Autoclaves are used in a variety of industries, to sterilize a variety of instruments. They are commonly used to sterilize pharmaceutical, surgical, and laboratory items. A basic autoclave uses the power of steam to kill bacteria, spores, and germs that may be resistant to boiling water and powerful chemicals.
Steam sterilization is inexpensive, nontoxic, effective, and rapidly heats most materials, including penetrating fabrics. The basic principle of steam sterilization is to expose each item to direct steam contact at the required temperature and pressure for the specified time. There are four parameters of steam sterilization: steam, pressure, temperature, and time. Specific temperatures must be reached to ensure the microbicidal activity. The most common steam-sterilizing temperatures are 121°C (250°F) and 132°C (270°F). These temperatures should be maintained for a set period for the microorganisms to be killed.
Autoclaves are critical components in ensuring patient and consumer safety. Without validation and proper mapping, your autoclave may not be operating correctly, which puts people at risk. Validation of your autoclave cycles with NIST-traceable data loggers is recommended and often required by regulating bodies to ensure proper sterilization.