Stoves: dry heat sterilization

Hot air is one of the most widely used dry heat sterilization methods. This process is carried out in stoves, which allow the uniform distribution of heat inside, where the material is exposed to temperatures of approximately 170ยบC for 2 hours.

Dry heat sterilization causes the destruction of microorganisms by oxidation of their cellular components. This is a less efficient process than moist heat sterilization, because microorganisms die more quickly when in the presence of water, since it allows the configuration of their proteins to be more easily altered and provides a means of distributing the heat evenly throughout the internal chamber of the sterilization equipment. For this reason, to achieve sterilization of the material using dry heat, higher temperatures must be applied for a longer time.

The sterilization time must be determined for each type of material, for example in the case of very heat resistant materials, higher temperatures can be used for shorter times.

What are the advantages of using dry sterilization?

Among the advantages of this sterilization method are that it does not leave residues, and it is a quick and inexpensive method. It also allows the sterilization of materials that are not miscible with water, such as powders, oils and fats. It is not corrosive to metals and instruments. Its main disadvantage is that it should only be used to sterilize thermosetting materials and it requires a longer sterilization time, compared to humid heat, due to the low penetration of heat.

To control this sterilization process, physical indicators such as thermometers are used, which allow measuring the uniformity of the temperature of the internal oven chamber, chemical indicators such as adhesive tapes and biological indicators such as Bacillus subtilis spores. This method is used for the sterilization of glassware, surgical instruments, metal needles, and water-immiscible materials.

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