Safe & Sound

Open Flames (Bunsen burners) in Biosafety Cabinets

Open flames, including the use of Bunsen burners, are not allowed to be used in Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs) at the University of Utah. Early microbiologists had to rely on open flames to ensure sterility. However, with the advancement of modern technology, including the introduction of the BSC, the use of an open flame is almost always no longer necessary. Alternative options include:

  • Use disposable sterile loops and sterile lab supplies. This eliminates the need to use open flames for sterilizing.
  • Autoclave utensils and equipment prior to use. Place loops, spreaders, needles, forceps, scalpels and other tools in autoclavable plastic or wrap in autoclavable foil.
  • Use a Bacti-Cinerator to sterilize loops and needles safely and conveniently while preventing infectious spatter and cross-contamination.
  • The Electrical Bunsen Burner combines the efficiency of a gas burner with the safety and control of an electric heater. It is ideal for sterilizing inoculating needles and loops, and for heating small flasks, test tubes and beakers.
  • The Glass Bead Sterilizer provides a safe, effective and convenient method for sterilizing small instruments without using flames, gases or chemicals.
  • If it is deemed absolutely necessary for the experiment being done, use a pilotless burner or touch-plate microburner (Touch-O-Matic) to provide a flame on demand.

For more information see the OEHS Fact Sheet “Open Flames (Bunsen Burners) in Biosafety Cabinets