Does LifeStraw Filter Out Viruses?

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When you need clean water, you want to be certain that what you’re drinking or using for cooking is clean. Many water filtration systems exist that claim to reduce or remove bacteria, parasites, and other impurities, and LifeStraw is an extremely popular example. Does LifeStraw remove viruses?

Standard LifeStraw filters do not filter out viruses, but LifeStraw ultrafilters do. The difference is that regular Lifestraw filters are 0.2 microns across, while their ultrafilters are a tenth as small -0.02 microns across. No LifeStraw product can filter heavy metals or desalinate saltwater.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking

Removes bacteria & parasites: The microfiltration membrane removes 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria (including E. coli and salmonella) and 99.999% of waterborne parasites (including giardia and cryptosporidium)

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In this article, I’ll be going over the capabilities of LifeStraw, how it has been developed and evolved over the years, and more.

How LifeStraw Removes Viruses

Originally, LifeStraw products weren’t capable of filtering out viruses. Rather, they filtered bacteria and parasites. Even now, LifeStraw basic filters do not filter out viruses. 

The standard LifeStraw filters remove, “99.999999% (log 8) of bacteria (including E. coli), 99.999% (log 5) of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and others), and 99.999% (log 5) of microplastics.”

As this weakness was pointed out, however, LifeStraw updated its filters and offers more advanced filters. Now, LifeStraw’s ultrafilters can filter “99.999% (log 5) of viruses, 99.999999% (log 8) of bacteria (including E. coli), 99.999% (log 5) of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.), and 99.999% (log 5) of microplastics.”

For reference, viruses often range around 0.3 microns, while LifeStraw’s standard is around 0.2 microns. However, because many viruses are smaller, this standard filter isn’t guaranteed for use with filtered viruses.

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What LifeStraw Does Not Filter

Up until now, you’re probably thinking that LifeStraw sounds like a miracle solution to contaminated water. Unfortunately, it’s not, because there is no singular ‘perfect’ solution for suitable water purification infrastructure.

LifeStraw filters are 0.2 microns across, which allows them to filter out most bacteria and parasites. Unfortunately, this doesn’t filter every possible contaminant in every situation.

What Lifestraw doesn’t filter includes:

  • Saltwater
  • Urine
  • Heavy metals like lead, chromium, nickel, and other metals.
  • Chemicals

No LifeStraw product is suitable for filtering saltwater because that requires desalination equipment that a simple fiber filter isn’t capable of. This means you shouldn’t pack a LifeStraw as part of a boat emergency kit.

Just as important to note is that LifeStraw does not filter anything that’s dissolved within the water, but rather foreign matter such as bacteria and parasites down to 0.2 microns. This means it can’t filter out lead within water contaminated by old pipes, or any other heavy metals that could be in the water.

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Is LifeStraw Worth The Money?

Since Lifestraw guarantees clean drinking water for 1,000 gallons (4546.09 litters), it’s worth the money. Having a LifeStraw can give you peace of mind in situations like hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters where clean drinking water is often of critical importance.

Having a LifeStraw in your glove compartment means that if you’re stranded in a remote area and need to walk all day without access to clean drinking water, you can use the LifeStraw to filter out muddy water in any old creek.

What Is LifeStraw?

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking

Removes bacteria & parasites: The microfiltration membrane removes 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria (including E. coli and salmonella) and 99.999% of waterborne parasites (including giardia and cryptosporidium)

If you make a purchase, you support by allowing me to earn an affiliate commission (no added cost for you).

LifeStraw is a brand of water filtration product that uses a “straw” to pull water through a filter of hollow fibers. The suction created when you suck on the straw is what forces the water to filter out bacteria, parasites, protozoa, and more. 

LifeStraw has many different products, from personal water filtering bottles to filtration systems that provide enough clean, safe drinking water for entire families and communities. 

Generally speaking, LifeStraw products all use suction as their primary means of drawing through filters that last up to 4,000 L (1056.68 gallons) of water, on average. When the filter’s been worn out, you won’t be able to suck any more water through the filter.

This includes the original LifeStraw product, intended for “hiking, camping, survival, and emergencies,” according to the manufacturer. 

The LifeStraw Community, which is far more expensive, can filter a staggering 26,000 gallons (over 100,000 L) over its lifetime using only a handheld pump system. In the middle of these two is the LifeStraw Go, a personal water bottle with included filtration system.

What’s notable about LifeStraw versus other water filtration systems is that LifeStraw functions via suction without requiring running electricity or batteries to work. This makes it ideal for use in areas where electricity or batteries aren’t easily attainable.

Some LifeStraw products also included activated charcoal within their filters, which is used to remove chemicals like chlorine and strong odors from possible contaminated water.

Suggested Uses For LifeStraw

LifeStraw has various products with a wide range of applications, as mentioned above. The original LifeStraw is good for survival and emergency purposes, where potable water isn’t guaranteed. 

The LifeStraw Go bottle is very useful when traveling in countries like Mexico, where tap water isn’t suitable for use without boiling or filtering.

Larger scale LifeStraw products like the Community are often sent to locations in Africa, where drinkable water is an endemic problem within communities. The pump versus suction via a straw makes it sanitary, and the filter has a long life that keeps communities afloat while more permanent solutions are pursued.

Places That LifeStraw Has Been Used

LifeStraw can be used in a limited capacity for survival applications like hiking, camping, adventure tourism, and natural disasters worldwide. 

Many charities send LifeStraw products to third-world countries throughout Africa, Asia, South, and Central America to help communities access potable water during tough times. The LifeStraw Community is especially popular for larger-scale applications like schools and whole villages.

Tourists may also use LifeStraw products to better guarantee their access to drinkable water when traveling in areas with limited or compromised water purification infrastructure systems. These areas include India, Mexico, Thailand, Central America, and most African countries.

Final Thoughts

While the original LifeStraw does not filter viruses, the company’s ultrafilters do. This means for any situation, you can get a LifeStraw product that will fit your needs and give you access to clean and safe drinking water.

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