This may sound like a dumb question, but I've always wondered why we can still taste saltiness in a dissolved mixture of saltwater. In an undersaturated, aqueous mixture of salt and water, the salt ions are completely dissociated from each other, meaning that the salt is dismantled into its constituent parts. If this is the case, then why do we taste saltiness when drinking saltwater and not taste the individual tastes of the constituent cations and anions? Why do we taste NaCl instead of Na AND Cl individually?

  • $\begingroup$ Why do you think you are tasting the NaCl combined rather than either Na+ or Cl- separately? $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 4 '18 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ And in what context do you think your mouth would ever be exposed to solid NaCl? $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 4 '18 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Note that there other things besides NaCl that taste salty, like potassium & lithium chlorides. Also, at least as far as I understand the mechanism of taste (but I am not an expert), things have to be dissolved in water (saliva) for the receptors in the taste buds to work. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Sep 5 '18 at 17:22

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