Did you know that an estimated 170 million single-use plastic straws are used every day in the USA alone? That’s a lot of plastic waste which is incredibly harmful to our planet. Our society has become increasingly aware of this plastic pollution issue, creating an increasing demand for reusable bamboo and metal straws.

So, who wins between bamboo straws vs. metal straws? Bamboo is the best choice for anyone looking for a natural product and for those allergic to metal. A metal straw offers superior durability, is more eco-friendly, available in many different colors and styles, plus they’re simple to clean.

Those of you who are becoming eco-conscious in your daily lifestyle habits will likely want to buy reusable straws so you can help to mitigate the serious plastic pollution problem we face. This guide will help you decide on which reusable straw is the best for you.

Bamboo Straws vs Metal Straws: Which Is Better?

The two most obvious and popular choices for those switching to a reusable straw are made from either bamboo or metal. Here is a comprehensive comparison of the two.

The Material

Bamboo is a natural product of our planet. The bamboo plant is one of the fastest-growing in the world and its production requires a minimal amount of water, no toxic chemicals, and it 100% biodegradable.

Metal is an unnatural material which is manufactured using a resource-intensive production method. However, it is highly durable, incredibly difficult to break, and you can wash and re-use it for a very long time. Plus, steel is 100% recyclable!

Which is More Durable?

A bamboo straw is generally made to last for at least one year as long as you take good care of it. Some have been known to last a couple of years or more. However, most people replace their bamboo straw after about 6 months. It’s likely that you will go through at least two bamboo straws per year. This is still considerably less than if you used plastic straws!

Metal straws are undeniably much more durable than bamboo straws. If taken care of properly with regular washing and the appropriate storage you can expect your metal straw to last for at least 3-5 years.

What About the Temperature of My Beverage?

Bamboo straws will never change the temperature of your beverage making them perfect for both hot and cold drinks.

A metal straw will make your cold drink even colder which might be a bonus for some people. However, when it comes to a hot drink you need to be careful. The metal straw will heat up quickly and you risk burning your lips.

What About Aftertaste?

Bamboo straws that are not covered, when left in hot or boiling water for too long can give it a “grassy” or “woody” aftertaste. Bamboo straws with a covering tend to leave no aftertaste whatsoever. Remember, there are varying differences in quality. It’s always worth making a good investment and avoiding the cheap bamboo straws sold by some companies.

You’re far less likely to get an aftertaste with a metal straw. As long as you keep it clean, it should never change in taste. Sometimes, when a metal straw is not regularly cleaned it can develop a mild aftertaste. Always wash and store your metal straw appropriately.

What Maintenance is Required?

When you purchase your bamboo straw it should come with a handy little brush that has been purposely made to clean the inside of your bamboo straw. Bamboo fibers prefer to be washed in cold water and left to dry naturally in the sun.

Not only will this keep your bamboo straw clean, but it will also help to retain its natural properties and improve its durability. It’s not recommended to throw your bamboo straw into the dishwasher. This could damage the bamboo fibers and weaken your straw over time making it easier to break.

A metal straw should also come with a nifty little brush for cleaning. Once you have given it a good scrub using the brush you can wash it in the sink with warm soapy water or in your dishwasher with the rest of your dirty pots.

Either way, your metal straw will come out shining and sparkly every time. Don’t fall in the habit of throwing it in the dishwasher without using the cleaning brush first. A dishwasher won’t be able to clean the straw all the way through leaving dirt to settle inside your straw.

Is it Safe?

A bamboo straw is completely safe. The bamboo material itself is produced with no toxic chemicals and bamboo is naturally antimicrobial helping it to actually repel mold. Bamboo is natural and organic. It is nature’s straw.

The safety of a metal straw depends on who you buy it from. It’s always best to buy stainless steel straws to benefit from its anti-corrosive properties and always buy from a reputable business.

Those that are allergic to nickel will need to be very careful as many metal straws on the market contain this silvery-white lustrous metal. Steel cutlery is typically made with 18/8 material which means it is food-grade safe. Just be extra careful when drinking hot drinks to avoid burning your lips.

Which is Better for the Environment?

Bamboo straws have a much less intensive production process than metal. Bamboo is a natural plant, it grows very quickly, requires no toxic chemicals, and even improves the fertility of the soil it grows in. What’s more, when it’s no longer of any use it can be composted and returned to the earth.

Metal, while much more damaging to produce initially, makes up for this with its superior durability. You may have gone through ten bamboo straws before your metal straw finally gives in. This means metal straws have less impact on the earth than bamboo when you consider its complete lifecycle. Steel is also 100% recyclable once you’re finished with it.

Which Looks Better?

Bamboo is one of the most natural-looking materials out there. Those who want to feel at one with nature while they sip their cola will enjoy this aspect of a bamboo straw. The best bamboo straws on the market are the real whole bamboo stalks, they’re only ever straight in shape. Many new versions of bamboo straws include blends of different materials, these should be avoided.

Metal straws are more sophisticated and come in a wide variety of colors and cool shapes to choose from. The rose gold versions are particularly popular, as are those with an angle to make sipping easier. Metal straws allow you to add some personality to your straw.

Are There any Alternatives to Bamboo or Metal? 

While bamboo and metal straws are the most popular choices for alternative straws, there are other options available.

Glass straws have a much smoother sipping experience, are surprisingly durable, 100% recyclable, and you can really see whether it is truly clean or not.

Silicone straws are highly durable, they have no aftertaste whatsoever, little to no conductivity but they’re not biodegradable and must be properly recycled once finished with. Silicone is a non-toxic, plastic-like material made from sand and is not toxic to aquatic life or soil organisms.

The best alternative to any straw available on the market is to use NO straw at all. You could argue that straws are an unnecessary piece of cutlery that most of us could all live without. Not using a straw at all is the single best way to avoid any damage to the environment.

Bamboo Vs. Metal Straws: The Verdict

Both bamboo and metal straws have their benefits for their owner. Bamboo offers a more natural choice to those who like the idea of using one of mother earth plants as a tool for drinking. It is also a better choice for anyone allergic to metal.

Metal straws are a great choice for anyone looking for an ultra-durable product that is also stylish and easy to clean. If your main concern is the environment and you don’t need a straw to drink then you may want to consider using no straw at all.