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Is Lake Michigan Saltwater

Is Lake Michigan Saltwater? Details About The Great Lake

Most of the residents of the Chicago metropolitan area receive their water from Lake Michigan, yet little is thought about the salt content of that water. Herbert Swenson from the U.S. Geological Survey says that the amount of solid matter dissolved in the ocean, which he estimates to be 50 trillion tons (50 trillion tons), “defies ordinary comprehension.” In simpler terms, Swenson says that one cubic foot of seawater evaporates to yield 2.2 pounds of salt. However, Lake Michigan freshwater contains less than one pound of salt per cubic foot. In comparison with Lake Michigan, the ocean is 220 times saltier. 

Furthermore, Lake Michigan is not salty, and so it is a freshwater lake, and the Michigan Sea Grant Institute works with commercial fisheries and sets policy to combat invasive species, ensuring that the lake remains clean. Also, water temperatures in Lake Michigan vary from season to season. 

What Is Salt Water?

Because of the high levels of sodium present in it, salt water is also called saline water. This type of water is usually found in oceans and seas. With 97% of the earth covered by water and the majority of it made up of seas and oceans, there is a greater percentage of saltwater to be found.

Different scientists have measured the salinity of the saltwater, and from the results, they concluded that it contains about 35 grams of salt per liter. Parts per thousand (ppt) is what it is measured in, and 35 ppt is what it represents.

One of the properties of saline or saltwater that scientists have studied is their boiling point and freezing point, both of which differ from freshwater. The main concern is the freezing point of the saltwater, so it is below -2 C and may even be lower than that. This is due to the salt content in the water.

Another property of it has to do with the tonicity of water, which is related to the idea of osmosis. In a semi-permeable membrane, water moves to the side with a high concentration of solutes to make an even solution. Therefore, saltwater is a hypertonic solution, which means that living organisms must consume it frequently to absorb water and expel salts.

What Is Fresh Water?

According to the definition, freshwater is defined as having low salt content, along with having no taste, odor, or color. Generally, freshwater is derived from standing reservoirs like lakes, ponds, wetlands, and flowing reservoirs like streams, rivers, etc.

Approximately 3% of fresh water available on earth is available to humans, out of which almost 1% is preserved in ice caps and glaciers. Freshwater has organisms that cannot survive in extreme heat or cold. Freshwater fish species include pike, salmon, catfish, trout, cisco, char, sunfish, etc.

Freshwater has a density of about 1 g/mL, which is less than saltwater. Freshwater has various properties, and one of them is tonicity, which is studied by scientists. A freshwater organism uses the phenomenon of osmoregulation, in which it absorbs water and then constantly excretes it out of its body to maintain the correct salt concentration.

Differences Between Saltwater And Freshwater

  • The term ‘saltwater’ refers to the water with a high concentration of salts and minerals, whereas freshwater contains salts and minerals in less than 1% concentration. 
  • Oceans and seas are major sources of saltwater, while lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, etc. are major sources of freshwater. 
  • Saltwater (or saline water) has a density of 1.0125 grams per mL, while freshwater has a density of one gram per mL. 
  • Saltwater (or saline water) has a freezing point of -2 °C, while freshwater has a freezing point of 0 °C.
  • Saltwater fish examples include mackerel, marlin, albacore, snappers, tunas, yellowtail, sharks, and freshwater fish examples include cisco, catfish, salmon, pike, sunfish, and char. 

Things To Know About Lake Michigan

There is only one Great Lake entirely within the borders of the United States, and that is Lake Michigan. There are four states bordering the lake: Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. With the Straits of Mackinac linking Lake Michigan to Lake Huron, the two lakes technically act as one large area of water.

The United States has three coasts: the Atlantic Coast, the Pacific Coast, and Lake Michigan, which has several inland beaches. Some beaches are covered with sand cherries, while others are covered by green beach grass. The largest freshwater dunes in the world are located on the eastern shore of the lake. The dunes rise more than 700ft above the water.

Indiana and Michigan contain several national parks and forests that feature some of the most unique and expansive dunes along their shorelines. Sand and rocks cover the beaches on the western shore and the northeast shore.  In Northern Michigan, Petoskey stone is a distinctive pebble-shaped stone that can only be found on the beaches of the lake. 

Flora And Fauna In Michigan Lake

Lake Michigan is home to a variety of fish and invertebrate species. There are many native fishes in this area, including panfish, lake trout, catfish, yellow perch, bowfin, whitefish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, etc. The lake’s waters are infested with invasive species like sea lampreys, alewives, zebra mussels, and round gobies, resulting in significant declines in the populations of native plants and animals. Several fish have been introduced into the lake’s waters to help control invasive species, including brown trout, chinook salmon, coho salmon, and rainbow trout. There are also a lot of water birds on the lake, such as ducks, swans, and geese, as well as predatory birds such as hawks, bald eagles, and vultures.


We discussed what freshwater and saltwater lakes are, and learned about Lake Michigan. Now that you know the answer to lake Michigan being a freshwater or a saltwater lake, it should hopefully have cleared your confusion. Hope this article was helpful to you and you learned something out of it. 

The next time you’re around Lake Michigan, don’t forget to visit the beautiful place!

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