Can you drink salt water?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you drink saltwater” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink saltwater. Moreover, we are going to discuss how to desalinate water and which factors make saltwater deadly.

Can you drink salt water?

You should not consume saltwater or saline water. To make seawater or saline water drinkable, the excess salt should be removed.

Why should you not drink salt water?

You should not drink seawater or saltwater because if too much salt enters the human body, the cells squeeze out more water to maintain balance, essentially wringing themselves out. When the cells quit working, you stop working. This is referred to as death. Similarly, if the salt content is too low, the cells suck up a lot of water and begin exploring.

It is worth noting that as a salt water flush, you can only consume saltwater. A salt water flush is used to cleanse the colon, cure chronic constipation, and aid in the detoxification of the body.

What is salt water flush?

A saltwater flush consists of ingesting a mixture of warm water and non-iodized salt. Drinking salt and warm water has a laxative effect. It normally causes urgent bowel movements within 30 minutes to an hour, but it can take longer.

Is it safe to consume salt water as a salt water flush?

A salt water flush is usually efficient in the short term in cleansing the colon by causing bowel movements. There is, however, no scientific evidence that a salt water flush detoxifies the body or removes so-called waste buildup and parasites from the digestive tract.

How to desalinate water?

There are numerous methods for desalinating water, however, membrane desalination is one of the most efficient. Water is pumped through a thin membrane with microscopic holes in this procedure. Water can pass through the pores, but salt ions cannot, leaving only fresh water on the other side.

Moreover, When compared to other desalination techniques, reverse osmosis (RO) is a relatively new process. The pressure used to push feed water through a semipermeable membrane into a product water stream and a concentrated brine stream is the driving power in this RO process.

You can read about reverse osmosis here.

What dose of saltwater is considered lethal?

The lethal dose of saltwater is estimated to be less than 10 g of sodium (<5 teaspoons of salt) in children, and less than 25 g sodium in adults (<4 tablespoons of salt)

What are the side effects of drinking saltwater?

Drinking saltwater on an empty stomach may cause nausea and vomiting. You may also experience cramping, bloating, and dehydration. Colon cleansing with salt water may cause an electrolyte imbalance due to the rapid loss of sodium and fluids.

This may lead to:

  • muscle spasms
  • weakness
  • confusion
  • irregular heartbeat
  • seizures
  • blood pressure problems

How can drinking seawater prove deadly to humans?

Seawater contains salt. When humans drink seawater, their cells are thus taking in water and salt. While humans can safely ingest small amounts of salt, the salt content in seawater is much higher than what can be processed by the human body. 

Additionally, when humans consume salt as part of their daily diets, they also drink liquids, which help to dilute the salt and keep it at a healthy level. Living cells do depend on sodium chloride (salt) to maintain the body’s chemical balances and reactions; however, too much sodium can be deadly.

Bad effects of drinking salt water

When you drink salt water or seawater, the results of osmosis are spectacularly disastrous. The salinity of seawater is almost four times that of our bodily fluids and if you drink water with as much salt concentration as seawater, the net transfer of water from the inside of your cells to the outside will cause the cells to shrink considerably, and shrinkage is never good.

Unless you drink a lot of fresh water, the body’s regulatory mechanism in this situation is potentially fatal. With excess salty water, the change in sodium concentration outside your cells is the main culprit. To regain an isotonic state, a must for cell survival, the body attempts to eliminate the excess sodium from its extracellular fluids. It secretes urine.

Human kidneys can only produce urine that’s slightly less salty than saltwater. So, to remove the extreme amount of sodium taken in by saltwater, we urinate more water than we drank. And dehydration sets in.

The body tries to compensate for the fluid loss by increasing the heart rate and constricting blood vessels to maintain blood pressure and flow to vital organs. You’re also most likely to feel nausea, weakness, and even delirium. 

As you become more dehydrated, the coping mechanism fails. If you still don’t drink any freshwater to reverse the effects of excess sodium, the brain and other organs receive less blood, leading to coma, organ failure, and eventually death.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you drink salt water” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink salt water. Moreover, we discussed how to desalinate water and which factors make saltwater deadly.


Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.