Explain how the concentration of a solute on either side of a semi-permeable membrane affects osmosis.

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Osmosis is the diffusion of water across a semipermeable membrane in an attempt to equalize the water concentration on both sides of the membrane.  When the water concentration is low on the outside of the cell membrane, the water will diffuse outside of the cell in an effort to make the water content more equal with the water content on the inside.  I do a lab with my students using carrots and salt water, where the students soak the crisp carrots in a beaker of salt water for twenty-four hours.  The result is the water in the carrots cells diffuses by osmosis across the cell membranes, and the carrots are smaller and limp because of the loss of water.  This is also why you can not drink salt water from the ocean as you would regular fresh water, because the water in your cells would diffuse out of your bodys cells trying to equalize the water concentration, causing dehydration, and ultimately, death


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