Difference Between Autoclave and Pressure Cooker

What is an autoclave?

An autoclave is a type of pressure cooker that uses steam to sterilize medical instruments and other items.

The autoclave is also widely used for food preparation purposes, such as canning and cooking meat, vegetables, or other foods in jars with lids called Mason Jars (named after the inventor). People would generally not cook meals in an autoclave because this is not their purpose.

An autoclave is also commonly used to sterilize and disinfect items such as surgical instruments, dental equipment, or other medical devices in a hospital setting before they are reused. You may also see autoclaves being used in beauty salons to sterilize their equipment.

History of Autoclave

Charles Chamberland Autoclave Creator

The autoclave was designed by Charles Chamberland in 1879 and was first used for sterilizing surgical instruments.

The word “autoclave” is derived from the Greek words auto (self) + clavis/clavein, meaning to close tightly or seal up (Latin). Over time autoclaves have primarily replaced the use of boiling water to sterilize instruments.

What's The Difference Between An Autoclave And A Pressure Cooker?

The difference between an autoclave and a pressure cooker is that an autoclave is a machine used for sterilizing equipment, while the pressure cooker cooks food.

Autoclaves are built using material that can withstand high temperatures and pressures without being damaged or destroyed. Pressure cookers are typically made of aluminum with stainless steel linings to prevent corrosion from acidic foods such as tomatoes.

There are several brands in the pressure cooker and autoclave market, but the most popular are Presto, Instant Pot, All American and Cuisinart.

There are various price points for both pressure cookers and autoclaves—these range from $50 to $1000+.

The Instant Pot is the most popular electric pressure cooker on the market. The All American pressure cooker brand also comes with an excellent reputation for quality products built to last.

How Does An Autoclave Work?

An Autoclave works by heating the air inside the chamber to create steam. The pressure created by this process is what sterilizes and disinfects items placed within it.

Pressure is essential because this is what allows the steam to penetrate the items placed within it. The pressure is created by heating air inside a chamber and then forcing that hot, pressurized air into an area where there are no openings for steam or other gases from outside sources (such as bacteria) to enter or escape.

Autoclaves are cylindrical because cylinders are better at withstanding extreme pressures than boxes, which are more likely to buckle.

The pressure created by the autoclave is what sterilizes and disinfects items placed within it, not heat alone, as some people might think! The steam penetrates all surfaces of an item being processed in a chamber.

The pressure created is enough to seal the autoclave, but most are manually locked from the outside for safety reasons.

What Is A Pressure Cooker?

A pressure cooker is a sealed pot with a locking lid that cooks food by boiling it in water or other liquids at high pressure.

Pressure cookers are often used to reduce cooking time and energy consumption while maintaining the foods’ moisture content.

Modern pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot can cook a wide range of meals, including those that would typically take hours to prepare.

Older stovetop pressure cookers earned a bad reputation due to the risk of explosion, but modern pressure cookers are much safer. They have a wide range of safety mechanisms in place to reduce the risk of accidents.

History of Pressure Cookers

Denis Papin Pressure CookerCreator

Pressure cookers were invented in 1679 by French physicist Denis Papin. He discovered that pressure could be used to raise the boiling point of water and thus shorten cooking times for food items such as vegetables, eggs, or meat dishes like stews which are not very dense (i.e., they have a lot more air space).

Electric pressure cookers look a lot different than pressure cookers of the past, but they work on the same principle. The pressure cooker is sealed and then heated until a high-pressure steam environment develops inside it, which raises its boiling point to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 Celsius).

The modern electric models have safety features that include an automatic shutoff when cooking time has elapsed or if there’s too much liquid in them.

How Does A Pressure Cooker Work?

How does a pressure cooker work?

A pressure cooker works by trapping steam inside the pot, creating a high-pressure environment that cooks food faster than boiling it in water and keeps more of its moisture content intact than other cooking methods such as baking/roasting.

These days, modern pressure cookers tend to be electric, whereas older versions were stovetop. Electric pressure cookers tend to have various cooking functions built-in, such as browning, rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer, etc., making them a lot more versatile and convenient.

Can An Instant Pot Be Used As An Autoclave?

Many people with an Instant Pot want to know whether they can use their appliance as an autoclave. Well, the answer is yes.

The Instant Pot is a multi-function cooker that can be used as an autoclave. It can sterilize and cook food at high pressure, making it perfect for sterilizing equipment at home.

The Instant Pot’s newest models are now able to sterilize any household glass, silicone, or dishwasher-safe plastics by using the built-in sterilization function. If you own an older model, you can use the pressure cooker/steaming function to accomplish the same results.

Why Would You Want To Sterilize Things At Home?

Sterilize at home

There are many reasons why you would want to sterilize things at home, such as sterilizing your kitchen utensils or other household items.

Many new parents find an Instant Pot (or other brands of pressure cooker) fantastic in helping to prepare quick, nutritious meals at a time in their lives where they have a hundred and one other things to concentrate on.

Food preparation tends to fall to the back of the queue when a newborn baby arrives, but with a pressure cooker, it is possible to have a nutritious meal ready in minutes.

A pressure cooker is perfect for steaming vegetables, make soup, or even cook rice and other grains, allowing parents to eat well quickly.

Any parent will also know that a lot of their time is dedicated to cleaning up and ensuring everything that comes into contact with the baby is clean and sterile.

There are many dedicated sterilizing machines and equipment on the market, but pressure cookers can also do this job for you, saving you both space and money.

Using a pressure cooker to sterilize baby equipment is a great idea. It’s possible to use your pressure cooker to sterilize baby bottles, pacifiers, and other feeding equipment, which is vital for any parent who wants their child’s environment clean.

What Things Should You Consider When Choosing An Autoclave?

It would be best if you considered several things before buying an autoclave, such as capacity, intended use, vacuum, or non-vacuum.


Your autoclave capacity is crucial because it will determine how many items you can sterilize at one time. If your autoclave is too small, then the load may not be able to fit inside, and if this happens, there’s a chance that some of them won’t get adequately heated during treatment which could lead to contamination in the future.

Intended use:

Before purchasing an autoclave, you need to think about what you intend to use it for. For example, if you want to sterilize medical instruments, then the autoclave you use must be designed for this purpose.

If it is intended for home use only, think about whether you need to buy an autoclave or purchase a pressure cooker, which will allow you to use its other functions also? However, if the intended use at home is for canning, an electric pressure cooker may not be the best option.

You would be better going with a larger stovetop pressure cooker or a vacuum autoclave because most electric pressure cookers are not designed to be used for canning.

Vacuum or Non-Vacuum Autoclave:

There are two types of autoclaves to choose from, vacuum and non-vacuum. Which one you decide to buy depends on the intended use.

Non-Vacuum Autoclave:

 A non-vacuum autoclave is designed to be used for medical purposes. It will not have a pressure gauge or any safety valve, which means that the user has no control over how much steam builds up inside before releasing.

Vacuum Autoclave:

A vacuum autoclave is designed to be used for canning, and it will have a pressure gauge and an overpressure valve.
The main difference between the two is that vacuum autoclaves are designed to be used for canners, while non-vacuum ones aren’t.

What is Canning?

What is Canning?

Canning is the process of preserving food by heating it in a sealed container. The most common type is water-bath canning, which uses boiling liquid to sterilize the jar and its contents.

You can use a pressure cooker or an autoclave for canning because both can reach a temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit. However, neither of them uses boiling water to sterilize the jars and their contents. Instead of boiling, they both use pressurized steam.

You’re probably looking at a pressure cooker right now, thinking it’s just one big pot that you can fill with all sorts of foods.

While these electric pressure cookers are fantastic for cooking soups, stews, sauces, and other traditional recipes quickly and to perfection, they might struggle when canning and preserving certain foods. However, stovetop pressure cookers and autoclaves are perfectly designed for canning.

Once you have decided on the appliance you are going to use; the canning process is simple. In simple terms, the method includes:

Step 1: Sterilize the jars and lids.

Step 2: Fill them with your desired food, leaving a little bit of room at the top for steam or liquid created during the cooking process.

Step 3: Put the lid on securely but do NOT tighten it all way down- this allows air inside.

Step 4: Place the jars in the autoclave or pressure cooker and cook for the appropriate amount of time.

Step 5: Remove jars from the cooker and let them cool before tightening down lids securely, then store them in a dark place or pantry until ready to use!

Using An Autoclave For Canning?

If your intention for buying an autoclave is solely for canning, you should go for a vacuum autoclave. Non-vacuum ones are designed to be used in medical facilities. They don’t have any safety features such as pressure gauges or overpressure valves, which means that the user has no control over how much steam builds up.

Canning is more popular than you would think, and there are many reasons people decide to become canners.

Canning is a great way to save money and preserve food. It’s easy, safe for the environment (no fossil fuels used), and can be done in your own home! It doesn’t require much space or equipment either, making it perfect if you live in an apartment with limited storage space.

Once you have ‘canned’ some items, you can preserve them for months or, in some instances, years.

Conclusion: What Is The Difference Between A Pressure Cooker And An Autoclave?

As you can see from the above post, the difference between a pressure cooker and an autoclave is that a pressure cooker is a type of pot that cooks food by turning the water or other liquid into steam by using pressure.

On the other hand, an autoclave uses the same process of turning liquid into steam under high temperature and atmospheric pressures but for sterilizing purposes.

The purpose of this article was to inform readers about what these two items are used for to help you make your own decision on which product would be best suited for you!

Knowing what you want to use the appliances for will help determine which one is best for you. It would be best if you also considered capacity, cost, space available to you, and your kitchen size.

Which appliance you choose is a personal choice. There is no real winner as they are designed to perform different functions.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few downsides to using an autoclave. The first is that they can be expensive, and the second downside is they tend to be heavy to start with and extremely heavy when full.

Things that you can not sterilize in an autoclave include:

  • Items that are not heat-resistant.
  • Items that are too large to fit inside the autoclave comfortably.
  • Liquids.

An autoclave costs anywhere from $50 to over $1000.

If you are looking for an alternative to an autoclave, you can use a pressure cooker. Many people are using them to sterilize their equipment, and they work well for that purpose.

You can use a pressure cooker as an autoclave by following these steps:

1) Fill the pot with water

2) Place a stand inside the pressure cooker

3) Place your equipment on top of the stand

4) Close the lid and start the process

The pressure cooker will reach a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit in about 15 minutes. This is enough to kill all bacteria that can cause infection or illness.

Before using your pressure cooker as an autoclave, there are a few things you need to know:

1) Make sure there is enough water in the pot

2) If you are using a stand, make sure it is stable and won't tip over when pressure builds up inside of the cooker

3) Make sure the equipment you place in the pressure cooker is suitable to do so

4) Make sure the lid is on tight and that it's not leaking
5) Make sure the pressure cooker is on a stable surface

If you follow these five steps, your equipment will be sterilized in no time!

A pressure cooker is a great way to sterilize equipment. It's quick, easy, and affordable!

If the seal on your pressure cooker lid cracks or leaks while it's being used as an autoclave, you will need to replace the lid or the seal, depending on which one is faulty. Either way, you will not be able to use the pressure cooker as an autoclave until you have rectified the problem.

Most pressure cookers are made of stainless steel and can be used as an autoclave. If you have a non-stick or aluminum pot with the seal already installed on top, this should also work!

If your pressure cooker is made of stainless steel, it will work as an autoclave. If you have a non-stick or aluminum pot and a lid set that comes with the seal already installed on top, this should also be safe to use for sterilizing equipment!

The benefits of using a pressure cooker as an autoclave are that it is quick, easy, and affordable! A pressure cooker will reach the temperature needed for sterilization in just a few minutes.

The disadvantages of using a pressure cooker as an autoclave are that it is not suitable for large items.

6 Great Pressure Cookers

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Instant Pot Duo

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Yedi 9-in-1 Cooker

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Ninja Foodi 8-Quart

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All American 921

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Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

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Breville Fast Slow Pro