Mind & Body

The LifeStraw Cleans Water You Normally Couldn't Drink

Curiosity is proud to spotlight products like LifeStraw that help solve challenging global problems. When you buy the products we mention in this article, we earn affiliate commissions that help us share amazing stuff about the world! If you'd like to save 20% on a LifeStraw, just use the code CURIOUS20.

According to the 2010 Contaminated Water report from the United Nations Environmental Programme, more people die from contaminated and polluted water than violence and war. But a pocket-sized device could save those lives. It's called LifeStraw, and it could be your lifeline when you're miles from drinkable water.

The straw-style filter design lets you turn up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water into safe drinking water.

Making Bad Water Good

The aptly named LifeStraw is a tube about nine inches long and one inch wide, with a mouthpiece on one end. Suck dirty water through—even directly out of a contaminated spring—and by the time it reaches your lips, it's clean. The filtration system weeds out 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, and 99.9 percent of waterborne protozoa, including cryptosporidium. Suck down some unfiltered crypto? You could be wrestling with diarrhea, vomiting and fever for a few weeks.

That makes the LifeStraw not only a life-saving piece of equipment in parts of the world where clean water is hard to come by, but also a light, convenient piece of gear for hikers who don't want to carry a gallon of water. But how does it work?

Inside every LifeStraw is a mass of hollow fibers with pores measuring 0.2 microns across. These pores trap microscopic organisms, but allow the water to pass freely, making it an extremely efficient microfiltration device. This isn't the first LifeStraw design that has existed, but it is a significant improvement: the older design used iodine to kill bacteria, but left the water with a nasty taste. The new, chemical-free design can purify about 1,000 liters of water before it needs replacing.

Every purchase of a LifeStraw helps provide LifeStraw Mission water purifiers to schools in developing countries that don't have ready access to safe drinking water.

Saving The World, One Mouthful At A Time

To you, LifeStraw may just be must-have camping accessory (just check out the sleek LifeStraw Steel). But the product it has its origins in a world-changing project to bring clean water to the third world. Vestergaard, the company that produces the straw, has developed a number of other products meant to make the planet a healthier, more sustainable place. But water remains at the core of their mission. They earned a 2017 Halo Award for their "Follow The Liters" program, which ensures that for every product sold, one child in a developing community gets safe drinking water for an entire school year. The program currently supplies more than 629,000 kids in Kenya and India with water, making it one of the world's largest private investments in safe water. Besides working closely with communities struggling with a chronic lack of drinkable water, Vestergaard makes a point of donating the filtering straws to disaster areas such as post-earthquake Haiti, where safe water was extremely hard to come across. It all adds up to a great product working for the greater good.

Interested in grabbing a LifeStraw for your next outdoor excursion? Click here and use the code CURIOUS20 for 20% off any of their game-changing products.

The lightweight and portable LifeStraw Family is great for purifying water at campsites. It can purify up to 18,000 liters or 4,755 gallons of water.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About Making Drinking Water Safer

The LifeStraw: Where Did It Come From?

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen is the businessman behind LifeStraw. 00:03

  2. The LifeStraw is basically a human-powered water filter. 00:42

  3. LifeStraw eliminated 99.9% of bacteria and viruses of contaminated water. 01:17

How Much Bacteria Is In Your Drinking Water?

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Written By
Reuben Westmaas
June 22, 2017