How Our Products Work

The Technology

LifeStraw Membrane Microfilters

LifeStraw’s membrane microfilters are made of hollow fiber membrane technology – a similar technology used in kidney dialysis. These membranes are made of small straws that contain microscopic pores of 0.2 microns in diameter. Dirty water enters one side of the straws and clean water passes through the pores while bacteria, parasites, microplastics, dirt and other forms of turbidity are blocked and unable to pass through because they are too large. The result is safe drinking water flows into a clean chamber for drinking while contaminants are blocked. LifeStraw’s membrane microfilters are capable of removing 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.

LifeStraw Membrane Ultrafilters / Purifiers

The difference between microfilters and ultrafilters is the pore size – LifeStraw’s microfilters have a pore size of 0.2 micron while the ultrafilters have a pore size 10 times smaller: 0.02 micron. Both technologies work via the same mechanism, but ultrafilters (because of their smaller pore size) also remove virus (in addition to bacteria, parasites, microplastics and dirt/turbidity). Because of their smaller pore size, ultrafilters also often have a slower flow rate or require more pressure than microfilters. LifeStraw’s membrane ultrafilters are capable of removing 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.

Activated Carbon Filtration

LifeStraw Activated Carbon Filters improve water taste by removing chemicals such as chlorine and odors. The activated carbon has been treated with specific processes to open millions of tiny pores between carbon atoms. LifeStraw uses an advanced, special formulation that is made from fibers instead of traditional granulated carbon which improves longevity and performance. This process works via adsorption - contaminants become trapped inside the pore structure of the carbon and bind to the surfaces of the fibers. Over time, once all surface areas are full, the carbon filter must be replaced. Please note the longevity recommendations for each product.

LifeStraw Activated Carbon Filter (LifeStraw Go, Universal, Steel)

LifeStraw Activated Carbon Filters improve water taste by removing chemicals such as chlorine and odors. The activated carbon has been treated with specific processes to open millions of tiny pores between carbon atoms. LifeStraw uses an advanced, special formulation that is made from fibers instead of traditional granulated carbon which improves longevity and performance. This process works via adsorption - contaminants become trapped inside the pore structure of the carbon and bind to the surfaces of the fibers. Over time, once all surface areas are full, the carbon filter must be replaced. Please note the longevity recommendations for each product.

LifeStraw Activated Carbon + Ion Exchange Filter (LifeStraw Flex and Play)

LifeStraw Activated Carbon + Ion Exchange Filters reduce heavy metals, like lead, and improve water taste by removing chemicals such as chlorine, odors. The activated carbon has been treated with specific processes to open millions of tiny pores between carbon atoms. LifeStraw uses an advanced, special formulation that is made from fibers, instead of traditional granulated carbon, which improves longevity and performance. The filtration process works via adsorption - contaminants become trapped inside the pore structure of the carbon and bind to the surfaces. The ion exchange contains a resin with cations that are bound to fibers and non-harmful. When liquid containing other dissolved ions passes through the fibers, the dissolved ions in the water (like lead and other heavy metals) are exchanged for the non-harmful ions currently bound to the fibers. As a result, the harmful elements are trapped and the non-harmful ions are released, making the water safer to drink.

LifeStraw Activated Carbon + Ion Exchange filter for LifeStraw Home

LifeStraw Activated Carbon + Ion Exchange filters reduce lead and other heavy metals and chemicals like PFAS, glyphosate and chlorine while improving water taste. The activated carbon has been treated with specific processes to open millions of tiny pores between carbon atoms. LifeStraw uses an advanced, special formulation that is made from fibers, instead of traditional granulated carbon, which improves longevity and performance. This process works via adsorption - contaminants become trapped inside the pore structure of the carbon and bind to the surfaces. The ion exchange contains a resin with cations that are bound to fibers and non-harmful. When liquid containing other dissolved ions (such as heavy metals like lead) passes through the resin, the dissolved ions in the water are exchanged for the ions (non-harmful) currently bound to the fibers. As a result, the harmful elements are trapped and the non-harmful ions are released, making the water safer to drink. These activated carbon and ion exchange formulations are carefully designed to select for removal of specific chemicals and heavy metals that are harmful to human health while allowing other healthy nutrients (such as sodium, calcium and magnesium) to pass through. The LifeStraw Home Activated Carbon + Ion Exchange filter also has a special formulation that maximizes contact surface with the ion exchange and carbon fibers which allows for highly advanced performance in the removal of chemicals and heavy metals as shown by testing results for efficacy against over 30 contaminants.

Which Product Works For You?

Since different LifeStraw products do different things, it’s important to know which filtration device works best for the water unique to your area.

Narrow Products By Feature

Product
LifeStraw Learn More
LifeStraw Go Learn More
LifeStraw Universal Learn More
Learn More
LifeStraw Flex Learn More
LifeStraw Flex with gravity bag Learn More
LifeStraw Mission Learn More
LifeStraw Home Learn More
LifeStraw Community Learn More
Removes Bacteria & Parasites
Removes Microplastics
Reduces Chemicals × × ×
Reduces Lead × × × × ×
Reduces Turbidity
Removes Viruses × × × × × × ×
Membrane Filter Lifetime 1000 gal
(4000L)
1,000 gal
(4,000 L)
1,000 gal
(4,000 L)
500 gal
(2,000 L)
500 gal
(2,000 L)
500 gal
(2,000 L)
4,755 gal
(18,000 L)
264 gal
(1,000 L)
26,000 gal
(100,000 L)
Carbon Filter Lifetime -26 gal (100 L)26 gal (100 L)26 gal (100 L)26 gal (100 L)26 gal (100 L)---
Filter Pore Size 0.2 microns0.2 microns0.2 microns0.2 microns0.2 microns0.2 microns0.02 microns0.2 microns0.02 microns
Weight 1.62 oz (46 g)7.84 oz (222 g)3.60 oz (102 g)5.90 oz (167g)3.15 oz (89 g)6.94 oz (197 g)1.17 lbs (0.8 kg)2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)17 lbs (8 kg)
Testing Standard NSF P231 & US EPA-bacteria and parasitesNSF 42-chlorine
NSF P231 & US EPA-bacteria and parasites
NSF 42-chlorine
NSF P231 & US EPA-bacteria and parasites
NSF 42-chlorine
NSF 53-lead
NSF P231 & US EPA-bacteria and parasites
NSF 42-chlorine
NSF 53-lead
NSF P231 & US EPA-bacteria and parasites
NSF 42-chlorine
NSF 53-lead
NSF P231 & US EPA-bacteria and parasites
NSF P231 & US EPA - bacteria, parasites & virusNSF 42-chlorine
NSF 53-lead
NSF P231 & US EPA - bacteria and parasites
NSF P231 & US EPA - bacteria, parasites, and virus

Know Your Water

A collection of articles written by our expert lab team to give you resources, information and everything you need to know about your water

article.title
  • A PSA on PFAS: What are they and how can you filter them from your drinking water?

    What does a microwave popcorn bag, a nonstick pan and nail polish all have in common? These products frequently contain chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that are severely threatening public health and water sources around the world.

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  • What You Need to Know About Microplastics

    Since the 1950s, plastic manufacturing has skyrocketed and with it, plastic contamination. Everything from plastic straws to plastic soda rings are polluting bodies of water around the world. Plastic pollution is certainly a huge issue in the conversation of environmental degradation, but where does its smaller counterpart, microplastics, fall into the conversation?

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    article.title
  • Does your child’s school have safe drinking water?

    As millions of kids around the country trade swimsuits and popsicle sticks for backpacks and pencils, parents should be advised that recent research shows that contaminants in school drinking water can pose a threat to student health.

    Read Article
    article.title
  • 5 ways to reduce your dependence on single-use plastics in your daily routine

    Society is addicted to plastic (especially single-use plastics). We've got some tips to help you kick your plastic habit in your daily routine!

    Read Article

    Frequently Asked
    Questions

    How do I know when it is time to replace my filters or when they have stopped working?

    The LifeStraw Activated Carbon and Ion Exchange filter lasts approximately 40 gallons (150 liters). We estimate that it should be replaced every 2 months. This assumes that a household uses approximately 2.5 liters per day or refills the 7-cup filter housing approximately 5 times per day. If you are using the product less, you can adjust your estimate of length of time needed before you must replace the activated carbon and ion exchange filter. Another way to tell if the filter has reached its lifetime capacity is if you can detect that the taste of your water has returned to the original tap taste. This may be more apparent for some people than others. Heavy metals and chemicals rely on prolonged exposure to cause sickness so if your activated carbon and ion exchange filter has a short lapse in timespan, you should not be at immediate risk. The membrane microfilter lasts 264 gallons (1,000 liters). We estimate that it should be replaced once per year. This filter ends its lifetime when flow rate becomes drastically reduced or completely blocked out of the filter. It will never allow bacteria, parasites or microplastics to filter through it. This is critical as these contaminants can cause immediate sickness unlike most chemicals and heavy metals found in water.

    Does your filter measure total dissolved solids? How does it perform against them?

    In general, concentration of heavy metals such as Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Chromium, etc. in tap/ground water (excluding sewage, industrial waste water) is only in ppb level (part per billion) and is extremely low compared with concentration of normal minerals such as Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, etc. in the same source of water which is in ppm level (part per million) Our activated carbon fiber and ion exchange filter is specifically designed to selectively remove heavy metals while keeps healthy minerals in the water through a complex process: physical adsorption resulting from Van der Waals forces and chemical adsorption where chemical bonds are formed to trap heavy metals in the porous and high surface area of the adsorbent material. In theory, this process can reduce TDS in the water but only in µg/L level which cannot be detected by a normal reading when taking into account the deviation of TDS in raw water (e.g city tap water), accuracy/repeatability of TDS meter & measuring operation. In general, we caution against the use of TDS as a measure of efficacy and you can read more about why on our recent blog post: https://www.lifestraw.com/blogs/news/do-you-know-what-s-in-your-tap-water

    What is the capacity of the filter? How long does it take to fill?

    It takes approximately 5 to 6 minutes to filter each batch (filling the filter housing to the top). It takes about 3 fills to get to the bottom of the handle (which is the max fill line). The capacity is 7 cups (approximately 1.66 liters).