Welcome to the future; enjoy your waterblob!
March 23, 2015 3:11 PM   Subscribe

"When we drink bottled water we throw away plastic, [and] 80% of the bottles are not recycled..... Ooho! uses the culinary technique of sphereification, the water is encapsulated in a double gelatinous membrane. The technique consist into apply sodium alginate (E-401) from the brown algae and calcium chloride (E-509) in a concrete proportions in order to generate a gelification on the exterior of the liquid. The final package is simple, cheap (2ct/unit), resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even eatable."
posted by Blue Jello Elf (72 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
So in the future, we will have to wash our water before drinking?
posted by chevyvan at 3:17 PM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hrmm...how will they react to alcohol?
posted by Drinky Die at 3:19 PM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


So in the future, we will have to wash our water before drinking?

No. We'll carry our water orbs around in capable disposable plastic containers.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:20 PM on March 23, 2015 [46 favorites]


Pepsi quivering orb.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:28 PM on March 23, 2015 [15 favorites]


Speaking as a double gelatinous membrane, I can only approve.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:29 PM on March 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


I for one welcome our gelatinous overlords.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:29 PM on March 23, 2015


In Peter Watts's sci-fi novel "Blindsight", he offhandedly mentions people drinking from "bulbs":

So I returned to my apartment, split a bulb of Glenfiddich, and arrayed virtual windows like daisy petals in my head.

I pictured them looking almost exactly like this! So this is wonderful. I think this is the second time in 2015 I have quoted Blindsight on mefi, thanks to the author hosting it in its entirety here. Thank you Mister Watts
posted by Greg Nog at 3:31 PM on March 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


What a time to be alive. I can't wait to chug balls.
posted by boo_radley at 3:31 PM on March 23, 2015 [49 favorites]


Do people really not recycle their plastic bottles? I'd say I recycle the vast majority. What I don't recycle, I often reuse for some project, but they may end up in the trash after that. In the past year I've gotten a little lazy about it, so maybe 10-20% make it to the trash instead of recycling. Which is not good, I am aware of that, but I feel incredibly bad about it and am surprised to hear that others don't recycle at at least a similar rate.

(The orbs are cool though. I may need to play with making some. I can see so many possibilities!)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:33 PM on March 23, 2015


Eisenberg examines the water spheres he’s mysteriously given by his captors:

He turned his attention back to the delightful little spheres of crystalline jelly. He balanced them in his palms, savoring their soft, smooth touch. In the heart of each he saw his own reflection, imaged in the miniature, made elfin and graceful. He became aware almost for the first time of the serene beauty of the human figure, and almost any human figure, when viewed as a composition and not a mass of colloidal detail.


From "Goldfish Bowl" by Robert A Heinlein
posted by librosegretti at 3:35 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you don't mind looking like a sea turtle feasting on jellyfish,
This is a feature, not a bug.
posted by GrumpyDan at 3:36 PM on March 23, 2015 [17 favorites]


This is a feature, not a bug.

Amen. I'd buy (make?) these just to freak out tourists on the subway.
posted by Skorgu at 3:37 PM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


@Insert clever name - just because you put them in your recycling bin doesn't mean they actually get usefully recycled. Even if they do, recycling is a bit of a misnomer for plastics - recycling plastics takes significant energy and results in lower grade plastics. I sometimes think that "recycling" of this kind plays a role similar to the "security theatre" at airports.
posted by silence at 3:37 PM on March 23, 2015 [17 favorites]


[insert clever name here]: "Do people really not recycle their plastic bottles?"

It is distressingly common for business users to not recycle their bottles.

I wonder if spheres are the only shape that can be made as tubes would be a lot easier to deal with.
posted by Mitheral at 3:39 PM on March 23, 2015


80% of the bottles are not recycled

Let's see, google, google, UK 52% recycled (around the EU average), Switzerland 81% (no deposit), Sweden 90% (deposit). I assume 20% is US?
posted by effbot at 3:40 PM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do people really not recycle their plastic bottles?

You have no idea. In addition to the "conservative" assholes who refuse to recycle purely out of spite, recycling services are just plain abysmal in many parts of the country. Did you know there's no residential recycling in many of the Sacramento suburbs? Sacramento!! In two-thousand-fucking-fifteen. It's quite amazing.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:42 PM on March 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Good news, everyone! Now we can devour terrifying gelatinous blobs, instead of the other way around!
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:42 PM on March 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


Apart from the question of how you transport these,I'm pretty sure anyone who plans that much ahead is already using a reusable bottle. Disposable water bottles are largely a convenience, and nothing about this looks convenient.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:42 PM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


They cost 2 cents a unit, but they look cool, so the net price to us will probably go up.
posted by JHarris at 3:45 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are they crushproof?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:50 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The use cases are very low, because basically you have to want to drink all the water in the algae/gelatin ball at once. And even if you had them instead of water bottles at, say, an outdoor concert in the summer - when the ground would normally be littered with plastic bottles - now instead it's covered in an algae/gelatin goo. Which may be biodegradable, but could get fairly gross.
posted by graymouser at 3:50 PM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


It says the skin is edible. (But will people really eat it, if it's covered in eg pocket lint and dirt from shipping/warehousing/handling?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:55 PM on March 23, 2015


I am intriqued by the method displayed, but proposing it as a solution for bottled water is kind of goofy.

If I follow the "making-of" section of the video, they freeze some water and then coat the ice spheres in the alginate. (Attn: Drinky Die, you'd need to overcome the freezing temperature of the alcohol for this method. You may be interested in this recipe for mojito spheres though I have not tried it.)

So where did this water we're freezing come from? The tap? As ernielundquist asks, why not just put that water in a re-usable bottle?

This is neat if you want to feel like you're eating an alien fruit or something, but nothing about it seems practical.
posted by RobotHero at 3:57 PM on March 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Everything about this is disgusting!
posted by wats at 3:58 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


In AK here, it's always really weird to me to hear people get spiteful about people not recycling water bottles. It's really just about whether or not there are recycling bins around or not, and there aren't many here. My university had them everywhere, but soon as I got out, my interest in caring in recycling water bottles just dropped like a rock. It's much easier to recycle cardboard and glass because that stuff just stays at my house, a water bottle is more like a battery pack for my body that I always have to keep on my person. I also kept buying and losing sturdy water bottles- I've come to just appreciate the efficiency of buying a 24 pack of bottled water from Costco and being able to refill it throughout the day at work. Sometimes I forget to bring it home, sometimes I'm able to keep using the same water bottle for weeks. It's the least stressful way for me, at my current environment- I'd be happy to adapt once I move elsewhere.

This Ooho is really cool though. I hope that they someday figure out a durable way to keep it around. I'd probably turn "conservative" the moment that one of these things blow up in my bag and destroy my laptop.
posted by weewooweewoo at 4:03 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do people really not recycle their plastic bottles?

There is no curbside recycling in my neck of the woods. Trash collection is by private companies and, while they are supposed to separate recyclables out from the waste before heading to the landfill, who really knows?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:03 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The technique consist into apply sodium alginate

How is water orb formed?
posted by Ratio at 4:04 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


As far as packaging goes, I imagine they'd be sold in rigid, leak-proof boxes of say 24 or 48 blobs a pop.
posted by Flashman at 4:04 PM on March 23, 2015


eating an alien fruit or something

Which makes me wonder if this has been used in molecular gastronomy. If it hasn't, I bet it one day will.
posted by graymouser at 4:07 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


graymouser: "Which makes me wonder if this has been used in molecular gastronomy. If it hasn't, I bet it one day will."

c'mon buddy.
posted by boo_radley at 4:09 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


As far as packaging goes, I imagine they'd be sold in rigid, leak-proof boxes of say 24 or 48 blobs a pop.

This raises the mental image of repurposed "Cluster Irrigation" bomblets. Water balloon war is hell.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:09 PM on March 23, 2015


I wonder what the shelf life is like. The package has to dissolve eventually.

This reminds me of a science story I heard long ago. A company manufactured superpure water for research purposes, with no measurable contaminants. There's only one problem, water is a universal solvent, pour it in a glass bottle and it's no longer superpure, it dissolves some of the glass and now it has silicon dioxide molecules in it. So how do you ship superpure water? In a container made of superpure ice.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:25 PM on March 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


I can see drink machines changing from bottles to a mix of the syrup of choice + alginate injected into a solution of calcium chloride, made and dispensed on demand. Hold out hand, receive future drink. Well, "see" as in I can see how the plumbing would go and how it would probably function. Seeing consumers use it? You'd need to have it be something in a couple big ticket movies and a series of TV shows bracketing all age ranges.

Or the future drink rolls down a little polished metal chute to a cup that you flip over to drop the blob into your hand when you're ready to receive it.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:27 PM on March 23, 2015


So you can make water balloons that will leave people wet *AND* slimy? Methinks the last day of school will never be the same again.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:28 PM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


In the future, I hope that most of our "rehydrating on the go" comes from a local source in a reusable container just like in the good old days. This may be better than plastic bottles, but you would still need to truck it several times from where it gets produced to where it eventually gets consumed. At some point, we somehow became convinced that we need to eat snacks and drink fluids on a 2-hour "on the go" schedule like freaking newborns, and this shift is killing ourselves and our planet.
posted by drlith at 4:29 PM on March 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've seen (and bought) water and other drinks packaged in little baggies in a number of countries -- you just bite off a tiny corner of the baggie and then drink it up. It works fine as packaging for single-serving, single-use drinks, though you are taking the purity of the water totally on faith, of course. This pretty much looks like a first-world, biodegradable version of the drink baggies.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:35 PM on March 23, 2015


Nice science experiment, but I can't see this as anything other than that. People need to carry their own reusable bottles everywhere. Which takes a bit of foresight, but we're smart apes, we can do it.
posted by zardoz at 4:35 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the future, I hope that most of our "rehydrating on the go" comes from a local source in a reusable container just like in the good old days. This may be better than plastic bottles, but you would still need to truck it several times from where it gets produced to where it eventually gets consumed.

I've actually seen a great process for this that skips the containers and the trucks altogether. It's based on a system of underground pipes and a valve operated by the user to extract hydration at the moment of consumption. They have them here around parks and malls and schools and other public buildings. They're very environmentally friendly and because they're so cheap to operate once installed, they're free to use.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:53 PM on March 23, 2015 [35 favorites]


As far as packaging goes, I imagine they'd be sold in rigid, leak-proof boxes of say 24 or 48 blobs a pop.

And then we can start working on recycling the boxes.
posted by librosegretti at 4:58 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Okay, these are cool and all. But whatever happened to using plain old glass bottles? They're recyclable, aren't they? And cheap? Not hard to make? Reusable? Environmentally friendly?
posted by KHAAAN! at 5:08 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


In Peter Watts's sci-fi novel "Blindsight", he offhandedly mentions people drinking from "bulbs":

The concept predates that by decades.

And yes, even in places where recycling is available, a portion of the (US) population still throws them away -- often on the side of the road.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:15 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


At this rate they'll soon reinvent green coconut water...
posted by RedOrGreen at 5:19 PM on March 23, 2015


But whatever happened to using plain old glass bottles? They're recyclable, aren't they? And cheap? Not hard to make? Reusable? Environmentally friendly?

They're beaten on pretty much all of those measures by drinks cans, whether steel or aluminum. There's a lot of material in a glass bottle, and you have to make it very hot to manufacture it, and you have to use a lot of fuel to transport it. Apart from disposal, plastic bottles also outperform glass.
posted by ambrosen at 5:35 PM on March 23, 2015


I'm still staggered that the people that insist on bottled water are the people who can go to any faucet -- including bathrooms -- and get potable water.

What the world really needs is a bottled water poisoning scare. You need to carry water with you? Buy a bottle and fill it.
posted by eriko at 5:37 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


a portion of the (US) population still throws them away -- often on the side of the road.

A lot of the bottles on the side of the highway are full of urine, filled and tossed by truckers wanting to stay on the road; if not recycled, they are at least reused.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:53 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eriko yeah. Add to that, in the US, at least, drinking water purification standards for tap water are much more stringent than for bottled water. That's what we pay taxes *for*.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:59 PM on March 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's one end of the problem dealt with. Now once we teach people to urinate in the form of cohesive spheres we'll have solved the rest.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:00 PM on March 23, 2015


Would this be like holding a Wacky Wallwalker, after a while? God, those things got disgusting.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:29 PM on March 23, 2015


Biodegradable plastics are a thing. A thing which does not burst in your pocket or roll off the table. On the the hand, I do see the appeal in having the water I drink quiver before me in fear.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:43 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ugly bags of mostly water.
posted by chisel at 6:51 PM on March 23, 2015 [13 favorites]


These look pretty cool, actually.

The disposable bottles people drink from now are insane.
posted by Artw at 6:59 PM on March 23, 2015


I'm still staggered that the people that insist on bottled water are the people who can go to any faucet -- including bathrooms -- and get potable water.

There is a big difference between potable and palatable. If you would like to know the difference, I would be glad to send you a bottle of the crap that comes out of my faucets. I currently pay 29 cents per gallon of "purified" water, which I have to lug from the local grocery store where I get it from a machine that processes the crap city water supply into something palatable (barely).

There will come a time soon when only the rich can afford clean water. I am poor, but I know the difference between being poor and being destitute: tap water is only for broke people who are desperate enough to drink anything.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:20 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


This pretty much looks like a first-world, biodegradable version of the drink baggies.
This was exactly what I was reminded of as well. I was especially delighted by this in Mexico, where the baggie is the same dimensions as the kind one brings home tropical fish from the store.

Tap water is only for broke people who are desperate enough to drink anything.
My tap water is pretty darn tasty flat and because it's very high in mineral content, once I inject some CO2 into it, it tastes exactly like Pellegrino. However, I too buy water by the gallon from the grocery store to water my salt-sensitive carnivorous plants and Amazon species fish tanks (it's just a reverse osmosis unit in the Glacier coin-op, ya know).
posted by jamaro at 7:37 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


tap water is only for broke people who are desperate enough to drink anything.

And people who find it perfectly palatable. Don't forget us.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:43 PM on March 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Why can't we switch back to canteens? There could be vending machines that dispense various brands of water by fluid ounce for those who want their Perrier.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:08 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hrmm...how will they react to alcohol?

Alcohol spherifies perfectly well. Just follow the same directions, adjust pH as needed with sofium citrate.

I wonder if spheres are the only shape that can be made as tubes would be a lot easier to deal with.

Unfortunately no. Surface tension prevents it--you'll always get spheres unless you make the external wall much more rigid, which defeats the purpose.

And yeah, these would be best sold in ice-cube sizes. Pop one in your mouth, burst, swallow.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:24 PM on March 23, 2015


RobotHero: "This is neat if you want to feel like you're eating an alien fruit or something,"

Or maybe I can fill mine with gummy worms, pretend like it's an egg sac.
posted by RobotHero at 8:29 PM on March 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


> tap water is only for broke people who are desperate enough to drink anything.

And people who find it perfectly palatable. Don't forget us.


Unless by some chance the two of you live in the same municipality, you're basically using "tap water" to mean two things which you have no reason to expect to be alike. Some tap water is sulfurous, lumpy and catches fire. Some is tasty and nonlethal. The difference is very often attributable to corruption and politics: the corruption is when some industry pays a politician to say that "clean non-poisonous water kills jobs and anyway the only people who say it's poisonous are liberal government-loving perverts who want to destroy your marriage and abort your children up to the age of twelve, for fun"... but I digress.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:24 PM on March 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


My water is well water, runs through an iron filter and water softener and still has a TDS of between 450-550 and high co2 (well probably carbonic acid). It's not undrinkable, but it's not good. I do have a reverse osmosis / deionization unit for aquarium water, but that comes out too bland. So I drink Desani, a coke product that is ro water with minerals added to taste-key among them is magnesium. It tastes good that way (and has a nominal amount of magnesium which we should be getting via water anyway). Maybe I'm fooling myself, but when traveling recently, it drank all sorts of water and none were great. Yes, I did drink them, and even found one that was supposed to be ph adjusted to be similar to ideal water. It had a weird "softness" to the taste; I didn't like it either.

I hate cold water, ruling out cold to eliminate taste preferences. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I don't think so. I've tried to use reusable water bottles but don't have the patience to keep them clean.

Which does make me wonder how much the packaging changes the flavor of the water with these.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:15 PM on March 23, 2015


This seems like it might feel like those mochi ice cream balls after they have melted.
They sorta feel like tiny breasts.
posted by boilermonster at 10:35 PM on March 23, 2015


I currently pay 29 cents per gallon of "purified" water, which I have to lug from the local grocery store

I used to do that. Then I put in an under-counter filter with a dedicated outlet on the kitchen sink. Saves me money and a ton of effort. The water tastes great, unlike the town-provided stuff. I can tell when the filter needs changing by the taste, and changing it takes a couple of minutes every three months or so.

Dasani is tap water, of course, and the minerals added to it are epsom salts, potassium chloride, and table salt. Aquafina is another brand of expensive tap water. There are lots of them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:05 AM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


In Peter Watts's sci-fi novel "Blindsight", he offhandedly mentions people drinking from "bulbs":

The concept predates that by decades.


Earlier still.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 12:51 AM on March 24, 2015


Tap water taste varies wildly. It's not very good in South Florida, but I tolerate it fine. It's got no taste at all if it's chilled. In the middle of the country, I have only found very neutral tasting tap water. I guess that's down to it coming from a reservoir instead of a well.
posted by wierdo at 5:07 AM on March 24, 2015


Which does make me wonder how much the packaging changes the flavor of the water with these.

Not much at all. Maybe slightly muted because it's a gel but I'm pretty sure you'd not really notice.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:21 AM on March 24, 2015


The only time I buy bottled water is on road trips.

Random truck stop faucet water might be potable. But, I'm not dying to find out.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:56 AM on March 24, 2015


Unless by some chance the two of you live in the same municipality, you're basically using "tap water" to mean two things which you have no reason to expect to be alike. Some tap water is sulfurous, lumpy and catches fire. Some is tasty and nonlethal. The difference is very often attributable to corruption and politics: the corruption is when some industry pays a politician to say that "clean non-poisonous water kills jobs and anyway the only people who say it's poisonous are liberal government-loving perverts who want to destroy your marriage and abort your children up to the age of twelve, for fun"... but I digress.

The quality may vary, even from door to door within the same community, for other disgusting reasons.

..I put in an under-counter filter with a dedicated outlet on the kitchen sink. Saves me money and a ton of effort.

As I said, clean water is only for the rich. Apparently you didn't read my comment about being poor and barely able to afford purified water, I can't afford even a Brita filter. And I live in an apartment and I can't modify their plumbing.

This is the bigger problem: bad water quality imposes a regressive tax, but clean water from municipal water supplies is a benefit for everyone. The poor have to drink tap water. The rich can afford to purify their own water. The rich should be forced to contribute more taxes to the municipal water supply instead of spending money on their own private water purification systems. Then we could all have clean water.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:11 AM on March 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


The rich can afford to purify their own water.

Anything else would be Socialism!
posted by sneebler at 8:30 AM on March 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Apparently you didn't read my comment about being poor and barely able to afford purified water, I can't afford even a Brita filter. And I live in an apartment and I can't modify their plumbing.

You have my sympathy, and I am not trying to minimize the hardship of being trapped into making inefficient choices by not having the money to make other choices. I remember being in that place. If you could manage to save up the money buy a filter unit, that purchase would pay for itself in a short time. Also note that there are filters that do not require any modification to the plumbing. Besides the savings of expense, you would gain the benefit of having water that is government-tested, then filtered by you, as opposed to buying water that is not tested by anybody.

I would like to point out that your original comment did not say you could "barely afford" the water that you buy, so I didn't have an opportunity to read that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:49 AM on March 24, 2015


It should have been fairly obvious, since I made a distinction between the poor people like me who can still afford pure water, versus the destitute who can't.

I wouldn't bother to clarify such a minor point, except that it's an opportunity to post this new article from the NYTimes:

A Water Dilemma in Michigan: Cloudy or Costly?

FLINT, Mich. — Depending on the day, Melissa Mays says, the water flowing out of her home’s faucets might have a blue tint. Or it might smell like mothballs. Or it might fill her home with the scent of an overchlorinated swimming pool.

Lately, Ms. Mays, who is 36 and works in marketing, has not been turning on her tap much at all. After Flint changed the source of its drinking water last spring, Ms. Mays said, she noticed a change in the water’s color and odor. Then she started having rashes, and clumps of her hair fell out. When the city issued a boil order, she stopped using the water for drinking and cooking. Now her family spends roughly $400 a month on bottled water..

.. Flint officials insist that the city’s water is safe. They say that the issues of odor and color are separate from the question of whether the water meets federal standards, and that no link to health problems has been proved.


Every year, my city sends a document by mail to every single household. It is a report certifying that the city's water supply meets Federal standards. i wish they'd take the money they spend on the pamphlet, and instead, spend it on repairing the aeration facility that died in 2008.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:12 PM on March 24, 2015


While we're comparing local recycling services, my local borough has such a comprehensive recycling system that I actually didn't realise they collected normal rubbish for the first few months I lived here!

Our curbside collection consists of:
  1. An open crate for paper and metal
  2. a bag for plastic containers
  3. A fox-proof bin for compostable materials
For a while we'd been taking the odd bits of unacceptable stuff to the corner bins and shrugging our shoulders, but it turned out that we could just leave a black bag out with our recycling and a separate service would try to collect it on the same day. We have so little in that category any more that we tend to just let a carry bag from the off licence fill up and then we put it in the corner bins.

But we're not idiots, and we just drink water from the tap. Did you now that municipal water supplies are cleaned of harmful bacteria? It's true!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:05 AM on March 25, 2015


Keep in mind not everybody gets municipal water. My house has well water and a septic system. Based on tests we have had done best practice is to boil the water.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:00 AM on March 25, 2015


Eponysterical.
posted by drlith at 10:30 AM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


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