As a kid, I tried salt water by the sea and it didn’t taste good at all.
I tried it again not too long ago and it didn’t taste any better.
I couldn’t help but wonder, “Can drinking salt or sea water make you sick or even kill you?” What are the side effects of drinking salt or sea water?”.
And I did some research and now I want to share my findings with you.
Can drinking salt or sea water make you sick or even kill you?
Drinking small amounts of salt or seawater will not kill you. However, drinking large amounts of salt water can definitely make you ill (like causing nausea and vomiting), and large amounts can lead to dehydration, which if left untreated can potentially lead to death.
Even a small sip of seawater can make you ill, depending on your health condition, current hydration level, and whatever else is in the water you’ve swallowed.
“If we ingest too much salt, it is mainly excreted through the kidneys, with a significant loss of water. This is why excessive salt consumption over a long period of time can put a strain on the kidneys. The more salt there is in the body, the higher the amount of liquid available needs to be.”
Inevitably, you have to consider the salt concentration in the water. For example, consider normal saline, like that found in nasal sprays. This is a mixture of salt and water.
It contains essentially the same amount of salt and water as a normally hydrated person.
If you drink it, it won’t increase or decrease your fluid needs, or in other words, you won’t get more or less thirsty.
The solution contains 9 grams of salt per litre of water (0.9%). There are many variables when it comes to seawater, but on average seawater has a concentration (salinity) of around 35 grams per litre of water.
How much sea water can I safely drink?
It depends on your hydration level, but doctors definitely don’t recommend drinking seawater. Even drinking a sip of seawater can make you sick to the point of throwing up. At the very least, drinking salt water will get you one step closer to dehydration.
Anyone who has swallowed water while swimming in the ocean knows it won’t kill you.
But when you are thirsty and drinking sea water, it definitely does not help you quench your thirst but increases your thirst. Through osmosis, salt water in the intestine removes water from the body. You will also need to pass more urine to normalize your body’s salt levels.
Sodium (salt) is one of many substances that our body needs to function properly. But as is so often the case, when it comes to food and drink, the dosage is important.
Most of us know that too much salt in our diet is bad for people with high blood pressure. But what most people don’t realize is that salt can actually be toxic.
Consuming a lot of sodium can overwhelm our bodies and cause sodium levels to rise dramatically. This is true if we take it all at once, or if we take large amounts over a period of hours, days, or weeks.
If you overdo it with salt consumption, salt can even have a toxic effect. Osmosis is to blame for this: in order to compensate for the increased salt concentration outside the cell membranes, the water is withdrawn from the cells. If the body does not then get enough water, diarrhoea and vomiting occur and can even lead to death due to cardiac and respiratory disorders.”
So you can see that even a quantity of 0.5 to 1 gram of table salt per kilogram of body weight can lead to death. That’s about ten tablespoons of table salt a day, which equates to about 100-150 grams of salt.
And that also makes it clear how dangerous salt water is: if you drink 3 litres of seawater, which contains around 35 grams of salt per litre, you absorb 105 grams of salt. This dose can be fatal.
If you drink sea water, how much fresh water do you have to drink to make up for the seawater you drank?
Water without salt is the best way to balance the salt in the body. For an adult, it is recommended to drink some 80-100ml of water to flush out 1g of table salt.
Seawater has an average of 35 grams per litre of salt and the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends a salt intake of less than 5 g per day.
Now, to balance a litre of seawater with 35 grams per litre of salt down to 5 grams per litre, you would have to mix the seawater with 3 litres of water without salt (5 grams of salt are left in at the end because they’re not unhealthy).
So to make up for 1 litre of seawater, you should ideally drink more than 3 litres of water. But drinking too much water at once is dangerous and definitely NOT recommended.
Basically, there are many variables to consider and even some controversy. In the end, it’s undeniable that when fresh water is hard to come by, drinking just a little seawater won’t improve your thirst.
When you are in a survival situation, there is no safe amount of seawater to drinking. The only thing that helps you in the situation is dealing with the methods of distillation to employ or find fresh drinking water.
What are the side effects of consuming salt or sea water?
There are several possible side effects of consuming too much salt water or seawater. These side effects can include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- calcium loss
In extreme cases, if you become dehydrated, your ability to cope will diminish. If you still don’t drink water to offset the effects of excess sodium, your brain and other organs will lose blood flow, leading to coma, organ failure, and eventual death.
Can drinking salt water cause vomit?
Drinking salt water can cause you to throw up. Historically, people have long ago used salt to induce vomiting after poisoning, but this is a dangerous practice and has been deadly for some.
You should do this practice today no longer apply, because, as described above, it can lead to death. This is especially true for infants and children.
If there is already a lack of water, the life-threatening limit value is reached even faster by drinking salt water.
Does drinking salt water or seawater drive you crazy?
If you try to make salt water your primary source of water intake, it’s possible to become dehydrated and eventually delirious. So yes, too much sea or salt water consumption can drive you crazy.
“Delirium” (delirium, delirious syndrome) refers to an acute but reversible disturbance of consciousness, which is characterized, among other things, by temporal and spatial disorientation, confusion and hallucinations.”
Is the Saltwater Flush or Saltwater Cleanse a Good Idea?
You may have heard that drinking salt water is supposed to be healthy. Sometimes this is also touted as an effective weight loss method and it’s supposed to “flush out your toxins”.
A salt water rinse involves drinking a mixture of warm water and non-iodized salt.
However, it seems that this practice is somewhat controversial and I advise against it.
Salt and warm water have a laxative effect. It usually causes an urgent bowel movement within half an hour to an hour, but it can take longer.
If you take a salt water rinse, it has the same potential side effects I mentioned above, such as dehydration, increased blood pressure (if you have high blood pressure, then the salt water rinse is definitely not a good idea for you), calcium loss, nausea, and delirium.
Do not perform a saltwater rinse if you have:
- heart problems
- kidney problems
- high blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease
It seems like there are only two reasons to try a saltwater rinse. First, you may have chronic constipation, or second, you may have irregular bowel movements.
If you do, please be careful and talk to your doctor.
Final words on drinking salt water or seawater
It’s important to note that you can actually make seawater drinkable using a very simple technique called desalination apply
In general, however, you should avoid drinking sea or salt water.
Of course, consuming small amounts of salt water won’t kill you, but salt and water are definitely better consumed separately.
Remember, small amounts of salt are good and lots of fresh water is a must!