pressure-cooker_saves_livesToday’s modern cookers have redundant safety systems and super-hero like abilities to save time, energy and vitamins.  They can cook food 3-times as fast, use a fraction of the fuel, and save most of the nutrition that would otherwise destroyed by other cooking methods.

But… pressure cookers can be used for more than just  making dinner!

Disinfect surgical equipment in the developing world

ottoclave_2Last year, two MIT graduates came up with a hack turns a pressure cooker into an autoclave – perfect for sterilizing medical equipment in rural areas and third-world countries.  They won an award for their design and used that money to bring 15 prototype “ottoclaves” to health clinics in developing nations – who’s  the rate of surgical site infections  is nine times greater than in developed nations.  After using the “ottoclave” for six months, one clinic reported a drop of their post surgery infection rate from 25% to 0.

ottoclaveTheir spokesperson tells us that  the group is starting a randomized control trial with 45 clinics in Nepal to quantify the impact of using ottoclaves versus instrument boilers – which are the standard practice in smaller health posts and clinics.

This pressure cooker can safely sterilize materials to surgical standards because it uses both a temperature sensor and an electronic box that keeps track of the “cooking” length and temperature. The box tells the user what they should do and what is happening in the cooker: add water, turn on heat, turn off heat, cooling and complete. Additionally, the box regularly sends data wirelessly so the “ottoclave” usage can be tracked remotely.

More Info: OttoClave  – instrument sterilization system that is technologically, economically, and culturally appropriate for the developing world

Turn a muddy puddle, or sea water,  into drinking water

distillationPressure cookers can also be hacked into distillers.  Distillation can sanitize water that would otherwise not be potable – safe for human consumption – making it free of toxic substances, like arsenic, that would be concentrated to dangerous levels  by boiling or, like salt,  would not never evaporate by a conventional boil.

There are many variations for this water distillation hack, but they all include the same elements. A pressure cooker to bring the water temperature to 250F and above to kill heat-resistant bacteria, a coil to cool the steam quickly and condense it back into water (this coil can be submerged into non-potable  water) and a spout for clean drinking water. The pictured hack,  fits neatly back into the bucket for easy transport to remote areas.

More Information: Steam2Water Water Distillation FAQ

Cooking Related Pressure Cooker hacks

indian_espresso_machineNot exactly life-saving, but quite creative none the less, there are a number of hacks related to cooking, in a completely new way, thanks the pressure cooker. Like an Indian man who turned his venting a pressure cooker into an espresso machine, or a Taiwanese man designed a new top that allows the cook to  harness the heat coming out of the top of the cooker and use this free energy to saute on the lid, and a Canadian mom uses the “keep warm” cycle of her electric pressure cooker to cook Sous Vide.

Heard of a good pressure cooker hack that helps people and solves problems?  Leave a comment  with a link!

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  1. I know there’re specially designed pressure cookers which also double as an indoor smoker. If you don’t have one, however, you can use hack No. 6 in this list from the Food Lab.

    1. What a great article, thanks for contributing the link, Grace!



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