Sterilization Techniques for Coronavirus, by A Wife First

Introductory Disclaimer: This essay’s information is scientific in nature, so please perform your own due diligence in understanding the terminology and techniques prescribed forthcoming and tailor them to your own needs. I am not responsible for any damage/injury caused in the misuse of this information.

Historical Account

Patients undergoing routine operations were at very high risk of infection in the early 1900s due to the limited concept of aseptic conditions. This lack of understanding of microbes, caused high levels of infection and even death during surgical procedures of their day. Some factors of the spreading of microbes in times past were that surgeons operated in street clothes without washing their hands. They used sewing thread to suture wounds, and stuck the needles in their frock coats then using the same needle on different patients without washing. Cotton/jute from the floors of cotton mills were the surgical dressings of the day.

Louis Pasteur

Pasteur was the father of germ theory and spent most of his life to the calling in disease related to surgery. He held many inventions such as the autoclave in which to sterilize surgical instruments. It utilized steam and high pressure over a period of time to eliminate microbes. In addition, he was the inventor of what you might already know—pasteurizing milk.

Joseph Lister

English surgeon, Joseph Lister, founded modern antiseptic surgery and based much of his advancements from the study of Luis Pasteur. Lister used a solution of carbolic acid (phenol), to disinfect patients before and during surgical procedures. Evidence proved that the mortality rate of patients improved whilst utilizing his techniques and procedures. However, selling that idea to the masses of surgeons whom held mindset that nothing they can’t see could possibly kill their patient, would take some years and hard checking of “egos” in order to become mainstream in surgical advancements.

The Terminology

The control of microbial growth is necessary in agriculture, medicine, and even food sciences. Microbiology has spawned from these needs in today’s world. This “control” has two main outcomes: (1) killing microorganisms (2) inhibiting the growth of microorganisms.

Cidal agents are ones in which kill microbes. Static agents inhibit the growth of cells, which means they don’t kill microbes but just hinder growth.

In microbiology, sterilization refers to the complete destruction or elimination of all viable organisms. There are no degrees of sterilization. In other words, it is either sterile or not. Some of the current sterilization procedures that I will discuss will involve the use of heat, radiation, chemicals, or the actual physical removal of bacterial cells.

METHODS OF STERILIZATION

Heat: Heat is a sensitive technique that not only the temperature must be selected but time of sterilization—they both are coupled together for desired results. The end goal is to ensure 100% destruction of all microorganisms. The toughest and nasty of these organisms are endospores. It is the measure of sterility when their destruction is guaranteed.

Incineration: Warning: only use objects considered not to be destroyed in the incineration process. Such objects would be considered as needles, inoculating wires, surgical instruments, glassware, and anything all metallic. Microbes are burned to death, so-to-speak, during this process.

Boiling: If you’re hiking in the woods and you fetch water form a stream to drink, please boil it to 100 degrees Celsius for a duration of 30 minutes. This is a good start, as it will kill all microbes except possibly leave some endospores. Remember an endospore can stay dormant for a hundred years and spring up as nasty bacteria. A common endospore is tetanus. A sterilization of over 6 hours in boiling water will surely kill all endospores along with everything else.

Autoclaving: This is by far the most efficient means of sterilization. Autoclaves operate on a time/temperature relationship. Higher temperatures ensure more rapid killing of microbes. As would be expected, larger loads or denser materials to sterilize would require longer times. Autoclaving is used for most any type of sterilization such as biohazards, surgical dressings, glassware, microbiologic media, liquids, et al. However, You might have recalled that story of the spread of the AIDs virus during colonoscopy in Orange County California a few years back (procedure utilizing fiber-optic endoscopes), well these types of medical instruments cannot withstand autoclaving which would surly destroy all living matter. They were cleaned with toxic chemicals and wasn’t good enough. A new technique has emerged to sterilize such instruments with gas treatment.

Dry heat: Hopefully everyone reading this has access to a cooking oven—a dry autoclave. Dry heat is not as effective as moist heat in an autoclave. So to compensate for utilizing dry heat in sterilization of equipment, higher temperatures are needed for longer periods of time. Warning: be sure to use glassware, metal, and objects that won’t melt—now you understand why an autoclave is much better due to its “higher pressure temperature” resulting in less time and lower heat.

Irradiation: For you medical personnel whom have access, the goal with irradiation is to destroy nucleic acids. Remember from your high school biology class, that nucleic acid is one of the ingredients to deoxyribonucleic acid, so essentially you are destroying the DNA in the bacterial cell so that it cannot reproduce. There are many types of radiation techniques, which are utilized today: ultraviolet, x-rays, gamma and electron beams.

European countries are the first to latch onto the notion that irradiating of fruits and vegetables increase their shelf life up to 500%. How this works for the Prepper is that pasteurizing fruit juices through a high intensity ultraviolet light source and having a stream of juice pass under will preserve the juice much longer without refrigeration.

There are commercial level UV systems used today for waste management systems and water treatment plants. The UV lights that one would use for personal use will aid in the control of bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

The FDA has approved irradiation for a number of food products such as meats, fruits/vegetables, nuts, et al. Irradiation does not make food radioactive, however it does kill a significant number of insects, bacteria/parasites. In the recent past, bacteria that are controlled by irradiation include E. coli and Salmonella. This process is also endorsed by the United Nation’s World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.

Ultraviolet lamps are used to sterilize workspaces and tools. Personal UV lights are calibrated at germicidal wavelengths having two peaks oscillating at 185 nm and 265 nm. The lights cause thymine molecules, another component of DNA, to demise thus inhibiting DNA replication. This might not kill the organism outright, but will effectively neutralize its ability to reproduce. Caution: When utilizing UV illumination be sure to light all fissures, cracks and shaded areas, with ample time and light.

Gamma radiation is used primarily in the health care industry. Cobalt-60 is the main ingredient and is used to emit Gamma rays. When the rays are properly delivered during sterilization it will break down chemical bonds. Remember form your organic chemistry class regarding atomic constituents (essentially any atoms attached to the main carbons) that by interacting with their electrons, it will break down. Gamma rays have insufficient energy to impart radioactivity, so they don’t leave a residue.

Electron beam (e-beam) radiation, this is a process whereby it also alters chemical molecular bonds. It has a low penetration and high-dose rates through a steady stream of electrons by converting electricity. Sterilization of instruments can range from syringes to cardiothoracic devices to other types of plastic, which might otherwise melt or become significantly damaged if placed into an autoclave.

Filtration is just what it implies, the physical removal of all microbes. This process is excellent for sterilization of solutions. Think about the hiker’s filtering system such as in the field for water purification. A typical pore diameter is about 0.3 micron pleated glass fiber with a carbon core for these filtering systems. They are used to remove the smallest known bacterial cells and can be purchased over the counter at a sporting goods store. The Hiker and the Prepper can be reasonably assured to “eliminate” Giardia, Cryptosporidium and most other forms of bacteria.

Chemicals/gasses

Ethylene oxide and formaldehyde, coupled with glutaraldehyde are all used for sterilization techniques in a hospital setting. Some chemical sterilization techniques are hydrogen peroxide, and can be purchased for household use.

Ethylene oxide is an easy process as it behaves as a gas at room temperature. Petri dishes, pipettes, syringes, medical devices are sterilized through this process. It must be carried out in a specialized gas chamber as it interferes with DNA hence stopping the reproduction of microbes. This is a safe process in that it doesn’t affect the integrity of the instrument.

Ozone sterilizer—This is another process primarily used in a hospital setting with a Low Temperature Gas Plasma (LTGP) coupled with a small amount of liquid hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The plasma forms when energized with a specific radio frequency. In recent times there have been discussion of removing free radicals in your body—essentially a free radical is an unpaired electron in a molecular structure. This is the same process which will destroy the organism.

NON-STERILE METHODS

Non Sterilizing Methods— if sterility is not the desired end-point, for some other reason such as preventing spoilage of food, here are some methods:

Low temperature: Are obtained through the process of refrigeration and freezing. Perishable foods are stored at low temperatures, due to slowing down the growth of microbes and hence halting spoilage. Low temperatures don’t outright destroy bacteria, but just slow their growth—one microbe in particular is called Psychrotrophs, which can withstand cold temperatures and the culprits in food spoilage. In rare instances few microbes will grow in a super cooled environment lower than 20 degrees centigrade but the majority of foods can be preserved in a household freezer.

Drying: The removal of H2O forces most microorganisms into a non-growth state. This is yet another method to preserving foods. As Preppers, you might have been acclimated to freeze-dried foods? How about utilizing oxygen absorbers in your canned goods once freeze dried? Well all methods of drying involve one or many of the following: evaporation, freeze-drying, and the addition of salt or sugar for food preservation.

Control of microbes:

Antiseptics, as well as drugs are used in the treatment of diseases, many of which can become infectious if not treated immediately. These types of controls are used to eradicate microbes in both plant and animal kingdoms.

Antiseptics: Some of these might be common and stocked in your home: alcohols, mercurial, silver nitrate, iodine solution, and detergents. These harmless enough to be applied to your skin and within the mucous membranes. Caution: please do not take these internally.

Disinfectants: Hypochlorites, chlorine compounds, lye, copper sulfate, quaternary ammonium, formaldehyde and phenolic will all kill microorganisms but not always their spores. These compounds are not safe for application to living tissues; usually they are used as hardened cleaning products.

PRESERVATIVES

Preservatives: In short, these will inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Since these are most often used in the preservation of foods, use nontoxic preservatives so they can be eaten.

Salt/Sodium [nitrate, chloride, diacetate] – retards bacterial growth and is the most common in food preservation for bread making, pickled foods, meats/fish, and antimicrobial agent in cheese, and yogurt. Warning: these are not good for blood pressure.

Nitrates – Usually found in types of cheeses. Note if they are utilized by looking for a pink color in cured meats. This can also be used in canning as it prevents botulism. Warning: Children can cop a reaction to its utilization and is potentially carcinogenic.

Sulfur Dioxide and Sulfites –prevents browning in fruit juices, soft drinks, dried fruits and vegetables. How sulfites work is by preventing yeast growth. They are also used in wine [grapes] to retard bacterial growth, dried fruits and molasses. Warning: utilization of sulfur as a preservative will destroy vitamin use in your body and can cause asthma and/or hyperactivity.

Benzoic Acid and Sodium Benzoate – This was the fun one for me as like to eat seafood. It is used in the preservation of sauces (oyster, fish, shrimp, et al.). In addition, pickled products, ketchup, confections, baked goods, salads, non-alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, margarine, cheeses, and jams.

Propionic Acid and Propionates – These are preservatives utilized in bread—even various types of chocolate products, and some dairy.

Sorbic Acid and Sorbates – prevent mold formation in cheese and flour confectioneries.

Sugar—Preserves, jams, syrups, jellies, et al. from microbial spoilage.

Wood smoke— prevalent in making jerky. Used for meats and fish to prevent microbial spoilage.

A little about me: I am currently an older college student, in my 40s, taking microbiology for a nursing career change from receptionist.

An Aside: I am a little perturbed at the teaching at the university level in the contempt and even hatred towards men. For young college girls to form study groups, bar men as being their lab partner—so boys have to work alone, those bulletin board advertisements for women only groups and STEM is only for women, the university curriculums geared towards ladies only, the rape awareness posters adornning every stall in the restrooms, the campus police/security and cameras in droves, and girls “discussing” evil towards their brothers in the restrooms and common areas is quite frankly SCARRY!

A few ancillary comments: over the years I’ve noticed the media has cleverly and strategically placed “Mom” in titles of articles to devalue women into believing that being under the spiritual authority of one man [which God said in his word is a woman’s primary place], her husband, that the term “wife” is now chastised as indebted servitude, even slavery or taking away human rights of a woman. Women/ladies we need to fight for family rights! The human right of ALL women across the globe to be placed back under the authority of her husband—dubbed a family! Else we are about to loose this great country God gave us without ever firing a bullet upon us.




40 Comments

  1. Thanks for the good information. Sorry to hear about the nature of the women’s movement in your experience. It is just an example of the pecking order. Right or Wrong it is what it is. Best wishes in your schooling and future.

    1. I, too, was puzzled by the author’s advice to boil water for 30 minutes. In fact, I have even read articles that conflict with the government’s advice to bring water to the boiling point for 1 minute.

      I only know what I’ve read on the internet, but since the information was on the internet, it must be true. 🙂

      What I’ve read is that simply heating water to 167° Fahrenheit will kill any bacteria or viruses (which, by the way, is consistent with the information about heating N95 face masks in an oven at that temperature for re-use).

      The likely reason that the government advises that water be boiled is because few people will have a thermometer available to check the actual temperature. Guessing about whether the water is hot enough is a recipe for disaster. When water arrives at the boiling point, a condition that is easily observed, a person can be sure that its temperature surpassed 167° F because water boils at 212° F. As for me, I will make stick to bringing water to a boiling point.

      In desperate times, it could be extraordinarily important not to waste precious fuel by boiling water longer than necessary. If boiling water for one minute will do the trick, saving that fuel could be critical at some future point.

      If my comment contains misinformation, I welcome reader comments.

      1. That is essentially correct. Bringing water near a boil, makes any bacteria incapable of reproducing. They don’t need to be 100% dead, just incapable of reproducing in your gut. The UV water wands have a similar effect.

      2. Good point about the possible need to conserve fuel in an extended “grid down” situation. I recall reading an article years ago explaining how villagers in Africa often place (clear) glass bottles full of water on their roofs and leave them there in the sun for an entire day. The combined effects of UV rays plus heat help to sterilize the water, leaving it suitable for drinking the next day.

        This would be, of course, a more applicable method in warmer latitudes such as the Southwest where I live. Not so much up North.

      3. vivormann99,
        I think the difference here is “boiling” water at 212 for a minute to big bubbles=no trouble, or even just raising it to Pasteurization temps of 167 sterilizes the water.

        However boiling surgical instruments (retractors, scalpel handled, forceps, etc) at 212 for six hours will sterilize these tools. Or you could use an autoclave with water and or steam at higher than 212 under pressure for 1-2 hours depending on what tool, instrument or even things like Petri dishes full of agar.

    2. I think the difference is 30 minutes is for sterilization, killing the microbes, while 3 minutes is for safe to drink. ( After cooling back down of course, don’t drink boiling water 😉 )

  2. Good morning

    Excellent article. I just recently purchased a Freeze Dryer, oxygen absorbers & Mylar bags.
    I am patiently awaiting the unit to get started on this one (of several) methods of preserving our food.

    I also like the autoclave section. I’m thinking that my All American pressure canner would be useful to sterilize items like kitchen utensils & grooming items like nail clippers Ect.

    The UV section interested me also. I went and purchased a lamp and extra UV bulbs from the pet store (can’t remember who on here suggested this, maybe JWR?) to rig into a large foil lined Uber Eats type bag that I purchased on Amazon.

    I must also admit that before businesses started closing up for this pandemic I went and “Fake Baked” a couple times 1. For a blast of Vitamin D & 2. Why not, maybe it irradiated some stuff off me! LOL

    I Really enjoyed reading this and I also think you will make a wonderful nurse! (I am trying to figure out a way to get into nursing but also be able to care for my elderly parents, who require my attention and devotion right now).

    Have a Rockin great day

  3. As a home canner I prefer to can all my meat at 260 degrees or more using pressure canners . A autoclave works on the same principle but achieves the necessary 273 degrees for 3 minutes . In a pinch, grid down a pressure canner could work as a poor mans autoclave ..

    1. To use a pressure canner to sterilized, the object must be placed above the water and were the hotter steam can sterilize. I would use 45 min at 12lbs of pressure as the rule of thumb for most elevations. Too much is better than not enough.

  4. Thanks for the info. As an aside, many women have to ‘go it alone’. Don’t forget that men can be abusers: financial, sexual, physical. When you form your position, don’t forget that many of us grew up in single-mom households, ‘cuz our dads were NOT the men God called them to be. I understand that the pendulum has swung waaaaay too far left…where every man is considered a rapist, murderer, etc. My advice/as an older person: balance your position. Recognize that the Bible IS FULL of men who abused in one way or another. Recognize that God uses women as well….think Deborah, Abigail, Anna, and Lydia….. Recognize that 1/2 of the women in the WORLD have no man to ‘get under the authority of’. Recognize the we are”‘neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female” in God’s eyes. Be thankful that you have a good, decent man to ‘get under’. Not everyone does.

    1. The FemiNazis would have you think that all men are evil. They have infiltrated the family courts in states such as New York and New jersey, where men can’t get a fair trial during divorce proceedings. It is assumed that the man is the aggressor all the time, which flies in the face of research which shows women are the aggressor 25 – 33% of the time. They have already greatly influenced the media, even as far back as the 1930’s.

      1. Your Research tells then that men are the aggressors 67 – 75% of the time?

        Ask a few Police officers who found Woman abused, beaten, raped and even murdered by their men.

        1. Police officers, bless their hearts, will always find a reason to arrest the man in a domestic violence case and typically if it is the woman who committed the violence they will find a way to not arrest her. In fact, fair warning to all men, the police officers, bless their hearts, will prod and push to get the man to resist so they can beat them up for sport.

    2. Agreed. My “main man” is Jesus and I am under His authority. In my humble opinion, I think the church as a whole has not done a good job of teaching what “submission” is about. Are we to submit to an abuser? No. It’s really about Respect with a capital R. A man is to “cleave” to his wife and sacrifice for her as Christ has for the church. A woman is to submit to her husband, in other words, give all Respect to him, freeing him up to be the man God intended him to be while supporting his efforts as the leader of the household. Together they submit to the Lord. That is the ideal state and it’s a beautiful balance. But, alas, we live in a fallen world and that is most often not the case. We just need to realize that and not get stuck on the legalism of it. I also agree that Feminism has done more damage to the family than just about anything. But, then again, unfaithfulness has as well. Lots of blame to go around. Thank the Lord, we are saved by His Grace, and nothing else.

    3. @OPrepHOU,

      As an older generation female, I can attest from the 1950s back to Eve in the garden, the majority of men respected women and women were always seeking her “cover” from a man to marry even when she widowed. There was no single mom-hood or 50% of women married with 50% women single and liberated BIT prior to 1960s when Feminism took root in our nation and the world.

      I think the author is illustrating that rape, murder, domestic violence, and infidelity are met with a firm brunt of the law. Rape gets a man 7-10 years, Domestic violence and adultery gets him fired and/or a restraining order, and murder gets him 50 years to life. What I believe the author is saying is that these “boys” that need lab partners and also be treated with respect by these girls which they treat other girls in the class doesn’t have the full brunt of the law behind these misguided girls’ conduct. There’s no penalty for accosting a boy/man.

      It’s one thing to profess that men are murderers, rapists, abusers of women and then have those men before a judge in a court of law all throughout history to account, then compared to having ZERO account for these young feminists treating men/boys with such inhumane premise and contempt.

      Is these young feminists conduct are now mainstream and warranted because of many millenia of men treating women bad, doesn’t the “bad” man enter into the law and give an account? Why should a broad paintbrush stroke be painted against the “good boys” which are the majority of society to “pay” for the sins of bad men in the past?

      Feminism is not fair to MEN and it is destroying not only microbiology laboratory learning but the entire family structure in our country. I agree with the author we will loose our country soon to Women’s rights smashing “ALL men” good or bad.

  5. Thanks so much for a well written and thoughtful article on another important topic!

    You’re in our prayers for every success as you work forward toward a career in nursing!

  6. Noticed today on Fox a company named Whoop that tracks their member’s respiratory rate 24/7 with a wrist strap similar to Fitbit. For their member’s self-identifying with COVID-19, there is a marked increase in their sleeping respiratory rate at the very beginning of infection and during infection, but then returns to their normal after infection runs its course. This could be an amazing self-test for those with COVID-19 who don’t have typical symptoms and can therefore “increase the denominator”. This may also determine if California has had the virus maybe since November. Here is the link to their study.
    https://www.whoop.com/the-locker/respiratory-rate-tracking-coronavirus/

  7. JWR: Thank you so much for the Harvest Guard link and coupon! I just ordered 50 each of the regular lids and wide mouth lids + replacement liners for each. I’ve been wanting to purchase reusable lids, but I couldn’t stomach the price. The coupon really helped and the shipping was free. Happy happy.

  8. As a physician who works with infectious disease issues I commend you on your article. A few fine points, most of the sterilization techniques you describe work on bacteria, not necessarily on viruses. The preservative part really doesn’t apply to most viruses.

  9. Survivorman99: “What I’ve read is that simply heating water to 167° Fahrenheit will kill any bacteria or viruses (which, by the way, is consistent with the information about heating N95 face masks in an oven at that temperature for re-use).”

    To take a point from the author, your process ought to reflect your goals. If your goal is to “… kill any bacteria or virus”, a chat with the folks who sterilize instruments for surgery will be enlightening. They Do NOT immerse surgical instruments in water at a temp of 167 degrees F for any length of time.

    Rather, autoclaves apply temperatures in excess of 212 degrees F, under pressure, for an extended length of time.

    I am not a microbiologist (have been an RN for over 30 years, now am a PA), BUT! I have supervised central sterile supply workers.

    While you may, indeed, have read that the 167 degree water thing is cool, please remember that I have read that Mr. Trump is both a dictator, as well as not authoritarian enough. Having read it does not make it accurate.

    1. Reltney McFee,

      What I said is true. “Boiling for three minutes is not necessary if you are just “hiking in the woods” unless you are at altitudes above 6,562 feet.”

      As they said in the first “Star Wars” movie, “Stay on target! Stay on target!” I said nothing about autoclaves, or immersing instruments, or Donald Trump. I simply addressed the author’s statement, “If you’re hiking in the woods and you fetch water form a stream to drink, please boil it to 100 degrees Celsius for a duration of 30 minutes.”

      “Stay on target!”

      1. Another star wars quote. “Your focus determines your reality”, if you are just hiking in the woods and you boil water for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on temperature and altitude, you are absolutely correct, it is generally accepted as safe to drink, but it is not sterile, you should drink it quickly once it has cooled and not store it. If you are just hiking in the woods and you want to sterilize water for drinking now and/or a few hours from now, or tomorrow, you need to boil it at or above 100c for a minimum of 20 minutes (20 min is generally accepted, some suggest 10, others 30, overkill can be under rated imo) and store it in a sealed sterile container. If you were to pick more nits, you might also consider filtering other contaminates from the water found hiking, as i am sure you are already aware. I will say no more to remain respectful.

  10. Good article. As a male, who has been a practicing RN for 27 years, I offer you this encouragement. I have never encountered open discrimination related to my gender. In fact, I have had conversations with many female nurses who have said they would rather work side by side with male nurses as they are more emotionally stable (their words, not mine). Flaky people are flaky people, whether male or female. Just avoid them. Welcome to the fold.

  11. Ole Granny: All I’m asking (as a Grandma myself) is the ultra-conservative position to be ‘balanced’ a little bit. Otherwise those Feminazis (and yes, they are!) will win the day. If we on the right, can’t bring ourselves to acknowledge that married men beat women (my dad did my mom) and drink and look at porn….we lose in the Christian worldview argument. It doesn’t mean THAT ALL MEN DO THAT. It means ENOUGH do, to be a problem. Take a look at Jacob’s sons: Levi, Simeon, some of the others. Not the greatest examples of patriarchs/at least in their younger years. I wish we Christians would make more time to ‘bring along’ men that are struggling. Actually GET OUT THERE and help men addicted to porn, wasting the family money on gambling, and surfeiting/surfing with the sports game of choice or on the web. The feminists are winning the argument, because Christian men don’t want to roll up their sleeves and help their struggling co-worker. As an aside, ask a feminist ‘why’ she believes her position: ‘cuz Uncle molested her, Dad looked at porn, or she had to put a drunk Grandpa in the car time and time again. What is our answer to those problems? Shake our fist at the wind? Or get in there and show the way to the Savior….Jesus Saves.

    1. Well said, friend. While I am married to a woman who says, “feminism saved my life”, we manage to find common ground. We both strive to live in a world of “responsibility rather than blame”.

      We too often fail. And, then we get to work in resolving the issue at hand and making amends.

      Since we were both abused by an opposite sex family member when little (yes, women sexually abuse little boys, at least in my case), we have developed strong compassion for each other.

      Forgiveness, as we are commanded by Jesus, has carried both to be excellent marriage partners.

      Carry on in grace

  12. We have 3 solar ovens we can cook pies, turkeys, and boil water with. I wonder if this would provide sterilization with the dry heat option? (auto-correction spelling is killing me today)

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