Why is sea water salty?

1,077 Views Updated: 17 Nov 2017
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We all have been to the beaches and have tasted that salty water which literally activates your taste buds and make you spill out the sour water asap. But why on earth is that water so salty? The fresh water from the river or the rain water isn’t salty then why is sea water different? There could be two possible reasons for the same. First, fresh water is not entirely free of dissolved salt and even the rainwater has some traces of substances dissolved in it that gets picked up during their passage of passing through the atmosphere. Much of this material that washes out is pollution, but there are some amounts of natural substances present as well. As the rainwater passes through soil and percolates through rocks, it dissolves some of the minerals through the process of weathering. This is the water we drink, and we cannot taste the salt because its concentration is too low. Gradually, this water containing small amounts of dissolved minerals or salts reaches a stream and flows into lakes and the ocean. The recurring addition of dissolved salts by rivers in the oceans and sea makes their water salty. As per statistics, the dissolved salt carried by all the world’s rivers equals the salt in the ocean in 200 to 300 million years. A possible second reason for seal water being salty could be the presence of salt lakes such as the Great Salt Lake and the Dead Sea. Both are about 10 times saltier than seawater. Lakes are said to be temporary storage areas for water. Rivers and streams bring water to the lakes, and other rivers carry water out of lakes. Thus, lakes are really only wide depressions in a river channel that are filled with water. All the water that flows into these lakes discharges only through evaporation. When water evaporates, the dissolved salts are left behind. So a few lakes are salty because rivers carried salts to the lakes, and the water in the lakes evaporated leaving only salts behind. The salt content of the lake water gets built up through a regular process which goes on for many years. The same process makes the seas salty. Water evaporates from the oceans to fall again as rain and to feed the rivers, but the salts remain in the ocean.

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