February 22, 2018
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What Happens When You Drink SeaWater?

by After Skool


Over 2/3rds of the earth is covered in water, but only 2% of that water is pure. As clean drinking water becomes more scarce, you maybe wondering…What happens if I drink seawater? Let’s first examine how our bodies absorb water. You may remember the process of Osmosis where water moves from a less concentrated solution to a more concentrated solution, through a semi permeable membrane. The cell’s membrane allows water to pass through, but not the particles dissolved in water, like salt. Normally the saltiness of water inside our cells is the same as the saltiness outside our cells. When you drink water, a concentration difference takes place. Water from the outside your cell moves inside to maintain balance. This is called an isotonic state. When you drink too much seawater, the saltiness outside your cells will increase rapidly and the cells force water molecules out in order to restore balance. So even if you are already dehydrated, drinking sea water will cause your cells to release more water and you will end up peeing out more liquid than you take in. Conversely if you chug a massive amount of pure water, the exact opposite will happen. The saltiness outside your cells will decrease rapidly and water will be forced into your cells. This can cause the cells to swell and burst, which in extreme cases leads to seizures, coma and sometimes death! This would only occur if you were to chug 6 liters or more in an instant though. So what can you do if you are stranded on a deserted island with absolutely NO fresh water around? The simplest way to extract fresh clean water from the ocean is through distillation, which separates the salt from the water. In order to distill water you must heat the sea water so it evaporates, then trap the evaporated water vapor until it cools and condenses back into liquid water. Kinda like the moisture on your bathroom mirror after a hot shower. This condensed water will be free of all salt and 100% safe to drink.


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