To Steam or Not to Steam Your Microwave Digestion Vessels

Basic Acid Vapor Cleaning

                                Basic Acid Vapor Cleaning Concept

Acid cleaning microwave digestion vessels is a critical step towards controlling contamination in the process of trace metals analysis. Typically, acid cleaning involves running the vessels as “blanks” in a microwave or soaking them in acid – often for up to 24 hours at a time.

Though effective, both methods come with their fair share of issues:

  • The cleaning process can be laborious and time consuming
  • The user is directly exposed to large volumes of concentrated acids
  • Microwave throughput is significantly decreased
  • Premature wear and tear on expensive microwave vessels

Are there safer, more efficient and cost-effective alternatives? The short answer is yes – and that you should have a closer look at acid vapor cleaning systems.

How Acid Vapor Cleaning Works

Acid vapor cleaning systems decontaminate microwave digestion vessels and other labware within a sealed chamber.

Here is how these systems work: a reservoir of trace-metal grade nitric acid is gently heated to produce high purity acid vapors. These vapors travel up the chamber, condense and rinse the surfaces of the items being cleaned before falling back into the reservoir. This reflux action thoroughly removes any trace amounts of surface contamination.

So, What Advantages Does Acid Vapor Cleaning Have Over Cleaning Microwave Digestion Vessels in a Microwave?

For one thing, acid vapor cleaning is highly efficient. The entire cleaning process can be completed in just a few hours and allows for several dozen microwave vessels to be cleaned at once. Acid vapor cleaning will also increase the lifespan of expensive microwave vessels, as exposure to harsh temperatures and pressures will solely be a result of processing real samples.

From a resource standpoint, acid vapor cleaning uses a small amount of acid per batch and the acid can be re-used for multiple cleaning cycles.

Acid vapor cleaning is not only an effective, time-saving approach to cleaning microwave digestion vessels, but it is also very safe. Direct exposure to concentrated acids is virtually eliminated. Furthermore, in addition microwave digestion vessels, acid vapor cleaning can be used to clean a wide variety of other labware used for trace metals analysis.

If you enjoyed reading the basics about acid-vapor cleaning systems (pun intended), you can learn more about Savillex cleaning solutions here.