(Chemistry for ages 5+)
Everybody needs water to survive, and over time, humans have created many ways to store water for when they need it. From canteens to buckets, bowl to cups, there are lots of different containers we can use.
Lately, single-use plastic water bottles have been the most popular, with over 20 billion being thrown out every year! Scientists have been looking for many creative ways to decrease this waste and one of their possible solutions is to create edible water “bottles” or little bubbles that store water and can be eaten. The video above shows how you can do this at home with some special ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
2 small- to medium-sized bowls
1 large bowl
Hand mixer or blender
- Measure out 1 cup of drinking water and add it to one of the smaller bowls.
- Next, add ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) sodium alginate to the water and mix using the hand mixer or blender to dissolve. Let this mixture settle for 15 minutes while you complete the next steps.
- In the large bowl, add 4 cups of water. Then add 1 heaping teaspoon (5 grams) of calcium lactate to the water. Stir this mixture well so the powder all dissolves.
- Fill your third bowl about half full with fresh water and set aside. This will be used to rinse the “bottles” after they have formed.
- Using a deep spoon (like a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon), scoop some of the sodium alginate water mixture (the first bowl you prepared). Carefully plop this scoop into the calcium lactate bath (the big bowl). You should see it form a little blob.
- Repeat step 5 until all of the sodium alginate mixture has been plopped into the calcium lactate bath, being careful not to crowd the bath.
- Gently stir the blobs around in the bath for 3 minutes.
- Using the slotted spoon, scoop each blob “bottle” out of the calcium lactate and add them to the third bowl of water to rinse and stop the chemical reaction.
- That’s it! Your edible water bottles are ready! Go ahead and try one. What do you think? Would you be able to drink all of your water this way? Do you think this would be a good way to get rid of single-use plastic bottles?
Sodium alginate is a substance that is derived from (copied from) brown seaweed and calcium lactate is a common salt found in cheese and gum. When these chemicals encounter each other, they form a gel-like substance, trapping water inside. This process is called spherification. Pretty neat!