An autoclave is a device used in a variety of fields for the purpose of sterilizing tools and materials. The act of autoclaving effectively destroys potential viral or bacterial contamination through exposure to extreme heat.
By its strictest definition, an autoclave can be used for either extreme heat or cold, but procedures employed in modern industries rely on heat. This heat is conducted using steam, which allows the extreme temperature to permeate most materials and even large volumes of items normally used in either research labs or medical offices. Chemists, dentists, surgeons and even tattoo artists and piercers rely on autoclaves to sterilize essential equipment to avoid exposing themselves, their patients, clients or other substances in their work area to potential viral or bacterial vectors. These include but are not limited to blood, saliva, and even growth mediums in microbiology research. Because the temperatures inside an autoclave must be sustained for a significant period, not all materials can be sanitized in this way. Those who rely on these devices are also known to rely on stainless steel tools or implements in their work. However, some glass products can endure the same conditions without noticeable changes to their form or function.
An autoclave sterilizes equipment by subjecting them to high pressure steam at 121° C or more.