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How to Sterilize Autoclavable Materials at Home using a Pressure Cooker

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This Instructable will cover the materials and methods necessary to sterilize things at home using a pressure cooker as an autoclave.  I have a huge Tuttnauer autoclave at work that I use all the time but sometimes when I’m at home I feel like sterilizing things that I use for various advanced home beer-brewing techniques.  If you want to sterilize autoclavable things at home as well, then you should obtain a pressure cooker.  I use a Fagor Rapid Express because that is the one that I was given at my wedding.    
 
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Step 1: Read your pressure cooker instruction manual (safety first!)

Read the pressure cooker instruction manual thoroughly.  The manual for my model can be found here: http://www.fagoramerica.com/content/download/8799/59673/file/U40A01911.%20Rapid%20Express%20Manual%202008.pdf You are dealing with super-heated steam inside of a pressure vessel.  You and you alone are the one who is ultimately responsible for your safety and the safety of those around you.  (Special Note: The manual for my pressure cooker explicitly states that the pressure cooker is not to be used on a propane burner and that it is for stovetop-use only.  Your manual might provide different instructions about this and many other things, so it is important that you know how to operate the unit that you own.)  I use my pressure cooker indoors, on my stovetop, because that is where I can prepare a semblance of a sterile environment.

Step 2: Don't try to sterilize things for home medical/surgical purposes

My pressure cooker manual explicitly states “Pressure cookers are not to be used for medical purposes, such as sterilizers, as pressure cookers are not designed to reach the temperatures necessary for complete sterilization.”  If you use your pressure cooker for medical purposes you are taking your life in your own hands.  I have years of laboratory experience behind me and I am familiar with many laboratory testing protocols not covered in this Instructable.  Use common sense and don’t try to get your PhD in Surgery over the interwebs.
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