One of the few perks of writing this blog is that I get to play with a lot of different stuff. Some good, some bad. The other day my friend at DisasterStuff.com gave me a LifeStraw to test. This is a simple to use water filter weighting in at approximately two ounces.
According to the literature, the LifeStraw will filter up to 1000 liters (264 gallons) of water and removes up to 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria and 99.9 percent of waterborne protozoan cysts. It filters particles down to approximately 0.2 micros.
Now the first thing I did when I got home was to try it. Not being one to read instructions I opened the package stuck it into some water and started sucking. It took probably about 5 seconds of hard sucking for the water to arrive. After that, I was surprised at how easy it was to drink out of it.
After using it, I blew through it and that seemed to remove most excess water from the filter. Now it took a good bit of breath to get all the water out, but I didn’t find it a problem. Then I just left the caps off and set it aside to dry. If I were using this on the trail I would have put the caps right back on. One potential problem that I see with this is how you store it when hiking. One person suggested putting it in a plastic bag. I would not recommend this; any water dripping from the straw could spread and contaminate the mouthpiece. The best way to carry the LifeStraw is vertical with the mouthpiece up, so any leaking water drains away from it. Now understand we are only talking a very small amount of water, but why take chances.
The instructions say that if you drink from dirty water and the water flow stops, blow back into it to purge the water and mud from the filter. Now this is good advice, but a better idea is to filter the water through a cloth or let it set so that the heaver particles settle to the bottom. The cleaner water that goes into the LifeStraw the better it will work and the longer it will last.
Now the LifeStraw has a few limitations it will not desalinate salt water, remove dissolved chemicals or minerals, nor viruses. If you are drinking water which may have viruses in it from being contaminated by human sewage, pre-treat with a good water treatment tablet like Katadyn Micropur.
Overall I liked the LifeStraw and will keep some around for hiking in the mountains and carrying in the car. The LifeStraw was quick easy to use and didn’t change the taste of the water. At approximately $20 each you can afford several.