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How long could a person of lets say 18 years be able to drink sea water without getting too much into trouble ? Or can a person drink it without noticing that it is a very bad idea ? I don't mean in just 1 drink session but like can one manage a day or two ? Can one drink it and go to sleep and be still healthy (although very thirsty) in the morning ?

(this is just a hypothetical question, I'm not a scientist at all, I'm not sure what tags to use actually)

Additional brainstorming:

  • kidney failure
  • any other organ failure
  • dying of thirst
  • ...
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Alain Bombard

He is a french biologist who voluntarily tested how many days a man can survive drinking seawater and how?

Biologist point of view

Sea contains ~3.5% of salt$^1$. Our kidney separates the waste from water and excrete them in urine provided the salt content is less than ~2%.$^2$ So, it will take the water already present in the body. Causing excessive thirst and dehydration, eventually cause death.

Alain's Experiment

Just one spoon of seawater at 20 minute intervals, drinking very slowly and letting the saliva in your mouth reduce the saline in the water you have swallowed.

Though he survived 65 days (From and including: Sunday, 19 October 1952 to Tuesday, 23 December 1952, ~4,400km) of his journey and lost 25 kg of weight, this result is never successfully reproduced.


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The results of Bombard, are, nicely said, at least doubted. – Chris Aug 8 '14 at 12:45
Thanks for the info. And nicely formated. I wished StackOverflow would be like this all the time. – Leck Aug 8 '14 at 13:10
@Chris I think it's more like no one in their right mind believes it.... – user1357 Aug 10 '14 at 16:53
@caseyr547 The accusations agains Bombard where that he was supported (also with food and water) by a ship during his time on the atlantic ocean. – Chris Aug 10 '14 at 16:55

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