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some people[who?] claim that one can drink up to two cups a day[edit]

I'm not really trying to make a point about organic food and whatnot, but two cups of seawater contains about 16-17g of salt, with the recommended daily maximum being around 6g. There is a large quantity of information showing that reductions in salt intake towards that as a maximum value produce significant reductions in death rates.

A deadly dose for my weight would be something like 210g, which isn't to say my body wouldn't be in a bad way long before that, especially if I was doing it every day.

I bet using seawater to do your potatoes and things in makes them taste better than using refined salt, but 16g of it a day is a bit much!

It might be an idea to add the quantity of salt contained in that much water to the article, least some health nut decides two cups a day is a good way of ingesting nature on a regular basis. I've had massive discussions with the guys selling and the guys buying water purification systems for use at home (drinking distilled water). They have zero clue about things like osmosis in their bodies. One customer was buying and drinking distilled water, then eating salt for the mineral content. In his quest to be healthy and stick to nature, he was doing precisely the opposite, telling nature he knew better (minus knowing what TDS actually means) than billions of years worth of exposure to drinking TDS heavy water out of ponds / lakes / wells and so on. (talk) 05:53, 25 September 2010 (UTC)


The most interesting aspect of this approach is how the sewage is treated. Saline water cannot be treated (in a waste water treatment plant) by the usual methods. Then HOW is saline water treated? This cracked me up, it's supposed to be really interesting but whoever wrote it didn't even explain WHY its interesting! Justinhoude 19:38, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

wow, just what I was going to say. this section needs expansion.Pedant 03:12, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Seawater color[edit]

What gives seawater the unique (greenish-blue) color? I realise that seawater color is not uniform everywhere but the greenish-blue tint seems to be a base to all of the colors of the oceans that I have seen and is different from the color of the water in other large bodies of water (such as the Great Lake) that are not saline. That would be an interesting tidbit to include in the article. Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:03, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

The blue comes from how the water absorbs light. The greeny colours are things dissolved in the water. All thar best shipmatey! (talk) 05:53, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

how can to prepare pure water from sea water

maybe a discussion of reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, and other seawater purification methods?Pedant 03:12, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Sea water is not uniformly saline throughout the world. The planet's freshest sea water is in the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. The most saline sea is the Red Sea, where heat increases the rate of surface evaporation and there is little fresh inflow from rivers.

This interesting statement is dying for a statistic but I don't know the source of this statement to investigate further. Google's 3rd hit on 'ocean salinity' is a NASA website at [1] which has a world map showing the annual mean ocean surface salinity, with some illegible numbers sprinkled around it, and stating the saltiest seawater is in the Sargasso Sea, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Mediterranean Sea, and that the lowest salinity seawater is in the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia. All interesting, but not as specific as the above paragraph, and the statistical ranges are not legible to me. Anyone else? Tempshill 23:16, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC) has some info on mineral content but I'm no chemist.Pedant 03:12, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

and Pedant 03:12, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

I've added the molar solution strength of sea-water, assuming that the main solute is NaCl. I'm think the wording could be improved, however I feel that it was more important to add this. CS Miller 15:25, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

Ocean salinity has been stable for millions of years, ...

This beginning sentence is quite ambiguous and indeed wrong. For example, when rain falls on the ocean, the salinity decreases, evaporation causes salinity to increase, spring runoff in rivers also causes local salinity decreases. What is the author trying to say here? My two guesses are either that:

1. Total salinity has remainned relatively constant (i.e. the ocean as a whole is not becoming either more or less salty) for millions of years.
2. In the ocean, the proportions of ions contributing to salinity have remained relatively constant for millions of years.

Mustard 18:07, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Some editing[edit]

Hello, this is my first try on editing a wiki page. On this discussion page I want to give a reason for every change I am proposing:

  1. The molarity of sea water, if we assume it is 3.5 g (NaCl)/L, is 0.06 M NaCl, not 0.6.
  2. It is not the osmolarity that makes it a bad idea to drink sea water. Otherwise what would you think of swallowing honey or a sweet limonade? This point is also discussed in the section "Cultural Aspects", which
  3. should be renamed "Potability"
  4. Because the introductory first section already deals with salinity the section "Ocean salinity" may be renamed to "Geochemical explanations"
  5. The explanation by "chemical buffering" (line 3) of the pH is of little value if the nature of the buffer system is not explained. The hint may be omitted. A new section on pH buffering int he oceans would be fine.
  6. The term "fresh" (2nd paragraph) needs an explanation.

Lumbricus 06:56, 27 December 2005 (UTC)


You should have a table of minerals in salt water Also a list of uses of salt water Drinking (after desalinataion)

Mining seawater[edit]

I have read in a chemistry textbook about the concept of mining materials from seawater. The salt in seawater is mostly sodium chloride, but other materials are also present, including magnesium, sulfur, carbon, copper, uranium, gold, and even radium. However, most of these are very dilute in seawater. Currently, only sodium, chlorine, magnesium, and possibly bromine are made from seawater industrially. However, there are ideas about using microbes to extract uranium, gold, and othere materials form seawater. As supplies of some of these minerals on land decrease and lower concentrations have to be used, ocean mining could become significant for more materials. Should this be mentioned in the article? Polonium 20:15, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Probably not until it actually happens. Mining the sea has been proposed for years (centuries?), so until it happens, best wait. However, if you can track down any sources (preferably scientific papers) dealing with these microbes and their use as oceanic miners, then I reckon it's probably worth putting something in. I'd just avoid going over the top because it's not being done on an industrial scale yet. Cheers, --Plumbago 08:14, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Hello put some uses for sea water NOW  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seawater spelling[edit]

Is seawater spelt seawater, sea water or sea-water? I've noticed all three spellings throughout wikipedia. As you can see I prefer the one word spelling, though I'm no grammar expert. (Piyrwq 21:52, 15 May 2006 (UTC))

I'm with you. Seawater is best to my mind. However, the OED disagrees with us, and favours sea-water. But it's not terribly consistent across words prefixed by sea, so I don't think that should necessarily stop us. My favourite arbiter in these matters, Google, "favours" seawater over both sea-water and sea water. Anyway, if this were a "redirect" vote, I'd be saying yes. Do you need a hand making the changes? Cheers, --Plumbago 08:01, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll do it in a couple days providing no one objects; I think we have websters on our side [2]. Anything other than one word looks off to me. Piyrwq 14:48, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Whew. I've just spent half an hour fixing up "sea water" / "sea-water" \rightarrow "seawater" links. There are a lot of them out there. Actually, it's quite an interesting way to see hitherto untravelled parts of WP. Anyway, thanks for fixing the pages up. Cheers, --Plumbago 08:53, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure if this is the place to put this, but the caption of the first picture in the article says "sea water". should it be changed?

SI symbols[edit]

In the table entitled Total Molal Composition of Seawater the units are written incorrectly. ISO 31 and ISO 1000 specify that you can either use the names or the symbols of SI units but you must not mix them in an expression. You have moles/kg, which not allowed. The second error is that you have put a subscript on the kg, namely "sol". Again, ISO 31 and ISO 1000 specifically say that this is not allowed. You may not attach supplementary information to SI units. Blaise 16:03, 24 May 2006 (UTC)


Could we mention that the average temperature of seawater is 17C? [3] SillyWilly 08:54, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Where's that then? I presume you mean (annual) surface seawater. Would a plot of mean annual surface SST be more useful? I can knock one up in Matlab if so. Cheers, --Plumbago 09:00, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Done. How's that? You could add the average temperature in the caption. --Plumbago 10:52, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Drinking seawater[edit]

"Seawater can be turned into drinkable (potable) water by one of a number of desalination processes, or by dilluting it with fresh water to reduce the salinity. Otherwise, it should not be drunk because of its high dissolved mineral content. In the long run, more water must be expended to eliminate these minerals (through excretion in urine) than is gained from drinking the seawater itself."

Contrary to this, I read recently in Mike Dash's (User:Mikedash) Batavia's Graveyard (see our article atBatavia (ship)) that it is "safe" to drink up to about one pint of seawater a day. A quick google hunt for confirmation brings up this (which says about 32oz (~2 UK pints)) and mentions a Dr Bombard. A google of that turns up Alain Louis Bombard on Everything2 (where it says about a litre (1.5 pints))and Alain Bombard here. Jooler 09:15, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Jooler here. Drinking seawater, while not healthy in the least, is a viable option to prevent dehydration in the event fresh water cannot be obtained. Admittedly, there is controversy on the subject, but the data is simply not there that drinking seawater is more dangerous than not drinking at all. Yes, if possible, one should drink fresh water. Not to mention, the quote "For example, the book "Medical Aspects of Harsh Environments" (Chapter 29 - Shipboard Medicine) [2] presents a summary of 163 life raft voyages. The risk of death was 39% for those who drank seawater, compared to only 3% for those who did not drink seawater" is extremely misleading. Statistically speaking, the table that this quote references is not data. It is anecdotal. Not to mention, the sample size for those who did drink seawater is 29, versus a sample size of 134 where no seawater was consumed. In addition, this table culls data from a source that it not cited in the wiki, the Handbook for Royal Naval Officers. London, England: Ministry of Defence, Medical Directorate General (Naval) July 1981. In short, this section requires serious cleanup, as its data is not accurate or current, as well as being extremely misleading. Blisteringsilence 08:41, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Hi Blisteringsilence. Firstly, for reference, this discussion is more than 1 year old. You might be better off contacting other editors directly - they may well miss a note put here. Secondly, on the matter at hand, if you're going to add material to the article, could you provide good sources for it please? The existing material may well be a bit ropey, but it is sourced, and it conforms with commonly accepted wisdom about net water gain/excretion from consuming seawater (i.e. more water needs to be eliminated to deal with seawater than is consumed). Also, the material on Bombard cited by Jooler sounds far more anecdotal than that cited in the article at present, but you may be more au fait with the topic. Anyway, if you can find good sources for your points above, that'd be great. Cheers, --Plumbago 07:57, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Hi Blisteringsilence. First, there is actually very little controversy on the subject. Drinking seawater is not healthy in the least and (second) that is owing to the fact that, no, it precisely causes dehydration as your kidneys start raiding stores of water your body needs to function in order to piss out the excess sodium seawater builds up in the blood. There is sourced discussion of some explorers or survivors who did consume salt water over a prolonged period but all of them seem to have drastically limited their daily intake and to have mixed it with freshwater at levels bringing it down the saline level of urine (i.e., maintaining the body's existing balance). Third, none of your complaints about the study has any bearing on its validity. The complaint that you were looking for is that it's probably a post hoc fallacy: any untrained person in their last extremity would at least try the salt water but they were already well on their way to death before that. (Presumably this was accounted for in their methodology but there's no discussion of that issue presented here.) — LlywelynII 01:31, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
I took a shot at combining two sections (formerly entitled "drinking seawater" and "potability") into a new section entitled "Human consumption of seawater". Almost all of the original content was preserved, with a some added explanation and context. I also removed the "disputed" tags from both sections. The confusion appears to come from the distinction between "never drink seawater" vs. "never drink seawater when freshwater is in short supply"...I believe this edit addresses the issue. Chimpex (talk) 21:30, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A possible inconsistency in the article:

A point frequently overlooked in optimistic arguments that the kidney can in fact excrete NaCl in Baltic concentrations, is that the gut cannot absorb water at such concentrations [....] the desert rat can survive by drinking seawater because its kidney can concentrate sodium far more efficiently than the human kidney.

Is the kidney the causing factor or not? Which parts of the gut are relevant, and how do they behave when the salt concentration is such as to reverse the direction of osmosis? Cesiumfrog (talk) 04:09, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

I agree this needs expansion (or, at minimum, sourcing). On its face, it seems nonsense: it says the body is absorbing the salt but not the water the salt is contained in... because it is too salty. If it were actually true, the sourced survivor stories would be impossible. — LlywelynII 01:31, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Unification of Charts[edit]

I thin that the various charts of information should be cleaned up,and then combined into one congruous chart, to provide for easy-access information. The chart near the bottom is a good and useful chart, but is in the wrong place(potability) and bleeds into the next section. if anyone disagrees, let me know...--Vox Causa 15:19, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Good idea. The lower table is the more useful of the two, but the upper table's information could be configured into an extra column for the lower one. And you're right about the lower table's position, move it up to the composition section. Cheers, --Plumbago 15:28, 29 September 2006 (UTC)


i think seawater can be drunk if diluted 2 parts fresh to one part salt

i'll keep that in mind


This article talks about there being NaCl in seawater. I was very firmly taught during my chemistry lessons that there are ions of Na, Cl and a host of other things in the water. It so happens that NaCl is the least soluble combination of these ions, so it precipitates out first when the water is evaporated. But if, for example, NaSO4 and KCl happened to be the less soluble than NaCl, we'd think of seawater as being composed of those things. Is this correct? If it is, doesn't the start of this article need a complete rewrite? David Colver 11:43, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

NaCl is actually one of the most soluble combination of ions in seawater, thus the high concentration of Na and Cl(Na and Cl ions are high conservative). If you were to evaporate the seawater, about 90% of the salt would be NaCl. The order of precipitation upon evaporation of seawater is found here. I think you're right in that the defintiion of seawater should not focus so much on just two components of seawater (Na and Cl), but they are by far the most concentrated and people can relate easily with these ions as they compose table salt. Also, for years people determined the salinity of seawater by measuring Cl.Piyrwq 18:00, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
I looked at the link you provided and saw nothing specific to seawater. I too am interested in knowing what compounds are left after seawater is evaporated. Any info or links would be appreciated. 15:02, 16 May 2007 (UTC)BeeCier
The link was a little old (fixed now), I guess the article isn't super clear though. You can find a good 'order of precipitation' near the end of this [[4]] article. And you can find the ions available to precipitate in this table. For example, as the water evaporates CaCO3 and NaCO3 are the first to precipitate, and they would do so, until very little CO3 and HCO3 (ie CT) remain. Then, CaSO4, CaSO4.2H2O, and MgSO4 would begin to precipitate until one of those ions run out (probably SO4). Finally, the chlorides, being the most soluble, would precipitate last. Notice the stoichiometric charge balance of the molal composition table balances cations and anions perfectly, meaning once all the water has evaporated every ion will have found a pair to share electrons with and precipitate. Piyrwq 19:44, 17 May 2007 (UTC) 08:03, 30 January 2007 (UTC)Adi The percentages in ‘Elemental composition of Earth's ocean water (by mass)' table under the section 'Geochemical explanations' exceed 100%! (>101.4%) I have changed these values using the data in a periodic table (MS Excel .xls format) available at Looks like a good source, I couldn't find any publications for the topic. If someone, finds more accurate data or from a primary literature source please update the table as necessary. It would be nice to have a column of molar percentages along with the mass percentages in the chart. Bob Armstrong 22:30, 20 April 2007 (UTC)


The intro was just edited to include electrostriction as a reason for the higher density of seawater relative to fresh water. I've never heard of this. Reference? Rracecarr 21:22, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

I just put in a ref for now, I hope to find a better one. This week I'd like to write the electrostriction (seawater) article, but it looks like a lot of work for me as it presently only discusses a totaly different meaning. Maybe someone can help me set up a disambiguation page? If that's what's needed. Piyrwq 20:32, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Explanation section "Scientists recently discovered that the high salinity of the Red Sea is also caused by the levels of whale semen ejaculated during mating season." Give me a break here. Either add a solid reference or pull this off-color but humorous claim. JimboPueblo 02:03, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Nothing about benefits of seawater[edit]

I've looked at sea, ocean, Sea_water and Saline (medicine) and they don't say anything about the benefits of sea water - and even googling it I don't get much.
I'm trying to ascertain if sea water is good for my eyes (if I immerse them) or my nose (if I sniff some) -- because I have a dry nose, nose allergies, dry eyes, and blepharitis (eyelid inflamation possibly caused by bacteria, dryness, chemicals, etc).
But I mean, in South Africa I know a lot of the Africans like to boil it and drink a cup - it apparently helps their bowel. I've even bought a nasal spray that deems itself "Microbiological sea water" - so how come there's nothing on Wikipedia about it? Rfwoolf 13:25, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Because we don't sell snake oil? — LlywelynII 01:36, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Salted elephants[edit]

It might be an idea to change the bit about extremely salty elephants and low poop inflow.
Sorry, not sure how you roll back changes.............................


"Although the vast majority of seawater has a salinity of between 3.5% and 3.8%, seawater is not uniformly saline throughout the universe. Where mixing occurs with fresh water runoff from river mouths or near melting glaciers, seawater can be substantially less saline. The most saline open sea is the Red Sea, where high rates of evaporation, low precipitation, limited river inflow, and confined circulation result in the formation of unusually salty water. The salinity in isolated seas and salt-water lakes (for example, the Dead Sea) can be considerably greater."

Salt water as a fuel source[edit]

Hi. I've just removed a new section which alleged recent experiments in "burning" seawater. While sourced, this was to newspaper articles rather than published scientific papers. Given the nature of the claims being made, something more solid than two newspaper articles (one of which doesn't even mention seawater) would be preferable. I've removed the excised text to here for the time being. It can be restored should it be properly verified. Cheers, --Plumbago 12:45, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Salt water as a fuel
On the 10th of September 2007, news reports claimed that John Kanzius, a researcher, accidently discovered a way of using salt water as a fuel[1] whilst working on potential cancer treatments[2] . It is claimed that subjected the water to a specific type of RF radiation liberates hydrogen which can them burn. This would give the appearance of water burning. It is not yet known whether the energy budget required to lessen the atomic bonds of the sodium chloride in salt water to allow for the combustion of hydrogen requires less or more energy that the burning process releases.
News reports also claim that this has been successfully reproduced by Rustum Roy, a chemist at Pennsylvania State University[3]. According to Roy, "The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies."
I restored it and commented on your talk page about this act of blanking. Please do not blank the new section on the potential of cracking sea water to burn the hydrogen - Seawater#Salt_water_as_a_fuel, which is well cited, and mentioned as just claims. This is not revolutionary, there are claims of prior art. And frankly, you can do the same thing with : a 9V battery, two cups of sea water, two electrodes and a bit of blotting paper. Run the power through it (the 2 cups are to stop recombination, wet blotting paper provides a non metalic electrical connection). Though most H becomes Hypochloric acid, some is liberated - this experiment is often done by children. This is NOT about burning water - it is about liberating the hydrogen to burn that. That is NOT revolutionary, or even that new. It is still unclear (conflicting claims) whether the energy budget to liberate the H is greater than the output of the resultant combustion - the energy equation is the only part that could yield an extraordinary claim (free energy yada yada yada.) 13:00, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Your edit summary complains about Wikipedia:Recentism; this issue states Recentism is not by itself an argument for article deletion—lack of attributability and notability are. I have addressed attributability above (it is not an extraordinary claim, but rather trivial physics), and notability is self-evident. I have also changed your sensationalist title ("Burning" sea water )to this talk though I admit one news source did this too. Such a title could be misconstrued by any readers who do not assume good faith as an attempt to ridicule the issue based on POV. 13:08, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Recentism also states: "Editors should also bear in mind that restrictive standards of notability, like this one, can be seen as the activism of a large group of Wikipedians who take a certain position in the overall debate on what Wikipedia is or should be. This debate, fundamentally, pits Inclusionists against Deletionists. Deletionists want Wikipedia to be a traditional, rigorous encyclopedia that happens to be read online rather than in print. Inclusionists, generally, are not so tied to the traditional ideal and tend to want Wikipedia to be a sort of "compendium of everything". Editors may wish to reflect upon their own position or instinct within the frame of this debate before implementing the ideas in this and other exclusionist essays and non-binding guidelines." 13:14, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I think it's ok to include a section on the recent finding, but certainly not to imply that seawater may be an energy source. This violates basic physical principles: when you burn hydrogen, you get water. If you could get more energy by burning the hydrogen than you put in to extracting it, you could get an infinite amount of energy from a small amount of water by repeatedly extraction the hydrogen and burning it. More than an Associated Press article is required to support claims of perpetual motion. So, the section needs to be rewritten along the lines of: a new form of electrolysis based on radio frequency radiation has been discovered recently. Rracecarr 13:25, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
This is a non-story, one of many similar claims that haven't amounted to anything so far. All of the information available is from local media who are just repeating Kanzius's own claims without critical evaluation. As such, there are essentially no reliable sources for any of this. --Reuben 20:54, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
  1. ^ Radio Frequencies Help Burn Salt Water according to the Associated Press
  2. ^ Working on cancer treatments per CBS News
  3. ^ Reproduced at Penn State University according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Doing things to Ocean Water[edit]

Does anyone know if you can take Ocean Water and do something to it to add it to fresh water or turn ocean water into drinking water. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:02, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

I think some people have had that idea before, yes. — LlywelynII 01:38, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Processes determining ocean salinity[edit]

The geophysical explanation section mentions that the salinity levels are constant due to equal rates of salt addition (presumably mainly by weathering of rocks on land due to the closed water cycle) and salt removal (by what? Formation of sedimentary rocks below the ocean, and of salt flats inland, or salty breezes, or fishing?). Particularly, can someone explain why the rates of addition and removal of salt should be exactly equal? (Incidentally, part of the notability for this section is its figuring in some debate over creationism.) Cesiumfrog (talk) 01:24, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Electrical Conductivity and Dielectric Constant[edit]

I came to the SEAWATER page expecting to find information about the electrical properties of seawater. If nothing else, someone please add that information for typical seawater (wherever and whatever that is) and at, say, 20C. No doubt the effects of salinity and temperature on conductivity and dielectric properties are complex. I would be interested to read these details. Thanks. (talk) 22:52, 18 June 2011 (UTC)


Maybe of interest for the article: "Whereas in air about one in five molecules is oxygen, in sea water this is only about 4 in every thousand million water molecules. Whereas air contains about one carbondioxide molecule in 3000 air molecules, in sea water this ratio becomes 4 in every 100 million water molecules." The chemical composition of seawater (talk) 11:19, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Blunder in salinity![edit]

The salinity of seawater is about 35 parts per THOUSAND - 0.35%, not 3.5%. This is the worst blunder I have ever seen in Wikipedia! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:47, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

I checked a few of the given refs, and they are consistent with about 35 parts per thousand. So now I'm confused about your question, because isn't 35/1000 = 3.5/100 = 3.5%, whereas 0.35% = 0.35/100 = 3.5/1000? DMacks (talk) 18:01, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
I think he's remembering that the per mille sign is something different but not remembering how to move decimals around... East and South Asia usually do their numbers in multiples of ten thousand, though, so that might be the source of the problem. — LlywelynII 02:09, 5 August 2014 (UTC)