Sometimes bloodletting is required. It's not something every person will have to do, or even consider doing, but sometimes the spirits take it without asking - we've all had an knife that bites, or a boline that gouges. For a very long time I operated in circles where bloodletting was a normal, and rather routine (even blase) part of the proceedings. I've been around it enough to see the sacred, profane and pornographic sides of it.
So here's an entry on handling "Sharps". Not just in the sense of bloodletting, but in the whole of one's "juju stuff". ATTENTION: This is not medical, nor legal, advice. Go to a doctor or a lawyer for that.
Some Quick Terminology
"Sterile" - Means that the item was sterilized, and packed in sterile conditions. It is removed from the sterile packing and used immediately, and is thus "Sterile". Sterile are the conditions used for surgery.
"Sterilized" - Means that an item was sterilized, but stored in clean (not sterile) conditions until the time of use. This does not mean it is sterile at the time of use.
"Sanitized" - Means that an item was cleaned with a disinfectant and is fairly "clean". It is NOT Sterile, nor sterilized.
About Bleach, Heat, Lubricants and Oils.
Every single one of these things can encapsulate bacteria, protecting them from sanitizing and sterilizing.
Do not rely on a quick wipe-down with bleach, and if you regularly oil your blade - SCRUB it regularly too.
Clean Everything, and Do It Often.Even if it's a tool only one person touches, even if it's a tool strictly dedicated to a single purpose and is kept wrapped and put away. If it is sharp enough to cut, it needs to be regularly cleaned so that when it does (and it will, sometime) it does not give you a horrific infection.
For General Sharps:
Wash in lukewarm, soapy, water. Scrub thoroughly to remove physical debris, and put non-heat-sensitive items in a hot bath to remove wax drips, oil , or other items. Rinse in cold water, and soak in a bleach solution for five minutes (two cups of bleach to one gallon of water). Rinse again, and dry THOROUGHLY. The items are now Sanitized and ready to be stored or used - for general "sharps" that aren't SUPER sharp or generally used for bloodwork on living things, this is satisfactory enough.
If your knife has a wooden handle, I suggest slapping a cheap, non-lubricated/non-spermicidal condom on the handle and rubber banding it. I've done it, and it neatly prevents water from getting to the handle, which can damage handles over time. Remember: No glove, no love.
For Knives and Blades That Intentionally Cut:
Wooden-handled items are iffy. If they can be dis-assembled, the blade fully sterilized, and re-assembled - bully. But if they cannot... problems can arise. Some bacteria can form endospores which cannot be killed (and can be encapsulated by disinfectants) without the use of high temps and pressure.
If something is tightly sheathed, the use in ritual may preclude cleaning it immediately. If you insert a dirty blade into a sheath, and later clean the blade - how will you clean the sheath? Re-insertion into the sheath will contaminate the blade.
For any situation that involves two or more people, I strongly urge the purchase of sterile lancets and scalpels. It's really in the best interests of all parties.