LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

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LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby Hockey Ref » Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:37 pm

Just read an article in Newsweek about a very interesting gadget called the LifeStraw. Intended to help making drinking water safe in undeveloped countries, the LifeStraw is a nine-inch long bright blue straw about the size of a kazoo. It uses layers of increasingly fine mesh filters that block bacteria, with iodine killing any remaining bacteria. Active carbon neutralizes the taste of the iodine and knocks out any remaining parasites. You use the LifeStraw just like any other drinking straw: stick the business end into your water source and suck on the other end. The good news: each Life Straw costs only about $3 and can filter up to 185 gallons of water before it needs to be replaced. The bad news: it doesn't yet filter out giardia, so it wouldn't be recommended for use in GNP or elsewhere in the U.S...yet. But the manufacturer is working on that. Keep you eyes open for this product in the future. It could be the answer to your water-filtering problems.

Here's a link to the full article:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19121634/site/newsweek/
Last edited by Hockey Ref on Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby dorf » Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:46 pm

I believe most pumps use filters @.5 microns or less. I wonder how much suck power one would need to generate to pull water through something like that?
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Postby Hockey Ref » Mon Jun 18, 2007 6:10 am

The article says it takes a few pulls to get the thing going, but once you get the filters wet it's relatively easy going after that.
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Postby rjm » Mon Jun 18, 2007 7:45 am

Their website claims 6 microns, which is almost fine enought for giardia, but way too coarse for cryptosporidia.

Interesting comparison to a kazoo. Next, incorporate a finer filter and a pump, and then compare it to a slide whistle.
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Postby Heff936 » Mon Jun 18, 2007 12:15 pm

I'm sure that you'd need progressively stronger sucking power as the filters begin to clog. I think I'll stick with my MSR Miniworks. :arrow:
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby pitamakan » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:04 am

I wanted to revive this thread to see if anybody has had first-hand experience with these things. (Since the date of these first posts, an updated LifeStraw model has been released with better filtering.)

I'm intrigued by the idea, and can see where these could be great for certain shorter trips. They're about a foot long, so not quite pocket-sized, but still pretty portable and light.
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby Tsmith » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:27 pm

Quite an interesting device: Filters up to 264 gallons (1,000 liters) down to to 0.2 microns and for about $20.
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby scott-atl » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:59 am

got a steripen(sp?) a while back. kind of a leap of faith to drink after the light quits blinking but haven't had any problems yet.
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby Jay w » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:43 pm

I used to do filter sterilation in the lab. Basically load up a large syringe with a filter and push. Now, my memory is poor, but I think we used to consider 5 micron as sterile, and with a large syringe, it went through easy enough. (I'd think it would suck with a filter by mouth. (Joke), but it would take some sucking power.) We had other filters around, and I think the 0.5 filters were tough to push things through, even with a 50 ml syringe.

Another experiment I tried was to take some filters home (after I used them for buffer or whatever) and tried to used them on solvent I used for cleaning bike parts. The solvent had been decanted, but once I tried to filter with a syringe, it would _immediately_ clog the filter. I mean right now...maybe a ml. This is 15 year old memory, so the facts may actually be different, but I think the general idea is there. Any kind of cloudy water would require a series of filters, but a 5 micron should (at the end) require some sucking power to make it work. That said, I'd have more faith in filters than the steripen. No evidence, but my feeling from working in a lab. It takes a fair amt of UV to damage DNA and it has to happen in water (not dry). Being a very short distance (in contact with the water) must help tremedously. (r^3 distance dependence, right?)

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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby scott-atl » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:46 am

if the steripen had not received 'product of the year' from backpacker magazine, i wouldn't have bought it. i do give the water a double dose of UV. the steripen is supposed to be good for 8000 liters.
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby 2medhiker » Mon May 05, 2014 10:51 am

Three bucks??!! I just paid $22 at REI. Haven't tried it yet, but it is very lightweight - even lighter than my Steri-pen.
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby joybird » Mon May 05, 2014 1:25 pm

Cool gizmo. But if I'm understanding correctly how it works, it seems it might be better for dayhiking than for backpacking? (Even at 2 oz, using the suck-and-spit method to wet my morning granola just doesn't appeal... :roll: )
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby Heff936 » Mon May 05, 2014 1:51 pm

For backpacking I have become a big fan of the MSR Autoflow microfilter. If you don't want to hike carrying much water then the steripen or Lifestraw might be a good add on, but if you carry water in a hydracell while hiking as I do, then you can't beat this system once you get to camp. I have long carried a 4L dromedary bag to collect water back at camp for filling bottles, camelbaks and for dinner. But the pumping was always a pain. With the autoflow you just scoop up a bunch of water hang in a tree and connect it to my dromedary bag. In no time I've got 4 liters of water with almost no effort.

For us it's a prefect solution and all you do to clean it is filter some water then hang the dromedary bag and let the water flow backward through the filter and onto the ground.


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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby pitamakan » Mon May 05, 2014 2:33 pm

joybird wrote:Cool gizmo. But if I'm understanding correctly how it works, it seems it might be better for dayhiking than for backpacking? (Even at 2 oz, using the suck-and-spit method to wet my morning granola just doesn't appeal... :roll: )


Another great mental image to get me through the day. :P

Anyhow, a good alternative to the LifeStraw would be the mini filter that Sawyer makes. Similar concept, but reportedly better filter tech, and you can either use it as a straw or attach it to a bladder or water bottle.
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Re: LifeStraw: the end of water filtering?

Postby joybird » Mon May 05, 2014 2:45 pm

pitamakan wrote:
Another great mental image to get me through the day. :P




You're welcome, Mark! Anytime! :lol: :wink:
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