Sterilization trays are usually made out of either plastic or stainless steel. A plastic sterilization tray is better when using the gas sterilizing method rather than the heat or steam method because plastic is heat sensitive whereas Aluminum Sterilization Trays are not. Ethylene oxide is the gas used in this particular sterilization method. Rather than burning up the living organisms on the instruments, the ethylene oxide infiltrates the instruments and kills the living organisms left on there. However, ethylene oxide is also flammable if exposed to hot temperatures so you have to know how to handle the gas properly. If you don’t feel comfortable with gas then just use a steel sterilization tray with the heat or steam sterilization method. The Aluminum trays may cost double the amount of money that a plastic tray costs, but it will be easier to clean your instruments in them.
Sterilization trays are not only made of different materials, but they come in different sizes as well. Some are made specifically for micro instruments, like tiny probe tips, while others are made to accommodate bigger handheld instruments. The reason why sterilization trays are used in the first place is because they keep the instruments away from each other and secures them in place while being sterilized. For example, if steam is being used to sterilize the instruments then it needs to be able to circulate all around the instruments in order to ensure that every organism is killed. If the instruments were just bunched together in an open container then the steam wouldn’t be able to reach every section of the instruments. This won’t guarantee that all of the organisms are killed in the sterilization process. Therefore, choosing the right sterilization tray is essential for killing the organisms on your instruments and to accommodate the sterilization method you are using to do so.