LifeStraw products were originally designed and developed for use in developing communities where there isn’t direct access to safe drinking water. The company’s first challenge was to help remove Guinea Worm larvae from water it was contaminating. Guinea Worm Disease is a tropical disease that seriously impacts poor communities in parts of Africa.1 Since 1996 more than 37 million LifeStraw Guinea Worm filters have contributed to the near eradication of the disease.2
The LifeStraw brand is built on the belief that safe water is a human right. That belief continues to this day. The LifeStraw range now includes products to help nature enthusiasts and travellers enjoy the great outdoors and adventures, knowing they can always access water that is safe to drink. Importantly, a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of any LifeStraw product by a consumer in a developed country is used to provide one child in a developing community with safe drinking water for an entire school year.
So, what can the LifeStraw filter remove from water?
Historically, the main aim of any LifeStraw filter was to remove organic contaminants – components that cause serious diseases, such as parasites and bacteria (including E.coli, Salmonella). But the filters also remove microplastics and reduce turbidity (sand, silt, cloudiness).
However, as the make up of contaminants grew, so did the need for additional filtration capabilities, so the carbon filter was added to the membrane microfilter of some products.
Can you use LifeStraw to drink sea/salt water? No. The minerals in salt water are simply too small to be filtered. The same goes for urine.
Lead contamination, on the other hand CAN be reduced by some of the products in the Lifestraw range including3:
Chemicals such as chlorine can also be reduced by some (but not all) of the LifeStraw products. The following will help reduce chlorine/chemical contamination3:
In summary, while the LifeStraw range does an incredible job of making contaminated water drinkable, it was designed to be used around rivers and streams or to filter normally drinkable water sources that have been inadvertently exposed to contaminants through a natural disaster. It was never designed to filter salt water or urine, in which there are minerals and other dissolved substances. They’re great devices, but they can’t perform miracles.