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The autoclaveTattoo needles

Proper care should be taken while operating an Autoclave, I can’t stress enough that you need to READ, READ, READ. Your Autoclave should have come with a manual, take the time to familiarize yourself with the machine, it is imperative that it is operated correctly in order to reach the right level of sterility, and to prevent injury.

There are, of course risks involved in operating an Autoclave. Most common are:

  • Heat burns: You will receive these from hot materials, and the autoclave’s chamber walls or door.
  • Steam burns: These are caused by the residual steam which escapes from the autoclave, and materials upon completion of the cycle.
  • Hot fluid scalds: Just as it sounds, this is caused from boiling liquids and spillage in the Autoclave.
  • Risk of explosion
  • Hand, and arm injuries while closing the door.

You should have your Autoclave inspected annually, as this can prevent the risk factors in the future. After having read, and understood the manual included with your Autoclave, you will need to know about the material preparation. You will need to ensure that the material is able to be autoclaved. Some oils, waxes, plastics, flammable material, or anything containing solvents may in turn emit toxic fumes and under no circumstance should be autoclaved.

Prepare, and package the materials properly. You will need to package everything in its own package, and should not be opened again until you are ready to tattoo, or pierce a client. DO NOT re-use needles. You will need to either purchase pre-made needles, or make your own accordingly. All used needles need to be placed in a sharps bin. If at all possible, while loading your Autoclave wear heat-insulating gloves and closed toe shoes. Do not overload the Autoclave, as this will result in possible injury or improper sterilization.

While operating your autoclave, check to make sure any ventilating hoods are in operational condition. Choosing the appropriate cycle (fluid, dry etc) for the items being sterilized. Set the appropriate time, and temperature for the cycle you have chosen. Before you start a fluid cycle, the chamber pressure should be at “0", if it isn’t re-start from the beginning. Press the cycle on button to initiate the cycle. Remember, keep your autoclave manual near by, I would suggest taping it near the autoclave so that any apprentices will have access to the proper reading material.

To unload your Autoclave, make sure to wear the same heat-insulated gloves and closed toe shoes. Ensuring that the pressure of the chamber is back to “0" before you open the door. Step back from the door, taking precaution of any escaping steam or spills. Allow the now sterilized materials to stand for at least 10 minutes, make sure to place any hot items in a labeled area of your shop that clearly states that the items are “hot”, it will help prevent injury.

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