Thermal Sterilization


  1. To Use or To Not Use Heat
  2. Pressure Cookers and Dry Heat

To Use or To Not Use Heat

When possible, use heat. There is a reason for this. Autoclaving something is one of the best ways to kill absolutely everything on your work surface and make sure it is safe to use. When you autoclave everything goes in prepackaged and comes out easy to handle without contaminating your newly cleaned item.

Pressure Cookers and Dry Heat

Can you use a pressure cooker? What about dry heat? In terms of the pressure cooker, depends what you're doing. Ideally you have access to another alternative like a proper autoclave but sometimes you're in a pinch. It is much better than doing nothing but it is not perfect. Pressure cookers cannot reach a high enough pressure to adequately raise the temperature high enough and kill everything. However for most things it isn't all bad. For sterilizing cultures for example, especially mushroom spawn, they work great. Even for medical tools they can work well, but it still isn't the recommended method. If you run it for too short, you'll likely have dangerous contamination. But in a pinch it can work. Simply add an 1/2 inch (1cm) of water to the bottom and a rack that is at least 1 1/2 inches tall to keep your tools off the bottom. Close it up and throw it on your stove on a high setting and let it cook for an hour. Do not open until cooled down and even then ideally do no open until right before the tools inside are needed. When you do open it up, make sure you're wearing sterilized gloves and ideally you've wiped down everything in the surrounding area, including the outside of the cooker just to be safe. Unless you did the smart thing and packaged your tools in an autoclave bag first in which case you can just pick it out and bring the package tool to where it is needed. Just wipe off the bag with sterilizing solution before opening.

Quick note here, although this works for tools, anything solutions or otherwise that are getting injected should be done in a proper autoclave to be safe. Last thing you need is a blood born infection.

As to dry heat. This one works well for tools but not much else. The units are fairly cheap and most have a built in timer. As far as I know though, you can't use autoclave bags in them so there is a big source of contamination.

So if at all possible either get an autoclave or look into an autoclaving service by a third party, be it your local piercing parlour or one of the listed third party groups.