Piercing jewelry; Sterilizing

   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.

Can anyone out there tell me why when I solder 14k gold posts on
a gold or silver earring I’ve made and then pickle, rinse, and
go on to soak them in baking soda to neutralize the pickle, then
wash and rinse them thoroughly, I still experience itching if I
try to wear them? I can wear a few pair of 14k earrings I bought
years ago but anything else bothers me. I solder the 14k posts
on with 14k easy paste solder. Please help, I’d like to wear
earrings again since I make them. NET

Gawd. There was a segment on one of those TV talk shows,
DATELINE I think it was. This young lady had the usual body
piercings in every way but where. I am pretty jaded now to be
shocked anymore except what that young lady did to her tongue.

She had it split lengthwise which was gruesome enough. And then
she wiggled her tongue and the two halves could wiggle
independently!!. I would have lost my dinner right then and
there had I just eaten one.

The same show also showed a young man with the same self
mutilation but he only spoke without sticking his tongue out.
His other freakouts included a row of stainless steel studs
(like map pins) sticking out of his shaven pate.

Kelvin Mok (@Kelvin_Mok1)
Home: (780) 463-4099 | Home FAX: (780) 430-7120

Hi, I think the problem could be caused by the alloys in the gold
posts.Check with the manufacturer and they should be able to
tell you. If the posts are the problem, you could go to 18k
posts especially if they are for you to wear :-)Stainless posts
will work also , but might not be your preference. Daniel Grandi
http://www.racecarjewelry.com Model making, moldmaking,
finishing and Castings in gold, silver, bronze and pewter for
the industry.

14k gold posts.. pickle, rinse.. baking soda ..still
experience itching

Try polishing posts w/small bristle brush as you may have picked
up a slight amount of copper plating from pickle ! !


I solder 14k gold posts 

Why don’t you try using 14 k sheet medium solder? I would suspect
some alloy in the paste solder. Good Luck Helene

Dear John: With respect, I strongly caution anyone from using a
pressure cooker for sterilizing. I am not sure if I would want
to justify in a court of law the use of a pressure cooker to
sterilize. Pressure cookers and autoclaves (streilizers) are
technological cousins, but the difference is in the carefull
temperature and pressure control available with the autoclave
which is absent in the pressure cooker. If I wanted to sterilize
any item I would see my friendly family dentist. He/she must in
most states keep a log of sterilizer testing using spore strips
to verify that the machine is doing its job. In enlisting the
help of your dentist friend you would stand a better chance of
defending yourself in the event you are part of a law suit.

Mike Fritz
Lone Star Technical Service
(you know…the ultrasonic repair guy)
PS we do repair sterilizers from time to time

By using easy paste soldering it is possible that you have used
a type which contains cadmium . The cadmium help the solder to
flow very easy. In the Netherlands this type will be forbidden in
2001. This metal can cause small allergic reactions. The only way
is to remove the old solder and solder it again with cadmium free
solder. But maybe it is better to use an 18k pin in your case.

Martin Niemeijer

It is a good possibility that the 14K alloy of your posts
contain some Nickel to which you, like many others, are
allergic. Perhaps you can find out from your supplier the
content of the alloy or you might try a higher Karat gold which
is not as likely to contain Nickel. As an experiment, try
coating the posts with nail polish(clear) to serve as a barrier
between the gold post and your skin. This may tell you if it is due to the metal in the post.
Joe Dule

    With respect, I strongly caution anyone from using a
pressure cooker for sterilizing Pressure 

G’day Mike; The act of sterilizing anything has only one
purpose. That is to render any life which may be present to a
harmless condition. To do this all one needs to do is is to
place the item(s) to be sterilized in a pressure resistant vessel
and introduce dry steam at a temperature of 121 degrees
centigrade for not less than twenty minutes. I - and all the
books - maintain that nothing at all can live as we know it in
such conditions. OK, so an autoclave can have devices which
provide different temperatures and pressures, but such devices
are entirely unnecessary if all the requirement is to sterilize
and nothing else. A good domestic pressure cooker does exactly
that; it slowly raises the temperature to 121C and holds it there
for as long as one wishes, but it needs to hold there for 20
minutes or more. I have personally checked the efficacy of such
a sterilizing method, by more than once deliberately introducing
a live culture of fairly heat resistant bacteria into the cooker
for a normal cycle, and found that nothing grew when incubated
at the usual incubation temperatures for three or more days. (37C
& 44C) Furthermore, in EVERY sterilization use of the cooker, I
introduced a very small sealed glass phial of benzoic acid, which
only melts at 121C and in every case in over 100 cycles, the
benzoic acid had properly melted, to check that all was working
as it should. I would have no hesitation in using any material
instrument upon myself that had undergone this process in a
tested pressure cooker. Indeed, I used small towels so
sterilized in mylar sealed bags upon my own severe wounds when
in a car accident some years ago, when I smashed my knee open to
the bone. But thank you for your comments, Mike. Do check with
a microbiologist. Cheers, John Burgess

There is a special tape available - your dentist probably has it

  • It looks like masking tape. When exposed to the correct
    sterilizing conditions black stripes develop along the tape. Karen

John: I don’t deny that a pressure cooker and an autoclave are
cousins. Your definition of what constitutes the conditions for
sterilization are correct as well as your definitions of spore
culture and “dyack” testing. My concern is defending this
practice in a court of law. I am not sure what the laws are and
what kind of fine fellows the lawyers are in N.Z. but here with
the bottom feeder lawyers and liberal judicial system, I believe
that you would be in a real bind defending the use of a pressure
cooker to sterilize anything, although you would be correct in
assuming all the parameters were met for sterilization.


Kevin, What if one person stuck one of those pins in his ear lobe
then what would you think. Maybe a post with a Carat Diamond on
it and what if you just sold it to him and then stuck in his
shaven pate and you look at your wallet and It’s so hollow any
more. What I trying to say this could be a better market to enter
into or the industry. It still needs to be safe, elegant,
profitable, and most of all accepted. Which it was once accepted
by the Romans, Incas, the Africa’s, the east Asians, Oceanians,
populations have been all done some sort of body piercing longer
than you think. No one is more old fasion that the people who
have the piercings. Personally I don’t have any holes in my body,
alterations or jewelry.

I Will get off my anvil now before my toes get forged. Thank to
all, Travis Clark

If all Parameters are met for Sterilization, then there can be
no legal defense that says a pressure cooker will not do the
same job. I have a steam dewaxer that i made by using a Large
lobster pot mounted on top of a gas stove top ( Not the one we
cook with, but the one I inherited when the wife did not like
the color for the kitchen !)…$15. for all the parts and it
works !!! A Lawyer would have to be able to Prove that
sterilization does not work in a pressure cooker and he can’t
prove that. All a lawyer may attempt to prove is that the person
doing the sterilization did not do it correctly and they can
attempt that even with an Aotoclave !!! I Agree with
John…just my My 2 cents Daniel Grandi

I also saw that show on t.v. and I personally didn’t care for
certain things the people featured had done, but my philosophy
is " if you don’t like it, don’t do it." I am peirced and I love
my peircings. They are personal, beautiful, and I did them all
to mark significant times in my life. They can also be removed
at any time if I want at no cost ( unlike tattoos).