Having a SAB is a great addition to your mycology setup, however without proper set up and use, its effectiveness can be greatly limited. SABs are required as we cannot sterilise the air around us, and for some processes it is essential to open the lids of sterile containers. Naturally opening the lid of a sterile container in an environment that has countless numbers of bacteria, moulds and other spores floating around will quickly increase your risk of contamination! However SAB’s can mitigate this risk!

If the air is still, contaminants won’t be moving around and landing on your work

Key Point: You cannot sterilise your SAB or the air inside your SAB! Therefore cleanliness and effective working procedures are all the more important.

Below we will outline the best common practice for setting up and using your SAB effectively! 

These are tried and tested methods that utilise best practice

Mushrooms in a Still Air Box
Inoculating grain jars in a still air box

Ensure  you are setting up in a room with little to no traffic ( ensure no one will need to enter the room you are working in, or that you will have to leave during the process, plan ahead. Remove all animals from the area)

Reduce all air flow in the room: Close doors and windows, turn off air conditioners and fans ( including computers). If you have had the air conditioner or windows open, allow the air in the room to settle for 30 mins after closing.

Wear a mask and shower prior to starting. Ensure you are free below the sleeves (no watches or long sleeve shirts) and sanitise both your hands and forearms prior to using the SAB.

Identify where you will be working with the SAB, this should be a clear bench free from clutter, wipe down all surfaces on the bench with 70% alcohol spray.

Wipe down the outside and then the inside of your SAB including the lid with either: 70% alcohol spray,  household bleach diluted to the manufactures directions or soapy water.

Place the SAB upside down on the lid where you will be working with the arm holes towards you. Alternative methods include placing the SAB on a flat bench after wiping the bench with 70% alcohol or bleach. This is useful when your lid does not provide a flat surface itself. 

Wipe down all the equipment you will be using prior to placing them in the SAB. Either place them directly on the lid or table prior to covering with the SAB, or pass them through the arm holes while the SAB still has moisture on the walls to trap contams that are moving in the air.

Allow everything to settle for another 5-10 minutes, then start working

Ensure that you are doing any flame sterilisation outside the SAB, the high heat from the flame will cause accelerated movement of air particles causing air currents that make the air in your SAB no longer still 

Avoiding moving or holding anything directly over the top of your clean and sterile object such as agar plates or grain jars when you don’t have too

Perform your work in the back of the box to reduce likelihood of contams reaching your work from the arm holes.

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