As you probably already know, we’re pretty passionate about straws here at Mason Jar Lifestyle! We know there are a lot of options, materials, and styles out there, and it can be a little confusing to pick out the perfect straws to meet your various needs. That’s why we’ve put together this Guide to Reusable Straws just for you! Let’s get started!
Why should I use a straw at all?
There are many reasons to enjoy your beverages through a straw:
-Straws are fun! Kids intuitively know this, and they’re right!
-Are you a smoothie or milkshake fan? Thick beverages can be difficult and sometimes messy to drink without a straw.
-Tired of licking off your smoothie mustache, wiping your nose, or cleaning your whiskers? A straw can save you from social embarrassment!
-Want a polished pucker? A straw will help keep your lipstick on your lips and off your cup.
-Want to avoid that cold going around? Glasses are often handled around the rim, potentially leaving germs behind. A straw can be your cylindrical superhero, keeping you safe and healthy!
-On the go? Of course you are! There’s a reason that to-go beverage you bought typically come with a straw – it is much easier to drink this way when you’re driving, walking, shopping, working out, and more!
-Spill much? Oh good — it’s not just me! Putting a lid on your jar will help prevent spills, keep out bugs, and add personality. Many lids are made for straws.
-Got medical needs? You’ll need to use a straw if your jaw is wired shut or you have other medical conditions making drinking difficult.
-Got toddlers? Straws are a better option for children than sippy cups, and paired with a lid, they are still spill resistant. Plus,you can add a silicone sleeve for impact resistance!
Here are two reasons you should opt for jars and straws over sippy cups:
-Prolonged use of sippy cups can lead to speech problems. According to WebMD, a sippy cup should
only be used briefly as a bridge between a bottle and a straw cup.
-Sippy cups are petri dishes. A study by ABC News found that 100% of tested
sippy cups had mold/bacteria present and 25% had fecal bacterial as well. Now those are some statistics you don’t want to swallow!
-Protect your pearly whites! Dentists recommend the use of straws, especially for acidic beverages or anything that could stain your teeth. Acid in beverages like soda can eat the enamel on your teeth, causing sensitivity and eventual decay. Drinks that stain teeth, like coffee or tea, will bypass your front teeth and help prevent staining. And drinking with a straw also reduces the amount of time any sugar or acid in your beverage is in contact with your teeth.
-You know that breathtaking sensation of being smacked in the face by ice while trying to get the last sip out of your favorite beverage? Yeah… me too. Cylindrical superheros to the rescue again!
-Have trouble staying hydrated? We take bigger drinks when we use a straw, we get more liquid and less air in each sip (emptying our jar faster), and it’s just more efficient than picking up and tipping back a cup (I like that I keep my eyes on my screen while drinking!)
-Got a FitBit? Mine buzzes me every hour if I don’t get enough steps in. Increase your hydration and your step count with necessary bathroom trips! It’s good for your whole body.
-Need stress relief? The act of sucking is an innate, biological way to destress the brain and body — yes, really!
-Ever notice drinks just taste better through a straw? Science backs that up! According to Fine Cooking:
“With all of that, let’s think straws vs. no straws. If you were drinking, say, a milkshake without a straw, then you get a big clump all at once. There’s not a lot of room in your mouth, and so not much air circulation. Also, the milkshake is pretty cold, so you won’t get much going on by way of nerve impulses or VOCs.
If you drank the same milkshake with a straw, then you would just get a little at a time. That small amount of milkshake hits your tongue, which heats the relatively small amount of milkshake rather than being instantly frozen by it. The warmed milkshake lets off VOCs, and also your tongue can maintain its tasty chemical reactions. That, combined with all the air that’s flowing through your system as part of the mechanism of sucking liquid through a straw, you have a lot more flavor happening.”
Why use reusable straws?
Plastic is awful for the environment
It is estimated that in the United States alone, we use 500 million disposable straws every day! That’s a lot of straws!
Straws, as you probably know, are made of plastic. Plastics contain petrochemicals, which are very slow to decompose and leach toxic chemicals into our beverages and our environment. Since much of our garbage ends up in the ocean, these straws can wreak havoc on sea life.
Imagine sitting down to dine at a five star restaurant, full of elegant ambience, cloth linens, and classical music…and then eating with plastic cutlery! You’d probably fall right out of your cushioned chair. We, as consumers, wouldn’t accept a plastic fork and knife from a sit down restaurant, and it’s time we urge dining establishments to make the switch to reusable straws. Until then, you can be the change by BYOS (Bringing Your Own Straw, of course!), and we have just the product for that!
Plastic is bad for our health
Pretty much all plastics leach some chemicals into our food and drinks such as BPA, BPS, phthalates, xenoestrogens, lead, antimony, heavy metals and other scary things. These chemicals can be detected in our blood, and we’re only in the early phases of learning about their long term effects. So far, we know that many of them have estrogenic and hormonal effects that may be especially damaging to infants and children, whose young bodies are still developing.
And, I totally hear you…it’s almost impossible to live a modern lifestyle without using any plastic, so like you, we do the best we can to limit our family’s exposure. Glass, stainless steel, and silicone are the materials of choice in our kitchen whenever possible. Switching your drinking glasses and food storage to glass Mason jars is a fairly easy and inexpensive step in this direction.
Plastic straws are also unsuitable for hot beverages and essential oils
When food’s heated up in a plastic container, or a hot beverage is sipped through a disposable straw, the heat causes there to be an increased transfer of BPA’s and toxic chemicals into your body. Also, essential oils, because of their potency, can interact with plastics and cause them to break down. Neither of these is good for your health in the long run!
Reusable Straw Materials
Stainless steel, glass, and silicone are the three main options, and all are free of BPA, phthalates, plasticizers, and anything else that could leach into your drink. Therefore, all are safer and better choices than any form of plastic. BONUS: reusable straws will last a very long time and replace many, many disposable straws, saving you money in the long run! It’s a win-win!
SIDE NOTE: Sometimes disposable straws are what you need (like for the BIG party) and we get that, too! That’s why we carry biodegradable paper straws! Good for you and our environment (and did I mention they’re super cute?!).
Stainless steel is used everywhere there is food (think of a commercial kitchen with gleaming metal countertops) and is completely safe for food contact. Some examples of stainless steel in action include the giant storage tanks for milk or beer, most food processing equipment, commercial and home appliances, knives and utensils, pots and pans, insulated mugs, bento boxes, and so much more. Stainless steel is prized for its high resistance to rust and corrosion, strength and durability, heat tolerance, and non-reactivity to all food products.
Borosilicate glass is a special type of glass that is both more durable and more resistant to large temperature changes. Like the more common soda-lime glass that Mason jars are made of, it will not leach any chemicals and is safe for all beverages. While it’s stronger than other types of glass, all glass can break if dropped on a hard floor. I have had glass straws roll off my counter onto a wood floor and usually not break, but when they have been dropped on tile or cement they break more often than not. Borosilicate glass generally will break or crack into large pieces instead of shattering, so it is easy to clean up if you do have an accident. A lot of people I talk to don’t want to use glass straws because they worry about breakage, but our family with three young children hasn’t had many problems with them. Yes, we have broken a few straws, but the benefits far outweigh an occasional breakage. Plus they just look really cool!
Silicone is a safe, green, non-plastic material that is used in a wide variety of industries for a wide variety of uses. It is food safe, naturally non-stick, very durable, and can withstand very cold to very hot temperatures. It is dishwasher, microwave, freezer, and oven safe. For these reasons, it’s getting more and more popular for kitchen items. There is some preliminary evidence that at high temperatures in contact with high fat foods, silicone could leach siloxanes into the food, but all the research I have done indicates it’s completely safe for drinking straws and most other kitchen use. Some people also like silicone straws because they’re gentler on their teeth than metal or glass.
Advantages and disadvantages of different types of reusable straws
The biggest advantage to stainless steel is its durability. You would have a very hard time breaking a stainless steel straw, and it will last just as long as a spoon or a fork.
Stainless steel straws are thin walled and transmit temperature easily, so if you are drinking a hot or cold beverage, the straw will quickly get hot or cold. I love when my smoothie straw gets cold, but some people don’t care for this effect.
Stainless steel is an opaque material, so you can’t tell visually whether your straw is clean.
Because stainless steel straws are so hard and also so thin, the edges can be pretty sharp. If you accidentally jam one into your teeth or face, it’s going to hurt. For this reason we recommend you never allow children to move around while carrying one, and adults also need to be careful. Our safer, rounded end stainless steel straws were designed with this problem in mind – they are less sharp than other metal straws on the market.
I don’t notice a smell or taste when I am using a stainless steel straw, but some people do.
I think glass straws are the most beautiful reusable straw option. Nothing can make drinking out of a Mason jar seem luxurious like a glass straw can! They make a lovely clinking sound in a glass jar, and they sparkle like jewels in the light.
Glass straws are quite thick and rounded on the end, so they are less likely to injure you if you accidentally poke yourself. Personally I also find that a rounded, thicker straw feels more pleasant in my mouth.
You can easily see whether a clear glass straw is completely clean or whether some particles didn’t quite rinse clean in the dishwasher. If mine don’t look sparkling clean when they come out of the dishwasher, one quick brush with a straw cleaner, followed by a rinse, gets them there. For me, this is a big advantage and the main reason that I usually reach for a glass straw for myself.
The biggest disadvantage to glass straws is also the most obvious – glass is more breakable than the other options.
Kids love silicone straws, and so do their parents. They are unbreakable and almost chew proof. My kids will destroy any hard plastic straw pretty quickly by chewing on it, but they have been unable to hurt our silicone straws. Recently, I accidentally ran the garbage disposal with a silicone straw in it, and the straw came out unscathed. Silicone can potentially be sliced by the sharp edges of a metal straw hole lid, however.
Silicone straws cannot hurt anyone – they are soft and are flexible.
Silicone can cave in slightly if you suck too hard. This doesn’t bother my kids, but I prefer a more rigid material.
How to clean reusable straws
The most reliable way to clean reusable straws is using our straw cleaner with soap and hot water.
They are also dishwasher safe, but a quick rinse might be sufficient. You can also boil them to disinfect them, if you prefer.
My personal cleaning routine is to rinse them after use, put them in the dishwasher, then run a straw cleaner through them and rinse again before putting them away. My dishwasher usually gets them clean but sometimes leaves a little residue, so this ensures they are clean.
I find that a thicker straw is more likely to emerge from the dishwasher fully clean than a thinner straw, and the same is true for shorter straws versus longer straws.
What size of reusable straw should I buy?
Here at Mason Jar Lifestyle, we have sized our straws to perfectly fit various Mason Jar sizes, but they are also good for any other drinking glass, mug, or cup. When choosing the best straw size for you, consider which jar size you like to use. There is room for personal preference here, but these guidelines should help your decision making process.
We sell straws that are specifically made to be the perfect length for half pint jars (short), pint or 12oz jars (medium), and quart or pint-and-a-half jars (long). We have done a great deal of testing with shorter and longer straws and, for us, the lengths we chose are ideal. If you would prefer that any of our straws were longer or shorter, we would love to hear about it! If the community speaks, we would be happy to change the size next time we re-order straws.
Check out the lengths we’re currently offering HERE!
Generally speaking, you will want a thicker straw for thicker beverages like smoothies or milkshakes, and a thinner straw for soda, coffee, tea, etc. You can drink faster out of a thicker straw – I like to drink water with a thick smoothie straw. But you can certainly drink anything from any straw! I have used our thinnest straws to drink my Vitamix smoothie, it just takes a little more effort. Our kids drink almost everything with our short safer stainless steel straws.
External diameter is primarily useful to know if you want to be sure that a specific straw will fit in the hole in your lid. Some lids have an 8mm hole, so a 10mm glass straw is not going to fit those lids.
Internal diameter is what matters when you are considering how much you can pull through a given straw. Our stainless steel straws are .3mm or .5mm thick, our glass straws are 1.5mm thick, and our silicone straws are 2mm thick. This is why our thick stainless steel straws have the same outside diameter as our thin glass straws (both 8mm). On the inside, the stainless steel straw is 7.4mm and the glass straw is only 5mm.
Bent or straight?
A bent straw more closely mimics the classic plastic straw that we are all know and love, so many people will prefer the aesthetics of it. I like a bent straw for my kids when they’re relaxing on the couch or in the backseat. In those not-paying-attention moments, the bent straw results in fewer spills at our house!
But a bent straw is less likely to come clean in the dishwasher, and they are also harder to clean with a straw cleaner, so I personally prefer to use straight straws.
Or get some of both and see what suits you HERE!
There are many options out there when you’re considering what straw to use, so I always recommend having a variety on hand. That way, you can try different materials, lengths, and diameters with your various beverages of choice! We always love to hear your experiences and feedback! Feel free to post a comment below or pop over to social media and give us a shout!