It’s been said that in some parts of the world, Coca-Cola is not only cheaper than clean drinking water, it’s also more readily available.
To make matters worse, Coke is very addictive and drinking too much of it puts you at an increased risk of developing health problems.
While many people still look at Coke and see a tasty, “refreshing” beverage, one Dutch artist/inventor looked at it and saw something completely different, and resolved to make a very important point about it for the world to see using his own sense of creativity.
Cleaning Up the “Dirty Brown Water”
Called The Real Thing, the idea was originally conceived by Smits in 2006. The concept was turned into a fully realized distillation process for the Sense Nonsense exhibition.
“I try to look at the world and the things around us as a child or as an alien, like I see things for the first time,” Smits told Dezeen.
“When I looked at Coca-Cola that way, I saw dirty brown water, so it was logical to filter it back into clean drinking water, just as we do with all our waste water.”
During his research Smits discovered that the production of one litre of Coca-Cola can use up to nine litres of clean drinking water, a fact he described as “absurd”.
“In some parts of the world people don’t have access to clean drinking water, but you can buy a bottle of Coke there,” he said.
The installation developed with University of Amsterdam masters student Martien Würdemann uses a simple distillation process.
The Coca-Cola is boiled in a container, producing water vapour that is funnelled into a glass. Minerals are added at the end to make sure it is safe to drink.
“A machine that filters Coca-Cola into pure drinking water suddenly makes a lot of sense in a world in which drinking water can be harder to come by than the multinational soft drink.”
Despite interest generated by the exhibition, Smits has no plans to take the Coca-Cola project any further.
“I’m not planning on turning all the Coke in the world back into water, it’s more to let people think about how we humans create the world around us and ask questions.”
“I just want people to laugh and then hopefully think about the sh*t that they consume.”