How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 441

Why is stainless steel a sterile material? Why is it used for surgical tools and to pierce ears?
Stainless steel is not inherently sterile but it can be made sterile and its lack of corrosion provides no hidden cavities that might harbor germs. A stainless steel surface can be made relatively flat and it will remain that way indefinitely. In contrast, a rusting steel surface has a complicated surface that is constantly changing. That surface is harder to keep clean than a flat stainless surface. Although stainless steel seems ideal for medical purposes, it is not hypoallergenic. Many people react badly to nickel, which is present it high quantities in surgical stainless. It also turns some people's skin green.

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