Drinking straw explained

A drinking straw is a short tube intended for transferring a beverage from its container to the mouth of the drinker by use of suction. A thin tube of plastic (such as polypropylene and polystyrene) or other material, straight or with an accordion-like living hinge, it is employed by being held with one end in the mouth and another end in the drink. Muscular action reduces air pressure in the mouth, whereupon atmospheric pressure forces the drink up the straw.

History

Historians don't know when the idea of a straw was first invented, though it is believed to be very old. The first known straws were made by the Sumerians, used for drinking beer, probably to avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation that sink to the bottom. The earliest extant drinking straw was found in a Sumerian tomb dated 3,000 B.C., it is a tube made from gold and the precious blue stone lapis lazuli. Argentines and their neighbors used straws for thousands of years, it is a similar metallic device called a bombilla that acts as both a straw and sieve for drinking mate tea.

In the 1800s the rye grass straw came into fashion because it was cheap and soft, but it had an unfortunate tendency to turn to mush in liquid. To address these shortcomings, the modern drinking straw was patented in 1888 by Marvin C. Stone, made of paper.[1] He came upon the idea while drinking a mint julep on a hot day in Washington, D.C., the taste of the rye was mixing with the drink and giving it a grassy taste which he found unsatisfactory. He wound paper around a pencil to make a thin tube, slid out the pencil from one end, and applied glue between the strips. He later refined it by building a machine that would coat the outside of the paper with wax to hold it together, so that the glue wouldn't melt in bourbon.

Early paper straws had a narrow bore similar to that of the grass stems then in common use. It was common to use two of them, to reduce the effort needed to take each sip. (The cocktail straw, which is sometimes used in pairs, may be derived from such early straws.) Modern plastic straws are made with a larger bore, and only one is needed for ease of drinking.

Health and environment

One particular advantage of using a straw when drinking is the reduction of tooth decay. Many soft drinks have acidic properties, and using a straw reduces the liquid contact with the teeth, reducing tooth decay and the risk of cavities.[2] [3]

Drinking straws are a form of plastic consumption when made, and become a landfill item when discarded. Made from polypropylene, they are strong and can be reused rather than recycled into other products. Waste straws in Uganda are collected from beer and soft drink depots, cleaned, and woven into mats for picnics and prayers or joined to form bags.[4]

Types of drinking straws

Nicholson Baker's 1988 novel The Mezzanine includes a detailed discussion of various types of drinking straw experienced by the narrator and their relative merits.

Alternatives to plastic straws

Plastic straws aren't recyclable and end up in landfills or the ocean. There are, however, alternatives to disposable plastic straws:

External links

Notes and References

  1. .
  2. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050616060426.htm Saved By A Straw? Sipping Soft Drinks And Other Beverages Reduces Risk Of Decay
  3. http://www.webmd.com/news/20050617/sipping-soda-through-straw-cut-cavities
  4. http://www.Strawbags.org
  5. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/11/the-amazing-history-and-the-strange-invention-of-the-bendy-straw/248923/ "The Amazing History and the Strange Invention of the Bendy Straw"
  6. http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives/d8769.htm Friedman and the Flexible Straw
  7. Milk plant monthly, Volume 45, p. 68 (1956), quote: "New Flavored Straws For Use in Milk Drinks [...] A new type of straw with built-in flavor for use with milk drinks has been introduced by Flav-R Straws, Inc."