How Do LifeStraws Work?

Our project explains how LifeStraws can transform dirty water into clean drinkable water in seconds using a clever mesh filter. Our presentation also includes the backstory and positive impacts the LifeStraw has created for people all around the world.
Lutfiyah Souraya Zainab Rahmouni
Grade 7


How Do LifeStraws Work?

  From prior knowledge, we know that water and other materials can be filtered using many filter methods. For example how coffee filters separate coffee grounds and hot water. Therefore, we believe that LifeStraws filter out dirty water by using some sort of filter that they put in a tube/straw to filter out contaminants and or pathogens.



  The LifeStraw was invented by a Swiss company called Vestergaard Frandsen. In 1994, Vestergaard Frandsen cooperated with the Carter Center to create a mesh filter that could effectively remove Guinea worms from drinking water. Later in 1999, the company Vestergaard successfully created a plastic tube/straw that could easily clear away Guinea worm larva from drinking water while still preventing Guinea worm disease. A few years later in 2005, Vestergaard accelerated their ideas of filtering out only Guinea worm larva to filtering out dirty undrinkable water to clean drinkable water. This is the backstory on how the LifeStraw was created.

   The LifeStraw filter is made out of halogenated resin, which is also chemical and BPA-free. As water is sucked in from the bottom part of the LifeStraw, the water is transported through a membrane microfilter. These microfilters have a pore size of 0.2 microns. As clean water escapes the filter, it reaches the mouthpiece where purified water exits the straw. Furthermore, this purification process takes less than a few seconds to reach the top drinking chamber. LifeStraw filters also have a filtration life of up to 1000 gal (4000 L). 


   The LifeStraw micro filters talked about in Research paragraph 2 can remove 99.999999% of bacteria including E. Coli and Salmonella enterica. It also removes 99.999% of microplastics, dirt, sand, as well as 99.999% of parasites. Even though the LifeStraw can reduce bacteria, microplastics, parasites, and much more it cannot reduce lead, viruses, and chemicals. Unfortunately, the LifeStraw is not designed to remove salt. For example, if you drink from the ocean it will feel as if you are drinking from a salt shaker.

   The LifeStraw helps many developing countries all around the world. Many developing countries' water supplies/water sources contain pathogens that cause many diseases and infections. For example, in Niger to find water you have to walk miles, and the water often contains bacteria, dirt, microplastics etc. These contaminants can cause diseases and infections primarily in young and elderly people. Furthermore, when water is contaminated, many have to boil the water or use a single-use plastic water bottle which causes environmental harm/impact. With the LifeStraw it is much easier to drink water instead of boiling it because it doesn’t impact the environment as much since it is reusable and does not need the burning of wood and coal each time.



  • In 1994 LifeStraws started their projects 
  • In 2018 lifeStraw supported over 2 million kids around the world. 
  • 1 in 9 people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water.
  • In Niger people have to walk 4-6 miles every day looking for water. This is also the case for other countries too.
  • Nearly 20% (1 in 5) of all deaths worldwide in children under the age of 5 is caused by a water related disease. 
  • After the success of the LifeStraw the brand has come out with new filtering ideas and filtration systems.


  To conclude our presentation LifeStraws can help provide a clean drinking water solution to people in need or even a group of hikers looking to drink clean drinkable water. We have also learned that we shouldn’t take water for granted because lots of other countries and people don't have access to clean drinking water. Additionally, we learned about how a LifeStraw works and what it can remove.


Hoffman, J. (2011, September 26). LifeStraw Saves Those Without Access to Clean Drinking Water. The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/27/health/27straw.html?smid=url-share

LifeStraw lets you drink out of rivers and streams [Video file]. (2017, February 07). Retrieved January 16, 2021, from https://youtu.be/QvLpMVtKoOs

Seaman, B. (n.d.). A backpacker's review of the LifeStraw personal water filter. Retrieved January 16, 2021, from https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/a-backpackers-review-of-the-lifestraw-personal-water-filter/#:~:text=It%27s%20an%20ingeniously%20simple%20water,usual%20suspects%2C%20Giardia%2C%20E.

Water, health and ecosystems. (2010, December 06). Retrieved January 12, 2021, from https://www.who.int/heli/risks/water/water/en/

The need. (2016, September 28). Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://wellsbringhope.org/the-need/?gclid=CjwKCAiAxp-ABhALEiwAXm6IySRB8SjZ012p1K5Wq2kwl5-aii55M66LZFoXhpr5UV2FOxf4x4xKfhoCD_wQAvD_BwE

Our history. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.lifestraw.com/pages/our-history

Chan, N. (2016, May 09). Effects of dirty water. Retrieved January 16, 2021, from https://cleanwaterinflint.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/effects-of-dirty-water/