Can LifeStraw Filter Salty Water? – How Does LifeStraw Work and What Are Its Limitations?

LifeStraw is a popular tool that hikers and backpackers use to filter their drinking water in America. If you are unaware of this device, LifeStraw is a plastic personal water filter primarily designed by LifeStraw. With this device, you can take contaminated water and clean it. This device gets rid of a minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria. The product can comfortably fit in a pocket or hang on the neck. Unfortunately, LifeStraw cannot make salty water safe for drinking. However, when hiking near freshwater areas, the device should remove all the particulate crud in the water and make it drinkable.

 If you are unsure of how to get the most out of your lifestraw device, keep reading this article to enrich yourself with valuable knowledge pertaining to how it works and its limitations.

How Does LifeStraw Work?

LifeStraw is a tube measuring about 9.25 inches long and approximately 2.5 centimeters in circumference. The device’s outer shell is made of durable plastic and has some string attached so you can quickly wear it around your neck. To use a LifeStraw, stick it into your water source and drink as you would from a straw.

The first LifeStraw model used iodine to kill microorganisms, but the 2012 model contains no iodine or chemicals. Instead, the device uses mechanical filtration. Sucking on the LifeStraw forces water through hollow fibers having pores less than 0.2 microns across, hence a microfiltration product.

The fibers trap any dirt, bacteria, or parasite as the clean water passes through. After drinking your water, you should blow out the straw and clean your filter. You can use LifeStraw to drink a quart of water in just eight minutes.

According to the manufacturer, your personal LifeStraw unit should be capable of purifying about 1000 liters, equivalent to 264 gallons of water. It should purify at least 2.7 liters per day, meaning that it can last you a whole year before you need to replace it. LifeStraw does not have any replacement parts, and you should buy a new unit every year.

What To Use to Purify Large Amounts of Water

If you need to purify enough water for several people at once, you can use the LifeStraw Family. LifeStraw Family is a high-capacity product that can handle five people at once for three years. It can filter 18000 liters of water or 4755 gallons at once, according to LifeStraw company.

The LifeStraw Family consists of a blue bucket and a prefilter insert. It also comes with a long plastic tube and a filter cartridge with a tap, which helps draw the water. You do not require electricity or battery power to filter the water. Instead, gravity will guide your liquid through a series of filters.

You have to pour water into the prefilter and bucket at the top of the unit. The water will then move down the tube and run through a similar hollow fiber technology that your LifeStraw uses. The product’s pores are approximately 0.02 microns apart, making it an ultrafiltration product. This also means that your family can filter out viruses, something the personal one can’t.

You can then pour your newly purified water from the tap. After the process is done, clean the filter by closing your tap and pressing a red squeeze bulb which collects residue. Use a rag to wipe your prefilter bucket. You can filter about nine to twelve liters of water or approximately 3.2 gallons of water every hour with the LifeStraw Family.

Does The LifeStraw Really Work?

LifeStraw works well. It can deliver water at a reasonable rate and is fast enough to drink normally. Moreover, the device offers water without an aftertaste since there aren’t any chemicals used in the water purification process. If you are consuming very muddy water, the bottom of the filter may sometimes get clogged. However, you can blow through it to clear it out and continue drinking your water.

LifeStraw scores high when it comes to safety. It has a filter size of 0.2 microns which is relatively small. The device catches all suspended particles, including mud, algae, and organic things. Most bacteria range from 0.5 to 5 microns across; therefore, the filter is very efficient in trapping them.

Although an occasional bacteria may get through, you will essentially have no chance of getting infected. However, you may encounter chemical contamination with this filter because LifeStraw may not filter that out. 

One drawback of this filter is that you cannot produce clean water for home use. You can only drink from its mouthpiece. Without the suction, this device will drip water through very slowly. If you want a better filter to clean more water, you should get the LifeStraw family.

What Are the Limitations of LifeStraw?

LifeStraw is designed to filter drinkable water from a freshwater source. The product was developed initially with humanitarian aid in developing countries in mind. Most people in these developing countries drink contaminated water because there is no clean water. The dirty water is contaminated by dead animals, fecal matter from leaking toilet trenches, and as a result, this water may often contain waterborne diseases.

 The purpose of LifeStraw is to filter fresh water to significantly decrease the chance of contracting any waterborne disease that is carried in the water. The filter can also purify water from a well that’s tainted. Although the device is efficient, it cannot filter out chemicals, or radiation polluted water, salt from salty water, and water with naturally occurring chemicals like calcium, iron, or arsenic.


Many people don’t have clean drinking water, especially in developing countries. If you are also a hiker or backpacker, you must always drink pure water when hiking outdoors. The best way to clean your water on the go is to use a LifeStraw filter. The device purifies your water, getting rid of 99.99999 percent of contaminants in the water. LifeStraw is the most efficient and affordable method of making water safe for drinking. Even though this device is a lifesaver, it doesn’t remove salt from salty water. To do this, you would need desalination.

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