Lifestraw: A $5 Water Filter Provides Clean Water For a Year

Note:Β  LifeStraw has been significantly improved since this article was written.Β  LifeStraw filters down to 0.2 microns using mechanical means – no chemicals are used to filter and it is BPA-free. To find out more, go to the most recent article about LifeStraw or to our wiki.

A $5 donation through a Rotary Club will purchase a LifeStraw for a person in a developing nation who has limited or no access to clean water.

U.S. and Canadian customers can purchase a LifeStraw for $19.95 through Amazon,Β EarthEasy, or Green Beetle Gear.

The Lifestraw is a simple looking device, merely a plastic tube at first glance, but inside is a powerful water filter, capable of killing disease-causing bacteria and viruses, and filtering particles down to the size of 15 microns. Distributing the Lifestraw to people without access to clean water can make the difference between life and death to them, and the cost to us is only about $5.

man using life straw

Lifestraw is the invention of Vestergaard-Frandsen, a Swiss firm that produces textiles for insect and disease control, and has been distributed through donations to people in the developing world. The device filters out 99.99% of bacteria, and contains an iodine element to kill viruses and parasites.

Medgadget has this description of the filtration process:

“What first meets the water when sucked up is a pre-filter of PE filter textile with a mesh opening of 100 micron, shortly followed by a second textile filter in polyester with a mesh opening of 15 micron. In this way all big articles are filtered out, even clusters of bacteria are removed. Then the water is led into a chamber of iodine impregnated beads, where bacteria, viruses and parasites are killed.

The second chamber is a void space, where the iodine being washed off the beads can maintain their killing effect. The last chamber consists of granulated active carbon, which role is to take the main part of the bad smell of iodine, and to take the parasites that have not been taken by the pre-filter or killed by the iodine. The biggest parasites will be taken by the pre-filter, the weakest will be killed by the iodine, and the medium range parasites will be picked up by the active carbon.”

The Lifestraw Family version can handle a much larger volume of water, and as you can see in this video, it can turn water contaminated with some of the nastiest stuff you can imagine into potable water.

The personal Lifestraw comes with a string to keep the device handy around the user’s neck, and can filter about 700 liters (185 gallons) of water, which works out to about a year’s worth of drinking water. It’s important that water can be filtered at the point of use, so a personal filter is a key element in safeguarding people, and if they always have one with them, the risk of drinking contaminated water is greatly reduced.

For those of us in the western world, with filtered and treated tap water freely available, the fact that a significant percentage of the population does not have access to potable water is not readily apparent. We have a hard time imagining what that would be like. However, for those who live in areas where every day is a struggle to get clean water, and diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses are a common occurrence, this simple little device, the Lifestraw, really could be a lifesaver.

If you are so moved, please make a donation to Lifestraw and help out a fellow human today.

Written by David Anderson


Leave a Reply
  1. lol. I wouldn’t put cow dung to prove that the water is safe if I were him πŸ™‚

    This seems like an excellent solution for people who lack supply of clean water. Definitely one of the best tools around.

  2. The music’s by a band called ‘Brad Sucks’, by the way. They(he) distributes music for free at Good stuff.

  3. Ah, yes, Dave, let’s focus on a chemical with claims of harm that are already dubious given the minute amounts contained in the plastics you’re referring to instead of the life-saving properties. Absurdly small long-term risks of very vaguely-stated potential harms is a MUCH bigger concern than providing these people with immediate access to clean water that could save their lives TODAY and improve their quality of life. Let’s totally throw this out over a drastically-overstated and minor buzzword concern and skip the saving of likely thousands of lives.

  4. or you could dig a hole next to a river or beach and get instant purified water! or boil dirty water and drink the condensed steam. or dig a hole, cover it and put a container at the bottom to catch the condensed water made from the sun evaporating the moisture in the ground.

  5. Dude, you can’t base everything off of Survivorman/Man Vs. Wild episodes. People need an efficient way of cleansing water, or even reusing it when it’s necessary. You can’t just dig a hole in the ground and magically get rid of bacteria.

  6. What an eye opening video. Water filter taken to the
    next level. It made me cringed when he drank that water.

    Lifestraw is doing a great service to these people.

  7. How many people have actually used this? Can 3rd world manufacturers make these or will patents and licensing agreements cause the product to go nowhere?

  8. It’s not a Swiss company though, they are Danish.. Swiss based, yes, but the founders and the administration are all Danish. Swiss based for tax reasons I assume πŸ™‚

  9. This is BS! $5???

    Please show me where I can buy Lifestraw for $5 or even $50. Please provide a link where you can go and actually buy this product online.

    Guess what? There isn’t any. This may be some kind of scam or fraud. You can donate, but you can’t buy the product. Where’s the money going? How do you know there even is a product if you can’t buy it and use it?

    • Been there, done that, got the T-shirt…
      IΒ΄ve put Lifestraw to the test by deliberately going for the worst looking and smelly ponds I can find when hiking and believe me, some of the waterΒ΄ish substance iΒ΄ve been drinking would have been sencored on Discovery…
      I wonΒ΄t even try to describe the taste of the guey I drank in some parts of Cuba.
      Not once have I experienced reactions such as vomiting, stomach-pain or even discomfort. (exept from the natural reaction from the foul taste…)
      There are probably other products doing the same job for all I know, but Lifestraw actually works:-)

  10. I have read about this wonderful device and have personaly donated some to an organization when the typhoon hit Myanmar. I would like to find out if there are home units or family units.Would like to send them to some Cambodian villages along the Thai border where clean drinking water is not easily available. I know World Outreach is involved in such a project but they have to purchase them as well.

  11. there are only two places in North America that retail LifeStraw to consumers (as of today). is one of them, the other is a canadian outfit.

    Go to Vestergaard Frandsen’s page (they manufacture the straw) to get both links to the retailers mentioned above.

  12. I want to buy a lifestraw family. But I don’t know where i can buy in Vietnam, please help me? or you can donate for us. thanks

  13. I am from Uganda, one of the developing nations in East Africa. I have had a lot of discussion and actuality got very much involved in providing safe water to the poor people. However, the costs have been a disturbance with some of the water petrification methods.I happened to search through and read more a bout the life straw.I fell in love with the convenience, portability, and above all the price that a lay poor person can afford.I am looking forward to having a detailed discussion with the responsible stake holders of this good product.
    +256 783808021

  14. Why is Vestergaard even still in operation? They have been recently named inside a scandal
    that’s rocking tthe hardworking individuals that are already onn top line to fight malaria.

    Turns out that Vestergaard has
    now been banned from the Global Fund for illegal bribery!

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