How Does Osmosis Affect Everyday Life?

Osmosis affects cell volume in both plant and animal cells, allows for the storage of red blood cells outside of the body and preserves meats and fruits through dehydration. Reverse osmosis is used to desalinate water. Life would not be possible without osmosis.

Unlike plant cells, animal cells do not have a cell wall and are therefore in danger of bursting from too much fluid. When the cell becomes too full, water diffuses out of the cell by the process of osmosis, thus saving the cell from destruction.

Osmosis plays an integral role in plant life. Plants draw water from the ground through their roots and transport the water to the leaves via osmosis. There is a higher concentration of solute at the top and edges of the plant than the roots creating an osmotic differential between the roots and the leaves. This potential pulls water upward. It also helps leaves retain water by preventing evaporation.

Red blood cells are stored outside of the body in a slightly hypertonic solution, meaning concentration of water is higher inside the cell than the surrounding solution, or isotonic solution, meaning water concentration inside the cell is equal to that in the surrounding solution. This keeps the red blood cells from drawing in too much water and bursting.