Bottoms up! Now you can drink the sweat from your shirt

Throw in some steamy, sodden clothes and out comes pure water. It tastes great because you worked for it.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Sweat machine
The Sweat Machine uses a distillation membrane to extract water from sweaty clothing. UNICEF Sweden

"Too many bodily fluids are going to waste!" said no one ever. But scientists are finding ways to make use of this great untapped resource.

We've seen how urine could be used to recharge your smartphone or tell you you're too drunk to drive. Now you can turn your sweat into refreshing H2O.

Engineers in Sweden have come up with a machine that extracts the sweat from your gym clothes and turns it into purified drinking water. Imagine drinking the very essence of your stinking self.

That's what volunteers in Sweden have been doing to promote the machine and a UNICEF water awareness campaign that it supports.

The Sweat Machine spins and heats sweaty clothes, forcing the vapor to pass through a distillation membrane that blocks everything but water molecules.

The membrane was developed by a company called HVR Water Purification in collaboration with Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology. The resulting liquid is said to be cleaner than Swedish tap water.

The machine was set up at the recent Gothia Cup for international youth soccer in Gothenburg, where more than 1,000 people have quaffed glasses of sweat. Apparently, no one gagged.

"We wanted to raise this subject in a new, playful, and engaging way," Per Westberg, deputy executive director of UNICEF Sweden, said in a release. The organization wants to highlight that 780 million people lack access to clean drinking water.

"Our Sweat Machine is a reminder that we all share the same water. We all drink and sweat in the same way, regardless of how we look or what language we speak. Water is everyone's responsibility and concern," Westberg said.

But the soccer tournament wasn't exactly awash in sweat. While a sweaty t-shirt usually produces about 0.3 ounces -- or a mouthful -- of water, cooler-than-expected weather limited its production.

Exercise machines were thus set up beside the Sweat Machine and volunteers were "cycling like crazy" to feed it.

"Even so, the demand for sweat is greater than the supply," BBC News quoted Mattias Ronge, chief executive of Deportivo, as saying. Deportivo is the Stockholm-based advertising agency that organized the event.

"And the machine will never be mass produced. There are better solutions out there such as water-purifying pills," Ronge said.

Now, if only sweat were available in pill form, this thing could be huge.