Drinking straw

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  • A drinking straw is a short tube intended for transferring a beverage from its container to a personís mouth by use of suction. The earliest drinking straws were hollow stems of grass, literally made of straw.
  • In 1888, Marvin Stone patented the spiral winding process to manufacture the first paper drinking straws. Stone was already a manufacturer of paper cigarette holders. His idea was to make paper drinking straws. Before his straws, beverage drinkers were using the natural rye grass straws.
  • Stone made his prototype straw by winding strips of paper around a pencil and gluing it together. He then experimented with paraffin-coated manila paper, so the straws would not become soggy while someone was drinking.
  • Marvin Stone decided the ideal straw was 8 1/2-inches long with a diameter just wide enough to prevent things like lemon seeds from being lodged in the tube. One particular advantage of using straws 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.
  • Straws are made from a formulated blend of plastic resin, colorants, and other additives.
  • Straw manufacturing requires several steps. First, the plastic resin and other components are mixed together; the mixture is then extruded in a tube shape; the straw may under go subsequent specialized operations and finally the straws are packaged for shipment. There are a number of interesting new developments in straw technology. First, new and improved plastic blends are constantly being evaluated.
  • This is necessary to keep costs down, meet regulatory requirements, and improve quality. In addition, new processing and design methods are being developed.
  • These can expand the straws into new areas. For example, thermoliquid crystals, a special colorant that responds to changes in temperature, can be added to straws to make them change color when they come in contact with hot or cold liquid. Other unique applications include ways of printing straws with the identity of the beverage (e.g., diet, root beer, etc.).
  • The straw can then be used to mark what the drink contains. Other advances include straws made by a blow molding process, which creates faces or other artifacts in the middle of the straw.
  • The Tetra Pak Tubex Inc. plant makes more than 4 billion drinking straws a year. That's enough straws to fill more than 500 53foot trailers.

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