These days it seems like cola is absolutely everywhere, but drinkable water may not be. Helmut Smits points out that contradiction with a machine he calls “The Real Thing” that transforms unhealthy bottles of Coke into fresh drinking water. The machine was featured at Dutch Design Week and Dezeen interviewed Smits to get the story behind the idea.

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Smits developed the machine along with University of Amsterdam masters student Martien Wubdemann. Using a basic distillation process, the machine boils the Coca-Cola to produce water vapor that is collected in a separate glass. And while the contraption isn’t meant to be produced on a larger scale, it does get you thinking about consumption and priorities. “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,” said Smits.

Related: India Shuts Down Coca-Cola Plant for Extracting Too Much Groundwater

Smits says he came up with the idea because he tries to look at the world through the eyes of a child or an alien to see the things that we take for granted. When he realized that Coca-Cola was really just dirty brown water, it seemed a shame to waste the precious resource, particularly when he discovered that in some areas of the world, people have better access to Coke than clean water. “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,” Smits said.

Via Dezeen

Images via Helmut Smits