What if there was a biodegradable water bottle that you could also eat? Skipping Rocks Lab, a startup based in London founded by three scientists, made this idea a reality and created Ooho! Ooho is basically a clear gel bag made of calcium chloride (an ionic compound of calcium and chlorine) and brown algae made through a process known as spherification. Spherification is a technique that shapes liquids into spheres with a thin, double membrane with an intermembrane space that keeps the water on the inside clean and hygienic. While the gel sphere is being formed, the water has to be kept frozen as ice in order to keep the ingredients of the gel inside the membrane and out of the water later.
The Ooho was considered innovative enough to win an award at the 2014 Lexus Design Challenge, and Time magazine said “This edible water blob could replace plastic water bottles.” Even more amazing than Ooho’s ability to reduce the number of plastic bottles piling up in the landfills is the cost of producing the Ooho costs two whole cents to produce. The industrial design scientists responsible for Ooho decided to license the recipe and instructions under Creative Commons which means that anyone can replicate it for free. The reason behind making the recipe accessible with Creative Commons was so others could make the Ooho at home to further improve the recipe.
However, this innovative water device has its limitations that have raised some concerns. Many people think the Ooho will pop in a backpack or purse. Others are concerned about what happens after you pop the membrane? In the promotional video the water seems to spill all over the table which means that drinking from the Ooho would be somewhat messy. Besides the mess, once you drink from the Ooho it is not like a water bottle where you can drink some water then put the cap back on. Some others also wondered how the membrane would taste since its only ingredients seem to be calcium chloride and brown algae, so would someone even want to consume it?
While the Ooho may have its limitations it is still in the early stages of development. Thanks to the Creative Commons licensing of the recipe, some of these limitations could be solved. Then the Ooho really could replace plastic water bottles everywhere. For now though, I have signed up to be beta tester for the Ooho and will continue to use my reusable water bottle until further notification about Ooho!
By Colleen Muprhy