Historical information

Louis Pasteur, a French scientist in 1863, identified that microscopic living creatures caused fermentation and putrefaction.Following this he boiled the fermenting substances which killed the microbes development. Robert Koch, a German doctor proved conclusively in his experiments that the living creatures that he called bacteria caused infections. He demonstrated that live steam was superior to chemicals in killing bacteria. Curt Schimmelbusch, a German scientist and Felix Terrier a French scientist, almost simultaneously created the practice of steam sterilization which became the standard for sterilization in Operating Theatres world wide.


Wound infection was a major cause of death following surgery. The discovery of steam as a method of killing microorganisms led to the development of sterilizers. The steam sterilization of instruments, syringes and the use of chemicals for some objects used in surgery helped reduce the infection rate.

Physical description

The sterilizer is made of stainless steel and constructed like a fish kettle with a perforated tray on which instruments and syringes were placed. Hot water is heated to boiling point either by gas or by methylated spirit burners.