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Sea water is salty because of presence of a salt sodium chloride in it. 

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 All water, even rain water, contains dissolved chemicals which scientists call "salts." But not all water tastes salty. Water is fresh or salty according to individual judgment, and in making this decision man is more convinced by his sense of taste than by a laboratory test. It is one's taste buds that accept one water and reject another.

A simple experiment illustrates this. Fill three glasses with water from the kitchen faucet. Drink from one and it tastes fresh even though some dissolved salts are naturally present. Add a pinch of table salt to the second, and the water may taste fresh or slightly salty depending on a personal taste threshold and on the amount of salt held in a "pinch." But add a teaspoon of salt to the third and your taste buds vehemently protest that this water is too salty to drink; this glass of water has about the same salt content as a glass of sea water.
Obviously, the ocean, in contrast to the water we use daily, contains unacceptable amounts of dissolved chemicals; it is too salty for human consumption.

How salty the ocean is, however, defies ordinary comprehension. Some scientists estimate that the oceans contain as much as 50 quadrillion tons (50 million billion tons) of dissolved solids.

If the salt in the sea could be removed and spread evenly over the Earth's land surface it would form a layer more than 500 feet thick, about the height of a 40-story office building. The saltiness of the ocean is more understandable when compared with the salt content of a fresh-water lake. For example, when 1 cubic foot of sea water evaporates it yields about 2.2 pounds of salt, but 1 cubic foot of fresh water from Lake Michigan contains only one one-hundredth (0.01) of a pound of salt, or about one sixth of an ounce. Thus, sea water is 220 times saltier than the fresh lake water. What arouses the scientist's curiosity is not so much why the ocean is salty, but why it isn't fresh like the rivers and streams that empty into it. Further, what is the origin of the sea and of its "salts"? And how does one explain ocean water's remarkably uniform chemical composition? To these and related questions, scientists seek answers with full awareness that little about the oceans is understood.

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