What is a Lifestraw and How Does it Work

What is a Lifestraw and How Does it Work

Any item from Lifestraw is no longer just for emergency preparedness or camping; it should be considered a household staple. But why? You might get caught up in an emergency such as pipe blockages, bursting, or in severe cases, flooding.

You should not trust your tap water or water from any source to be 100% pure. Disease-causing organisms, protozoan parasites, viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, can be present in your glass of water even when it looks sparkling clean.

So, what is a lifestraw and how does it work?

Let’s delve in.

What is a Lifestraw Water Filter?

There are two types of lifestraw filter technology: the Lifestraw personal model and the Lifestraw family model.

1. Lifestraw Personal Model

This is a straw-like filter mostly used in a water bottle or as it is. It is a tube of about 9.25 inches long and about an inch in circumference. The unit’s exterior casing is made of durable plastic, with a string attached so users can wear it around their necks.

When using the straw, you can stick it directly into your water source and enjoy your drink. As you suck on your straw, the water is forced through the hollow fiber that contains pores of less than 0.2 microns.

The dirt, bacteria, or protozoan parasites are trapped in the fibers as clean water passes. As soon as you are done drinking, blow out the straw’s air to clear the filter. You can down a quart of water in eight minutes using the LifeStraw.

It purifies about 1,000 liters or 264 gallons of water. It means that it will last you a year before replacing it. Since there are no replacement parts, you must get a new unit each year.

2. Lifestraw Family Model

It is a larger unit that can purify enough water for more people at once. It can handle a capacity of roughly 18,000 liters or 4,755 gallons before replacement. It consists of a blue bucket with a pre-filter insert, a long plastic tube, and a filter cartridge with a tap attached to draw out the water.

You will require no electricity or any energy source to run it since gravity guides the water through the various filters. You need to pour water into the pre-filter and bucket at the top of the unit, making it move down the tube.

The water will then run through a hollow fiber technology similar to that of the personal LifeStraw uses, but the pores are 0.02 microns across, which makes it an ultrafiltration device. It also means the family unit can filter out viruses while the personal one can’t.

How Does the Lifestraw Filter Work?

Lifestraw filter

Both LifeStraw models eliminate sediment, bacteria, and parasites from drinking water. The personal filter can stop particles measuring 0.2 microns, small enough to filter tiny bacteria and parasites. Both models have filters that eliminate 99% of the waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of the protozoan parasites present in the water.

You need to note that only the family version can filter out viruses, and both versions don’t remove heavy chemicals or salt. Beware not to go sticking your LifeStraw in arsenic-laced water and expect refreshment.

It filters up to 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) of contaminated water without iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals and does not require batteries, and has no moving parts.

It comes in a sealed bag which is perfect for storing in a bugout bag or other prepper gear supply kit, and has a high flow rate for drinking from the source.

How Do You Use A LifeStraw Filter?

Drinking From LifeStraw water bottle

The process of using a lifestraw filter is very straightforward. While you can drink directly from lakes, rivers, and even puddles, it’s often easier to fill a wide-mouthed water bottle.

Using the bottle allows you to drink without crouching down to the water surface, making it easy for you to carry some water along the trail between sources.

When using the straw, uncap both ends of the LifeStraw and Place the inlet end into your water source and start sucking a small amount of water to wet the filter.

This will start the flow of water within a few seconds. You might notice a slight chemical taste when using it straight from the package. Do not be alarmed since it will disappear within a minute.

The initial flow rates are impressive, although there might be a slight amount of resistance as water passes through the filter material.

How Can You Maintain the Lifestraw Filter?

Prefilter LifeStraw with coffee filter

As soon as you’re done drinking, you should clear the LifeStraw of excess water. Do this by blowing through the straw, followed by shaking excess water off and recapping the ends.

The more you continue using it, the more the water flow rate will begin to drop. Or you might notice a significant increase in the amount of suction needed to produce water. When this occurs, blowback through the straw to clear any clogging particulates.

As the filter approaches the end of its useful life, you’ll slowly lose the ability to clear this blockage, making it more challenging to produce water beyond that point.

A life hack you can try to extend its life even further, choose the most transparent, clean water available. And if possible, pre-filter before using your LifeStraw. The simple extra step will reduce the load on your LifeStraw’s filter, thus extending its useful life.

Try wrapping a clean paper coffee filter around the inlet of the straw. It will help remove the more extensive suspended materials such as mud, sand, and algae from the water before entering your Life Straw. Despite the apparent benefits, there are some situations where it may not be the best solution.

They are such as; it does not filter dissolved salts, chemicals, minerals, viruses, heavy metals, or “tastes.” Many of these items are present in the water at a molecular level. Far smaller than the 0.2 microns-filter media is capable of removing.

If your water has these types of contaminants, you should consider other water purification options.

How do You Handle the Lifestraw in Freezing Temperatures?

Lifestraw in freezing temperatures

If you live or going for an adventure in an area with freezing temps, you’ll need to take the necessary precautions to protect your LifeStraw. Note that this isn’t a flaw of the LifeStaw as all mechanical filters are vulnerable to freezing.

Beware of any amount of water left in the filter media after use since it could damage the water filter in freezing temps. If you choose to use a mechanical filter in winter conditions, take care to keep it from freezing. You might wonder, how do I do it?

  • Be diligent about clearing water from inside the water filter before storing it.
  • Keeping it inside your jacket, though chilly on the skin, will keep the filter from icing up.

The bottom line is that the LifeStraw is a great, lightweight tool for survival. Moreover, it is inexpensive and has a 5-year shelf life, making it the right emergency preparedness choice.

They are also small enough to carry in your pocket and treat the most common contaminants with ease.

What are the Different Types of Lifestraw Products?

Lifestraw manufacturers have made sure to cater to everyone’s needs. The products can be personalised by an individual, the family, or the community at large.

Let’s get started;

1. Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

  • Protects against 99.9% of bacteria, 99.9% of parasites, 99.9% of microplastics, dirt, sand and cloudiness
  • Ultralight and durable
  • A long-lasting membrane microfilter will last up to 1,000 gallons (4,000 L) of water; that’s enough drinking water for an individual for over five years.

2. Lifestraw Community

Lifestraw community

  • Advanced purification technology protects against viruses, bacteria, parasites, microplastics, dirt, sand, and cloudiness.
  • It holds 13 gallons at once, ultra-durable for harsh conditions.
  • Lifetime of 26,000 gallons, enough for 100 people for 3-5 years
  • Made with BPA Free and FDA compliant materials and has a built-in backwash handle to ensure longevity of filter
  • Requires no electricity batteries or replacement parts, making it easy to assemble, fill, and use.
  • Has an autofill option to ensure communities have constant access to safe drinking water
  • Rigorous independent testing with WHO, US EPA, NSF and ASTM protocols

3. Lifestraw Family

Lifestraw family

  • It has a high-performance purifier which protects against 99.9% of viruses, 99.9% of bacteria, 99.9% of parasites, 99.9% of microplastics, dirt, sand, and cloudiness
  • Filters up to 3.1 gallons per hour, perfect for communities without access to safe water, household filtration, and survival
  • It has a long-lasting microbiological purifier that provides up to 4,755 gallons or 18,000 liters of safe, clean water.

4. Lifestraw Go Water Bottle

Lifestraw Go water bottle

  • It protects against 99.9% of bacteria, 99.9% of parasites, 99.999% of microplastics, chlorine, organic chemical matter, dirt, sand, and cloudiness.
  • It improves taste
  • It has a long-lasting membrane microfilter that lasts up to 1,000 gallons or 4,000 L, and the activated carbon filter lasts up to 26 gallons of water with proper use and maintenance.
  • Durable and BPA-free, independently lab tested to meet protocols established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NSF International/ANSI
  • Every fill avoids single-use plastic bottled water.
  • Easy to use, easy to clean bottle, and cap are dishwasher safe once the filter is removed.

5. Lifestraw Flex with Gravity Bag

Lifestraw Flex with Gravity Bag

  • Protects against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, lead and other heavy metals, chemicals, organic chemical matter, dirt, sand, and cloudiness
  • It removes odours to improve taste
  • Independently lab tested, durable and BPA-free
  • Every fill avoids single-use plastic bottled water!
  • It can be used as a personal straw filter, with the included gravity bag, as an in-line filter with most hydration packs, or attached to most disposable water bottles.
  • It has a long-lasting membrane microfilter that lasts up to 500 gallons.

6. Lifestraw Universal

Lifestraw Universal

  • It includes water filter, narrow and wide mouth caps, standard and sport mouthpieces, leak-proof lid
  • It is compatible with select models, with a minimum bottle height of 7.3 inches from several popular brands.
  • It protects against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, chlorine, organic chemical matter, dirt, sand, and cloudiness.
  • Every fill avoids single-use plastic bottled water.

7. Lifestraw Flex With Collapsible Water Bottle

LifeStraw flex with collapsible water bottle

  • It has a compact and ultralight filter and 0.7litre squeeze bottle that weighs  89 g and has an easy-to-fill wide opening
  • It has a long-lasting membrane microfilter lasts up to 500 gallons and has replaceable activated carbon + ion exchange filter lasts up to 26 gallons
  • It contains a versatile water filter system, can be as a personal straw filter, with the included squeeze bottle, with a gravity bag, as an in-line filter with most hydration packs or attached to most disposable water bottles
  • It protects against 99.9% of bacteria, 99.9% of parasites, 99.9% of microplastics, heavy metals, organic chemical matter, dirt, sand, and cloudiness.

Is LifeStraw Really Safe?

It can deliver water at a reasonable rate and fast enough to let you drink normally doesn’t leave any after-taste because there aren’t any chemicals involved in the water purification process.

In case the is muddy, the water filter’s bottom might sometimes get clogged. You can rectify it by blowing through it, which should clear it out and let you continue drinking.

When choosing the best water filters, consider safety since it is crucial when drinking clean water. The lifestraw filter size is 0.2 microns, which is pretty small. Any suspended particles such as mud, algae, and anything organic, are guaranteed to be filtered.

Most bacteria in the water are from 0.5 to 5 microns across, so it’s also very efficient at trapping them. However, the occasional one might get through, but it’s rated at 99.9% effective against bacterial contamination meaning you have nearly no chance of being infected.

Protozoans such as giardia are larger than bacteria, but some of them release small spores which aren’t as easily filtered; even so, it is 99.99% effective, which again means there’s no real risk.

Viruses range in size from 0.3 microns, which it will catch, down to just 0.2 microns, so it isn’t effective against them.

If you suspect the water contains industrial pollution, don’t try to filter it with your straw since it doesn’t filter out chemicals.

How Can I Unclog my LifeStraw Products?

LifeStraw clogged filter fix with coconut milk

If your water filters are clogged, do not worry, for here are some steps you can follow to unclog them and continue enjoying your water. Let’s get started;

1. Remove Carbon Filter

Remove the carbon filter if you are using a Go 2-Stage,

Play, Flex, or Universal. If it does not have a carbon filter, you can skip this step.

2. Hydrate it

Fill a clean jar with four tablespoons of coconut milk and 2 cups of water, mixing well.

Remove the membrane microfilter from the cap and immerse the filter in coconut solution. Let

stand for 1 hour.

3. Rinse the Filter

Rinse the hydrated membrane microfilter under tap water for 1 minute, making sure

to rinse from both sides. Clean the mouthpiece and all surfaces after rinsing.

4. You can resume Use

To use your straw again, reinsert the carbon filter. Skip this step if you are using a LifeStraw Personal. Then get to drinking your water.

Note that the first few sips might be more challenging, but they should ease up quickly.

What Tips Should you Consider when Buying a

Water Filter?

Water filters come in different shapes, sizes, designs, and water filtration methods. They have, therefore, flooded the market, making it challenging for most people to choose. The following tips will help you pick a portable water filter that will suit your needs and give you clean filtered water.

1. Filtration Efficiency

Choose a water filter that eliminates bacteria, parasites, heavy metals, organic chemicals, and other contaminants.

2. Convenience

Whether you need a filter that you will use on the go or that which requires a specific setup, buy one that suits you best.

3. Filter Life

Modern filter cartridges can last a long time, sometimes thousands of litres, before being replaced. Only a few can even be cleaned and reused though smaller devices tend to have a shorter life.

4. Its Weight

Some filters are designed for large groups of people, making them too heavy to be of much use for backpacking. Smaller and lighter ones are available but tend to have a lower flow rate and a shorter life.

How Should I Store my Lifestraw Product?

If you have used the product and you plan to store it for more than a month, follow the following steps;

1. Remove the carbon filter

Remove it, let it dry for 30 minutes, and place it in a sealed zip bag.

2. Disinfect

Mix ¼ teaspoon of household bleach with 2 cups of clean water and pour the solution into the bottle, closing the lid when filled. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Empty the bottle and rinse with clean water while shaking it.

For LifeStraw personal, close the bottom cap, open the top cap and pour the solution through the mouthpiece, closing the top cap afterward. Let stand for 5 minutes. Open both caps and rinse under clean tap water for 1 minute.

3. Immerse in Salt Solution

Fill the bottle half-way with water, add one teaspoon of salt and let it dissolve. Place the lid with the mouthpiece closed or cap on and the microfilter membrane still attached back onto the bottle and tighten.

For your LifeStraw personal, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in 2 cups of clean water, close the bottom cap, and pour the solution into the top cap until full. Pour the remaining into a bottle. Store the Straw in the salt solution with both caps open.

4. Store

Store the bottle that contains the saltwater in a cool, dry place. If applicable, store the carbon filter sealed in a Ziploc bag separately in a cool, dry place.

5. Resume Use

To use your LifeStraw again, reinsert the carbon filter if applicable. Discard the salt solution and fill your bottle with regular source water. For your LifeStraw personal, blow any remaining solution before filling with regular source water.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you drink your own urine with LifeStraw?

It should remove cells and germs. But urine removes many undesirable chemicals or compounds from your bloodstream for a reason, and LifeStraw cannot remove most of those ions.

2. How many times can you use a LifeStraw?

Its activated carbon and Ion exchange filter lasts approximately 40 gallons. A household uses about 2.5 liters per day or refills the 7-cup housing five times per day.

3. Can you use a LifeStraw more than once?

No. It will cease to function when used up after about 1200 liters. It’s a great product.

4. Can you drink ocean water with a LifeStraw?

While it may remove all parasites and bacteria, it does nothing about salt. You cannot use it to make ocean water drinkable, and since urine typically has a high salt level, it’s going to be like drinking from a salt shaker. Also, the LifeStraw does nothing about taste either.

5. Does LifeStraw remove Giardia?

While the filter’s initial model did not remove Giardia lamblia, it now eliminates a minimum of 99.999% of waterborne protozoan parasites, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

6. Why is LifeStraw clogged?

Clogging can occur due to improper backwashing, cleaning, and storage, trapped air bubbles, etc. One of the best ways to prevent clogging is to remove the carbon filter, disinfect it, immerse in a salt solution, store it and remove it when ready to resume usage.

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