Ever had a cut on your skin and then gone for a swim in the ocean? You’d notice that in no time at all that cut would heal. This is due to the healing properties of our alkaline ocean.
Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is a compound that is found in many natural environments, including the ocean. The ocean plays a critical role in the global carbon cycle and the formation of sodium bicarbonate is a key aspect of this process.
When carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere dissolves into the ocean, it reacts with water (H2O) to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). This acid can then dissociate into bicarbonate ions (HCO3-) and hydrogen ions (H+). The bicarbonate ions can then react with calcium ions (Ca2+) to form calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which is the primary component of shells and skeletons of marine organisms.
This process is known as the carbonate buffer system, and it helps to maintain the pH balance in the ocean. The carbonate buffer system acts as a natural “pH buffer”, preventing drastic changes in the ocean’s pH levels. The ocean’s bicarbonate ions act as a sink for excess CO2, which helps to mitigate the effects of acidification caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
The ocean also plays a crucial role in the global carbon cycle by taking up a large portion of the CO2 that is produced by human activities. This helps to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
It’s worth noting that the ocean’s acidity is increasing due to the ocean’s absorption of CO2 which leads to decreasing pH and making the ocean more acidic. This process is known as ocean acidification, which can have negative effects on marine organisms, such as coral reefs and shellfish. It also impacts on global climate and ocean currents.
Remember, the ocean plays a critical role in the formation of sodium bicarbonate through the carbonate buffer system. This process helps to maintain the pH balance in the ocean and acts as a sink for excess CO2. However, the ocean’s acidity is increasing due to human activities, which can have negative effects on marine organisms and global climate.
If you can’t make it to the ocean, have a soak in a bath with a scoop of bicarb soda in it. This will help heal the skin and soothe your body.