Lifestraws are water filters that either operate mechanically or have a gravity-fed system, in general, they are fairly durable and will be able to filter out a lot of water. In a lot of SHTF situations, your main concern will be freshwater, so it is a good idea to use a water filter.
Yes, Lifestraws do work, as they use their 0.2-micron membrane to filter out 99% of bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics which are found in water. Just keep in mind that Lifestraws are water filters and not water purifiers, meaning they can not filter out viruses, chemicals, and hard metals from water, as these are even smaller than 0.2 microns, which means they pass right through the filter. In addition to this, Lifestraws do not desalinate water as it is impossible to desalinate water with a filter.
When it comes to Lifestraws you have a lot of options, my personal recommendation is to get a Lifestraw which actually comes with a bottle, this way you can carry your filtered water Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
In any SHTF situation, your number one priority will be water, without it, the average human can survive for only 3 days, this is even less for sick people and in arid environments. Preppers generally stockpile enough water, according to FEMA you should have a minimum of 3 days worth of supply of water, but it is even better if you have 1-2 weeks worth of water in my opinion. As prepping is all about self-reliance most preppers do also have a plan B when it comes to water.
In addition to water storage, they also include water filters and water purification systems. If you have ever made a quick search about a portable water filter you have probably come across the Lifestraw, which is recommended by a lot of prepper websites including mine. The main reason why it is so well recommended is due to its simplicity, good quality filter, and portability. When it comes to price is also affordable for people living in western countries.
However, the Lifestraw is way out of the budget for people needing it the most where there is no access to drinking water in 3 rd world countries. But it is an excellent addition to any preppers supply list as you never know when you will use it. I had recently created an article about extreme survival situations where people have been forced to eat dirt in order to survive Can you eat dirt to survive? ( What are Mud Cakes? ), to my amazement people in Haiti do eat dirt and they call them mud cakes.
How does a Lifestraw work?
One of the biggest confusion about Lifestraws is that it is an all in one item, that can filter and purify water. This is not the case, Lifestraws are water filters they do not include additional water purifying capability. Lifestraws can filter out 99.999% of bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics with its hollow micron membrane filter of 0.2 microns. It removes dangerous bacteria like E. coli and parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
However it does not remove viruses, hard metals, and chemicals, but your local water treating facility also does not remove them. The LifeStraw Community is specially designed to filter out also viruses in addition to bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics, but the SimpleLife straw doesn’t remove any viruses as these are smaller than 0.2 microns and would easily pass through the membrane filter.
There are other specialized water purifiers which in addition to acting as a filter they also have the capability to remove if not all but some of the hard metals, viruses, and chemicals.
Lifestraw filters work with mechanical input, once you suck on the Lifestraw the water is forced through the 0.2-micron membrane filter. As most bacteria and protozoa are larger than 0.2 microns these will not pass through, from this comes the fact that it can filter up to 99.9999% of bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics. Some older models of the Lifestraw used iodine to filter water making the water filtration a chemical one, the production of this iodine filtration Lifestraws has stopped.
The LifeStraw is low weight and you can use it to filter up to 256 gallons of water with it, which is more than enough even if you have a larger family. Not all bodies of water are suited for drinking, most stagnant bodies of water could be contaminated in addition to the bacteria and protozoa with chemicals. If you are in an urban survival situation one of your best sources of water would be fountains and swimming pools.
Although you need to keep in mind that most fountains and swimming pools are cleaned with chlorine, LifeStraws will not be able to filter the chlorine out as it is a chemical. While most people have no side effects from drinking water that has chlorine in it as the water which comes from the tap has also chlorine. However, the dosage of chlorine will be definitely higher in private swimming pools. Have you ever jumped in a swimming pool and your skin started to either become reddish or to start itching, in most cases, this is due to the high chlorine concentration in the water, but in some cases, it could be due to the chlorine having a chemical reaction to the urine in the swimming pool. If you want to know how to store water long term then check out my recent article How to store water long term ( In 7 Easy Steps ).
- It is extremely lightweight making it easy to carry.
- Easy to use, every family member can easily learn how to use it.
- It filters up to 264 gallons of water.
- Filters out bacteria which are in most bodies of water.
- Filters out protozoa which is also found in most running or still waters.
- Filters out microplastics such as BPA.
- It does not filter out saltwater.
- It does not filter out chemicals.
- It does not filter out heavy metals.
- It does not filter out viruses.
- It is made out of plastic which could easily break if you are not careful.
- You need a local body of water to use it.
- It will be extremely difficult to filter water with the standard LifeStraw for cooking and cleaning.
- You need to lie on your stomach to suck the water through the LifeStraw.
- It does not make distilled water.
LifeStraw best practices from my personal experience using it
My recommendation is to get one LifeStraw for each of your family members, it’s better to have more than less as you never know when you might have to split up either by choice or by accident.
Practice with it and get familiar with using it, if the LifeStraw is brand new it will take a few sips to start the water flowing and some might think it is not functioning correctly as they expect the volume of water and the ease of sips to be the same as it is for an everyday straw.
Use it in a moving body of water, such as streams creeks, and rivers. Although it is also safe to drink from stagnant bodies of water, these generally have a lot more bacteria and parasites in them, and if some creature has died in it there could be some viruses also in it which the standard LifeStraw can not filter out.
Do not blow in it in an attempt to clean the membrane filter, all you are doing is transferring bacteria from your mouth into the shaft of the LifeStraw and as these bacteria would be above the filter and in a humid environment they can easily reproduce.
Do not use it in muddy water as this might clog up the filter, try and find an area where the water is much clearer.
When it comes to the bug out bag my suggestion is to either keep the LifeStraw on the outside of the bug out bag or on the top of it for ease of access.
If you have decided to keep the LifeStraw on the outside make sure that it doesn’t have any space to move and potentially hit other objects as this is made of plastic and it could easily break.
If you have the ability to collect rainwater even if it is with something like a tent make sure you use the LifeStraw as the second the rainwater comes in contact with a surface it has the potential to get contaminated by parasites, and bacteria.
When using the LifeStraw make sure it is at a 90° angle and that its tip is fully emerged in the water but far enough from the bottom of the water where you could suck up some clay and mud.
You can blow air in the Lifestraw to clean it from dirt and water.
Once the LifeStraw is done and it is no longer capable to filter water it will simply stop working, no matter how hard you try you will not get one sip of water.
After prolonged use, you might notice that it is starting to become increasingly difficult to get even a sip of water this is because the LifeStraw is at its end and will stop functioning altogether soon.
Do not expect it to be the same as a normal straw, you will need to apply some force to get the water through the filter membrane.
If you have a gravity filter in addition to the LifeStraw do not filter water in some kind of container for later use, only filter water when you need it. If you filter water for later use in a container without a lid the water will become quickly contaminated by bacteria which defeats the purpose of filtering the water in the first point.
You can also use the Lifestraw to fill plastic water bottles for later use, you should check out my article on How long can you store bottled water? ( In your Home, Garage or Car ).
LifeStraw tips and tricks
- When first using it you will need to take a few extra sips for the water to actually come through
- After you have used it shake it for a few seconds, this way you eliminate most of the water left inside of it thus preventing bacterial growth in it
- Never use it for drinking hot water, if you have already boiled the water there is no need for the LifeStraw
- Some LifeStraws comes with a gravity filter system, this is especially useful if your local water source is far away, just collect as much water as you can and use the gravity filter to filter the water.
- In an extreme survival situation, your only source of “water” might be your pee, if you are ever forced to drink your pee and if you also have LifeStraw make sure you use it.
LifeStraw for pets
There are a lot of people owning pets and most of them have no clue how will they feed or hydrate their pets during an SHTF situation. Most of the time they think that their pets can survive on the same rations as people do but every preppers supply is limited and every creature has the need for food, water, and shelter. Forgetting how you will feed and hydrate your pets will backfire eventually and this is why some people abandon their pets in an SHTF situation.
You might think that your dog would be fine from drinking from a stream, while most dog breeds are there some that are extremely sensitive to parasites and bacteria. No matter what kind of pet you have if it has four legs it can still be affected by mostly the same problems as people do when it comes to drinking out of a stream or any body of water.
Sadly there is no actual LifeStraw made for pets however you can still improvise. You can not use the standard LifeStraw for hydrating your pets as you need to apply constant suction to force the water through the membrane filter. If you can teach your dog to use a LifeStraw send me the video I would love to see it. What you can do instead is to get in addition to the LifeStraw a gravity filter, which is basically a big pouch holding the water and with the help of gravity it passes through the filter. If you are thinking of bugging out with your pets then check out my recent article 13 Steps for bugging out with pets ( Dogs & Cats ).
LifeStraw for toddlers and children
When it comes to toddlers and small children we all know how distracted they can be and how dehydration makes them in most cases cry, which in turn only speeds up the levels of dehydration. Toddles are especially sensitive to low water intake, in this case, you will either need a gravity filter or do something unconventional like taking sips of the LifeStraw and hydrating your toddler with your mouth, and if you are one of those persons who think that this is unhygienic or even disgusting, but I would rather do that than seeing my child dehydrate to a potentially dangerous level.
When it comes to small children which do have the ability to use the LifeStraw keep in mind that anything you put in a child’s hands they will think it is a toy, and as the LifeStraw is made out of plastic this could be disastrous. Make sure that your child understands that this is not a toy, and for extra precautions make sure to stay next to him just in case he drops it by accident.
Where to buy LifeStraw
There are numerous online and offline places from where you can buy Lifestraw, my recommendation is to get them from the most reliable sources such as the official website or from Amazon. com. You might come across some yard sales where you could pick up a Lifestraw but I do not recommend it as you have no certainty if it has been used and for how long it has been used. In addition to this if it was not stored correctly the interior water filter membrane could also be damaged. If you want to know what are your options of getting clean without a shower then check out my recent article How to get clean without a shower ( Top 10 Options ).
Is using a Lifestraw safe?
Using Lifestarw is completely safe as long as you use it for its intended use. This is a water filtration system and not a water purification system, it can not filter out viruses, chemicals, and hard metals such as fluoride and lead among others. In addition to this, it can not filter out the salt from saltwater as the salt molecules are much smaller than its 0.2-micron filter and they will simply pass through.
You can even safely drink your own urine using a Lifestraw although this should be done only in emergency situations and not as a dare or prank. Depending on how long the urine has been in the container the probability of getting contaminated by different kinds of viruses is much higher, not to mention if the person from whom the urine comes from is already infected with a virus.
Lifestraws do work, as long as you keep in mind their limitations of not having the ability to filter out viruses, saltwater, hard metals, and chemicals. Using Lifestarws no matter the situation has its fair share of cons and pros, however, in my personal opinion, the pros outweigh the cons by a long stretch. There are a lot of brands creating Lifestraw under different names, as which one you choose is up to your personal preference and your needs.