Sculpture Turns Coca-Cola Back Into Clean Drinking Water

Craft & Design Food & Beverage
Sculpture Turns Coca-Cola Back Into Clean Drinking Water


Artist Helmut Smits makes shockingly clever work from surprisingly ordinary materials. In fact, his recent sculpture simply turns one common substance into another by distilling Coca-Cola back into clean drinking water in a work called “The Real Thing.”


Smits originally made a version of the work back in 2006, which consisted of an installation where Coca-Cola could be manually filter back into clean drinking water. This time, he developed a distillation process with University of Amsterdam masters student Martien Würdemann that simply collects the water vapors from a heated Coca-Cola bottle in a separate container, and then has minerals added to it to make it potable.


Although there are a lot of interesting conclusions that could be drawn from the content of this work, when asked what his intentions were when he decided to make the sculpture, Smits explained, “I just want people to laugh and then hopefully think about the sh*t that they consume.”

“The Real Thing” is on display as part of Dutch Design Week 2014 and can be seen in an exhibition called “Sense Nonsense” at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, which runs until November 9th.

[via Beautiful/Decay]

4 thoughts on “Sculpture Turns Coca-Cola Back Into Clean Drinking Water

  1. Andy Brice says:

    I’m going set up an installation in the next room which carbonates tap water and mixes it with the remaining syrup for patrons to drink at a reasonable price.

    1. Clay Haight says:

      buy a tank of compressed co2, a valve, a gauge and a rubber cork for the bottle. put the valve after the tank, the the gauge, then tubeing into the rubber cork. buy some root beeer syrup from soda stream and voila

      1. Andy Brice says:

        We’re onto something here. Why has no one thought of this before?!

  2. Joe Larson says:

    Huh, when I did that in science class (with Mountain Dew) we didn’t call it “art”.

    What’s next four this guy? Light bulb powered by potato?

    1. Jonas Dichelle says:

      an ancient Jesus sculpture turning water into coke would be amazing!

  3. K Blatchley says:

    Yes, This is the second misleading article that I have read on here. Misleading because whoever is writing it is mixing other words in that make it sound interesting when it actually isn’t. Like “Guy with a love for cats makes fake google glass out of rasp pi” Or something. Its crap and I am getting tired of it. This isn’t a sculpture… it is just a 101 chem set up.

    1. Andrew Salomone says:

      K Blatchley, I’m sorry that this project doesn’t fit your definition of art, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I’ve written about it in a misleading way. I encourage you to take a look at the artist’s website to see what I mean, he’s really done a lot of clever stuff!

  4. davidormeno says:

    Reblogged this on Arcanus's Random Stuffs.

  5. Erkko says:

    Technically it isn’t just water. It’ll include everything in coke that boils under 200 F, so it’s going to taste pretty weird. Probably vaguely like stale coke.

  6. elizabethazure says:

    Reblogged this on Hello There!.

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Artist, writer, and teacher who makes work about popular culture, technology, and traditional craft processes.

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