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Q & A: Condensing Saltwater

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
When saltwater is heated to steam, then condensates elses where. What all elements and or minerals can be found in the heating vessel. List all possibilities not knowing origin of saltwater. Please list which ones would travel with steam and become parts of desalinated water. This is a question of results obtained when comparing desalination to reverse osmosis. Thank U for being here to help with this question.
- Gene (age 13)
Mulberry, Fl
A:
Gene -

Desalination by distilling (boiling the water and collecting the steam) is the process that has replaced reverse osmosis. This is because distilling (if it's done right) can get rid of just about everything except for the water. This is why distillation is so useful.

The only exception is that when the water boils, small drops of liquid
can get tossed up into the vapor. They can carry solutes, which
get swept along to the condenser. This can catch any of the different minerals that were in the original water, so there won't be any difference in the variety of things in the water before and after distillation. But this is such a small amount that it doesn't really make a difference, and you can get rid of most of it by distilling the water more than once.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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