The wonders of water

Published 12:07 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2022

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Other than air, today’s subject is not only the most important element for humans but for life, in general, on our planet. Water molecules are essential to the functioning of most known life forms because of water’s unique chemical properties. Water has the ability to dissolve many polar and ionic substances, which allows the chemistry of life to take place. Often referred to as the “universal solvent,” water can dissolve many more substances than any other liquid found in nature. Obviously, several substances will not dissolve in water, including oil, paraffin wax, and sand.

Most folks know that the earth consists of 71% water, but do you know how much water you’re made of? Well, the body is made up of 60% water, and here are a few other percentages. Skin is 64% water, the brain and heart are roughly 73% water, muscles and kidneys are 79% water, and lungs are 83% water. Even bones are made up of 31% water.

Two amazing properties water possesses are cohesion and adhesion. Cohesion is the action of water molecules being attracted to each other, and adhesion occurs when water molecules are attracted to other substances. Why are cohesion and adhesion important for life? First, these properties allow for the transport of water from the roots to the leaves of plants, which allows us to grow and harvest food. Adhesion is crucial to the human body. An excellent example of the importance of adhesion involves the lungs. A thin layer of water between the outer surface of the lungs and the walls of the thoracic cavity adheres to the lungs to prevent them from collapsing. Cohesion is an essential factor within the body, as well. This feature prevents blood from separating as it moves through blood vessels.

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Water also acts as a lubricant and is found in many areas of the body where structures like bones and joints are required to slide past one another. For example, synovial joints (knee, shoulder, ankle, etc.) have a layer of water-based synovial fluid between opposing orthopedic structures allowing them to easily slide past each other as they engage. Synovial fluid has three primary joint supporting functions: lubrication, nutrient distribution, and shock absorption. 

Here are more interesting water facts. Earth’s water is finite, meaning that the amount of water on and above the earth does not increase or decrease. The reason for this is that the earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surface act together as a “closed system,” which means energy, in the form of photons (light) can pass across the boundary of the system, but matter particles cannot. 

The continuous movement of water within the earth and its atmosphere is a complex system known as the “water cycle.” Also referred to as the “hydraulic cycle,” its ecological function provides people, animals, and plants with water. It also moves things like nutrients, pathogens and sediment in and out of aquatic habitats. For centuries, it was thought that there were only three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas (by the way, plasma is considered the fourth). Water is the only substance that best represents them because it is the only element that exists naturally in all three states. 

On Earth, 97% of water is liquid, 2% is solid ice, and less than 1% of the atmosphere is gaseous water vapor. Only about 1.7% of the earth’s water is fresh drinkable water, and of that, 68.7 percent is held in ice caps and glaciers. Water expands by 9% when it freezes, which means ice is actually about 9% less dense than water. That’s why it floats. 

Ice on the earth is referred to as the “cryosphere.” “Cryo” comes from the Greek for cold, “kryo,” and includes not only all types of frozen water, but permafrost, which is soil that has existed below freezing for extended periods of time, but doesn’t necessarily contain any water.    

Next week, we’ll explore more of water’s healthful benefits.       

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at or text to 864-494-6215