From certain angles, the water flowing out of a new faucet attachment is nearly invisible. The design turns the flow of water into an ultra-fine mist in order to use 98% less water. Despite its appearance, the designers claim that the tiny mist is powerful enough to clean hands as well as an ordinary faucet.
“The instant your hands get under the tap they are soaking wet,” says Johan Nihlén, CEO of Altered, the Stockholm-based startup that designed the device. “And the speed of the mist really makes you feel you’ve washed.”
While faucet aerators aren’t new, the design may be the first to save water so dramatically. It also makes it simple to switch between a wide mist and a stronger flow. As you wash your hands or a vegetable at the kitchen sink, the mist saves water in part because it can thoroughly wet an object without most of the water splashing away. It’s similar to the Silicon Valley-designed Nebia shower.
But the mist doesn’t work well to fill up a glass of water–which can take two or three minutes. So the design includes a switch to “regular saver mode,” which still saves 75% of water, but comes out in a concentrated flow.
“In order for us to have a product that people would actually use, not one that only looks good on paper, we needed to figure something out,” Nihlén says. “That is why we have the ‘regular saver mode.’ So you get the water you need when filling up glasses, pots, and pans. Having a higher flow in those situation isn’t really a problem, since the water is used instead of just slipping through our fingers and down the drain.”
The designers also focused on making the attachment look good. “I think one issue with eco-friendly products is that you straightaway think that it’s going to suck using it and be horrible to look at,” he says. “Like you have to sacrifice design and comfort for functionality.”
Because it attaches to existing faucets–rather than requiring a completely new sink–it also saves materials. “There are already billions of faucets in the world,” says Nihlén. “Being able to alter them, instead of throwing them out, means we save a lot of resources. But, maybe more importantly, it also makes it cheaper. And that means it is accessible to a lot more people. In the end that’s how we think we can have an as big impact on the actual water issue as possible.”
Still, despite that goal, it’s not exactly cheap–the special price on Kickstarter is around $44, while a standard aerator at Home Depot can cost as little as $4.