When your business model seeks to substitute one of the most simple, ubiquitous products on the planet — in this case, plastic bottles — it must be brilliant to have any possibility of success. Skipping Rocks Lab have tried with their invention: Ooho! – a tiny blob of water. It’s a product that’s absolutely perfect for internet hype. It looks crazy, seems useful, and it’s not very hard to picture yourself using it. There’s also unquestionably zero chance that it will ever be able to substitute the product it’s trying to replace. Sorry!
The water is contained in an edible membrane that is made from two tasteless ingredients: sodium alginate (typically derived from seaweed) and calcium chloride. Both are already used in the food industry and are absolutely safe. Now, the membrane only lasts a few days before breaking down, but the creators are working on stronger versions that could be licensed to drinks companies.
1. Shape: Water is frozen into a ball so that it keeps its form, and to stop the water molecules from mixing with the membrane chemicals.
2. Dip: The ice ball is immersed into calcium chloride solution. The external layer of ice melts and some of the calcium ions diffuse in.
3. Alginate: The second immersion in warm sodium alginate solution forms the membrane. Calcium ions substitute sodium atoms in the alginate and bind the molecules together.
4. Polymer: Unlike sodium, calcium has two positive charges. This lets it bond to two alginate chains at the same time, tangling them up.
5. Thaw: After two to five minutes, enough of the alginate molecules have polymerised together to form a stable skin, and the ice melts into a liquid centre.
All sounds brilliant, right? But how realistic is it? Share your thoughts with us. Do you want to ‘eat’ your drink from a type of water-balloon?