Filter can separate water from Coke

The sheer awesome filtration power of the OKO filter is on display here as a fellow from Japan's RocketNews24 uses it to separate the clear, relatively benign H2O out of the Black Waters of American Imperialism. If it can turn Coke into water, the entertainment industry should consider using it -- after all, they've spent the past 20 years trying to get the food coloring out of the swimming pool. In any event, I wonder how you dispose of the sludge that remains in the bottle?

I tried drinking by clear and colorless cola [filtration] 's great! Taste to be worried about? (via Kottke)


  1. But how on Earth do our kidneys manage to filter out the SICKENING FILTH BILE that is American soda?  Sheesh, pick another country’s food to hate on for a day.  I’m sure British/Japanese/Random Country’s drinks are all made out of nutritious sunshine and happiness and nothing else.

    1.  British?  British?  Have a foochin’ kan of irn-bru and seh th’agin reet oop chloosse, ya girl’s frilly blouse.

      Japanese?  Pocari Sweat.  Tough drink.  Dare ya.

    2. Speaking of kidneys, mine will separate water from Coke just fine, and I got them for free.

    3. I’ll happily drink an American soda before a lot of the sugar-laden drinks popular in the UK.

        1. And there’s all sorts of UK sodas with tons of sugar, tons of caffeine… frankly, the US has more non-sugary, non-caffeinated soda options than the UK, by far.

    4. And the birds and the bees
      And the cigarette trees
      The lemonade springs
      Where the bluebird sings
      In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

      1. Good lord. Those are the real lyrics. No wonder that hasn’t gotten any airplay for the last three decades.

        1. There’s a lake full of stew and of whiskey too,
          You can paddle all around it in a big canoe.

          Yeah, I remember thinking that was a kid’s song when I was little.

        2. It was originally a song about the lies hobos would tell children so they could abduct them into a life of homeless wandering and sexual abuse. The last stanza went:

          The punk rolled up his big blue eyes
          And said to the jocker, “Sandy,
          I’ve hiked and hiked and wandered too,
          But I ain’t seen any candy.
          I’ve hiked and hiked till my feet are sore
          And I’ll be damned if I hike any more
          To be buggered sore like a hobo’s whore
          In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

      1. On the other hand, Americans don’t even come close to being the biggest Coke consumers in the world. It’s probably just because they don’t drink much Mountain Dew, Pepsi and the other drinks Americans use to balance their diet with, but Mexicans drink over 3 times as much per capita.

        1. Obligatory comment pointing out that Mexican Coke is sweetened with sucrose, not HFCS. 

          1. Mexican Coke is sweetened with sucrose, not HFCS.

            Apparently it isn’t. Different cokes do taste different to me though, I found Filipino Coke tastes sweeter, Malaysian Coke tastes a bit more acidic and Coke in the Maldives (which comes from an Arabic or Farsi speaking country) tastes weird, mainly because of the desalinated water. 

            I’ve heard American Coke uses a slightly different recipe to most other countries, so I can imagine people preferring Mexican for that reason. Sucrose isn’t much better for you though (if there is actually any noticeable difference), so why anyone who was concerned about their health would switch to a different country’s Coke recipe rather than cutting it out is beyond me though.

    1. How much do you want to pay per liter?

      All ‘reverse osmosis’ systems(as known to science since the mid 19th century, as somewhat viable at scale since the mid 20th) are pretty much exactly filters that will take the salt, among other things, out of seawater(or many of the remaining ions out of fresh water, if you are picky about your ions for some reason, whether it be your chip fab, or Serious fishtank, or the arsenic in the local wells).

      Not cheap, though.

      1. It’s a matter of pressure though right? This Coke filter seems to just run on the weight of the liquid, while our de-sal plants are power-intensive. Come up with a way of doing it by hand, quickly, and you’d be a billionaire.

        1. Based on the overspray toward the end of the ‘pour’ part of the sequence, it looks like carbonation pressure may be doing a little helping as well.

          If memory serves, RO systems will start working at more or less arbitrarily low pressures, it’s just that efficiency is totally dreadful until you ramp up the pressure significantly(requiring both greater energy input and more robust membranes).

          Also, my Japanese doesn’t even pretend to be good enough to get his comment on the taste. A filter that just scrubs the E150d from a cola will give you a visually clear result with minimal change in any other property. Unfortunately, everybody dealing with E150d is generally adding it quite deliberately, so literature on what filters effectively remove it is a bit slim…

          1. All the RO units I’ve worked on, on merchant ships, had a working pressure of around 60 bars/ 870 psi. 

            I wouldn’t drink what comes out though… 

          2. rough translation:
            “Okay, I’ll try a drink”
            “It’s like sugar-water.”
            “It’s almost clear, a little brown in color, but I don’t taste any cola flavour.  It tastes just like sugar water.”

        2. He’s squeezing the bottle to get the coke through the filter, so it’s not just the weight of the water. Still, pretty low pressure.

        3.  >weight of the liquid

          looked like he was squeezing pretty hard.  there’s your pressure, I guess.  it would appear to outperform both the effect of gravity and gas pressure from carbonation like fungus said.

      1. Yeah, except, have you seen how long the hand-pumped ones take to purify water? They don’t produce much at a time and they take a damned long time to do it. I’ve never heard of anybody relying on those as a primary water source. 
        Hand-pumped water makers should really be for emergency situations. They’re things you keep on board just in case something happens to the tanks of water you carry with you on said boat, or if you get stranded for longer than your stores of water hold out, or as part of your emergency kit in case you have to (god forbid) abandon ship. You don’t rely on a hand-pumped water maker for your daily needs. 

        There are yachts, usually the really big expensive ones, that carry a motorized watermaker. And those can actually produce water in quantities and at a speed necessary to support yourself. But they’re also like, $15k. Or more. 

          1. Except that it’s not actually essential. And most blue water sailing vessels aren’t multi-million dollar yachts. Lots of people circumnavigate the globe relying on onboard water storage tanks. Any boat you’d actually want to take out on even big-ish water has tanks. The reason multi-million-dollar yachts “need” watermakers has more to with the fact that multi-million-dollar yacht owners also “need” dishwashers, on-board laundry, hot showers every day, etc. 

            For that level of boat owner, yeah, $15k is chump change. Absolutely. I’m just trying to point out that these aren’t the norm on cruising boats. And they’re also not exactly what most average people would call cheap. I only bring it up because the original question was asking about cheap ways to make drinkable water from fresh. I’m assuming they’re also interested in practicality. The handpump is a cheap way of doing this, but it isn’t really practical as your only source of water. The motorized version is practical, but it ain’t cheap by most human standards. 

          2.  Oh, I hear you!  My guess is there’s probably a big difference between multi-million-dollar sailboats vs yachts in terms of owning these $15K puppies.  As you say, it’s for ensuring that not even an emergency situation comes between the guests and their primping for cocktails and dinner.  Sailors have a tendency — on average — to be a bit more rugged.

            It’s funny: I was comparing reviews of electric vs hand-cranked coffee grinders earlier today.  Very similar arguments were made as to their advantages and disadvantages.

            By happenstance, for reasons that would take too long to explain, last week I searched through the BB archives to get more info on the beautiful Capstan table which was covered by Cory a couple of times over the years.  Turns out, it *starts* at $100K.  That’s for a table to put on your deck.  So now you know the comparable I was thinking of when you mentioned the $15K price tag.

          3. Right. If the table you have on deck is $100k, you are not even going to blink at the $15k watermaker. I’ve been looking more at the kind of budget that involves a boat which costs significantly less than that table. 

          1. I’m assuming that, if my failure to find any intersection between the most imposing mountain range on earth and sea level causes some degree of doubt, I’m just not cool enough for the product?

          2. Naked hermits after years of purification are able to guide teams of Sherpas with aqualungs and snorkels to the secret Himalayan Sea. There they mine the salt which is now the property of the British Crown (hence the race to the summit for coronation day) and with which the House of Windsor aim to enslave the world once we have all become addicted to the magical properties of Pink Sea Salt.
            Either that or oxygen starved tourists queueing for the summit seeing the lacerated bodies of former extreme tourists slowly making their way down the mountain start halucinating, “There’s a fucking pink sea, mate, fucking pink it is, full of fucking salt!”

  2. How far away are they from making one that will only allow H2O out?  Because what remains behind could be VERY interesting.  Bromine, Uranium, CaCl2, etc.

      1. Likely comes down to the source and procedures at the local bottler. Uranium, at low levels, isn’t exactly uncommon in a variety of common rocks and also shows up in coal fly ash and assorted other places. In geologically-blessed regions, it’s pretty common for it to show up in well water.

        Since most coke isn’t shipped all that far from its bottling point(water is heavy and not that valuable, after all). Your mileage may quite literally vary.

        This is why Nuka-Cola Quantum is the beverage to choose when you want to be sure that you’ll get that healthy glow!

  3. even just boring old activated charcoal is used for removing caramel (coloring) from molasses. (caramel is the coloring agent in coca-cola, i think).  it’s a little suspicious that the filter apparently removes the (CO2) carbonation as well?  or maybe the demonstration starts with ‘flat’ soda?

    1. The soda’s definitely not flat. You can hear the gas escaping as he opens the bottle, see it fizz up, and can even see the bubbles clinging to the sides of the container after he pours it in.

    2.  According to their website, “ÖKO’s patent-pending water bottles with filters are carbon based for great, crisp tasting water. With a 2 micron pore size, they use a positively charged electro-adsorption process to attract and trap harmful agents while killing them by using the built-in silver ions.”

      So it basically is an activated charcoal filter with some silver thrown in.  They have a water safety page on their site that says not to use the filters with “microbiologically tainted water” in big red capital letters, which is a pretty good indication that they know the silver is a gimmick that isn’t really doing much.

      1. “”microbiologically tainted water” in big red capital letters, which is a
        pretty good indication that they know the silver is a gimmick that
        isn’t really doing much.”

        But it might help keep nasty stuff from taking root and growing in your carbon filter.

      2. So it’s a Britta basically.

         I have to use that to make the water in my stupidly expensive apartment marginally drinkable because it tastes so strongly of mold. I’ve finally given up and resolved just to buy water like everyone else here does. (It really tastes like you are licking the water out of a metal latrine, spitting it through a mildewed shower curtain, then drinking it again). I think the pipes must be bad. I have drunk reverse osmosis rainwater that tasted less toxic.

  4. Why does the water appear to no longer be carbonated? Is that something the filter does, a hint that this might not be real, or am I somehow overlooking the bubbles?

    1. I was skeptical that the filter might have been pre-loaded with clear water, but after going back and forth on the video a few times, it *looks* like the volume of the glass plus the remainder in the filter bottle adds up to the volume of the original pour of coke.

      I’m too dumb science-wise to understand if the filter takes out the carbonation chemically or if it flattens it physically somehow, like as if it had gone flat with time but due to being forced through the filter; or if my ideas–valid or no–are two ways of saying the same thing.

      but yeah, I wondered that, too.

    2. I once ran some mineral water through a portable water filter, it too came out mostly flat.  I think that that the agitation and the pressure gradients encountered result in much of the co2 leaving solution quickly.  

    3.  Activated charcoal (which is what the filter is) has a ton of nucleation sites.  If you look at the unfiltered Coke, you can see that it looks like it’s boiling with all the bubbles of CO2 coming off the filter as the Coke goes through.

    4. It’s fizzing up into the bottle, you can see it bubbling at the back.

      It’s a physical phenomenon — the massive surface area in the filter gives the CO2 plenty of nucleation sites.  YOu can see the same effect if you pour cola onto a smooth table vs a rough table.  Aa smooth glass vs a scratched glass.  So it’ll come out flat.As for the color and flavor — the filter will take out larger molecules and those that are readily adsorbed by the charcoal.  Caramel coloring is essentially burnt sugar, making oligomers that would be mostly filtered out.  Likewise, aromatics like the vanillin and such flavorings would also adsorb well to charcoal, so you’d lose some of the flavoring.  The sugar though should make it through.  Small and not as adsorbable.  I’d expect something like Sprite to retain more flavor.  Mountain Dew should retain more citrus flavor, but it’d lose its thickness and cloudiness.

    1. I’ve heard he says: “There you go tastes like sugar water. Sill a little brown in color”

  5. I wonder how you dispose of the sludge that remains in the bottle?

    Drink it. It’s magically delicious. When I worked at a fast food place years ago, it was easy to get at the button that dispensed just syrup. The Pepsi was way too sweet like that, but the root beer was actually pretty good in small doses.

    1. Drink it.

      That does seem a little counterproductive, but then so does buying Coke in order to filter out the flavouring.

      1. I used to eat at a Chinese restaurant that had a plum sauce that tasted more like root beer than plums.  This could explain it.

        1. I’ve slow-cooked a pork butt in root beer to make pulled pork. It’s delicious. Not very sweet, with two bottles root beer to seven pounds pork, but it adds a deep, warm, rich flavor to the meat. After pulling it apart, you can cook it a bit more with your favorite barbeque sauce or eat it straight.

  6. Dean Kamen has been working on the water filtration problem, and has created a device called Slingshot:

    It’s distillation, not reverse osmosis, but it would probably take most of the coke-ness out of a bottle of coca-cola, but it’s not exactly portable.

    It appears that the OKO filter shown in the video doesn’t take all of the sugar out, but I’m wondering how much of the caffine gets filtered out.

    Also, there’s no sludge left in the *bottle*, only coke. All the sludge ends up in the filter, not the bottle.

    1. Distillation is the way to go for maximum purity.  As long as you have a viable energy source you can get clean water out of just about anything, but again for large, large scale it can be somewhat inefficient.

      1. Just as long as the contaminant isn’t itself roughly similar to water in volatility, or azeotropic, or anything similarly obnoxious…

  7. Cory, what do you mean by the entertainment industry trying to get the food coloring out of the swimming pool?

      1.  Stephen: could be, but seems more like Doctorow to utilize Occam’s Razor in his comments.  I think he has something specific in mind.

    1. I think he’s used the metaphor before, for trying to stop the dispersal of infringing files on the Internet.

      1.  Can’t say as I remember him using it… but generally metaphors are pretty clear.  One guy above attributed it to those on weekend watch being drunk or stoned.

  8. I find it amusing that someone made a super water filter, and then made it from plastic and shipped it with a plastic reservoir.  The people who would be most interested in filtering contaminants from their water will probably refuse it based on that.

  9. You’re all looking at this the wrong way. Take a bottle of Mt. Dew. Filer half of it out of the bottle/ What you have left is a super concentrated mega ultra Mt Dew – Mwahahahahahaha

    Also I take it that something like pond water would work equally as well?

    1. You can do it with diet Coke without the filter.  Take a two-liter bottle and just plunk it in the freezer for about two hours, then pull it out.  It’ll be solid, but not rock solid.  Then sit it out on the counter or whatever until it’s about 3/4 thawed.  The syrup thaws first, so the trick is to let just enough of the water thaw too that you end up with a drinkable yet higher-octane form.  Open it then, over a large bowl in the sink.  You should still be able to see a bottle-shaped but hollowed-out water ice structure inside the bottle.  What pours out will be a very drinkable Essence of Life.

      1. Diet Coke would have to be drinkable to begin with in order to be drinkable in a higher-octane form.

      2. The same method can be used to make hooch from moderately alcoholic liquid. It’s called freezer distillation.  My buddy does it with home brew barley wine. The stuff is already, like, 10% when it goes in. What comes out will knock you on your arse something fierce. 

        1.  IIRC you have to be careful with freezer distillation of home-brew as it will also concentrate methanol.

          You can also repeat the process a few times, but it drops in efficiency rapidly.

  10. But does it work with coke? If so, anyone interested in investing in a Pepsi bottling plant in Bolivia?

  11. After reading this post and all the comments below it, I’m firmly convinced that the authors and those that comment  on Boing Boing on weekends are all drunk.

    1.  I’m tending to agree with you.  What the hell is he talking about with the food coloring and the pool?

  12. “Black Waters of American Imperialism”

    Odd phrase for an adult with the biggest hard-on for Disney that I’ve ever seen.

    1.  I hope it doesn’t extend to the rat as well.  I think it’s just nostalgia for the Disneyland of his youth.

    2.  I agree.  Several posts recently have been peppered with sophomoric
      liberal rhetoric that takes away from the fascination of the subject.  I
      come to Boing Boing for the fascination, and expect a little bit of
      propaganda thrown in, but I have gotten to a point where I have been
      going elsewhere for fascination-style blogging.
      Perhaps I am taking
      this too far, but a corporation cannot be “imperial.”  If he is
      suggesting it is so in the manner of being exploitative, perhaps he
      would like to ask one of Coca Cola’s 92,400 employees around the world
      how exploited they feel.

    3. I’m really tired of his bashing of America at this point.   Half of his posts this weekend seem to be just an excuse to insult Americans.

      1. Agreed. 
        Don’t get me wrong, I’m the least nationalistic person around, but give me a break. Couple this post with the smart-ass dig about that new ‘breakfast soda’ as ‘American Cuisine’ and it starts to get a little insulting.But, I guess I’m a bad person to ask – I read BB around his posts.

    1. For a second I thought it was a Jaws reference, but I think that involved milk rather than food coloring.

    2. Ultimately, I think the fact that people will copy the stuff that they
      like is not a problem; it’s a fact. Problems are things you can change.
      Facts are things you have to get used to.

      It’s safer to say that there’s a disconnect between firms and
      individuals that understand this is a fact and who accommodate
      themselves to it and try to maximize their revenue in a world in which
      copying is a given and the ones who still think it’s productive to
      devote enormous amounts of resources to trying to get food coloring out
      of the swimming pool, to try and stop things from being copied once
      they’re digital.

      Cory Doctorow

      1. It still doesn’t make any sense. Swimming pools have filters and pumps built in. I don’t know what a typical flow rate is, never having owned a pool, but I’d wild guess any food coloring would be gone within a week with no manual intervention. If not, it’s not that tremendously difficult to drain a pool.

        1. You’re assuming that the dye particles are large enough to be caught by the filter. More likely that the food coloring would disappear because pools are chlorinated.

  13. pay attention to the fluid levels prior to filtering and after filtering.. the amount of clear water, as opposed to the amount of cola that was “filtered”.. 

        1. When I was in India, Coke wasn’t even allowed into the country. You had to drink the local Campa Cola.

  14. I realize I’m way down in the comment threads, but I’d like to point out that, according to OKO’s website, the filter can filter down to 1-2 microns.

    Bacteria are about 1 micron, virii much smaller.  While it may make colas clear, it doesn’t mean the water’s safe to dring.

  15.  I agree.  Several posts recently have been peppered with more than the usual sophomoric liberal rhetoric that takes away from the fascination of the subject.  I come to Boing Boing for the fascination, and expect a little bit of propaganda thrown in, but I have gotten to a point where I have been going elsewhere for fascination-style blogging.
    Perhaps I am taking this too far, but a corporation cannot be “imperial.”  If he is suggesting it is so in the manner of being exploitative, perhaps he would like to ask one of Coca Cola’s 92,400 employees around the world how exploited they feel.

    1.  Except that regular coke can’t dissolve a penny overnight. Or even in a week. It can shine it up somewhat, and given three to five days will dissolve a baby tooth, but those are both properties of soda water, which becomes mildly acidic due to the carbonation process.

  16. This seems OK and worth trying for. Been looking for handy filter for traveling, so this looks good. I’m just wondering if anyone has heard about the uv water filter?

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