Does Salt Water Conduct Electricity: 9 Facts You Should Know

A solution capable of carrying the charges by ions through the solution is called an electrically conducting solution. If salt dissolves in water, then let us study about salt water conducting electricity.

Saltwater is a good electricity conductor. The conduction is possible in salt water due to the breakage of the ionic bond of salt. When some substances dissolve in water and can conduct electricity is called an electrolyte.

Saltwater can be considered an electrolyte. Let us study some facts regarding the conduction of electricity in saltwater through this post.

Why are salt water conducts electricity?

Salt is nothing but sodium chloride. When they dissolve in water, the sodium chloride splits into sodium and chloride ions. Let us learn about salt water conducting electricity.

When salt dissolves in water, it separates its respective cation, and the anion from the sodium chloride crystal and is set free to move under the influence of water. The free movement of ions can carry the charges to conduct electricity.

How are salt water conducts electricity?

Conductivity in any solution is possible due to mobile ions. Let us explain how the conduction of electricity occurs in salt water solution.

The electrical conductivity of saltwater follows the principle of attraction between the opposite charges. As the salt dissolves in water, hydrogen act as a positive terminal and attracts chloride ions. Oxygen acts as a negative terminal and attracts sodium ions leading to electric conduction.

To form a stable ionic compound, the sodium atom has to donate an electron to chlorine. So, sodium consists of more positive charges by donating an electron and accepting an electron from sodium, the chloride ion becomes a negatively charged ion.

Why does salt water conduct electricity but salt does not?

The basic condition for electrical conductivity is electrons must flow. Let us focus on the reason why salt is not an electric conductor.

In the solid state of salt, its ions are held together tightly by strong electrostatic force. These ions are trapped tightly in the lattice structure, so the charges cannot move freely to conduct. As salt dissolve in water, the force trapping the ions breaks down, causing the charges’ motion.

What happens when electricity is passed through salt water?

The process of passing electricity to a solution to conduct is called electrolysis. Let us study the scenario of electricity passing through salt water.

When electricity is passed to the saltwater solution, sodium hydroxide is obtained by combining with OH molecules of the water. Along with that, hydrogen and chlorine gases are liberated.

Saltwater reaction when electricity is passed

When the electricity is passed through an electrode, the hydrogen gas splits from the water and collects around the cathode as tiny bubbles and chlorine gas collect at the anode end. The hydroxyl and sodium ions combine to form sodium hydroxide, which will remain in the solution.

Is salt water more conductive than freshwater?

Freshwater consists of some dissolved inorganic compounds and carries the least amount of conductive ions. Let us concentrate on the conductivity of fresh water.

Salt water is more conductive than freshwater because of the dissolution of ions. To conduct electricity, the solution must contain free ions. Freshwater lacks mobile ions, whereas salt water has more mobile electrons. 

Another reason for more conductivity in salt water is conduction is also influenced by the acidic and basic nature of the molecules. The saltwater is slightly denser than the fresh water and basic.

Does ionized water conduct electricity?

When any minerals are dissolved in water, they split into their respective anion, and cation is said to be ionized water. Let us illustrate conductivity in ionized water.

Ionized water consists of a good amount of mobile ions, and thus, ionized water can conduct electricity. When some ionic compounds dissolve, water and its respective ions break out from the compound and tend to move freely. The net motion of these mobile ions causes electric conduction.

For example, everyday water can slightly conduct electricity because of a few dissolved minerals and salts. Meanwhile, seawater is more conductive because it carries a huge amount of metal ions.

Why does salt water conduct electricity better than fresh water?

The conduction of electricity in any aqueous solution is due to the availability of mobile ions. Let us give a reason for less electric conductivity in freshwater.

Even though some metal ions and salts are present in freshwater, the mobile ions available for conduction are less than in freshwater. The flow of charges throughout the solution is not possible in fresh water. So salt water is a better conductor than fresh water.

Pure or distilled water does not conduct electricity because of the lack of moving ions available for conduction.

Does salt water hold an electric charge?

The charge in salt water is similar to the charge carried by the balloons rubbed by the hair. Let us understand the ability of salt water to hold the electric charges.

Saltwater can hold an electric charge. The salt dissolved in water tends to break the bond to form respective ions of sodium and chlorine and floats freely. Sodium that lacks one electron possesses a positive charge. The chloride ion, having an extra electron, bears a negative charge.


The saltwater is ionized water because of dissolved ions of respective sodium chloride. Thus, saltwater can conduct electricity because of the mobility of delocalized ions of sodium chloride.

Keerthi Murthi

I am Keerthi K Murthy, I have completed post graduation in Physics, with the specialization in the field of solid state physics. I have always consider physics as a fundamental subject which is connected to our daily life. Being a science student I enjoy exploring new things in physics. As a writer my goal is to reach the readers with the simplified manner through my articles. Reach me –

Recent Posts