Autoclave Sterilization

If your autoclave has automatic features, it was probably pre-set at the factory for 250° F. Utilizing a screwdriver and the instruction manual, increase the temperature to 273° F, or call a rep if you care not to do it yourself.
Some people are afraid of the clave exploding. This cannot happen as it has a safety release valve in back or on top which, when overloaded, will release the steam from the chamber.
Some autoclaves work on the locking-lug principle, very similar to a cannon breech or ship’s door. You turn the wheel to the right and the lugs engage a groove about 1/2″ behind the outer face ring. Others work on a bolt-stud closure with hand gripping tighteners.
When the steam enters the inner chamber and reaches about 5 psi, a popping sound is heard. This safety feature is the inside face of the door, which is convex, being moved by internal pressure to the concave, whereby the clave cannot be accidentally opened while in cycle, (see figure 2). This will also occur when the cycle is complete and the pressure falls below 5 psi.
The inside face will “pop” back to convex and the door can be opened.

When an autoclave is used it should be checked against a known indicator, such as heat and pressure sensitive tape, Red Fox bags, and other such items available from your supplier. If a doubt exists about an item’s sterility, it is not sterile.

Filed under: Sterile Techniques

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