1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Osmolarity and Osmolality

Units of Concentration: Osmolarity and Osmolality

By

Osmolarity and osmolality are two common units of concentration of solutions.

Osmolarity and osmolality are two common units of concentration of solutions.

Steve McAlister, Getty Images

Osmolarity and osmolality are units of solute concentration that are often used in reference to biochemistry and body fluids. Learn what osmolarity and osmolality are and how to express them.

Osmoles

Both osmolarity and osmolality are defined in terms of osmoles. An osmole is a unit of measurement that describes the number of moles of a compound that contribute to the osmotic pressure of a chemical solution.

The osmole is related to osmosis and is used in reference to solution where osmotic pressure is important, such as blood and urine.

Osmolarity

Osmolarity is defined as the number of osmoles of solute per liter (L) of solution. It is expressed in terms of osmol/L or Osm/L.

A 1 mol/L NaCl solution has an osmolarity of 2 osmol/L. A mole of NaCl dissociates fully in water to yield two moles of particles: Na+ ions and Cl- ions. Each mole of NaCl becomes two osmoles in solution.

Osmolality

Osmolality is defined as the number of osmoles of solute per kilogram of solvent. It is expressed in terms of osmol/kg or Osm/kg.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.