An electrochemical cell consists of two half-cells. Each half-cell consists of an electrode and an electrolyte. The two half-cells may use the same electrolyte, or they may use different electrolytes. The chemical reactions in the cell may involve the electrolyte, the electrodes, or an external substance (as in fuel cells that may use hydrogen gas as a reactant). In a full electrochemical cell, species from one half-cell lose electrons (oxidation) to their electrode while species from the other half-cell gain electrons (reduction) from their electrode.A salt bridge (e.g., filter paper soaked in KNO3) is often employed to provide ionic contact between two half-cells with different electrolytes, yet prevent the solutions from mixing and causing unwanted side reactions. An alternative to a salt bridge is to allow direct contact (and mixing) between the two half-cells, for example in simple electrolysis of water.As electrons flow from one half-cell to the other through an external circuit, a difference in charge is established. If no ionic contact were provided, this charge difference would quickly prevent the further flow of electrons. A salt bridge allows the flow of (negative) ions to maintain a steady-state charge distribution between the oxidation and reduction vessels, while keeping the contents otherwise separate. Other devices for achieving separation of solutions are porous pots and gelled solutions. A porous pot is used in the Bunsen cell (right).