And always, always, sterilize body jewelry in an autoclave.
If you don't have one tell your customer to take it to their
piercer to be sterilized before they put it in.
G’day; Let me state right now that I disapprove of body
piercing. But if anyone wants to do it, then that’s their right
and responsibility and their business. I even providing some with
earrings! Often for free too!
If you need a sterilizer, then get a small pressure cooker.
These are often available second hand, at El Cheepo prices, but
do check that the weight(s) are available. Wrap the jewellery in
a piece of clean lint and dye-free free material and put that in
a small metal capped glass bottle - wide mouthed, preferably,
but leave the cap only PARTLY screwed home… Place the
jewellery in the bottle and put that in the pressure cooker, then
carry on according to the instructions that came with the cooker.
After the device has had the weight in place and has been
gently boiling for not less than 20 minutes, WAIT after removing
the heat for about 5 minutes for the pressure to fall, then
remove the bottle and screw the cap on tightly - protect
fingers!. The contents of the bottle will be properly
The criteria for sterilization is that the item must be at 121
degrees C in dry steam heat for not less than 20 minutes, and a
pressure cooker accomplishes this easily. It is the dry,
(superheated) steam that penetrates everything which does the
job. I used a domestic pressure cooker for years to sterilize
bacterial culture media, instruments and equipment with
absolutely no problems whatever. The wide (about 1"x 6" ) test
tubes are useful for containing earrings, and other small parts.
Place the item in the tube, stopper with non-absorbent cotton
wool., and cover with a piece of domestic aluminium foil, using a
small rubber band or piece of copper wire, to hold the foil in
place. When sterilizing is done, keep the item in the tube with
the ‘stopper’ untouched until needed.
There are many ways of sterilizing small items for piercing
body parts. You can also sterilize in a domestic oven, but it is
difficult to measure the temperature accurately, and the oven
should be at about 130C. but is not as efficient as a pressure
cooker. Another way is to allow the item to soak in a 1%
solution of sodium meta-bisulphite (available from home-brew
shops or pharmacies) for several minutes, then place in sterile
tissue. Good quality toilet paper is sterile (due to the method
of manufacture), provided that the first 4 sheets are discarded.
The wet sterilized items may be dried with it, then wrapped in
it - without touching the tissue where the item is to sit, or the
item. Bacteriologists always sterilize wires by passing them
quickly through a bunsen burner or torch flame a couple of times.
But avoid using iodine for sterilization; it reacts with gold
and silver. When parts of the body are to be pierced, that
part should be carefully wiped a few times with an alcohol soaked
piece of cotton wool to remove surface bacteria which we all
carry about by the trillion. Indeed, it helps considerably for
the pierced person to use an alcohol wipe on the pierced part
and the pin before inserting the pin.
If after all that, soreness due to infection occurs, then the
best person to deal with this is a doctor - or at least a
pharmacist, but DON’T suffer in silence! Cheers, John Burgess.