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08 Nov '16

Debate 2016 Dry Vs. Steam

Debate 2016 Dry Vs. Steam

Which is better for salon purposes? While both can serve the purpose to sterilize equipment, there are distinct variances between the two. Let’s explore the differences.

Dry-heat
When using a dry-heat system, you are essentially raising the temperature to approximately 338°F under normal air pressure and holding that for about an hour.
Dry heat is typically used for items that cannot be placed in a steam unit, such as powders, glassware or instruments that may corrode. The convection/conduction method of a dry heat autoclave can also yield poor results if the chamber is densely packed.

Dry heat sterilizers may also increase electricity consumption and time to process.

Steam Autoclaves
A more resourceful use of time and energy is the steam sterilization method. Unlike the high temperature and time required for the dry method, steam only rises to 250-270°F for 15-30 minutes to annihilate the most resistant spores. The moisture is a more efficient conductor of heat and more likely to penetrate the load entirely. This method can realize a significant savings in both energy consumption and labor. Per the CDC, steam sterilization is the recommended process because it has the largest margin of safety due to its reliability, consistency and lethality.¹

So, which is better for the salon?
Steam would be the preference in part because of the time factor, energy conservation, long-term cost and margin of safety. Concern regarding metal implements becoming dull or rusted due to the moist process of the steam autoclave seem to be overblown. In my experience, from using quality implements in a steam autoclave for more than 4 years, I have not experience premature dulling of implements or rusting. I found more rust establishing from soaking too long in liquid disinfectant.

While the dry heat sterilizers tend to have a lower initial price point, the on-going cost of the dry sterilizer is higher due, in part, to the nylon bags necessary for proper packaging. Steam autoclaves have a long term, lower use cost. The pouches are more cost effective, especially for the salon that uses a multitude of pouched implements in a day.

The goal is to provide the safest environment for both the client and the technician. While we don’t work in sterile environments, we can use sterile equipment to lower the risk of infections and lawsuits from infections.

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