Sodium alginate: Making Water Edible

This is a kitchen science experiment that even the most amateur cook can perform. I will be demonstrating how to encapsulate water into an clear polymer that is completely safe to eat. I will also try and encapsulate other liquid foods such as strawberry juice.

You will need:

Sodium alginate (food thickener derived from seaweed), food-grade calcium chloride or calcium lactate, water, 1 measuring cup, 2 clear bowls, measuring spoons, disposable pipet.

Now try this:

1) Dissolve a ¼ teaspoon of sodium alginate into a cup of water (a blender to assist the dissolving process is recommended).

2) Allow solution to rest for about an hour to allow the removal of any air bubbles.

3) Dissolve 2 tablespoons of calcium chloride (or calcium lactate) into 4 cups of water in a clear bowl.

4) Carefully scoop out one spoonful of the sodium alginate solution and place into the calcium solution. Allow it to swirl around the bowl.

5) Carefully lift out the encapsulated water. You now have edible water!


Sodium alginate is a food product and is derived from brown algae or seaweed such as kelp. Alginate is a compound know as a polysaccharide (like starch or cellulose). Calcium chloride and calcium lactate is also used in food. You will find calcium chloride in pickles to keep the crunchiness. When alginate comes into contact with calcium a gel is formed. Calcium has the ability to form two bonds which will hold the alginate into a long link forming this gel as a molecule called a polymer. This is what encapsulates the water. Many creative cooks will use this process for placing sauces on top of food or as food imitations (such as making fake caviar). This process is referred to as spherification.


View original article at: Chemical Kim: Making Water Edible


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