Autoclave Test Strips – The Complete Guide to their Function and Varieties

Autoclave Test StripsAutoclave test strips is a term used to refer to any of a variety of adhesive tapes used to indicate various conditions in the autoclave. These test strips are usually used in scientific and industrial autoclaving. In the better known field of medical autoclaving, these test strips are more likely to be used for checking if the autoclaving chamber if completely sterile or if the temperatures are adequately hot.

Autoclave Test Strips Application and Functionality

In both chemical and industrial autoclaving, the adhesive test strips could be used for monitoring any parameters pertaining to the autoclaving process. They may check for the chemical conditions, gaseous pressure in the chamber, temperatures and even time.

To ensure reliable readings, test strips are usually applied in sets of two. One of the strip is the main indicator of the condition being tested while the other acts as a control. In this way, the user can have full confidence that the indicated conditions are in accordance to the indicated parameters of the test.

The adhesive tapes are made to withstand the high temperature and pressure conditions they will be subjected to as autoclaving is taking place. They come in different sizes depending on the manufacturer though there are two standard lengths common in the industry. The shorter version is about 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) long while the longer version measures about 8 inches (20.3 centimeters).

These indicator strips eliminate guesswork from the process of reading and tuning the high precision conditions required in the autoclaving pressure chamber. For this, only a small section of the entire strip is used to indicate the conditions. Inside the spot the strip contains a reagent which changes color depending on the intensity of the parameter being tested. The readings are made against a pre-printed reference color-coded chart.

Types of Autoclave Adhesive Test Strips

There are different types of adhesive test strips customized to check for very particular conditions in the high pressure chamber of an autoclave. Here is a look at the most popular varieties.

1. Thermal Test Strips: These are very commonly used in sterilization autoclaves. The color changing indicator spot on the tapes is usually made of lead carbonate which, if the temperatures in the autoclaving chamber are high enough, will decompose to form lead(II) oxide. Because lead is a metabolic poison, the manufacturers of thermal autoclaving test strips enclose the lead carbonate in a casing of polymer or synthetic resin which can’t be affected by either the high temperature or pressure conditions of the sterilization chamber.

2. Sterility Test Strips: Also known as bio test strips, these are used to check if the conditions in the autoclaving chamber are adequately sterile. The indicator is a bio-sensitive compound which changes color depending on the amount of bacterial present in the environment.

3. Chemical Test Strips: Used for checking the exact nature, ratios and proportions of the chemical reactants in an industrial or scientific autoclave.

Autoclave test strips offer a reliable and inexpensive means to measure and tune the physical as well as chemical conditions in the pressure chamber of an autoclave. They enable the user to determine the effectiveness of the sterilization procedure and also the monitoring of a wide range of conditions. In industrial settings, the adhesive indicator strips are also essential in distinguishing between processed and unprocessed goods.