It's one of the most common and infuriating dining problems everyone encounters: getting ketchup to pour smoothly out of bottle and onto your plate. You've probably heard a number of solutions from "tap the 57" to "spin the bottle between your hands," but even those methods can still drown your fries in sauce in the end. Luckily, science - or rather, a research group working at MIT - has finally taken notice and concocted an impressive solution. By coating the inside of any bottle with the slippery LiquiGlide coating, anything from ketchup to mayonnaise to jam flows right out like water, barely leaving a smudge behind.
The Varanasi Research Group spent two months working out of a MIT lab to develop the revolutionary substance, which was originally intended as an anti-icing or anti-clogging coating. But shifting the focus to food bottles wasn't just to make life easier on people eating at greasy diners. Aside from the obvious benefit of no longer struggling with a troublesome condiment, the coating also ensures that much less food ends up in the garbage from being stuck to the bottle. The research team estimates about 1 million tons of food could be saved each year if every bottle used LiquiGlide, and that's just counting the sauces. The stickiness of most condiments also means that plastic squeeze bottles require a larger cap to work. Getting rid of the caps could save 25,000 tons of plastic each year.
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So far, the team has yet to find a type of container that can't be coated and has found LiquiGlide gives any surface a unique feeling of being firm, but slippery. This quality makes foods that would normally stick to the sides of a container just slide right out as if they were touching nothing at all. The group is remaining tight-lipped on exactly which substances were used to create it, but has revealed that it is completely comprised of food-safe materials that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Fortunately, LiquiGlide has already gained the attention of several bottle companies, thanks in no small part to it taking home second place in the MIT $100k Entrepreneurship Competition, beating out 213 other teams. Even though the focus has been on food packaging, the group hopes its coating could have other applications in oil pipes, gas lines and windshields, among other things.
You really have to watch the video below showing how ketchup moves inside a bottle that's been treated with LiquiGlide to see what a difference the coating makes. At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking someone just took a bottle of milk and digitally turned it red.