Spaghetti Sauce: The Secret to Clean Water

Alyson Bell is one of four people chosen for this year’s Manning Young Canadian Innovation Award.  This high school student’s ability to turn her curiosity into a creative solution at the Canada-wide science fair, has won her this award among others, including a $500 Manning Innovation Achievement Award – given to eight people each year – along with university entrance scholarships and $40,000 worth of prizes for her science fair project.

The project is a natural water filter that uses oregano to filter bacteria from water.  Bell figured out the secret to clean water from her grandfather’s oregano-dense spaghetti sauce recipe.  Wondering how the sauce was able to last over three weeks in the refrigerator without spoiling, Bell tested her hypothesis, that oregano keeps bacteria from growing, in a petri dish.  Finding her hypothesis to be correct, she turned these results into an innovative water filter made with fresh oregano layered between sandy gravel and charcoal.  Contaminated water that passed through the filter was disease-free.

But are Bell’s results really that innovative?  It has long been known that oregano has numerous health benefits.  Wild oil of oregano is often used as a holistic alternative to traditional medicine, to boost immunity and prevent disease.  It has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-parasitic properties, so it’s no surprise that it would work as a filter for contaminated water.  According to a recent article announcing Bell’s achievement, the oregano-filtered water “came out clean and potable.”  But, the question remains:

Did it taste like grandfather’s spaghetti?