How To Sterilize lab equipment.
Vials – Rubber Stoppers – Autoclave – Distilled water – Isopropyl Alcohol
Author: Musclechemistry Site Representative thx
Since a lot of people have asked me about how to sterilize lab equipment, vials etc
I’ve finally decided to write summary on how to do it.
There are a lot of misconceptions about sterilizing lab equipment. I’m going to try to keep it short and simple
but at the same time give you a little deeper understanding.
You should ALWAYS do your own research and not believe things you read on forums, ALWAYS!
Here is a list of the most important things that you’ll need:
- Autoclave/pressure cooker
- Distilled water
- Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) or ethanol (both high concentration)
- Surgical gloves
- Surgical mask
Less important things:
Lab wash bottle
First thing you need is the actual device that you’re going to sterilize your lab equipment with.
Autoclave = Expensive and can be rather big. You can get a used one cheap, but you can run in to problems with it. This is the most convenient device (except for buying pre-sterilized things)
Steam sterilizer (autoclave) = That’s essentially a pressure cooker with a gauge, usually 18 liter. This is your best option. You can get one from ebay fairly cheap.
Pressure cooker = You can find a regular pressure cooker anywhere. Only problem is not all pressure cookers get up to the right pressure/temperature.
The autoclave/pressure cooker has to reach this temperature/pressure:
121°C (250°F) 15psi 15min
132°C (270°F) 30psi 3min
It’s the steam/pressure/temperature combination that kills off all the “bad things”. So you’re not allowed to cover your beakers/Erlenmeyer/vials with aluminum foil.
You can also get autoclave bags. Those bags usually have an indicator that changes color if the right temperature is reached. There is also autoclave tape that does the same thing.
Assuming all the lab equipment/vials (which they are if they are new) are washed and cleaned here is what you do:
1.Alcohol (preferably high percentage isopropyl alcohol but ethanol works as well) to clean your working area and lab equipment with.
2.You’ll need distilled water (get a big jug) since you can fill “lab wash bottle” and rinse your lab equipment/glassware after cleaning it with alcohol (so no residue is left, that’s why high grade alcohol is preferred)
The distilled water is used for the autoclave/pressure cooker as well. It’s used because it won’t leave any minerals/residue after it evaporates which regular water does.
3.If you decide to get a regular pressure cooker don’t forget to buy a “vegetable steamer basket” since you can’t place your vials/equipment on the bottom of the pressure cooker.
You don’t need that much water in the pressure cooker. 2.5 – 4cm (1 – 1.5 inches) is usually enough. There should be a little space between the water and the bottom of the “vegetable basket” (You’ll know how much water you’ll need)
4.Follow the instructions of the pressure cooker or steam sterilizer (autoclave) and just set the time yourself (on your phone or something). Usually those steam sterilizers get up to 121°C (250°F)/15psi so 15min should be enough but I’d go with at least 30min.
5. Let the pressure cooker/steam sterilizer cool down. Now you’ll notice that all your equipment is wet/steam/drops etc.
Remove/pour out the water and heat it up a little bit again just so your things get dry.
If you guys think that “baking” your things in the oven will sterilize your lab glassware/vials, you’re wrong.
Bacterial spores like Bacillus species and Clostridium are usually very heat resistant. It’s harder to kill those types of spores with dry heat, the steam, heat and pressure combo neutralizes them.
Here is how:
Have you ever boiled an egg? Well that’s pretty much what pressure and heat does to the protein inside of the bacteria, virus etc.
For those guys that think that alcohol will sterilize stuff, wrong again. Alcohol is a DISINFECTANT, spores are resistant to this method.
With all this said, you shouldn’t be paranoid. Some UG-labs don’t even bother sterilizing
their vials, some don’t even filter their oils. Heard stories about people pinning unfiltered
gear with no issues at all.
But what if your body can’t handle that bacteria/virus etc. Then you’re fucked. Best case scenario
you just get the flu, worst case, amputation and/or death.
Hope this kills some of the misinformation people are spreading.
At the end of the day the only thing that we can do is minimize the risk of contaminating our gear.
Stay safe bros! //THX