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I'm wondering if grass (or something else) straw was ever used for making drinking straws before plastic ones were made.

My daughter loves having a straw in her drink but it irks me to have to throw a piece of plastic in the rubbish each time she gets one. I know there are paper ones on the market, but it would be neat to be able to make our own out of real straw if it was safe and effective.

Has anyone tried doing this? If so, is it as simple as just cutting a mature stalk of grass and drying it?

It's worth noting that there are glass straws for sale too if you look hard enough, but I imagine they would be difficult to clean, fragile, as well as being expensive.

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    I know there are also stainlesss steel straws for sale, but I don't have any experience with them myself, so not sure how practical they are. – THelper Nov 2 '14 at 20:25
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    @THelper very. I have one, but I rarely use it now because I don't need to. But the cost of a metal straw is very high compared to plastic ones, so you need to use it a lot to justify buying one. – Móż Nov 3 '14 at 5:02
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    I stumbled upon this website which lists the pros and cons of straws made from glass, steel and bamboo. "bamboo straws are porous and are therefore not as long-lasting as glass and stainless steel straws. However, if you take good care of them and always rinse them immediately after use, they can last quite a while. And, once they've seen their best days, you can toss them into the compost bin as these 100% natural straws are biodegradable." – THelper Jun 26 '15 at 6:52
  • Maybe try reeds? – Jan Doggen Jul 28 '16 at 8:47
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    My kids have stainless steel straws. they are fairly expensive, but you only need one. Advantages are that they will go in the dishwasher, and children don't ruin them by chewing the ends (plastic straws suffer this fate quickly in my house). Another alternative is pasta - buccatini makes a reasonable single-use biodegradable straw. – aucuparia Jul 18 '18 at 8:00
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Example of two edible plants growing in Europe which can be used as a drinking straw:

Both plants will add some aroma to the drink which could be used as an advantage. Also I think both plants are usable only fresh (not dried) as a drinking straw.

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    Do NOT use just any hollow stem plant without checking carefully. Giant Hogweed is another hollow stem plant. Juice causes chemical burns (poison ivy on steroids) on anything it touches. Water Hemlock (what did in Socrates) is another bad one. Cows shuffle off this mortal coil with just a light snack. Burdock is a skin irritant. – Sherwood Botsford Nov 3 '14 at 15:48
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    Lovage stems are my favorite for tomato juice. – Steven Gubkin Jun 24 '15 at 2:35
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I've done this to get a drink from a very shallow spring (seep really) Most grasses stems are small in diameter, and you have to suck pretty hard to get fluid through them. In addition, you have to cut the stem with an eye on the nodes (fat bits) in the stem. They aren't hollow there.

If you are serious about this, look at some the varieties of bamboo, which grows much the same way as grasses do. You need a variety for your climate that has enough distance between nodes to make a usable straw.

Plastic straws can be reused. Wash in hot soapy water, and rinse well. Rinse promptly when they have been used for something like OJ that has bits of pulp in it. These tend to stick and be hard to remove if left to dry. I don't see any reason you couldn't get several dozen uses per straw.

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Yes, you do want to make sure they are not poisonous. I came across this site because I was looking for drinking straw material. 25 years ago in Japan I used to go to a place that roasted their own coffee beans. That was new to me and I would have an iced coffee while I waited. The woman their provided these lovely dried reeds for straws. They worked great and didn't add any unwanted flavour so I know these straws exist somewhere.

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In so far as I am aware, drinking straws were originally made from straw, the hollow shaft cut from wheat or barley, hence the name.

Regular grass, like hay, is probably too thin to be useful, but I imagine if you can find an edible plant with a hollow stalk that you can dry, it would probably be suitable to your needs. The recomended material, of course, would be straw.

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My mum told me that during the war she went out to find hollow stemmed weeds from the fields to dry in the oven to make drinking straws. Unfortunately she's not here now to tell me what plant was used. I think it might be a good idea to ask members of the older generations who have a wealth of knowledge in these matters.

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