Drinking Sea water may seem like an appealing solution when you’re stranded on an island or lost at sea, but it could prove fatal if consumed in large amounts. Although it contains water, sea water also contains high levels of salt and other minerals that should not be consumed in large amounts.
Drinking Water is essential for human bodily function, yet it must be relatively free from salt and other impurities. Sea water contains roughly 3.5% salt by weight, meaning that for every liter consumed, you are consuming around 35 grams of salt – potentially leading to dehydration, kidney failure or even death.
Drinking Sea water can make your body work harder to eliminate the excess salt. Your kidneys, responsible for filtering waste from the bloodstream, can only handle so much salt; when consumed in excess, these organs become unable to process it all and excrete it through urine. Dehydration will ensue as your body tries to flush out both salt and water from its system; the more sea water you drink, the worse off you become.
Dehydration can have serious health repercussions, such as confusion, seizures and even coma. In extreme cases, dehydration could even result in organ failure and death. That’s why it’s so essential to drink clean, fresh water when stranded at sea or otherwise isolated from civilization.
Dehydration, combined with too much salt consumption, can cause hypernatremia. This occurs when sodium levels in your blood become too high and cause cells to shrink and malfunction. Signs of hypernatremia include confusion, seizures and muscle twitching; in severe cases it could even result in brain damage and death.
What should you do if you find yourself stranded on an island or lost at sea with no access to freshwater? Your best bet is collecting rainwater or finding a source.
If drinking sea water becomes necessary, there are ways to make it slightly less harmful: boiling the ocean water and collecting its steam (which will be relatively salt-free) is one option; another involves using solar stills which involve creating a makeshift still out of plastic sheeting and containers for condensation collection.
Conclusion: Drinking seawater is a potentially deadly mistake due to its high salt and mineral levels, which can cause dehydration, kidney failure and other serious health problems.
If you find yourself stranded at sea it’s essential to find freshwater sources or collect rainwater for drinking. If there’s no other choice but to drink seawater there are some methods you can use that might make it less hazardous; however these should only be considered as a last resort as the risks associated with drinking sea water are too great to risk.
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