Alberta has the world's third largest proven reserve of oil, but most of it — 168 billion barrels — is in the form of oilsands, a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen.  

The challenge for producers is separating the bitumen, which is refined into synthetic crude, from the sand and clay.  

In this simple table-top demonstration, energy expert Richard Dixon from the University of Alberta shows the CBC's Briar Stewart how it's done.

Of course, it looks much different when done on an industrial scale, with 1.9 million barrels being produced each day.