Is Seawater Safe for People to Drink?
What we have been taught in science lessons is that we cannot drink seawater. The reason for this is that it is too salty, which leads to dehydration. So if we are stuck in the middle of the sea and for some reason, we don’t have drinkable water, we will be thirsty even though we are surrounded by water. That’s a pity because 70 % of the globe is covered with water. We shouldn’t panic, though, as there is actually a way of making seawater drinkable.
Why is Seawater Such a Useful Resource for Drinkable Water?
There are a number of reasons why seawater is so attractive to be used for drinking. Below you can read about some of them:
- First of all, considering the fact that 97 % of all the water in the world is seawater, we can see that it can be used as an unlimited resource of drinkable water. In comparison, we should say that only 1 % of the water on our planet is fresh and 2% is frozen. So we should be thankful that there are ways of turning seawater into potable.
- There are more than 15 000 desalination plants worldwide, and they make sure that we have more potable water by making seawater drinkable.
- One of the biggest desalination plants, situated in Saudi Arabia, is capable of producing 128 MGD of desalted water.
- There have been severe drought conditions in some parts of the world, and the need for desalination increases.
- The cost of desalination is getting lower and lower thanks to the fact that technology has been improving and that there are a lot of desalination plants.
- Using seawater or brackish water for drinking (of course, after the process of desalination) reduces the dependency on imported water.
- It has been estimated that in a 20-year time, the desalination market will make $ 70 billion.
What Types of Processes Can We Apply to Make Seawater Drinkable?
The process through which this becomes possible is called desalination. Simply said, through desalination, remove dissolved minerals from seawater. One of these minerals is salt. We can apply desalination also to wastewater and brackish water. Several techniques lead to desalination. Some of them are distillation, reverse osmosis, vacuum freezing, and electrodialysis.
How to Make Seawater Drinkable at Home?
It is possible to turn salt water into drinking water in a few ways. Here are some:
A pot and a stove:
- First of all, you need a pot that has a lid and also an empty glass.
- Place the glass in the pot and make sure that it is short enough so that you can close the pot with a lid.
- Put some seawater in the pot. You can stop pouring water just before it has reached the mouth of the glass. This way, seawater won’t go into the glass.
- Now it is time to put the lid upside down on the pot. Doing so will ensure that the vapor from the water will drip into the glass when condensation occurs.
- Keep in mind that the lid’s edges need to seal well with the edges of the pot. Otherwise, condensation won’t happen.
- Adjust the stove to low heat and wait for the water to boil. You don’t want it to boil too violently as the drinkable water may get contaminated. Also, if you adjust the stove at a high temperature, the glass can get broken.
- Observe the pot when the water condenses. You will notice that when it boils, water becomes vapor, and it leaves behind all the dissolved minerals.
- Be aware that this process may take around 20 minutes and even more.
- Attention! You should wait for some time for the water to get colder. It would be better to take the glass out of the pot so that it can cool down.
- Before you start this process, make sure that you have enough sunlight as it may take several hours for the water to become drinkable.
- Take a container and fill it up with seawater. Make sure that there is some space at the top of the container. This way, the seawater won’t splash onto the drinkable one.
- Put a cup in the center of the container. The lip of the glass should stay above the water.
- Now you need to cover the containers with plastic wrap.
- Put some weight like a stone in the middle of the plastic wrap. Doing so, you will allow the plastic wrap to dip in the center, and it will introduce freshwater into the smaller container.
- Now put the container in direct sunlight. Hopefully, this will lead to condensation.
- Keep in mind that you need to be patient for this method as if it may take several hours.
- If you are patient enough to get fresh water through this technique, you can be sure that it is desalinated and safe to drink.