Who knew that Instant Pot can provide scientific-grade sterilization?

(Actually, we did.)

An undergraduate biology student discovered that she doesn’t need expensive equipment to sterilize her tools and materials, all she needs is her trusty Instant Pot.

When working in a laboratory, scientists need things to be accurate, consistent, and clean, clean, clean. Especially when working with microbiological samples, a properly sterilized environment is crucial. The autoclave is the go-to tool used in hospitals and labs around the world to ensure that all unwanted microbes are purged from instruments and media.

Professionals use an autoclave to sterilize scientific and surgical equipment before use through pressure-induced high temperature. Sound familiar? That’s exactly how an electronic pressure cooker like the Instant Pot works.

Vaille Swenson, a senior at Dakota State University, made the same connection after receiving an Instant Pot for Christmas. An Instant Pot is inexpensive enough to appear in any home kitchen, whereas an autoclave can cost thousands of dollars and may be out of the price reach of many smaller labs.

Swensen asked herself: could an inexpensive Instant Pot be used to do the same thing as a pricey autoclave? Being a scientist, she decided to put her hypothesis to the test using the scientific method.

She devised an experiment where she used an Instant Pot alongside several other brands of pressure cooker to see how each one fared at killing different strains of microbes. While all were able to kill most microbes, only the Instant Pot was able to effectively sterilize against the geobacillus spore, a bacteria that is actually used to test commercial autoclaves because of its particularly high heat-resistance.

Swensen and her research team concluded that “store-bought pressure cookers can be an appropriate substitute for commercial autoclaves…Only the Instant Pot brand pressure cooker was able to inactivate Gstearothermophilus endospores, which indicated that it would be the most appropriate choice for a laboratory pressure cooker.”

As you can imagine, the Instant Pot is also good for destroying harmful bacteria at home. It’s the ideal tool for sterilizing things like baby bottles and canning jars, and is the most effective way to rid food of potential microbial hazards during cooking.

None of this is new to us. Back in 2012, Instant Pot inventor Robert Wang wrote a blog about why the Instant Pot is perfect for cooking rice. One of the reasons is its unique ability to destroy carcinogenic toxins in rice:

“Rice, if not stored properly, may carry fungal poisons called aflatoxins, a potent trigger of liver cancer. A survey found that 6% of uncooked rice collected from markets in Seoul contained flatoxins.  Conventional boiling and steaming rice at under 100°C (212°F) is not sufficient to kill all aflatoxins. Study had shown that pressure cooking at higher than 100°C (212°F) was capable of reducing aflatoxin concentrations to safe levels.”

So there you have it. Not only is your friendly Instant Pot a quick and convenient way to cook dinner, but it is also making the world a safer place, one kitchen (or laboratory) at a time.






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