What is LifeStraw Personal Water Filter? Review presented here is my personal take of this extraordinary tool. Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that presently there are far more than 5000 reviews of this tool on Amazon only.
Numerous reviews are available about it in all sites dealing with outdoor equipment. You can see about this tool even on Wikipedia.
But there is something you might not be aware of. This company runs what they call Follow the Liters program. This is their statement about it:
“For each LifeStraw you purchase, one school child in a developing community receives safe drinking water for an entire school year.”
You are reading correctly, and if you think this is yet another cheap marketing trick, just scroll down through the text and see yourself.
Can you believe that a really inexpensive tool with the price around $20 can make such a big positive difference in lives of thousands? Apart from its technical quality, which is so obvious, this program sets this tool apart from anything else I have ever seen or reviewed in my site. See more below.
Why using this tool & key benefits
- Exceptionally good price.
- Reliable multiple award-winning tool that has stood the test of time, top-rated in the past 10 years.
- Extraordinary lightweight.
- Handy & and easy to use and to maintain.
- Buying this tool you directly help children in Kenya and India having clean water in schools.
Best price & place to buy
- The best place regarding the price and shipping conditions is usually Amazon.com.
LifeStraw water filter – description & facts
LifeStraw has received multiple awards in the past starting from 2005, by National Geographic, Time Magazine, and many others, see some in the picture right. It is manufactured by the Swiss company Vestrergaard.
This filter has been used by health and aid organizations in natural disasters worldwide, like those in the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods.
To realize what kind of tool you have here, I give a complete list of bacteria and parasites that are known to be removed by this filter. The testing was performed both by the laboratory of the company and by an independent laboratory at the University of Arizona Tucson, USA.
The complete documentation about the testing is available here. So see this impressive list with micro-organisms removed by this filter:
What it does not remove
This is a great top-rated tool, but it has its limitations and you should be aware of them.
- LifeStraw cannot remove chemicals.
- You can filter saltwater, but it cannot remove the salt.
- Your own pee? Well, try it. It will remain the pee.
- It cannot remove heavy metals.
- It cannot remove viruses. Viruses are indeed rare in water which you will use, but the fact is that some may be present there.
Note that its new Steel version has an extra carbon filter which can reduce pesticides and a few other threats, but as I said, it only reduces it.
If you really need a tool to deal with viruses, the company has some different tools for that, the LifeStraw Mission and the LifeStraw Family.
What is inside & how it works & how it is used
The construction is extraordinarily simple, a cylinder with an advanced hollow fiber technology filter, a very efficient method that has no moving parts or chemicals. You can see it in the picture below. Water is forced through the fibers by sucking and you get clean water when it exits through tiny pores.
Bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants are trapped by fibers and you will flush them out by backwashing. After drinking, blow air back through the straw to flush it and clear.
If you are able to drink through any drinking straw, then you can also use a LifeStraw.
Note that the LifeStraw filter should not be exposed to freezing temperatures. This because there may be water left inside, and as you know when it freezes it expands and this causes cracks in the filter. You will not be aware of these cracks as you will not be able to see them. So just do not let it freeze.
Do not use a dishwasher to clean the tool. Instead, just rinse with clean water. Suck some into the filter and backflush it again. Blow some air back into the mouthpiece, this will purge the remaining water that may be trapped inside. After that, leave it uncapped to dry naturally.
Problems with sucking water
Some people complain about problems in sucking water through the filter. The instructions are clear, this tool works. Here are a few hints to avoid problems:
If you use the LifeStraw for the first time, or when it is completely dry, it takes some time to make it work. So, it is recommended to hold it vertically in water for some 30 seconds, and about halfway up the filter. By doing this, the membranes will become wet and it will be far easier to suck water through.
The LifeStraw can filter up to 1000 liters (264 gallons). To put this into perspective, if you are using it every day, for all water you are drinking, it will last for about one tear. If you are going to use it for occasional outdoor activities, vacations, and for travel, say 30 days a year, drinking 3 liters of water a day, you will have a tool for more than 11 years. This is a lot for a tool that costs only $20.
But everything has its lifetime, a lot will depend on the quality of water of course, so the flow rate will eventually decrease, and then it will stop working. This lifetime can be increased if you clean the LifeStraw after each use.
What they stress in instruction is that being new or not, this filter will never let through the bacteria listed above. So you will never drink contaminated water from it regardless of how long you have been using it. If it works the water is clean, if it does not work this is it, you do not get any water, no contamination in any case.
Here is a useful promotion video about this tool, have a look:
Where you can use LifeStraw
There are numerous situations where you can use this tool, here are some:
- International travel. If you go to some high-risk area regarding the water quality, put this tool into your bag. It is only 57 grams and yet it can save you from serious troubles.
- Hiking, camping, hunting, fishing. This is a tool for the ounce-counting outdoor adventurer, as well as for campers. If you are in an area like the Alps or anywhere with a lot of water streams around, then drink directly from the source or pond. Use a bottle if it is more convenient. Drink directly, no waiting and no strange taste like what you have when you use water treated with chemicals.
- Preparedness and emergency situations. This is the fastest way to have water in the event of a natural disaster or survival situation. The filter needs no maintenance, once you dry it by simply keeping the caps open, you can store it forever and use when the times come. No batteries or replaceable parts.
- Weight: 2 ounces (57 grams).
- Size (L x D): 9 x 1 inches (22.5 x 2.5 cm).
- Pores size: 0.2 microns.
- Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella.
- Removes 99.9% waterborne protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
- Lifetime: up to 1000 liters (264 gallons).
- Meets US EPA drinking water standards.
- No electrical power, batteries.
- No replacement of any kind.
- BPA free.
- No chemicals.
- Raw materials meet US Food and Drug Administration regulations and standards.
- No iodine or iodinated resin chemicals.
Pros & Cons
• You realize that in order to drink directly from a source, you have to get to the water first. This may be complicated in some situations, your pants, shoes, and hands may get wet and contaminated. This is the issue with all tools of this type.
To avoid this, it is enough to have any kind of bottle or vessel which you can use to grab water and then drink from it by using the filter. Note that such a bottle will be contaminated and it should be used for this purpose only, but this is not a big deal and it will serve the purpose nicely.
• This is a personal tool for drinking, so not for groups, and you cannot use it to collect clean water for cooking. For such purposes, you may use the other tools from the same brand mentioned above, LifeStraw Mission and the LifeStraw Family.
So here is my summary:
Hopefully, from this review you now have a clear picture of what LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is. This is a great tool that has been around for longer than a decade, top-ranked with all good reasons. It has stood the test of time in the full meaning of these words. Bear in mind its limits and it will serve you well. You will be safe from bacteria and parasites, but it does not remove viruses, chemicals, and heavy metals. This is an excellent tool and I can recommend it without any hesitation.
The LifeStraw is a great item as a present for anybody, regardless if it is an outdoor adventurer or not. This tiny filter will not take much space in the suitcase of a person traveling around or going on vacations.
Note that there exists a version with a bottle and the filter integrated in it, the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle. You might also want to compare it with this Etekcity water filter with 0.01-micron pores.
If you need a tool against viruses, they are removed by the LifeStraw tools like LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier, LifeStraw Mission Water Purifier, and LifeStraw Community filter. You will see below the Community tool used in schools in Kenya.
You remember what I mentioned above about the Follow the Liter program by the Vestergaard company. See here the map of schools where they installed their LifeStraw Community filter. School children there have water without bacteria and viruses, this type of filter is, in fact, more powerful than the personal filter described above. It has pores with 0.02 microns, which remove viruses as well.
A bit more about the program you can read here. These are not marketing tricks, this is all public. You can see this related video as well:
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