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Difference Between Salt Water and Fresh Water

water-pdSalt Water vs Fresh Water

It would be easy to say that the difference between salt water and fresh water is all about whether there is salt in the water. While it makes sense, that’s not really accurate. Salinity, or the density of salt, is much higher in salt water, but fresh water is not completely devoid of salt.

The salts that are found in salt water, as well as brackish water (which is a mixture of salt and fresh water), are more diverse than the salt most of us have on our dining room table. The water is composed of various elements, and as those elements break down, they become electrically charged ions. These particles are better electricity conductors. This means that electricity flows through salt water more readily and efficiently than it does through fresh water.

True fresh water bodies are much rarer than salt water bodies. Most of the water in the world contains high enough levels of salt to prevent it from being classified as fresh water.

Salt water is literally dangerous to drink. Being stranded in the middle of the ocean carries a high risk of dehydration, because drinking the salt water will take more liquid from the muscles and blood stream than going without drinking anything at all.

Fresh water lacks the buoyancy of salt water. If you swim in a freshwater lake, you’ll find that you will have to work harder to float on the water’s surface than you would have to if you tried to float in the ocean. The Dead Sea has such a high salt level that many find it difficult to wade out past their hips, because they start to float!

The ecological differences are interesting. Fish, amphibians, and plants generally can not live in both types of water. Their natural development lends them to their preferred salt content level. Taking a fresh water fish and putting him in a salt water tank is about as effective as leaving him on the beach! He won’t be able to survive. There are alligators, however, that have adapted to fresh and salt water environments.


1. The salinity between salt and fresh water is significant.

2. Fresh water makes up only about 1% of all the planet’s water bodies.

3. Salt water can be deadly if a person drinks it.

4. Salt water offers much more buoyancy than fresh water.

5. The ecosystems are completely different when it comes to most species of organisms in fresh water and salt water.

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