Sterilization Methods

All roads lead to Rome. Rome in our case is the killing of all micro-organisms. This post is the kick off of a long discussion concerning the evolution of the different methods of sterilization that were developed over the years. We'll try to make some order in the different methods available and this will lead us to Rome, gaining a better understanding  of which method is the best match for your sterilization needs.

All sterilization methods can be divided into two categories: sterilization that uses heat as a killing agent and sterilization that uses non-heat methods. Each method has its strengths, weaknesses and a specific field of application.

Heat Methods

Coagulation of egg in water

The idea behind the heat methods is that organisms, like any living creature, survive in a reasonable temperature. When exposing a microorganism to heat you are damaging its living material and it will die.

Heat can cause the death of living organisms in two ways: Coagulation and Oxidation. Go to your kitchen, take a pot with boiling water and throw an egg inside. As the water heats up the egg becomes white; then it starts to stick together and becomes hard. This is coagulation and it happens at 52 °C.


Oxidation of eggs

Now take the second egg and fry it in a pan. First it will also become white, but when continuing frying, the sides will start turning black and it will burn. The burning happens at much higher temperatures than coagulation and it's called oxidation. As Harry Truman once said: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen".

Common heat methods are: Open flame, incineration, steam under pressure and dry heat. We will dedicate a post to explain each method in depth. Non heat methods are also divided into subcategories by the killing agent which can be chemicals, gas or radiation.

In the next post we'll discuss sterilization methods that use heat as the sterilizing agent, Including: Flaming, incineration and sterilization by dry heat. We'll dedicate two posts to  steam. The first post will explain how steam under pressure works. The second post will explain why saturated steam is ideal for sterilization. After all this is our specialty.


Welcome Post


Hey, we're happy and excited to publish the first official post on the Tuttnauer blog. A Tuttnauer blog? What's happening here? Aren't we supposed to be a gray autoclave manufacturing company? Since when did we become bloggers? Well, although we've been around for more than 85 years we love to stay young and we figured blogging will do just that. But seriously, we've searched and searched the web and couldn't find a decent blog about sterilization, infection control and autoclaving. We have a team of pretty creative people here, who, over the years have learned a thing or two about autoclaves, sterilization and infection control in a wide variety of applications, so why not share this knowledge? Our sales, marketing and engineering team travel the world and meet customers who raise many valid and important questions. These questions often repeat themselves, so we decided to dedicate time to answering them here. Sterilization, we believe, is too delicate a subject to be neglected; so many lives depend on it. So here we are.
A final note, before we get down to business. We would love to start engaging in a conversation with our friends, customers, practitioners, dealers, end users and all people who share this interest in common, the infection control community. We'd love to hear your ideas, receive your feedback, comments, info requests and suggestions. We are also hoping to feature occasional guest writers. So if you feel you have something to say speak up and we'll give you the stage and exposure. We're ready to start and our next post will deal with the very basic, but important subject of sterilization methods. We'll present the different methods and describe the basics of each method, how they work and what they are best suited for.