Saltwater

July 28, 2009

Saltwater or seawater. Can we drink it and what can we do to make it fresh, pure and safe to drink?

Seawater contains large amounts of salts in the form of dissolved ions of sodium chloride. Roughly 3.5% of our ocean’s water is salt – a ratio which doesn’t sound a lot but, it can have devastating effects on our bodies.

This water cannot be classed as drinkable, even though small amounts will not cause major problems, but the body’s defense mechanisms quickly step in to remove the unwanted salinity. One glass of sea or saltwater and the kidneys will work overtime to clear the excess through excretion in our urine. Unfortunately, the kidneys work within fine tolerances and the amount of salt contained in ‘saline’ water is outside of these limits. This means that the excess salt is absorbed by the blood and the kidneys can do little to control it. Eventually, the increase in added salt levels, if remaining unchecked or even increasing, will cause seizures and subsequent death!

Basically, our bodies would need to excrete more fluid than the seawater that we take in, to reverse the effects of the salt.

So, can we make saltwater drinkable?

Of course. Large ships that spend months at sea have the situation covered with distillation and reverse osmosis systems installed on-board. The same processes can be, and are used on land but rarely for drinking purposes as they take large amounts of energy to sustain and gallons of wasted water to achieve just one gallon of purified water. Most of the processed seawater is used in industry or for irrigation but there are some who have no choice but to harvest the water for drinking. Those that live by our oceans miles from anywhere and without fresh water supplies. Thankfully for the majority, we are only a faucet (tap) away from fresh, clean water.

Seawater is best kept for your aquarium!

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