Selecting an Autoclave on Amazon.com
An autoclave uses pressurized steam to sterilize medical and dental instruments, laboratory glassware and equipment, liquids, biological waste, and other materials. Sterilization destroys spores, bacteria, viruses and fungi by exposing them to temperatures of 134 degrees C for four minutes, or 121 degrees C for 15 minutes or longer. Using high-pressure steam ensures that all surfaces of an object come into direct contact with the heat. Autoclaves can also be used in manufacturing applications to cure composite materials.
An autoclave is classified by how it removes air from the chamber. Gravity, or downward displacement, autoclaves passively remove the air from the bottom of the chamber as steam is injected into the top of the chamber. Gravity displacement autoclaves are most often used for unwrapped and non-porous materials. Vacuum autoclaves use a vacuum pump to remove all the air from the chamber before steam is injected, circulating steam more thoroughly and effectively. They are used for porous and non-porous materials, and some also provide the ability to sterilize wrapped instruments. Placing an instrument in an autoclave bag before sterilization allows the instrument to be stored and remain sterile for up to six months after autoclaving. Larger bags are also used for bulky items including bedding and clothing, and for bulk processing of smaller items. Heat-sensitive autoclave tape, often used in large operations, darkens after sterilization to indicate that items have completed the necessary processing.
While autoclaves use pressurized steam that can penetrate porous surfaces and reach into recesses not accessible to light, a UV sterilizer uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilize non-porous items and to purify food, air, and water. They are commonly used to sterilize instruments in healthcare, salons, and the tattoo industry and to reduce algae-producing bacteria in ponds, aquariums, and water treatment facilities. Considerations when selecting an autoclave include the capacity needed, the space available, cycle time, and options such as a printer for documenting Good Laboratory Practices (GLP).