Hypertonic vs. Hypotonic: What’s The Difference Between Hypertonic And Hypotonic?

What are the differences between hypertonic and hypotonic solutions? What are the pros and cons of each? Read on to learn more about these two types of solutions, their differences and how they can be used.
Hypertonic vs. Hypotonic: 5 Key Differences, Pros & Cons, Similarities

Hypertonic vs. Hypotonic: a solution is a mixture of two or more two components. Hypertonic and hypotonic are the two main types of mixture. The main difference between hypertonic and hypotonic solutions is that hypertonic solutions have a higher concentration of solute as compared to the solvent. While the hypotonic solution has a higher concentration of solvent as compared to solute.

Let’s take a closer look at Hypotonic versus Hypertonic

ConcentrationHypertonic has a higher solute concentration
Osmotic PressureHypertonic solutions have a higher osmotic pressure
Cell EffectHypotonic makes cells swell, while hypertonic makes them shrink
Food PreservationOnly hypertonic solution can be used for food preservation

What Is Hypertonic?

What Is Hypertonic? If we look at the hypertonic meaning: Hyper means more, and tonic means strength. It is a type of solution with more solute concentration than the solvent in it. If the cell has a hypertonic solution inside, then it means that the surrounding environment will have a hypotonic solution. The solute and solvent flow depends upon their ingredients' concentration. If the cell is under hypertonic solution, then the water will be moved outside the cell by osmotic pressure to equalize the concentration on either side of the cell membrane. Plant cells use hypertonic solutions to draw water into the vacuole. Moreover, the nerve cells of the animals also depend upon the ions of hypertonic solution. Which generates an action potential.

If we look at the hypertonic meaning: Hyper means more, and tonic means strength. It is a type of solution with more solute concentration than the solvent in it. If the cell has a hypertonic solution inside, then it means that the surrounding environment will have a hypotonic solution. The solute and solvent flow depends upon their ingredients’ concentration. If the cell is under hypertonic solution, then the water will be moved outside the cell by osmotic pressure to equalize the concentration on either side of the cell membrane. Plant cells use hypertonic solutions to draw water into the vacuole. Moreover, the nerve cells of the animals also depend upon the ions of hypertonic solution. Which generates an action potential.

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What Is Hypotonic?

What Is Hypotonic? If we look at hypotonic meaning: Hypo means less, and tonic means strength. This term hypotonic refers to a solution which has less concentration of solvent as compared to a solute. Pure water is an example of a hypotonic solution as the solvent concentration (water) is higher than the solute (impurities). If a red blood cell is placed in the hypotonic solution, then it will be filled up with this solution, as red blood cells do not have any cell wall. The solution starts to fill up and produce a high pressure which can cause the bursting of the red blood cells. And when a plant cell is placed under the hypotonic solution, the central part of the vacuole of the plant takes up all the additional water and tugs the cell membrane against the cell wall. But due to the rigid nature of the cell, it drags back and reduces the risk of bursting.

If we look at hypotonic meaning: Hypo means less, and tonic means strength. This term hypotonic refers to a solution which has less concentration of solvent as compared to a solute. Pure water is an example of a hypotonic solution as the solvent concentration (water) is higher than the solute (impurities). If a red blood cell is placed in the hypotonic solution, then it will be filled up with this solution, as red blood cells do not have any cell wall. The solution starts to fill up and produce a high pressure which can cause the bursting of the red blood cells. And when a plant cell is placed under the hypotonic solution, the central part of the vacuole of the plant takes up all the additional water and tugs the cell membrane against the cell wall. But due to the rigid nature of the cell, it drags back and reduces the risk of bursting.

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5 Key Differences Between Hypertonic and Hypotonic

ComponentsHypertonicHypotonic
DefinitionA solution with more solute than a solvent. If the cell has a hypertonic solution inside, then it means that the surrounding environment will have a hypotonic solution. It is a solution with a lower amount of solute than a solvent. Pure water is an example of a hypotonic solution as the solvent concentration (water) is higher than the solute (impurities). 
Stands ForThe word hyper tonic stands for: more strength. Hyper means more, and tonic means strength.The word hypertonic stands for less strength, as Hypo means less, and tonic means strength.
PlantsPlants generally prefer to live in a hypotonic environment, but many plants have adapted to a hypertonic environment. While most plants would shrivel up in such a habitat, a specific group of plants known as Halophytes have evolved to overcome such obstacles by increasing the osmolarity of their roots. Most fungi and large plants can control the environment present around their cells, which helps them ensure that the environment is always a hypotonic solution compared to cells. Which creates turgid cells. These cells push outward on their cell wall and against each other to create a rigid structure. 
OsmosisThe cell will sacrifice water by osmosisThe cell will acquire water by osmosis
Medical UseThe hypertonic solution is operated in hospitals in the form of injection or IV dripshypotonic solutions are mostly used to deliver the fluid to dehydrated patients

Hypertonic vs. Hypotonic Similarities

  • Whether it is a hypertonic or hypotonic solution, both play an important role in the living system of animals and plants.
  • Both solutions have their own different behavior according to their different properties.
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Hypertonic vs. Hypotonic Examples

Hypertonic Examples

  • Sugary drinks, as these contain more sugar than the water
  • Injections and Hospital IV drips
  • Hypertonic saline was given to patients suffering from brain injury

Hypotonic Examples

  • Pure water
  • Drinks prepared with a small portion of carbohydrates
  • Distilled water in comparison to cell

Hypertonic vs. Hypotonic Pros and Cons

Hypertonic Pros and Cons

Hypertonic Pros and Cons

Pros of Hypertonic

  • The hypertonic solution is given to patients suffering from edema and also to replace electrolytes.
  • Hypertonic saline can increase intravascular fluid volume and is also used in the treatment of hyponatremia.

Cons of Hypertonic

  • Plants generally live in a hypotonic solution, so when they are placed in a hypertonic solution, they can get damaged.
  • If the outside environment of the cell is hypertonic, then it makes the cell shrink by taking in all the water.

Hypotonic Pros and Cons

Hypotonic Pros and Cons

Pros of Hypotonic

  • Hypotonic drinks can help replace fluid lost through sweat and prevent it during exercise or other workouts.
  • Hypotonic solutions are used in hospitals to treat dehydration in patients.

Cons of Hypotonic

  • A hypotonic solution can cause a burst of red blood cells due to the increase in pressure.
  • Hypotonic water overload in the body can cause hyponatremia, with symptoms of headache, nausea, and muscle cramps.

Comparison Chart

What are the differences between hypertonic and hypotonic solutions? What are the pros and cons of each? Read on to learn more about these two types of solutions, their differences and how they can be used.

Comparison Video

Hypotonic vs Hypertonic Solutions

Conclusion

The solution can be of different types depending on the concentration of its ingredients. Hypertonic and hypotonic are two main types of solution. If we look at the hypertonic vs. Hypotonic differences both have different osmotic pressure and concentration of solute and solvent. Hypertonic has a higher solute concentration than the solvent, while hypotonic has a higher solvent concentration. And if we compare hypertonic versus hypotonic osmotic pressure, the hypotonic solution has higher osmotic pressure. Both this hypertonic and hypotonic solution has been used in our daily lives in different ways. Pure water is the best example of hypotonic because the amount of solvent is higher than any solute, like impurities. On the other hand, sugary drinks with more fruits and sugar than water are hypertonic solutions.

Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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