Anyone who has swum in the ocean knows that ocean water tastes salty. You may have even heard the stories that drinking seawater will make you go mad. Even in a survival situation it is considered a bad idea to drink seawater because the kidney cannot cope with the amount of salt. Seawater contains around 3.1-3.8% salt, the lakes and rivers of Earth have very little salt, making them suitable for human consumption. Seawater is not completely off-limits for human consumption though, as the water can be evaporated to harvest the salt for use in cooking. If you have ever wondered why seawater is salty, continue reading to get the answer.
Why is the ocean salty?
People have long wondered why the ocean is salty, but the first theory about salt in the sea was proposed by Sir Edmond Halley in 1715. He theorized that salt was washed out of the ground by rainfall and carried into the ocean via rivers. However, we now know that this is just one of the reasons that the oceans are salty.
The cause of salty water in the oceans is due to a number of different factors. Much of the salt came from the breaking up, weathering and erosion of rocks on the Earth’s surface. Other sources of salt are rocks that have dissolved beneath the Earth’s surface and from materials escaping through volcanoes. Salt becomes concentrated in the sea because the water evaporates and the salt is left behind.