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How to make sterile water?

Posted on 30th , May 2012

There was a time when people could directly drink tap water. Today, tap water may or may not be free of contaminants. In fact, due to inefficient plumbing or leaking sewer pipes, water supply through taps may get contaminated with micro organisms and pathogens and other corrosive metals.

Sterile water is characterized as water that is free of all micro organisms (like fungi, spores, bacteria etc. Sterile water also plays a vital role in medical research. Normal water if used in laboratory experiments runs the risk of contamination and rendering the results of lab research invalid. The use of sterile water avoids that risk and its role in medical research is invaluable.

Sterile water should not be confused with distilled water. Distilled water is created by a process of steaming and condensation, and does not contain any minerals like salt, calcium or iron. A distinction should further be made between sterile water and saline solution. Sterile Saline solution has 0.9% Sodium Chloride and is used for wound irrigation and cleaning. Saline solution or Sodium Chloride Irrigation USP (United States Pharmacopeia)is commonly used for wound irrigation and cleaning due to safety and low toxicity levels.

Will boiling water kill all the harmful pathogens? Well, boiling the water in a pot for 20 minutes or so will kill most infection causing bacteria and may be perfectly useful for drinking purposes; it would however not be classified as sterile water for medical purposes.

To make sterile water, you must do the following:

1. Use a pressure cooker, a hermetically sealed pot or an autoclave. Make sure that the temperature rises above the normal boiling point of water.
2. Fill the cooker with water.
3. Place cooker with water on a heat stove.
4. Boil water for a minimum of 20 minutes.
5. The temperature within the cooker should be maintained at 121 degrees Celsius or 250 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the boiling period.
Your sterile water is ready!