments, leading to even greater bonuses of Di-hydrogen, in addition to a low chance of Storm Crystals.
However, you should note that Di-hydrogen Jelly always requires 40 Di-hydrogen to make, rather than a scaling value like refilling your life support via raw oxygen. This means oxygen is more efficient when your life support gauge is relatively full. You should instead always try to use Life Support Gel when the bar is totally empty or very nearly there.
How to Get Oxygen in the Midgame
There are two new ways to get oxygen that appear once you’re in the middle section of No Man’s Sky.
The first method is by researching and building Oxygen Harvesters inside of your bases. These automatically gather oxygen from the air as long as you keep them fueled up. Consider that you can place up to six Oxygen Harvesters in one base, and it costs the equivalent of 100 carbon to fully fuel a single Oxygen Harvester. You’ll also only accumulate 250 units of oxygen before needing to unload the machine, so it may only be worth spending time managing the machine while you plan to spend time within close proximity to it.
The second method is by synthesizing large quantities of oxygen at a Medium or Large Refiner with kelp sacs and other materials. Kelp sacs are easy to find underneath any ocean on any planet, and you can find them on common underwater flora such as candle kelp.
Once you have some kelp sacs, all you need to do is throw them into a Refiner with a unit of carbon to get two units of oxygen. Or you can get fancy with your recipes by throwing one kelp sac and one condensed carbon in with another organic material to get ten units of oxygen.
Here’s a list of every item you can throw into a Large Refiner alongside one kelp sac and one condensed carbon to generate 10 oxygen:
- Fungal Mould
- Cactus Flesh
- Frost Crystal
- Gamma Root
- Star Bulb
How to Get Oxygen in the Late Game
By the time you’ve spent a considerable amount of time playing No Man’s Sky, you probably don’t care about wasting ingredients synthesizing or spending time maintaining a machine to collect something as paltry as oxygen. After all, like any respectable space entity, you have animals to breed and dilapidated freighters to plunder.
Once you have the expendable credits for it, you can basically just purchase every last unit of oxygen you find in space stations or in the inventories of the other travelers you meet and trade with. Really, everybody has oxygen in vast quantities, which is a bit ironic, given how much trouble we needed to go through to find it before.
Every space station, every trading post, and basically every trade terminal, including the ones you set up inside your own base, sells at least 100 units of oxygen at an unflinching 41-42 credits per unit. Space stations often carry just shy of 2,000 units of oxygen, so you could viably fly (or portal) between star systems and lap up their whole supply of oxygen, ad infinitum.
After all, nothing says “space colonization” quite like commoditizing all the breathable air on a space station.
Finding Oxygen on Derelict Freighters
Derelict Freighters make up part of the No Man’s Sky “endgame,” such as it is. They’re basically semirandom dungeons floating in space full of loot and special currency for you to harvest. Some of that loot comes in the form of dozens of floating canisters for oxygen.
These canisters are technically meant as a way to refill your life support while you explore. However, since Life Support Gel is vastly more efficient, it’s better to simply bring a stack of those restorative items and hoard the oxygen for yourself.
You can find a pretty pile of the stuff in the small cylinders floating through the derelict vessels. Not to mention you’re farming oxygen “passively” as you acquire much more valuable materials for trade. This makes Derelict Freighters one of the most efficient farming methods in the game — because it allows you to multitask.
And those are the best methods at the moment! Things are always changing in this game, though, so be ready for new methods to pop up from update to update. Happy tidings and may your No Man’s Sky oxygen barony be fruitful!