Would you eat your water bottle if you could?

Ooho edible water bottle sustainable replacing pet sodium alginate seaweed calcium chloride

Quirk Heaven is the place for first world solutions, and sustainability plays a big role. That’s why when I saw the edible water bottle for the first time, my jaw dropped. It’s too good to be true! Well, it does exist, but it has a long way to go until it can reach its noble purpose of ending plastic bottle waste.

The edible bottle originates from a chef’s experiments with molecular gastronomy. It’s a biodegradable membrane resulted from mixing Sodium Alginate (seaweed extract) with Calcium Chloride (or Lactate), which solidifies soon after mixing. Pour the mixture over a bowl of water, scoop and seal once the surface membrane hardens and you get water (or other liquid of choice) in a weird looking bulge. This is in theory such a good idea and it has quite good potential as it is right now in reducing plastic waste in some situations that I’ll get to in a moment, but comes also with serious challenges and limitations.

Starting with the good thing about it:edible water bottle Ooho biodegradable replaces plastic bottle

  • it’s safe to eat it as it has no taste or just sip your drink out of it and throw it away
  • the edible bottle is biodegradable and decomposes naturally in 4 to 6 weeks as opposed to the plastic bottle, which takes at least 450 years to completely break down
  • creates less plastic waste
  • you can do it at home, using liquids or frozen beverages, which make it easier to manipulate and mold the seal airtight
  • you can fill it with all sorts of drinkable liquids
  • for hygienic reasons and extra layer can be added and peeled off before consumption
  • cheaper to produce than the plastic bottle, almost free if you do it yourself:

How to make edible bottles at home in 4 steps:

  1. Take a bowl, pour 1 cup of water and add 1 gram of sodium alginate, then blend with a mixer and wait 15 minutes until the air bubbles clear out
  2. Take another bowl, pour 4 cups of water, add 5 grams of calcium lactate and stir with a spoon until dissolved
  3. Scoop with a spoon and place spoon sized portions of sodium alginate into the calcium lactate bowl. Spheres start forming instantly. Make sure to leave enough space for the blobs to move: once the bottles are taking shape, stir softly for about 3 minutes until the gel stabilizes
  4. Place the “bottles” in fresh water to stop the reaction

Unfortunately the edible bottle still has a long way to go to replace the plastic one:ooho edible water bottle biodegradable replacing plastic bottle pet

  • the size is limited by the membrane’s fragility, smaller blobs work best
  • not suitable for carbonated drinks
  • doesn’t resist well with shock, heat, transport and handling, storage
  • short shelf life due to its biodegradable state
  • may require additional packaging, which contradicts its sustainability
  • prone to contamination, can become a health hazard
  • not hygienic handling it unless you wash your hands before, which is in most cases inconvenient
  • can’t be safely carried in a backpack or bag

It can however help reduce waste nowadays, during festivals for instance and sport activities, but I doubt this startup will be able to take it to the market as it is now.


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