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Stainless steel is an alloy, which does exactly what its name implies: stains less than ordinary steel (iron). Yes, it can stain, discolor and rust, given the right circumstances. To make iron stainless, nickel and chromium are added in certain quantities, depending on the purpose it is being used for and the qualities required. The more chromium added to the mix, the softer the alloy becomes, something not desirable in a surgical instrument. Given that, quality medical stainless steel alloy is of a very specific, narrowly defined mix. A further aspect of making steel "stainless" is a repeated process of extracting surface impurities, mainly minerals. And the final high polish of the finished instrument puts a minute protective coating on it, also very important to make the instrument "stain less". Whether the final product is highly polished or mat finished will make no difference in its stainless ability.
Stainless steel is a metal which resists rust, can be ground to a fine point, and retains a sharp edge. Its composition can be altered to enhance certain qualities. For example, a manufacturer can make a scissor of stainless steel with carbon to create a harder cutting edge on a scissor. It is the Carbon in the stainless steel that makes the scissor stronger but the Carbon can cause the instrument to rust and corrode. All stainless steel can stain, pit, and rust if not cared for properly. Please consult our web page for care and handling instructions. When manufacturing a stainless steel instrument it is subject to a passivation and polishing process in order to make the steel as stainless as possible. Passivation and Polishing eliminates the carbon molecules form the instrument surface. This forms a layer which acts as a corrosive resistant seal. Passivation is a chemical process that removes carbon molecules from the surface of the instrument. This chemical process can also occur through repeated exposure to oxidizing agents in chemicals, soaps, and the atmosphere Polishing is a process used to achieve a smooth surface on the instrument. It is extremely important to polish an instrument because the passivation process leaves microscopic pits where the carbon molecules were removed. Polishing also builds a layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the instrument. Through regular handling and sterilization the layer of chromium oxide will build up and protect the instrument from corrosion. In some circumstances, that is why you will notice older instruments less corrosive than new ones. The newer instruments have not had the time to build up the chromium oxide layer. However, improper cleaning and sterilization can cause the layer of chromium oxide to disappear or become damaged thus increasing the possibility of corrosion. That is why it is so important to properly clean, sterilize, and store your instruments.
If you must use your surgical instrument in a corrosive environment, or you need a completely non-magnetic instrument, or it has to tolerate heat of up to 440° C or 824° F, an instrument made from titanium alloy can be your answer. Other benefits are: 40% lighter than stainless steel; better strength to weight ratio than stainless steel; better flexibility than stainless steel; it exhibits bactericidal and non-allergenic properties. Consider that it will wear down faster than stainless steel.
A black handle on scissors means that the blades are made for easily cutting thick tissue, one blade is flat and serrated while the other is razor sharp. A standard scissors has two sharp edges that shear against each other, while these scissors have "slice" action.
A gold handle on scissors, forceps, or needle holders means they have tungsten carbide (TC) inserts on the working surfaces. TC is one of the hardest alloys used for surgical instruments. They are approximately twice as expensive as standard instruments, but can last five times longer, cutting the same tissue. This can be very cost effective in the long run.
This depends on how sterile your protocol requires them to be. First rinse in pH neutral distilled water and remove blood and debris. Use a fresh neutral pH solvent and then a soft brush for the tough cleaning. If you steam autoclave, make sure that you use manufacturer's instructions for your autoclave (clean neutral pH distilled water), and that your high quality instruments are not mixed with instruments of inferior quality. Impurities from the lower quality instrument can start a corrosive action on your good ones. Be sure that the full drying cycle is used. Overlapping joints may have dampness within the joint, increasing the chance of corrosion. This can be prevented in three ways: assure the full drying cycle is complete, apply silicone grease inside the joint as a protective layer, or by use of an air canister or hair dryer to blow moisture out of overlapping parts. Instruments can also be cleaned ultrasonically but must be immediately rinsed and dried.
It is recommended that ultrasonic cleaning as the best and most effective way to clean surgical instruments. If ultrasonic cleaning is not available, instruments may be cleaned manually using a pH neutral detergent, distilled water, and a soft instrument cleaning brush.
Never use bleach to clean any surgical instruments. The high pH of bleach causes surface deposits of brown stains and might even corrode the instrument. Even high quality stainless steel is not impervious to an acidic bleach solution.

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