What Is the Most Abundant Salt in the Sea?

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is the Most Abundant Salt in the Sea?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/kinds-of-salt-in-sea-water-609432. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, February 6). What Is the Most Abundant Salt in the Sea? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/kinds-of-salt-in-sea-water-609432 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is the Most Abundant Salt in the Sea?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/kinds-of-salt-in-sea-water-609432 (accessed September 23, 2017).
Young girl in the Dead Sea holding sea salt in her hands, En Bokek, Israel, Middle East
Young girl in the Dead Sea holding sea salt in her hands, En Bokek, Israel, Middle East. Getty Images/Elan Fleisher/LOOK-foto

There are several salts in sea water, but the most abundant is ordinary table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl). Sodium chloride, like other salts, dissolves in water into its ions, so this is really a question about which ions are present in the greatest concentration. Sodium chloride dissociates into Na+ and Cl- ions. The total amount of all types of salt in the sea averages about 35 parts per thousand (each liter of sea water contains about 35 grams of salt).

Sodium and chloride ions are present at much higher levels than components of any other salt.

Molar Composition of Seawater
ChemicalConcentration (mol/kg)
H2O53.6
Cl-0.546
Na+0.469
Mg2+0.0528
SO42-0.0282
Ca2+0.0103
K+0.0102
C (inorganic)0.00206
Br-0.000844
B0.000416
Sr2+0.000091
F-0.000068

Reference: DOE (1994). In A.G. Dickson & C. Goyet. Handbook of methods for the analysis of the various parameters of the carbon dioxide system in sea water. 2. ORNL/CDIAC-74.

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