Why is saturated steam autoclave better than boiling?


The Saturated Steam Autoclave is a highly reliable device designed for thorough, efficient and effective disinfection of all types of devices. By producing saturated steam, the most stubborn microbes, such as spores, can be easily destroyed.

However, have you ever wondered why autoclaving is better than boiling?

Boiling is another common sterilization technique. However, it is not as effective as autoclave.

Saturated steam autoclave and boiling

The difference between vapor autoclave and boiling – apart from the fact that autoclave involves steam while boiling does not – is the temperature range.

Autoclaves have a temperature range of about 121°C to 135 °C. On average, this is about 20 degrees above the normal boiling point of about 100°C.

Because of this, autoclaves carry more heat and are more effective at killing harmful microbes. It kills spores and bacteria that normally resist boiling water or even strong detergents.

Unlike autoclave, boiling kills almost everything except some endospores. This means you need to boil these items for a long time, or you may use intermittent boiling.

Autoclave, however, is effective not only in killing microbes, but also in the amount of time it can perform the operation. Autoclave can be set to the desired time and temperature, while being able to reach a temperature that can kill any type of microorganism.

Why is autoclave better than boiling?

In general, autoclave is superior to boiling because it can produce higher temperatures in which microorganisms resistant to boiling cannot survive. Steam sterilization is highly efficient, making it one of the most reliable forms of sterilization. Autoclave can be used on a variety of instruments.

How are tools sterilized in autoclaves?

1. Loading sterilization chamber

There are some basic rules to keep in mind. First of all, heavier instruments should be placed at the bottom of the sterilization chamber, and lighter instruments should be placed in a higher position. The minimum volume of the cavity should also be no less than 1/6 of its capacity. Please note the maximum acceptable load size and weight specified by the autoclave manufacturer.

2. Autoclave (select appropriate procedure)

Only by following the manufacturer’s instructions can you perform an effective sterilization process in the autoclave. This process should not damage or change the character of the sterilized device. Select Settings that match the type of tool you are disinfecting – shorter programs can be used if the device is smooth, has no gouges, etc. Don’t forget to use distilled water for disinfection.

3. End of sterilization

After the sterilization process is complete, remove the tools and allow them to cool. Then, put them in a bag where they belong. If non-transparent, the package shall include sterilization date or expiration date and a description of the contents.

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How to control the sterilization process?

To ensure that the sterilization process is really effective, you should perform regular autoclave inspections. As mentioned earlier, Steam process control is conducted through physical, chemical (parametric test), and biological (effectiveness control) tests. How often is the sterilization process checked? When using a steam sterilizer – depending on the type: once a month, weekly or daily, each time equipment is serviced and when critical parameters cannot be automatically measured and recorded.

Proven practice – How can the sterilization process be improved

Must read the instructions for using the Saturated Steam Autoclave. Action needs to be taken in accordance with its instructions. This means that batch loads cannot be exceeded.

Autoclave manufacturers usually state how much packaging can fit in the sterilizer — but the weight of the tool can also determine whether we can add more tools to the chamber.

The time taken to disinfect tools (cosmetic and medical) depends on the disinfectant used. Application details are always listed on the leaflet that comes with disinfection products.

Remember that the autoclave in the bag should be completely dry.

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