Thursday, February 16, 2017

Water Electrolysis,

What does salt do in the electrolysis of water?

Salt acts as a conductor of electricity in the electrolysis of water. Table salt is called an electrolyte, meaning it can be decomposed into its ions through electrolysis.

Electrolysis is a method of separating molecular compounds, such as water, into their constituent elements by passing an electric current through them. Each molecule of these compounds is bonded together by electrons. When table salt is dissolved in water, its ions are released into the solution. When an electric current is passed through the solution by the immersion of positively and negatively charged electrodes, these sets of positive and negative ions are each attracted to an oppositely charged electrode. As the ions gather around each electrode, electrons are absorbed or released, leading to the breakdown of water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Where does salt come from?

Salt that is used for a variety of industrial and food-related purposes comes primarily from shallow bodies of sea or mineral water and from mining operations dedicated to salt production. The method of production is determined by the location from which the salt is harvested. Location and method also determine the type of salt sold as a final product as well as its intended use.

The three methods of industrial salt production are solution mining, deep-shaft mining and solar evaporation. Most table and industrial salt is produced by solution mining, whereby water is injected into massive deposits of salt forced to the surface of the Earth by tectonic pressures. The water dissolves the salt into a solution, called brine, which is then pumped out and dehydrated at another location.

In deep-shaft mining, or conventional mining, tunnels are dug underground to reach the salt leftover from ancient sea beds, which is then mined like any other mineral. This primarily results in rock salt. The purest salt, however, is harvested through solar evaporation. In warm regions with low rates of precipitation, salt is harvested once a year from shallow ponds and pools evaporated by the sun during the summer. Salt produced in this fashion, called “sea salt,” is a common ingredient in cooking and cosmetics.

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