PICK OF THE WEEK: Cactus goo for clean water

Scientists are exploring a clever way to make dirty water clean for small communities in Mexico. The secret is the goo from an edible cactus found all over that country. Norma Alcantar, a chemical engineer at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said people used boil the catcus plant, which they could eat. They then dumped the water into their drinking water. Gritty particles settled to the bottom, and the water on top was good to drink. Alcantar and her coworkers studied a material called mucilage, which they extracted from cactus plants. To figure out what cactus mucilage does, the scientists separated it into two parts — liquid and gel. Tests on the gel portion showed this goo alone could filter water and it took just five minutes.