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Autoclaves

An autoclave is self-contained device which utilizes steam to sterilize equipment or objects. Autoclaves are commonly used in the medical and scientific laboratories to sterilize surgical instruments or other reusable tools or objects. Autoclaves are also used in other professions and places such as tattoo and piercing parlors, restaurants, bars, and even in some home kitchens. Autoclaves come in a wide array of sizes, options and operational choices, and trying to decide which autoclave will best suit your needs maybe a daunting task.

The first question to ask when looking for an autoclave is, what type of objects will you be sterilizing, and what vacuum setting do I need to be sure the items have been properly sterilized ? For most glassware or containers with large openings you may only need an autoclave capable of producing one vacuum cycle prior to the steam cleaning process. This should be enough pressure to ensure that the steam will reach all areas being sterilized. For other objects such as bottles, lids, long tubes or hoses or object with small opening you may need a autoclave capable of producing three or more vacuum cycles to ensure that the sterilization process reaches all desired areas. If you are intending to sterilize liquid samples, vacuum pressure is not recommended, and an autoclaves that have the option to run without the vacuum cycle is required.

The second question to ask when looking for the right autoclave is, which load configuration best suits your needs? Most autoclaves come in three loading configurations, fixed load and position, fixed load and variable position, and variable load. A fixed load configuration will best suited for loading the same equipment the same way every time. This is a fast and secure way to consistently ensure sterilization for similar items, but the load options are limited. The second option will best suit people running large loads of various items, but requires a few more validation runs to ensure all items are receiving a proper sterilization. The last option the full variable load configuration good for doing lots of objects at once but not very effective when trying to sterilize a single lone object.

The third consideration when looking for an autoclave is, does the device offer the right control cycles? May object can be tricky to sterilize. Things such as liquid filled containers. The pressure needs to be just right to ensure that the container does not break or compromise. Also does the autoclave offer cycles that will sterilize difficult items such as long hoses, flasks or cylinders.

The last consideration when searching for the right autoclave is the accuracy of equipment and temperature gages. Running a autoclave can be a difficult and time consuming process. It is important that the temperature thermocouples are giving accurate data to ensure your items are being properly sterilized. One cycle can take up to four hours so it is important that the processes are being completed as desired and as accurately as possible, the first time and every time. It is always important to keep strict records of procedures and methods to ensure that all items are being properly sterilized and cared for. An autoclave is an important tool for anyone who needs to ensure sterilization and if properly cared for and properly operated a good autoclave can last a lifetime.

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