Osmosis is a simple natural process that occurs all around and inside us, and it’s one of the most vital processes for our survival. Everything tends to reach equilibrium and to reach at equilibrium the most crucial role is played by the water. Even each cell of our body, plants, and animals around us are surviving due to osmosis. Osmosis functions as a Life-Preserver. From helping out cells to survive to the desalination of seawater, the process involved is osmosis. Let’s dig into some interesting examples of osmosis in our daily life, but before that let’s understand, What is Osmosis?
Definition Of Osmosis
Osmosis is the movement of water from less concentrated to the more concentrated solution through a semi-permeable membrane.
1. Crucial In Plant’s Survival
When we water plants, we usually water the stem end and soil in which they are growing. Hence, the roots of the plants absorb water and from the roots water travel to different parts of plants; be it leaves, fruits or flowers. Every root acts as a semipermeable barrier, which allows water molecules to transfer from high concentration (soil) to low concentration (roots). Roots have hair, which increases surface area and hence the water intake by the plants.
2. Helps in Regulating Our Cell’s Life
We drink water, but also our cells absorb it by osmosis in the same way that plant roots do. As the concentration of waste products in a cell rises, the osmotic pressure between the inside and outside of the cell wall, which is a semipermeable membrane, increases, and the cell absorbs water from the blood, which is a more dilute solution that of the cell’s cytoplasm. Even the primary nutrients and minerals get transferred through osmosis into the cells. Also, our intestine absorbs nutrients and minerals through osmosis.
3. Ever tried soaking resins or dry fruits in water. what happened?
well, when we soak resins in water they swell up and this is all that happens due to osmosis. Water travels from high concentration to low concentration and keeps moving by osmosis until the equilibrium is reached, that is when the concentration of both solutions is the same.
4. Responsible For Your Pruned or Wrinkled Fingers
When we sit in the bathtub or submerge our fingers in water for a while they got wrinkly. And that is too because of osmosis. The skin of our fingers absorb water and get expanded or bloated; leading to the pruned or wrinkled fingers.
5. Osmosis May kill Slugs or Snails
You must have heard about the killing of slugs or snails by putting salt on it. Well, It’s nothing but the process of osmosis which kills them. The liquid inside them comes out and try to dilute the salt concentration and maintain the mucus layer, and hence, they end up shedding water. Too much salt and slugs or snails will dry up and die!
6. Reason Behind To Get Thirsty
We usually feel thirsty after eating salty food; because salt is a solute and after consuming lots of salt, our cells become concentrated with salt, which triggers the process of thirst. So, our cells absorb water and we feel thirsty, and hence, we start drinking water.
7. Helps You Get Relieved From Sore Throat
In case you have a sore throat, cells and tissues surrounding the throat are swollen because of the excess of water. The salt water which we use for gargles has a lower concentration of water than the cells of the throat. So, water molecules move from the swollen cells of the throat to the salt water; reducing pain and swelling.
8. Helps In Preserving Your Food
The reason why we can enjoy pickles and jams for a longer period of time without any fear of their spoilage is osmosis. Pickles and Jams have been used over decades as quick spreads and ready to eat food for kids as well as adults. They both contain high proportions of salt and sugar, respectively that acts as a natural preservative for fruits and vegetables. Though vegetables and fruits are very prone to bacterial attack but the high salt and sugar concentration is hypertonic to bacteria cells, and bacteria cells lose water and it kills them by dehydration before they can cause the food to get spoiled.
9. Helps You Getting Pure Water
RO’s are installed in almost every home in today’s scenario. Actually, this is not osmosis, strictly speaking, but, Reverse osmosis that is what RO stands for. Reverse Osmosis is the process of Osmosis in reverse. Whereas Osmosis occurs naturally, without the involvement of energy; however, to reverse the process of osmosis, you need to apply energy to the more saline solution. A reverse osmosis membrane is a semi-permeable membrane that allows the passage of water molecules but not the majority of dissolved salts, organics, bacteria and pyrogens. However, you need to ‘push’ the water through the reverse osmosis membrane by applying pressure that is greater than the naturally occurring osmotic pressure in order to desalinate (demineralize or deionize) water in the process; allowing pure water to pass through while holding back a majority of contaminants. Reverse Osmosis is also used in large scale desalination of seawater; turning it into drinking water.
10. Saves Eyes From Dry Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses consist of semipermeable materials. If you wear contacts after storing them in sterile saline solution, the concentration of the saline in the contacts matches the salt content in the natural fluid that moistens your eyes; the contacts stay moist, soft and comfortable. If you store contacts in distilled water, the salt concentration is higher in the eye fluid and water flows out of the contacts; slowly drying them out.
11. Helps In Maintaining Water Balance In Our Body
Kidneys are the vital organ of our body, which helps in the removal of waste and toxic materials. Osmosis occurs to recover water from waste material. Kidney dialysis is an example of osmosis. In this process, the dialyzer removes waste products from a patient’s blood through a dialyzing membrane(acts as a semi-permeable membrane) and passes them into the dialysis solution tank. The red blood cells being larger in size cannot pass through the membrane and are retained in the blood. Thus, by the process of osmosis waste materials are continuously removed from the blood.