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InvisibleServator
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My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick * 1
    #9692952 - 01/28/09 05:35 AM (12 years, 8 months ago)

Not specifically gourmet related, but I figured you guys would get more use out of this than the guys in cult.

I've wanted a good bacti cinerator for a while now. Flame sterilizing a needle in front of a flowhood is a pain in the ass, and I like to make a habit of resterilizing often. I don't anticipate being in any position to drop several hundred dollars on a new piec of lab equipment for a good while, so I patched this ugly little beauty together over the course of an afternoon. Its pretty slick in operation. All I had was a 2 amp transformer, so it peaks at aout 450 F, but I can stack 4 or 5 needles at a time in the heat chamber, and pull them out as I go without having to waste any time individually sterilizing.



Let me preface with the typical warning. I'm no electrician, and there are numerous ways to kill yourself. This is a pretty simple project, but if you manage to injure yourself, you probably deserver it.

So here's the quick and shoddy run through of how I put this together:

Materials Needed:
1 meter 26g Nichrome wire (about $5 off ebay)
2 small ceramic fire bricks (I had these sitting around my art studio, but they can be purchased for $6-8 off ebay. They are used for kiln building)
DC Transformer 4 amp or less
Small graphite  plate (again, something laying around my studio, probably don't even need it, but it's cheap and makes a cool looking heat resistant base)
1" hole saw
1/8" metal rod
4 4" x 1/4" bolts, with washers & nuts

The transformer, nichrome, and fire brick are the only necessities. A bit of innovation can compensate for the lack of anything else.

Using the 1/8" metal rod in a hand drill, wrap the nichrome into the tightest coil you can manage. You want a nice even coil that you can pull out. When it is good and tight, take it off the rod and pull it gently to a length of 12" or so.

Strap the fire bricks together with zip ties so they are tightly bound, and drill a hole about half way through with the hole saw. Use a 1/4" drill bit to drive a hole the rest of the way through. Drill one more hole in the bottom at a 90 degree angle to the main hole.

Drill 1/4" holes through the four corners of the fire brick & base if you so choose. Put the bolts through each hole and tighten the nuts, this will give you a bit of clearance from whatever the heat chamber is sitting on.

Cut and strip the end of the wires from the DC transformer. Slide the positive wire through one hole and the negative through the other hole and pull them both out the main hole. Pull the wire back through the hole until the coil wedges in.

Connect whichever wire ran through the rear first. Nichrome is a bitch to solder (I hear) so just twist the wires together so they are tightly connected and will not separate. If you use anything to cover the joint, make sure it can bear the heat generated.

Carefully coil the nichrome around the inside of the 1" hole. You want it close, but not touching itself in any place. Use some small scraps of wire bent into a U shape to secure the coils to the side of the hole.



Connect the wire running through the bottom hole in the same manner as before. Pull it back through the hole and use wire or pins to secure the coils in place.

Plug it in an within 5 minutes it should be anywhere from 400 to 1000 degrees, depending on the amperage of the transformer you use.

All in all my expenses for this project totaled about $6.00. I figure if I'd purchased all the parts new, and been frugal about it, I could have gotten through in under $15.00. Not bad compared to a $300 piece of equipment that does the same thing, only without looking shitty.


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InvisibleJaComet
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Servator]
    #9692981 - 01/28/09 05:59 AM (12 years, 8 months ago)

Looks like it works just dandy. Thanks for the share.


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OfflineMephistophelian
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: JaComet]
    #9693180 - 01/28/09 08:51 AM (12 years, 8 months ago)

That is friggin :awesome:

Bookmarked!


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OfflineMycoAu
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Mephistophelian]
    #9696477 - 01/28/09 09:35 PM (12 years, 8 months ago)

I have to admit, this is the cheapest, most useful, easy-to-understand pictorial I've seen in a long time.  :thumbup:


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InvisibleInfiniteOhms
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: MycoAu]
    #9789490 - 02/13/09 10:13 AM (12 years, 8 months ago)

Excellent! I plan on building one. My only question is, if you touch those hot wires with your scalpel are you going to get shocked? Sure its only 4 amps DC... but i hate electric shocks (even static drives me crazy).


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InvisibleServator
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: InfiniteOhms]
    #9791586 - 02/13/09 07:21 PM (12 years, 8 months ago)

You know, coming from the "let's see if this won't blow up" school of electrical engineering this is as much as I feel qualified to say:

I use a spear shaped scalpel improvised from a dental tool of some sort. It's solid metal, and I presume at least somewhat conductive. I rest it directly on the wire when I'm waiting for it to heat, and have not seen or had any issues. That said, I'm pretty cautious about contact with nichrome wire after seeing the power running through my glass kiln (which admittedly runs at 15 amps, compared to 2-4) I also have not tried it with anything more than 2 amps, so I can't for say sure what it would do. Either way, some kind of shelf or scalpel rest would be a large improvement.

As I type this, that tiny voice of insight is screaming weakly in my head. I believe that electrocution is a factor of the voltage, rather than the amperage. As this uses a 12v DC transformer, I don't think it would be an issue. But yea, you should probably do a little side research as you go, because the chance that some part of what I say is coming out of my ass seems reasonable


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Offlinepalactapuss
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Servator]
    #9802273 - 02/15/09 02:37 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

WOW!
pretty neat


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Offlinemonmyui
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: palactapuss]
    #16590724 - 07/26/12 07:04 AM (9 years, 2 months ago)

very interested.


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Offlinemonmyui
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: monmyui]
    #16590760 - 07/26/12 07:20 AM (9 years, 2 months ago)

Do you used this oven heating pins insted fire flame?  How clever like this.


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OfflineMycosperiment
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Servator]
    #25077760 - 03/20/18 03:38 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

I know this is an old thread but I would have had to link back to it if I made a new thread so...

I made a quick test version of this device just to see if I could do it.

I used about 1 meter of 24 gauge Kanthol resistance wire (which I originally bought to make inoculating loops), an old insulating fire brick, and a car battery charger to power it.



I drilled a 1 inch hole most of the way through my partial brick.  This type of brick drills and cuts easily.  I then drilled a 1/4 inch hole through the back and the top to have places for the wire to exit.  If I were to do it again, I would make the 1/4" holes smaller diameter.

The wire was wrapped tightly around a small (~1/8" rod) to form tight coils and then I stretched it out to make a longer heating element.

After trying to fit the coils into the 1 inch hole and having trouble getting everything positioned right, I sawed the brick in half right through the hole to make two parts.  Again, this was easily done with normal wood working tools.

I could have done a better job at getting everything positioned but just wanted to test this idea so I skipped bolting the two halves together.



When hooked up to a 12 volt battery charger, it drew a little over 2 amps and the internal temperature, judging by a candy thermometer, reached over 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  It took about a minute with the thermometer probe inside the hole to climb well above the limit of that thermometer.  I stopped checking before it stopped climbing for fear of breaking the thermometer which was only numbered up to about 380 degrees but it went all the way around and back to 150 before I took it out.



I was a little disappointed at how long it took to heat a scalpel up to the point where it sizzled when dipped in water.  About 30 seconds seemed to be needed to go from a cold, wet scalpel to sizzling hot.  Not that bad but very slow compared to a torch.

I ordered a glass bead sterilizer which should be here in a couple weeks and I currently use a propane torch to flame sterilize my tools but it looks like this DIY sterilizer would work if I didn't have any other method of doing it.  A flame is hard to beat due to the speed but it also, as you can see from the last picture, is hard on the blades.  This was one of my best used blades.  Most of them quickly rust and get thin from repeatedly flame sterilizing them red hot.  I think this, and hopefully the glass bead sterilizer, won't damage the cheap blades as fast.

After about 1/2 hour of testing this, the outside of the insulating fire brick was just warm to the touch.  The heating coil never got visibly red but I'm sure it could be a fire hazard so do this at your own risk.  I may use this thing if I finish putting it together better but it was more just an experiment to see if I could make one.


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InvisiblebodhisattaMDiscordReddit
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Mycosperiment]
    #25078379 - 03/20/18 08:01 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

Glass bead sterilizers are not very reliable


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OfflineMycosperiment
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: bodhisatta]
    #25084954 - 03/23/18 02:33 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

I made some improvements to the design of this device.

First, I wanted something nicer looking than a fire brick.  I cast a couple new ones using a mixture of Plaster of Paris and Perlite in a plastic drinking cup (shown on the right) and Plaster of Paris, Sand, Mortar Mix, and Perlite (shown on the left) which I didn't end up using.



I cast the hole in the one on the right using a 50 ml centrifuge tube as the form and then drilled a small hole through the back and one in the side for the wires to come out.  The other one was drilled after it set up which left a rougher finish.  It took a couple days with the plaster shell on a heater in the house to dry it out.  The moisture in it kept the heating coil from getting hot enough.

The heating coil was shortened to 20 inches but I ended up using even less to get the current up to just over 4 amps at 12 volts from a car battery charger.

I wrapped the wire around a 1/16 inch diameter wire (instead of the original 1/8 inch rod) to get a tighter coil.



Then I stretched the coil out.



and formed it into a series of larger coils.



I put the coil into the plaster shell with the wires sticking out to make connections to.  After testing it, I ended up pulling more of the coil out the back and connecting the battery charger clamps to it making a shorter coil until it was drawing just over 4 amps.





In this version, the heating coils glow red hot.  I can heat the scalpel up hot enough to make water sizzle in 15 seconds.  At 30 seconds it can melt a hole in a plastic petri dish.  The scalpel blade never gets red hot like it does with a torch no matter how long it is left in the sterilizer but the handle gets too hot to hold if left in more than about a minute at a time.



I still want to build some kind of stand for this device and connect wires to it instead of just using the battery charger clamps plus I need to test it for real to make sure it really can sterilize the tools and not just heat them up but so far it looks very promising.  I already had everything here to make it so it only cost me time.


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InvisibleInocybe
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Servator]
    #25084980 - 03/23/18 02:47 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

Servator said:
Flame sterilizing a needle in front of a flowhood is a pain in the ass




I use one of these for sterilizing scalpel, needles and loops in seconds.



Cheap, cool and portable :shrug:

Nice tutorial by the way :thumbup:


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OfflineCapnCrown
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Mycosperiment]
    #25084989 - 03/23/18 02:51 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

Cool, I was thinking of making something like this for my lab. I've been using an all metal exacto and just changing the blades after they are all crunchy from heating with a cigar lighter. The dual flame torch lights easily with gloves and its so intense my giant hood can't blow it out.

sterilizers like this go for over $500.


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OfflineMycosperiment
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: CapnCrown]
    #25085024 - 03/23/18 03:08 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

Inocybe said:
Quote:

Servator said:
Flame sterilizing a needle in front of a flowhood is a pain in the ass




I use one of these for sterilizing scalpel, needles and loops in seconds.



Cheap, cool and portable :shrug:

Nice tutorial by the way :thumbup:




I use a propane torch and sometimes an alcohol burner and might continue using them.  It's hard to beat the speed of a real flame and seeing the tools glowing red hot is a good sign that they are really sterile.  I hope this homemade sterilizer will work good too with no open flames to worry about and no fuel (besides electricity) to run out.

Quote:

CapnCrown said:
Cool, I was thinking of making something like this for my lab. I've been using an all metal exacto and just changing the blades after they are all crunchy from heating with a cigar lighter. The dual flame torch lights easily with gloves and its so intense my giant hood can't blow it out.

sterilizers like this go for over $500.




The flame removes the plating from cheap scalpel blades and cause them to rust and get thin pretty fast.  That was another reason I like this (assuming it sterilizes them).

You might be able to find a good Bacti-Cinerator used for under $100 and I'm sure it would be better than my homemade version but the resistance wire was the only thing that might be harder to find but fortunately I bought some of it to make inoculating loops.

I also made my own transfer tools out of old stainless steel silverware that handle the heat better than the cheap scalpels.



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OfflineCapnCrown
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Mycosperiment]
    #25085053 - 03/23/18 03:27 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

resistance wire was the only thing that might be harder to find but fortunately I bought some of it to make inoculating loops.

I also made my own transfer tools out of old stainless steel silverware that handle the heat better than the cheap scalpels.






I know what I'm making this week.


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OfflineMycosperiment
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: CapnCrown]
    #25085385 - 03/23/18 06:11 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

This device is easier on the blades than a flame but still changes the color of the blades.  This one was brand new and only sterilized in the homemade device once.



It didn't dull the edge like the flame does but it looks like the blades will probably still rust just not as fast.

The homemade transfer tools made from the stainless steel silverware does darken from the heat but I have been using and reusing several of them for a while now heating them red hot repeatedly without really damaging them at all.  I usually wrap them in foil and pressure cook them so I can get one use out of them without needing to flame sterilize them the first time.

The way I make them is to first grind a line just past the handle on the spoon or fork end and then bend it back and forth to break it off.  Then I grind a point on the cut off end and then grind the back of the spear point and a short distance up the handle to make it faster to heat up and cool back down.  Next I sharpen the edges of the spear and deburr everything with a wire wheel.  Since this is just used for cutting agar wedges, it doesn't need to be real sharp so I slightly round the edges with the wire wheel. 

I'm not sure if all silverware is the good (non-magnetic) grade of stainless steel.  The ones I used are not magnetic at all and don't rust.  I hardly use the real scalpels at all anymore.


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OfflinePsilosopherr
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Mycosperiment]
    #25104603 - 03/31/18 03:20 PM (3 years, 6 months ago)

I like your homemade transfer tools. How are you cutting/shaping the silverware?


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OfflineMycosperiment
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Psilosopherr] * 1
    #25106288 - 04/01/18 11:25 AM (3 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

Psilosopherr said:
I like your homemade transfer tools. How are you cutting/shaping the silverware?




Here's a post I just made specifically on these homemade tools.

Homemade transfer tool from old silverware


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OfflineMycosperiment
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Re: My $15 Scalpel Sterilizer Made Out of a Brick [Re: Mycosperiment]
    #25185585 - 05/05/18 10:51 AM (3 years, 5 months ago)

I finally got around to doing a test of my homemade sterilizer.  Should know within a week if it works.

I dipped a wire loop into a forgotten jar of soaking birdseed that should be filled with all kinds of contamination.  Lots of bubbling going on in that jar and a bad smell so I figured it would make a good source of bacteria to kill before it gets dumped out.



Then I put that wet loop into the device and then streaked it all over the surface of a petri dish.  Notice the little piece of fiberglass insulation in the opening of the device.  That helps to hold the heat in so the coils stay red hot and it gives me a place to rest the handle of the tools to help keep from touching the coils directly.



I'll try to update this post in a week or so with the results but I'm pretty confident it will work and no growth will appear in the test plate.


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