When there is more salt in in the water will the water move in or out of the cell?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Based on the information provided it is impossible to determine.  You are asking a question related to osmosis which is the diffusion of water.  In this case it is the diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane -- the cell membrane. 

Osmosis, like any other type of passive transport mechanism, works because of concentration differences between two substances.  Passive transport says that substances will move in a direction from high concentration amounts to lower concentration amounts. In the case of your question, there must be a concentration difference between the water inside the cell and outside the cell.  The problem is that the question doesn't state which side of the cell membrane has a HIGHER concentration of water.  Inside or outside?

Let's say that inside the cell is 85% pure water and 15% salt.  Place that cell in a beaker of water that has the SAME concentration amounts and osmosis will not cause a net change in water concentrations.  This is called an isotonic solution.

If you took that same cell and placed it in a beaker with 90% pure water and 10% salt, then water will move INTO the cell, because there is a higher concentration of water outside the cell.  This will cause the cell to swell up and is called a hypotonic solution.  

If you took that same cell and placed it in a beaker with 80% pure water and 20% salt, then water will move OUT of the cell, because there is a higher concentration of water inside the cell.  This will cause the cell to shrivel and is called a hypotonic solution. 

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