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Thread: sterlize/disinfect blades?

  1. #1
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    sterlize/disinfect blades?


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    Recently I was asked how I sterilize or disinfect my knives. I don't do anything special other than sharpen them and wipe them off as I go. Her concern centers on the fact that I use the knives to scrape on her and others' reeds which will then go in their mouths.

    Anyone have any suggestions: safe and effective?

    I guess I should add that they are not stainless blades.
    Last edited by annr; 01-24-2008 at 12:58 PM.

  2. #2
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    Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol).

  3. #3
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    If sterilization is a concern, just dip the blade in hydrogen peroxide, and shake off the excess.

    Another cheap and dirty solution is to run the flame from a match over it quickly.

  4. #4
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    Sterilization is not possible without damaging the blade or without expensive equipment since the sterilizarion term implies a huge death or few residual organims in certain area.

    however, very good desinfection is possible.
    You can clean it for a few minutes with ethanol or isopropanol! It is not the best, but to make this better, soak it, let it dry, and soak it again, then push a flame into it and let it burn by it's own until the combustion ends by itself.

    One better way, that I'm looking to it myself, specially for 2nd hand knives, is to obtain some solutions or powders to mix in water, from medical suppliers, that are used to clean and desinfect medical and cirurgical instruments.
    Most of them can be used in aluminium and stainless steel, but I don't know if it will ruin some steels, colors, plastics.. etc...
    Last edited by darklight; 01-24-2008 at 01:01 PM. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys. Now I'm wondering.....Anyone care to hazard a guess if disinfecting the blade as mentioned above (isopropanol, peroxide) will have an appreciable effect if there a round robin of sharpening, scraping and blowing on the reed multiple times in the same session?

    I'm thinking that the sharpening gear won't be disinfected, nor will the reed...
    Last edited by annr; 01-24-2008 at 05:15 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by annr View Post
    Thanks guys. Now I'm wondering.....Anyone care to hazard a guess if disinfecting the blade as mentioned above (isopropanol, peroxide) will have an appreciable effect if there a round robin of sharpening, scraping and blowing on the reed multiple times in the same session?

    I'm thinking that the sharpening gear won't disinfected, nor will the reed...
    I'm not completely sure I understand the question, but:

    First, darklight is correct. I misspoke, the blade will be disinfected, not sterilized. You'd need an autoclave (high heat and pressure) to sterilize.

    Disinfecting the blade will not effect the sharpening gear or the reeds. To prevent cross-comtamination, you would need to disinfect the blade every time if touches either the sharpening gear or the reeds.

    Probably the best solution is to just wash all three, the sharpening gear, the reeds, and the blade with warm soapy water and a Scotchbrite pad.

    Not "surgical" sterilization, but probably the next best thing for what you're using the blade for.

  7. #7
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    Wipe or dip the reed in a bleach solution when you're finished working on it and let it air dry. Don't worry about your tools. Brief exposure to bleach won't bleach the reed but it will kill all germs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Dover View Post

    I'm not completely sure I understand the question, but:
    I'm guessing that the part that may not have made sense is the reed adjustment process: the reed goes into their mouth, is touched by my knife, the knife goes on the stone, back to the reed, the reed back to the mouth, etc. for about 20" until it seems as good as it's going to get.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Dover View Post
    Disinfecting the blade will not effect the sharpening gear or the reeds. To prevent cross-comtamination, you would need to disinfect the blade every time if touches either the sharpening gear or the reeds.

    Probably the best solution is to just wash all three, the sharpening gear, thereeds, and the blade with warm soapy water and a Scotchbrite pad.

    Not "surgical" sterilization, but probably the next best thing for what you're using the blade for.
    This type of question arises from time to time usually in connection with the reed. (I remember teaching a virologist who tried to autoclave her reeds and well you can imagine.) Reeds can be put in peroxide, or fx. vodka but that's about it.

    Improvements in this area would be a win-win: why would I want their germs either?

    I can certainly wash the knife by bringing some alcohol swabs and use some type of sharpening gear that could be washed. I bet that ceramic can be wiped with alcohol, and what about diamond? Scary Sharp wet/dry method works well is both inexpensive and disposable. OR Maybe I could ask people to bring their own knives and sandpaper and get them to do the sharpening. Or lease-a-knife w/ sharpening by the hour?
    Last edited by annr; 01-24-2008 at 05:27 PM.

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    I focussed on the answer but missed the "reeds" part! Sorry my ignorance, but what is a reed and with does it have to do with knives?

    The desinfection should be accordingly to the risk of expusure/contamination! It will make no sense desinfect all the materials in contact troughthly if there is no major risk, like blood or something. Anyway, I'm kind of lost in the topic because the role of this reeds thing

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    Quote Originally Posted by darklight View Post
    I focussed on the answer but missed the "reeds" part! Sorry my ignorance, but what is a reed and with does it have to do with knives?

    The desinfection should be accordingly to the risk of expusure/contamination! It will make no sense desinfect all the materials in contact troughthly if there is no major risk, like blood or something. Anyway, I'm kind of lost in the topic because the role of this reeds thing
    In this case it is an oboe reed which like a reed for a clarinet or sax will be going into the mouth of the player. The reeds are carved by hand with the knife . Since the reed is porous and goes in the mouth it is both more difficult/dangerous to purify and prone to 'bugs', ...so it probably makes more sense now.

    I really don't know the measure of risk but I can think of circumstances when I wouldn't handle someone's reeds.

    Good answer tho!-weak question.
    Last edited by annr; 01-24-2008 at 05:31 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by annr View Post
    Improvements in this area would be a win-win: why would I want their germs either?

    I can certainly wash the knife by bringing some alcohol swabs and use some type of sharpening gear that could be washed. I bet that ceramic can be wiped with alcohol, and what about diamond? Scary Sharp wet/dry method works well is both inexpensive and disposable. OR Maybe I could ask people to bring their own knives and sandpaper and get them to do the sharpening. Or lease-a-knife w/ sharpening by the hour?
    Any restaurant supplier can sell you quaternary ammonium tablets. (These are things they use in the third compartment of three compartment sinks in restaurants. Steramine is the brand I'm familiar with; there are others.) Dissolved in water, you get a solution that's designed for sanitizing hard surfaces. Shouldn't harm anything you're using it on.

  12. #12
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    ANNR,

    You can elinimate one of the three, the sharpening gear, by getting a knife with very high abrasion resistant steel, such a D-2, M-2, S30V, ZDP 189, etc. You should be able to carve quite a few reeds between sharpenings with this type of steel.

  13. #13
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    Both peroxide and bleach will wreak havoc on carbon steel blades. Rust will begin before your eyes. Alcohol is the way to go, and it won't hurt reeds, stones or steel.
    Bill

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    Understood now! It all makes sense now

    So saliva is the major concern.
    If you desinfect the reeds 1st before using the knife you will not cross contaminate the knife, and assuming you only use it for this, just desinfect it now and then. If you use it for other things, desinfect it before working with it in the reeds, and desinfect the reeds too.

    The isopropanol should be good for this. Bleach is also a good and cheap choice, but as mentioned, oxidizing chemicals can wrek the blades... but like anything else, will depend on concentration and time of exposure.

  15. #15
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    Not sure if this helps, but what I have been doing is to clean with Dow foam (scrubby bubbles) and then oil with olive oil.

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    Scrubbing Bubbles must be rinsed with water, or it can be toxic. How toxic, I don't know.
    Bill

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    Bill, what would you recommend for cleaning?

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    Scrubbing bubbles if when rinsed in water.
    Alcohol.
    But then I'm a bassist, and I put WD40 on my strings!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by darklight View Post
    Understood now! It all makes sense now

    So saliva is the major concern.
    That seems right. Remove the saliva from the equation and I don't think this would be an issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by darklight View Post
    If you desinfect the reeds 1st before using the knife you will not cross contaminate the knife, and assuming you only use it for this, just desinfect it now and then. If you use it for other things, desinfect it before working with it in the reeds, and desinfect the reeds too.
    These are dedicated knives, eliminating one problem source. It seems to boil down to disinfecting the reed in the first place and re-disinfecting it after each time the student tests the reeds, and disinfecting the equipment between usages.

    That's why this thread got me thinking that the best control of the variables was for each student to have their own reedmaking tools.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs View Post

    Alcohol.
    I think that the student would be happy with this answer understanding that it is perhaps better than nothing. My private thought was: would alcohol be a waste of time?

    After considering ALL of the tools that were potential vectors alcohol would be the most pragmatic solution, much of this will be happening away from a sink.

    Do you really think that it would be safe to put alchohol on a reed? I was reading the bottle label and it says that it is harmful if swallowed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs View Post
    But then I'm a bassist, and I put WD40 on my strings!
    Upright, or electric?
    Last edited by annr; 01-25-2008 at 08:57 AM.

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