Serilizing hand tools


Lysol and Pine-Sol are good choices to prevent spread of Fire Blight. I use spray Lysol. If using liquid then dip for 1 minute or 5 minutes for optimum protection. Read the following study:


I have been using Star San, which I also use for homebrewing. I figure if it can kill all the microbes in a carboy, it can kill the microbes on my pruners. I fill a red solo cup with water, add a drop of Star San, mix, and let the pruners sit in the water for 2 minutes.


The best one for me is a blow torch. There are no known resistance against intense fire. A hand trigger ignited light weight blow torch used for soldering copper pipes is really good. Also after I do major cuts on the branches, I blow torch the cut areas before applying tar. It can quickly sterilize your metal equipments, from grafting knives to pruning shears… It’s organic and chemical free!


Joe, do your tools not get corroded from the use of blowtorch?


Depends upon what they’re made of. I usually clean with denatured 70% alcohol as it easily dissolves sap on my tools then about 5-15 seconds of blow torch to fry the microbes. Doesn’t affect my tools for ages now. You don’t need a long time to sterilize with blow torch.


People used to say ‘bleach it’ in maybe 10% solution. Is that not sufficient?


Read the article above. Bleach works but it is corrosive and is not as effective as Lysol or Pin-Sol or probably Joe’s blowtorch.


Bleach can corrode some tools faster than fire. If you notice how stinky your clothes soaked in bleach after a while, you know that it isn’t effective against all types of microbes as some of them will thrive in it.

But fortunately many plant pathogens are killed by bleach until the stinky bleach loving microbes take over, and most aren’t plant pathogens but I can’t stand their smell. You can continue using bleach but as for me, nothing can have tolerance for fires.


Years ago we used a blow torch on fowl ticks. There is certainly no resistance like you said for parasites either!
Thanks for the tip!


Totally agree w/Joe. The surface tension of liquids can inhibit access to small crevices like minute scratches made by sharpening the blades. I’ve used a lighter.


Yes JustAnne4! There’s also sap and microbial films on surfaces of tools. I do clean with alcohol first, mainly if the tools get dirty but the finishing touch is the blow torch.


Yeah, metal corrosion can happen so I rinse well afterwards but I also don’t like the corrosive/kinda dangerous nature of bleach. I didn’t know that Lysol/Pinesol would work…I’ve used Isopropyl. Yah, I’ve gotta read the article.


The lighter seems like a practical method. Is it as simple as holding the flame on the blade for about a minute?


Well, you don’t need to take it that high in temp, and the length of time depends on the mass of the knife. You can get a ‘feel’ for it. This may sound kinda crude, but once your knife seems hot, put spit on your finger and then to your blade, and if it goes ssssstt on your blade then that is plenty hot. :blush:
I use a utility knife and the blade is thin so 1 minute would be too long - don’t wanna melt the holder. :wink:
Edit: it occurs to me that some may want to do larger items like saws. Then I guess the blow torch would be the weapon of choice although patient use of a lighter would likely work.


I would not use a torch on any high carbon steel tools, the thin edges could easily lose their temper. Even using a grinding stone on them can draw out the temper from the edge. Stainless steels can handle more heat but the edge could still be overheated if not careful.


Thanks. I use a simple metal box cutter for my grafting and occasional cuts. Replacement blades are inexpensive and if damaged from the heat they can easily be replaced.