Why is sweat salty?


Sweating is something that we all do, every day. We especially sweat on hot days, when we do exercise, and sometimes when we feel nervous! And the reason we sweat is to keep our bodies at the right temperature to work properly.

Sweat can feel wet and sticky on your skin, and sometimes it can get a bit smelly. But my 9-year-old wants to know why sweat tastes salty.

Sweat is a liquid produced inside our bodies. Sweat is mostly made of water with small amounts of some chemicals (ammonia, urea, salts and sugars) mixed in. These chemicals are in our bodies because they come from the foods we eat and drink. And some of them give sweat its salty taste.

Ammonia and urea (which sound like ‘a-moan-ear’ and ‘your-ear’) are waste products from some of the foods we eat. Our bodies don’t need ammonia and urea, so we get rid of them in our wee, poo and sweat.

So, why do our bodies make sweat? Well, sweating is one of the ways that we can keep our bodies at the right temperature. If we get too hot, we need to cool down – or else our bodies won’t be able to keep working properly – and making sweat helps us to do this.

Sweat is made inside our skin and comes out through tiny holes called ‘pores’. If you are hot and starting to feel sweaty, you might notice little drops of sweat on the surface of your skin. What happens next is that the drops of sweat dry off (by evaporating into the air) and this makes your skin feel cooler.

Some people think that sweat is smelly but it isn’t because it is mostly water. But some of the bacteria that live on our skin (and help to keep it healthy) will break down the sweat and this can make smelly chemicals come out. So, it’s a good idea to wash every day with soap and water – especially after doing sports or exercise.

And because sweat is mostly made of water, it’s important to drink plenty of water on hot days and after exercise so you don’t get dehydrated.

Check out this video to find out more about how sweat works!


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