LifeStraw, an Easy-to-Use, Personal Water Filter That Saves Lives for Only $5

Published on January 9th, 2012 | by

More than one billion people in the world have no access to clean water. 3.5 million die each year from waterborne disease and most are under the age of five years old. The LifeStraw, an easy-to-use, personal water filter, has already given millions of people access to clean drinking. Vestergaard-Frandsen has improved their LifeStraw so that it’s now even more effective.

LifeStraw Specifications

LifeStraw comes in two sizes: personal and family. The personal size filters a thousand liters of water before it needs to be replaced. The family size filters 18000 liters, providing a family of five with enough water for three years.

Each size removes a minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, and particles down to 0.2 microns. The water is then clean to U.S. EPA standards.

The LifeStraw has no batteries or replacement parts and does not need electrical power. It’s completely self-contained and purification is done through purely mechanical means with no chemicals.

How to Use LifeStraw

LifeStraw is very easy to use. Complete instructions can be found on the web site and in the brochure that comes with the LifeStraw, but the design is pretty intuitive.

It basically looks like a tube with a cap at either end. Open the caps, put the LifeStraw in the water, and drink.

Vestergaard-Frandsen sent me a LifeStraw to try out and when the package arrived, my daughter saw the word “straw” and grabbed it for her own use. When I caught up to her (she moves fast), she had already fixed a glass of water and was using the LifeStraw correctly.

I relate this anecdote because any personal filter is going to have to be very simple to use in order to reach the most vulnerable populations – children who are drinking from untreated sources.

This video shows LifeStraw demonstrated to aid workers in Haiti. Read on after the video for information on projects and how to donate or buy your own LifeStraw.


Vestergaard-Frandsen is an international company specializing in emergency response and disease control products. Their focus is on innovating products for the developing world, rather than trying to adapt products from wealthier regions for those who need them.

Thousands of LifeStraws have been donated for humanitarian disasters, such as Haiti, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, and in 2010, Japan and South Sudan.

One way to pay for LifeStraws is through carbon offsets, such as this project in Kenya that has already given clean water access to more than four million Kenyans.

Purchase or Donate LifeStraw

To donate a LifeStraw, you’ll need to donate through a Rotary Club. This page on the Vestergaard-Frandsen site has links to the Rotary Club in Brynmawr, UK; Fort Lauderdale, Florida (for US dollar donations); and Menorca, Spain. Every $5 donated will purchase one personal LifeStraw.

If you live in Canada or the U.S., you can buy a LifeStraw for yourself or as a gift for family or friends, try Green Beetle Gear or eartheasy. LifeStraw costs $19.95 (US) at those two sites.

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