If you've ever experienced a straw lid leaking all over your stuff, having to suck so hard you have to rest between sips, or been sprayed in the face when you open up the spout, you know that straw lid technology has been in need of innovation. Straw lids are meant to make hydration easier, but they've had major issues, some or all of which you've likely encountered.
Product evolution can stagnate for years, then suddenly jump forward when a new technology is introduced. This happened recently with straw lids, but before we introduce the 3rd generation, let’s look at the first two generations, their strengths and limitations.
1st Generation Straws
The first generation is simply placing an appropriate sized straw into a glass or other container. This allows someone to drink without tilting their head back, allowing a more comfortable flow of conversation in social situations, and can also allow the user to keep their eyes on the road if driving. Because the top is open, air may easily pass into the container to replace the volume of liquid drawn out; there is no vacuum resistance to drinking, which makes it easy to sip from.
The big downside of the open top is that there is no spill protection – if the container falls over, the contents spill all over the place. The lack of spill protection Is what led to the second generation lids.
2nd Generation Straw Lids
In order to make a straw spill resistant, the top of the container must be closed off completely when not in use, but opened up for the straw when the user wants a drink. In order for the straw to function well, there must be two paths: one to draw out the water, and a second path to let in air to replace the liquid that is drawn out. Without the vent opening, a vacuum would quickly build up making suction impossible.
The Water path: There are two ways this has been accomplished with 2nd generation lids:
1) The straw is made of a flexible material, and is bent over and pinched when not in use. Contigo and CamelBak use this method with their straw lids.
2) The straw is connected to a ball valve spout. The spout is rotated up to drink, and down to close off any flow out the spout. Yeti and Hydro Flask use this method for their straw lids.
Both of these methods work well to access the water, though the flexible material must be able to withstand repeated bending without fatigue if the lid is to last; some report that the CamelBak has an issue with this.
The Air path: There are two venting methods used for second generation lids, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Neither method allows for a free flow of air into the closed container. We will go into these two venting methods in detail since they show the weakness of 2nd generation lids and why a 3rd generation was needed.
Pin Hole Valve:
A very small pin hole is placed in the lid. This is usually made of silicone, and there is a pin on the spout that goes into this pin hole when the spout is closed. This is the most common method of allowing air in, and is used by Hydro Flask and many others.
The small pin hole allows air into the bottle, but because of its small size, pressure equalizes slowly, and the user often finds themselves sucking against a vacuum.
These lids are also leak resistant, but not leak proof, as Hydro Flask clearly states right on their packaging. Any pressure inside the bottle (i.e. it sits in the sun) will push its way out the pin hole in a slow leak.
These are not suitable for carbonated beverages since the release of carbonation will pressurize the bottle, and it will leak out the pin hole valve, even when the valve is closed.
Pro: Leak resistant
Cons: Sucking against a vacuum; Not leak proof, not suitable for carbonated beverages
An umbrella valve is placed in the lid. This is a one-way flap valve that allows air in, but not out; when a vacuum builds up inside the bottle, the flap will open allowing air to enter. Once the pressure differential is equalized, the flap closes. This is the method used by Yeti, Contigo and CamelBak.
The umbrella valve only activates when there is a partial vacuum inside the bottle, which guarantees that the user will be sucking against a vacuum. Some of these make a terrible squeaking sound as air squeezes in past the umbrella valve.
The umbrella valve is leak-proof, however the one-way nature of the valve causes another problem you might not expect: if pressure builds up inside the bottle due to being in the sun or other atmospheric pressure change, there is no way for that pressure to escape other than out the straw. These straw lids have a habit of squirting liquid out the straw as soon as the spout is opened up – not a fun experience especially if it’s anything other than water.
These are not suitable for carbonated beverages since the release of carbonation will pressurize the bottle, and it will create a spout geyser as soon as the spout is opened.
Cons: Sucking against a vacuum; squeaky, back flow up the straw, not suitable for carbonated beverages.
Although spill resistance is an important advance with the 2nd generation lids, they require sucking against a vacuum and are either not leak-proof when closed, or behave “antisocially” by squirting their contents on the user when opened. Luckily, the 3rd generation of straw solves these problems.
Paravalve 3rd Generation Straw Lid:
By looking at the problems with the 1st and 2nd generation straws, it’s obvious we need a straw lid that is leak-proof when closed, yet sips easily when open. This means it must have an open path for liquid to go out and air to go in when open, and both of these must close fully when the spout is closed so that it is leak-proof. In addition, we need a way to release any pressure built up in the bottle so that it doesn’t squirt out the straw.
We have recently introduced the first 3rd generation straw lid which solves the problems of the 1st and 2nd generation straws. It uses a dual ball valve design: one ball valve for the liquid, and another for venting. They open and close together as the spout is opened and closed. When open, there is a wide path for the water and a wide path for air to equalize; you won’t be sucking against a vacuum with this lid. When the spout is closed, both ball valves close and seal completely, making it leak-proof, even with carbonated beverages.
The vent ball also incorporates a pre-release channel that will vent excess pressure inside the bottle, preventing spout geysers. As the spout is rotated from the closed position to the open position, the pre-release channel will open up a path for air to escape the bottle before the water path unseals.
A brief one second pause in the vent position is all it takes to release any pressure in the bottle and prevent a spout geyser,
Pro: Leak-proof, Effortless Hydration (no sucking against a vacuum), Smart Vent allows it to be used with carbonated beverages.
The patented Paravalve Lid is the only 3rd generation straw lid available.