Can you boil and drink salt water? (5 Step Process)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you boil and drink salt water? We will discuss the scientific background of why and how it is impractical to boil and drink saltwater and the procedure to make that happen.

Can you boil and drink salt water?

You cannot boil saltwater and drink it. Boiling water forces water molecules to evaporate from the hot water pan, rather than causing any solid compounds such as salt to escape. 

Water is boiled to get rid of microbes and disease-causing organisms. Boiling water does not get rid of any solid impurities such as salt, dirt, or any visible particles.

Boiled water kills a majority of the pathogens. The bacteria and viruses do not survive past 160 degrees Fahrenheit which is way before the water boils thus killing a majority of the microorganisms that are capable of making you sick. 

How to make saltwater drinkable?

Boiling drives out water molecules while salt stays behind. To make saltwater drinkable, a process called desalination is needed where water is evaporated and collected. Pure water is driven out of the salty water and condensed. The salt stays behind while pure water escapes as steam and liquifies.

A desalination plant is designed to carry out the process effectively. If you boil water, the pure water molecules escape from the surface that you know and see as steam. If you put a lid over it, you will be able to see the condensed molecules of water that change back to liquid from steam. 

It is not possible to collect the condensates using ordinary kitchen utensils, as steam or vapors being a gas, escape quickly. If you can manage to collect the steam and cool it to make it revert to a liquid, only then will you be able to make saline ocean water drinkable. 

How to make saltwater drinkable at home?

You need a distillation flask, otherwise a tumbler, or a small pot to collect the distilled water. 

While the process would produce clean, salt-free water, it can not be relied upon as the primary source of drinkable water. The distillation process is inefficient and intricate and should be considered merely a fun experiment. If you use 8 cups of water, you will get only 1 ¼ cups of distilled water in an hour. 

Follow the procedure given below

  • Add 8 cups of ocean water to a large pot and place it on the stove. Put another smaller pot or a tumbler inside the bigger pot. The smaller pot should float over the water in the big pot.
  • Boil the water at a steady simmer at temperatures between 180 to 200 Fahrenheit. Do not turn up the heat higher than the medium flame.
  • Place the lid upside down, on the pan. As the water condenses on the lid, the droplets trickle down the center of the lid and fall into the smaller pot inside. 
  • The entire process is very slow; to speed it up you will need to place some ice cubes on the lid. As you lower the temperature where the condensates form, a temperature difference will make the process faster.
  • Replenish the ice cubes one or two times until the entire process finishes.

Why can’t you drink saltwater?

You can not drink salt water as salt puts a strain on your kidneys. The kidneys have to work hard to purify the water before it can leave your body. 

If you drink salt water in large quantities, it can be lethal to your body. Rather than hydrating your body, the sodium chloride causes the body cells to lose water. 

Removing salt or sodium chloride is part of the kidney’s job. However, to carry this process out, your kidney needs water. There is a limit to the concentration of salt in the water that the kidneys are capable of eliminating. Hence, the kidneys need to produce more urine to get rid of the extra sodium chloride from your system.

If your saltwater is as high in salt as seawater, your kidneys fail at rehydrating your body. The kidneys compensate by producing extra urine, which in turn causes dehydration. 

The osmosis process also forces water to move out of the cells of the body, which is a natural response to a salty environment, causing the cells to shrink. 

The end result of dehydration is detrimental to the body. A diuretic effect causes the body to work extra hard by increasing the heartbeat, constricting blood vessels that deprive the vital organs of effective blood circulation. 

Other FAQs about Salt that you may be interested in.

Why is salt corrosive

Why does salt make ice colder?

Why use salt when making ice cream


In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you boil and drink saltwater? We discussed the scientific background of why and how it is impractical to boil and drink saltwater and the procedure to make that happen.