Reusable straws made of metal, bamboo, or glass among others, have been a clean-cut choice among individuals who said adios to single-use plastic straws. Stainless steel straws are favored by environment-conscious people, but the number one question still remains - are they dangerous? Meta straws are safe to use and provide many advantages. In this post, we will breakdown every factor that reveals the truth behind these reusable straws.
Advantages of Using Metal Straws
Metal straws as an alternative for plastic straws are chosen for several reasons. What comes to our mind initially is how beneficial it is for the environment. This is definitely true. But there is more to metal straws than meets the eye.
1. Safe and Durable
Reusable straws made with stainless steel are the gold standard when it comes to durability. This type of metal is known to resist oxidation and corrosion making it a good pick for tools that you want to last long. They also don’t break and rust easily compared to other types of straws.
There are two types of steel used in metal straws. The most common one is made of 304 food-grade material which is tested safe to use when consuming beverages. However, you should take note that this kind of steel is not heat and scratch-resistant. This means that taking in hot drinks using this specific type of metal straw is not advisable. On the other hand, 316L medical-grade stainless steel is safer to use and will not leave a metallic taste to your drinks.
What makes metal straws safer than plastic straws is that the latter contains Bisphenol A (BPA) chemical. This harmful toxin has been linked to cause infertility among men and women, heart diseases, type-2 diabetes, among others. Although metal straws are safe to use, you should make sure to choose those that are made with food-grade or medical-grade material. Doing so will limit the amount of heavy metal and plasticizer that can potentially harm your food or drinks.
In the United States alone, a total of 500 million plastic straws are used every day. A year ago, it was found that 8.3 billion plastic straws have polluted the ocean. But the destruction of the environment does not only begin when these straws are disposed of. Rather, even in the production process, chemicals and fumes are released from factories which potentially hurt several aquatic life and pollute our land and air.
An example of this is a distressed turtle that seemed to have snorted or swallowed a plastic straw. In the viral video posted last 2018, several marine biologists came to the aid of the turtle by taking out the straw in its nasal cavity. In the video, the turtle sneezed and squealed several times with blood dripping from its nose.
This video and more prompted several companies (e.g. Starbucks) to formally ban any plastic materials from their store. Meanwhile, a reusable straw does not hurt any form of life and prevents plastic pollution from getting worse day by day.
3. Easy to Clean
Since metal straws are reusable, it only takes running water and some dishwashing soap to keep them brand new again. This is in comparison to plastic straws that are disposable after use and is relatively hard to clean because of its soft structure.
These stainless steel straws also come with a brush that can get into the stubborn areas of the straw like the corners or insides. The cleaning brush ensures that any sort of liquid stain or debris will not get stuck in the tool that may form into rust or bacteria.
4. Less Cost
Reusable straws are also pocket friendly. Imagine, for every drink you purchase, you are also spending a few dollars for the straw. It is not that significant at first but when you keep buying beverages on a daily basis, the sum is quite a lot. Metal straws being reusable means that your next straw purchase can still be after a few years. Just make sure to take care of it properly for it to last long.
Disadvantages of Using Metal Straws
Although metal straws have proven their benefits to their users, there are inevitable cons of using this type of reusable straw.
1. You Cannot Use Them On Hot Drinks
Going back to basic science, we know that metal is a good conductor of heat. Having said this, it is not advisable to use metal straws when drinking hot beverages. Not only will your lips get burn or sore but so do your fingers! Also, using stainless steel straws on your coffee or hot choco can increase its chances of getting worn out easily.
2. Hard Texture
Compared to plastic straws and bamboo straws, those made with metal have a harder texture, not only when holding them but also when biting. Because of this, your teeth may suffer from certain pain or damage when you happen to bite hard.
3. Slightly Expensive
Although metal straws could last for several years and can save you money, purchasing one at first is quite expensive. If you will buy stainless steel straws that have good quality and various cuts, the price may range from $2 to $3. This is multiple times more expensive than plastic straws.
Do Fatal Accidents Occur When Using Metal Straws?
Aside from a possible burn or sore when you sip a hot beverage using metal straws, no fatal accidents are associated with this drinking tool. It can be noted, however, that extra precaution should be practiced when a metal straw is around.
One of the few incidents that involved reusable straws is the untimely death of a 60-year old disabled woman. The victim fell to the ground while holding a mason jar with the lid on that contained a metal straw. The straw accidentally pierced through her eye causing her to suffer from brain damage and eventually death. This fatal accident is very rare and is not the direct result of using a metal straw. Also, the investigation revealed that the woman was prone to falls after a horseback riding incident years prior.
Just like the regular metal spoon and fork we use every day, metal straws are also safe to use. The thing is, whatever type of straw you have, everyone has to be extra careful as accidents are something we cannot foresee.
Things To Avoid When Using Metal Straws
Again, metal straws are safe to use. Countless people all over the world are using this eco-friendly tool to consume their beverages. However, just because it is safe to use does not mean that we can do anything we want with it. Here are some things you should avoid when using metal straws.
Avoid Using Metal Straws With Lids
Placing your metal straws in a container with the lid on causes the straw to stay in a stagnant position. Keeping your straw straight up is pretty much convenient so you can just take a sip whenever you want to. But, it is not safe to have a sharp tool steadily standing in your glass. You might suffer from unwanted accidents like simple cuts and bruises or something even worse. And we are sure this is the last thing you want to experience.
Avoid Using Metal Straws on Narrow Containers
Just like containers with a lid on, using metal straws on narrow glasses are a big no-no. The same concept of a stagnant metal straw applies when the containers have small openings. As much as possible use a bottle or glass that has a larger mouth so the straw does not directly go into your mouth when you take a sip.
Avoid Using Metal Straws While Moving
While you are driving, walking, running, or in any type of motion, you should not use a metal straw. Accidents are not within our grasp. What if a car suddenly stops in front of you or you trip while walking.
Being #ecowarrior is a good thing. However, you should not put your life at risk just to make sure that you go zero on plastic straws. If you really can’t fathom the use of plastics, we suggest drinking directly from the bottle or glass while you’re on the move.
Remove Your Metal Straws When Not In Use
Our lazy selves may have the tendencies to let our straws stay on the glass for as long as we want. We really can’t blame those moments. But, keep in mind that not everyone around you may be aware that a metal straw is lying around your kitchen table or desk.
Unconsciously, they may accidentally tip the straw which can spill your drink or break your glass. Worse, they may suffer from injuries.
Keep Your Metal Straws Away From Children
Since metal straws are quite textured, the rough edges on the mouth of the straw may unintentionally reach your children’s face or hands resulting in cuts. It is advisable that little ones avoid using metal straws without the guidance of adults.
Children are playful and they may run around with metal straws on their mouths or they may play with it. Either way, it can be dangerous. So to avoid accidents involving your children, keep your stainless steel straws away from them.
Metal Straws vs Plastic Straws
When talking about environmental sustainability, metal straws win over the plastic ones. The latter is known to harm aquatic lives and pollute our land and air, whereas reusable straws can last for a couple of years and will not consume a lot of space in our landfills.
With regards to safety, both metal and plastic straws can be quite dangerous when not used properly. Plastic straws are also known to cause cuts and other injuries to those who use them, so it doesn't really matter what material the straw is constructed from. As long as safety measures are not practiced, accidents involving these drinking tools may occur.
Metal straws are a great option to have when you’re trying to live a greener lifestyle, free from plastics. Also, these eco-friendly tools are safe and reusable which makes them even more admirable.
A friendly reminder from us, always keep your senses open when using metal straws to avoid any accident from happening. If you wish to send us your suggestions about the #ecowarrior campaign, feel free to do so. Let us do our part, even in simple ways, to keep Mother Earth happy.