Helpful Tips & Tricks
  Convention Tips   Tattoo Machine Diagram
  Corrective & Camouflage Tattoos   Tattoo Machine Spring Tension
  Cover up Tattoos   Tattoo Machine won't Run
  How do I adjust my tattoo machine?   Tattooing on Dark Skin
  How do I setup my Tattoo Needle & Tube?   Think Before You Ink Guide - Before You Tattoo
  How to Make a Stencil   What is the difference between 8 wrap & 10 wrap coils?
  Liner VS Shader Tattoo Machine.   What are the different type of needles used for?
  Pros & Cons of Disposable Tattoo Needle & Combos   What is a Rotary Tattoo Machine?
  Purpose of Green Soap   What size Glove do I wear?
  Purpose of Practice Skin   What Tubes Do I Use With my Needles?
  Sterilization Methods   50 States Sharps Container Drop Off Information



Convention Tips:

If you're attending a convention out of town, book your hotel in advance. Major tattoo conventions will reserve blocks of rooms at nice area hotels and provide a discount for those rooms, but you've got to book a room early. Don't expect to call Wednesday for a room on Friday night. Large conventions can draw thousands from all over the world. If it's being held in the banquet room of a nice hotel, you can assume the block of reserved rooms in that venue will sell out quickly.

Take advantage of offers on Pre-Sale tickets whenever possible. Not only will you save money, but promoters can track ticket sales prior to the event and base entertainment options on those numbers. If there are no tickets sold before the day of the event, you can probably guess the "live band" won't be headlining any country wide tours anytime soon. The more pre registered attendees, the more the promoters will work to make sure you are well entertained. Also, you can use the money you save to buy some souvenirs that you might normally pass on because you just spent $25 at the gate.

Getting Tattooed.
First and foremost; you must be 18 to get tattooed and you must sign a release form and provide a valid ID to get tattooed. All tattoo artists must verify age and have a signed release form before starting any tattoo procedure. If any artist offers to forego these steps they are not a reputable artist, and are probably tattooing without the consent of the convention promoter. If you want to get tattooed by one of the "big names", Superior Tattoo recommends you contact the studio that person works at weeks or even months in advance for an appointment at the convention. Other artists are first come, first serve, so get there the opening day of the show and request a tattoo. Don't approach an artist while they are tattooing and try to get an appointment. If the tattoo machine is in his/her hand and client is in front of them, they are working. Give them the respect they deserve and your fellow tattoo enthusiast the privacy he or she deserves while getting tattooed.

Do's and Don'ts.
You've booked your room, and got your tickets, it's time to go to the convention. Here are a few suggestions to help you and everyone around you have a good time.

It's ok to ask to photograph an artist while they are tattooing, but it's important to remember the person on the receiving end of the tattoo machine may not be so willing. Always ask the client if it's ok to include him/her in the photo. If you appreciate an artists paintings or flash, it's ok to photograph it, but do not ever attempt to reprint pictures of something and sell them. There are no exceptions to this. It's stealing. Most conventions won't even let you bring your camera in if it's an obviously professional use camera. If you're a photography enthusiast and happen to own a high end camera with multiple lenses it's a good idea to contact the promoter and let them know you'd like to bring it. Some promoters may even grant you a media pass even if you're only shooting for your own personal enjoyment, as long as you offer them copies of the photo's after you've taken them.

A sensitive subject I know, but one that should be addressed and usually will be on any large conventions FAQ's webpage. As a general rule, Tattoo conventions are not for children. That being said, unless specific age restrictions are in place use your own discretion. Tattoo Conventions are loud. There are scantily clad men and women. There will be blood and some sights you really don't want to expose a child to. Minors (anyone under 18) must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Some conventions provide a "safe spot" for younger children with activities like temporary tattoos, face painting, coloring, games etc, where children can be left for a short time while you cruise the show. Avoid bringing a stroller, tattoo conventions are crowded places, with thousands walking and talking, stopping to admire booths. Strollers only add to the congestion.

Codes of Conduct.
Respect. That's rule #1 of any convention. Respect the promoter, the venue, the artists and your fellow attendees. Conventions are great for our industry, but a few bad apples can cause a venue to have second thoughts when next years convention comes to town. Conventions should have a festival atmosphere. All convention promoters have a right to remove you from the premises at anytime. Security will be present to handle any expulsions. If you're getting thrown out of a tattoo convention, something has gone very wrong. We're a tight knit community and you don't want to wrath of said community.

No Soliciting.
"Here's my card, call me anytime or come by and see the shop" is one thing. "Hey, don't waste your money getting tattooed by that guy" is something completely different. Handing out fliers, postcards or product samples is generally forbidden with out express consent from the event promoter. Businesses paid good money to advertize at these events, don't try to cheat the system.

Food and Drinks
Food and Drinks are not only permitted, but often sold on the floor of most major conventions. Having a few drinks from the bar is often a nice way to loosen up and enjoy the sights and sounds. Alcohol is usually available, and we want you to loosen up and have a good time, but this isn't a night club or your local bar. Drink, have fun and meet some new friends, but leave egos and attitudes at the door. If you have a drink in your hand, keep it in your hand. Never set a drink or food down at a vendor's booth or on their table. Accidents happen, and someone bumping a table and spilling your drink all over one of a kind art work is not going to sit well with anyone involved. Conventions have a place for food and drinks to be enjoyed. Finish your meal then browse the show.

We would like to hear from you. If you have attended a convention that was listed on our Conventions page, let us know how it was. Were there lots of people? Was it clean and run well? Was the entertainment good? Are you going to go again next year? Send us an email to and we will post some of the comments made for others to learn from.



Corrective & Camouflage Tattoos:

Creating beauty marks / freckles
Beauty marks are permanently created to accent a beautiful area of the face. Usually placed at the highest point of the cheek-bone, near the eye to attract others to their eyes, or near the mouth to bring their attention to their beautiful lips. Depending on their skin tone, the beauty marks can range from light brown, medium to dark brown, to black. For example: Stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Cindy Crawford and Madonna.

Cover scars / Corrective Camouflage
Loss of pigment in the skin, either through accidents, birthmarks, vitiligo or a multitude of other skin irregularities and disorders, are problems which may be corrected through pigmentation. Restrictions apply only to people that keloid, are pregnant or have a heart condition

Cients who have tweezed their eyebrows to death, and they never grew back in. Some eyebrows drooped due to the aging process, or may have a scar in their eyebrow that always has to be penciled in? Cosmetic tattooing can literally give them a mini eye-lift. They will be amazed at the more youthful look they will have. Permanent Make-Up technician will help offer the desired shape and color that will best enhance their, face shape. You can draw the new eyebrows in using our Eyebrow Design Kit. The color of their eyebrows are usually one shade lighter than their hair color.

Choose a color that compliments their eyes. Dramatize them: you can make them be as beautiful as possible. People always look at the eyes when they are speaking to someone. Large eyes with thick lashes are more apt to catch your attention. Permanent eyelining along the eyelashes give the elusion of thicker lashes and more beautiful definition of the eyes. So many choices from shape, color and thickness of lines.

Corrective can help with Client's problems with lipstick bleeding or their lips are not quite as thick as they would like them. Permanent Make-Up is the answer! The permanent implanted color actually builds a ridge to stop lipstick from bleeding. A thick line above thier natural lip line will build up thin lips. Drawing a line inside the lip line will diminish excessively large lips to make them appear smaller. Your Clients can choose colors ranging from bright red to a soft pink to just a dark skin tone.

Areola Repigmentation, Irregular, Recreate nipples
Areolas of the breast, to darken, enlarge, redefine. Areola Repigmentation is the process of creating realistic, well-proportioned areolas with properly chosen pigments and skilled application. It is an ideal procedure for breast cancer survivors, breast augmentation recipients and anyone who is unhappy with the size, shape or coloration of their areolas.



Cover up Tattoos

No one likes to admit they made a mistake. But many of us have made them and unfortunately mistakes make in ink are permanent. You may have thought Cindy or Darryl would be "the one”. You may have thought you’d really love Daffy Duck forever. Now you’ve been looking at the aftermath of those choices for too long and it’s time to do something about it. So how do tattoo cover ups work? What designs work best and are there some tattoos that simply can not be covered?

Coverup Tattoos Coverup Tattoos

Let’s start with something you need to know about tattoos. When you get tattooed, the tattoo ink is dispersed about a millimeter under your skin and remains in a layer called the dermis, which is under the epidermis or the layer of skin you can see. When you tattoo over existing pigment you’re not covering it, you’re actually mixing the pigment of the new tattoo with the old one. As it heals the ink from your new tattoo (the cover up) will have settled into the dermis layer and merged with the old ink. Because of this it’s very important to plan carefully what the design of the camouflaging tattoo will be. I say camouflage to drive home the idea of hiding a tattoo rather that trying to pound black over the top of it to cover it. Black is the easiest way to cover an old tattoo, as well as dark colors like blues and greens, but don’t use them as a crutch. A good camouflage won’t require areas of solid black to cover an old tattoo.

Coverup Tattoos Coverup Tattoos

The best approach is to look at the old tattoo and draw your new one using shapes from the old design. Use tracing paper or acetate to copy the old tattoo from the skin with a sharpie or skin marker, place the sketch on a light table, and place another clean sheet on top of that sketch and consider many different options for the cover. Incorporation of the old tattoo is a much better approach than trying to smother it. I’m not talking about drawing a new tattoo and using the old one as a center piece, I’m just saying that if you got name in script and you’re covering it with a flower, think about how those script strokes can be incorporated into the flowing pedals of your flower. Look at the shape and flow of the old tattoo and use those patterns in your new one. When coloring the new tattoo, use high contrast to lead the eye around the piece, distracting from where the actual covered tattoo is. The best cover ups are the ones that don’t look like an obvious cover.

Coverup Tattoos

A few people might wonder why you can’t just cover an old tattoo with pure white…well you can to an extent, but it takes time. Because the white eventually settles in the same layer as the old colors, it’s never going to make a tattoo invisible, but with patience it can really improve to final outcome of your cover.

If you’re the artist actually doing the cover up, and you’re working on a client you know will return in the future, you don’t necessarily have to try to knock the whole thing out in one sitting. Spend your first session working on the details of the piece; strengthen any lines that are intended to mask the old tattoo, work on establishing high contrast in the new tattoo. When you’re done, pack white over any exposed parts of the tattoo you’re covering. After healing, it’s been proven that white can lighten the old pigments by about 10%, and if it’s something very dark, then that’s enough to make it worth while. If you’re working on a very large piece that takes two or three sessions, you’re talking about lightening the old pigment by 30% or more if you take the time to load white over the exposed areas after every session. A good cover won’t come cheap and will likely require a few sessions with your tattoo artist.

Coverup Tattoos Coverup Tattoos

If you take anything away from what you’ve read here, whether you’re artist or collector, the most important thing to remember is that tattooing has progressed by leaps and bounds over the years, and the skill level of artists today has never been greater. Gone are the days of trying to blot out a tattoo you no longer want with something bigger and composed of primarily solid black. As an artist, take time to plan out a cover up that may take a few sessions, and in the end your client will be eternally grateful. If you’re the client, discuss your options with a tattooer you trust. If you don’t feel good about what the final outcome will be, ask around and find another artist that really enjoys the challenge of a cover up and will make the most out of yours. If you’re a new artist trying your hand at tattooing, make sure you’re continuing to educate yourself by reading the articles we write or buying the books we offer, watching the videos we produce and using the practice tools we provide so that your next tattoo isn’t someone else’s future cover up.

Coverup Tattoos




How Do I adjust my machine?

1. The gapping between the contact post and spring needs to be a nickel width (1.85mm) for shading and a dimes width (1.25mm) for lining.

2. To Set the gap hold down the armature bar ( see diagram above) with your finger and turn the plastic screw until you can move the contact post, adjust the contact post to the proper gap release the armature bar then be sure to tight up the plastic screw again.

3. You will run the power supply slower (about 6.5 - 7 volts) for shading and faster (about 7 - 9 volts) for lining.

4. You can also refer to the Tattoo Artist Guide - Click Here




How do I setup my Needle & Tube?

You will see the proper way insert you needle into the tube to prevent from barbing or damaging your needle.



How to Make a Stencil

Making Stencil Using Stencil Paper:
1. Take out Interleaf sheet protector. This is the loose sheet protecting the carbon. (looks like onion skin)
2. You will need a pen or pencil
3. Use firm pressure to copy your drawing on the top (white) of the Spirit Master sheet.
4. Cut out stencil. Stencil will be on the inside of the top white sheet.

Preparing the Skin:
1. Apply your green soap solution to the area to be tattooed. Lightly scrub the skin removing the soap with a paper towel.
2. Apply green soap solution to shave the skin smooth with a safety razor, preparing for the stencil transfer to the skin.
3. Apply Stencil Magic to the skin for the transfer of the tattoo stencil. Now apply the transfer paper onto the skin.
4. Allow time for the stencil to dry and then rub a very thin coat of Vaseline or A&D ointment on the area and you are ready to get started.
5. During the tattoo work from the bottom of the stencil to the top. This will help avoid wiping the stencil away when cleaning the skin.

After Care:
Use "Tattoo Magic Lotion", it is enriched with Vitamin E and Aloe to help promote quicker healing of tattoos.



Pros & Cons of Disposable Tattoo Needle & Combos

What is a disposable needle and tube combo and why should I use one? What are the pros and cons of using disposables as opposed to stainless tubes and tips?

Disposable Tube and Needle Combos are a cost effective way to ensure you're using the cleanest possible equipment for every tattoo.

Why would I choose disposables?

Cost: Disposables are a comfortable fit for any budget, and a money saving alternative to steel tubes. A high quality single use tube can cost as little as $0.76

No contaminates: Some would argue that the friction steel needles create when rubbing against a steel tube can cause unwanted changes in your lightest colors. Hard plastic disposable tubes are recommended for keeping even your brightest whites pure.

Ease of use: Disposables offer a speedy and simplified approach to making sure you're using a clean tube/needle every time. Combos offer everything you need in one easy-to-use package that's always ready when you are. So if you're traveling and uncertain your destination has a working Autoclave, you can be certain you're equipment is clean and sterile.

Pre-Sterilized: Disposables take care of all your worries by providing items in sealed Ethylene oxide gas sterilized blister pack. E/O gas is a common gas-phase disinfectant which is widely used in hospitals to sterilize heat-sensitive tools and equipment, thus making it perfect for use in sterilizing needles and tubes.

Disposable Cons

Wear and tear: Disposables are plastic which is not as strong as steel or aluminum. Plastic tubes can be cleaned and re-sterilized just as you would a metal tube, but after time the heat and pressure of an autoclave can brake down the plastics. The plastic itself is obviously more fragile that steel, so eventually you'll need to buy new tubes. But that's the idea behind disposable tubes and grips. They're inexpensive, and after proper disposal you can start fresh.

Weight: Due to their light weight, disposable tubes can take some time to get used to if you're been using heavy steel tubes in the past. To offset the difference between a steel tube and a plastic, you have the option of adding a variety of grips. These help compensate for the weight difference in the materials and add comfort.

Storage: This could go either way, Disposable tubes come pre-packaged. Since they are pre sterilized if you've got 50 of them they're going to take up more room in your drawer than a couple of steel tubes. But steel tubes require more separate pieces, so it's really not an issue.

Stainless Pros

Stainless Steel tubes and grips are a tried and true staple of almost every tattooist.

Wear and Tear: Obviously these are made from steel/metal which makes them last longer than plastic disposables, but steel tubes or grips should never be considered a life time purchase. They are going to wear, and need to be replaced.

Noise: Some would argue that steel tubes are quieter. And the mass of the tube and grip soaks up vibration.

Quantity: You're not going to have a drawer full of 50 stainless tubes, unless you've been tattooing for a very very long time. A few good tubes and grips will last you years.

Weight: Again, this is subjective. Weight is both an advantage and a disadvantage. If you're use to the heft of a steel tube and grip combo, switching to lightweight plastic is going to take some getting use to. If you like heavy tubes you're not going to get that feel from a plastic. We should note that aluminum grips are available to give you the feel of something between steel and plastic.

Stainless Cons

Cleaning: The biggest problem with using stainless steel tubes is properly cleaning them. They are usually made up of 5 parts. By being assembled with so many pieces, there are several tiny spaces that microbes can get into and live. Using an autoclave will kill the microbes at first, but microbes can get into tight places, like between the threads and set screw inside of the grip and ultrasonic cleaning can't remove them all. As the microbes die they begin to build up in nooks and crannies where scrubbing and ultrasonic cleaning can't reach them. Over time this bio-film can form a protective barrier where living microbes can survive the autoclave process. Because of the risks associated with bio-film all stainless steel tattoo tubes with multiple pieces, should be completely disassembled prior to cleaning and all parts must then be individually scrubbed. Even after doing this eventually you're going to have to throw away the pieces and start fresh to guarantee cleanliness every time you use them.

Storage: Like we mentioned with disposables storage can be an issue, but more important with steel tubes is the way heat can unseal a sterilization pouch. It's important to plan ahead for the climate you'll be storing your equipment in after it's been sealed. While they may be fine resting in your drawer, during travel heat and humidity can loosen or break that seal and let in unwanted contaminates.


It's basically all about personal preference. We've provided you with the information, so you can make the decision to use disposables or stainless. The trends are leaning towards disposables because of their cost and ease of use. Traditionalists will stick with stainless because of its feel. That's why Superior Tattoo Equipment carries a wide variety of both. We want to choice to be yours.



Purpose of Green Soap

Green soap is a soft soap made from vegetable oils with sodium or potassium hydroxide in concentrations adjusted to retain glycerol. The soap actually may be any color, depending on the oils added. Many people know this environmentally safe soap as a tattooist’s soap. Because it’s medically safe, it is often referred to as a "tincture of green soap”. A tincture is an alcoholic extract with a limited percentage of ethanol. This soap has earned its name due to its yellowish green hue. There is no dye in it. Instead, the vegetable oil and glycerin gives the soap its natural green tint.

Gallon of Green Soap

Because tattoo soap is all-natural, it is generally non-irritating. It is also biodegradable, which may be another reason it’s dubbed a green soap. The same kind of soap is used by those handling bodies with skin disorders due to its cleansing and emollient properties. After tattooing or any other skin-irritating procedure, this type of green soap can make the skin feel somewhat soothed. Because of its oil content it doesn’t make skin feel as dry as other soaps.

Although there are many uses for Green Soap, the most common is using it in piercing studios and tattoo shops. Piercers and tattoo artists use it to prep skin, remove soil, blood, and ink, and as a soak for surgical instruments. Green Soap makes an excellent pre-sterilization soak for surgical instruments. Soak to remove blood and soil. Remember this does not substitute sterilization using an autoclave or ultrasonic sterilizer.

Green Soap is commonly used to aid in stencil application, but because it is not specifically made for that it can take a lot of trial and error to get a stencil to adhere correctly using only green soap. We recommend using Tattoo Stencil Magic instead, as it has been specially formulated to be the best stencil application medium. Stencils applied with green soap can blur easily and be wiped off, while Tattoo Stencil Magic provides long lasting stencils that resists smudges and repeated wiping.



Purpose of Practice Skin

No one likes to admit they made a mistake. But many of us have made them and unfortunately mistakes made in ink are permanent. That is why we offer practice skin.

Practice SkinPractice Skin with Designs

Simulated Practice Skin

Above Picture shows blank and tattooed practice skin.
While tattooing on the practice skin, act as if tattooing on real skin using A & D ointment or petroleum jelly to lubricate the practice skin. This will help the cleaning process during and after the practice tattoo completion. You can clean this practice skin and the excess ink will wash off and not remove your tattooed area. You can practice on both sides.

Purpose of Practice Skin:

  • It helps you get a good feel for your tattoo machine
  • It will Strengthen your hand
  • Builds Confidence as you see your progress
  • It will Improve your line work - and helps to make your lines more steady
  • It will also Improve your shading - you will get the feel for how color takes to the skin
  • Most important - You will not have to deal with the aftermath of a bad tattoo
  • Practice skin will never get angry if you mess up!



Tattoo Machine Diagram

Move mouse over diagram to click links
Click here for Machine Parts Customization Kits

Tattoo Machine Diagram Contact Post Front Spring Armature Bar Grommet Needle Bar Lock Screw O Ring Rear Spring Rear Spring Screw Upper Clip Cord Post Solder Lug Lower Clip Cord Post Thumb Nut Coils Tube Vise Needle Tube Capacitor Yoke Contact Post Grommet Armature Bar Rear Spring Screw Coils Thumb Nut Needle Needle Tube O Ring Black Oxide Screw Frame Frame Frame Frame Coil Rear Spring Tube Vise Tube Vise Tube Vise Coil Frame Frame Frame



Tattoo Machine Spring Tension?

This video provides step by step instructions on adjusting your spring tension properly.

Some tattooers may rely on sound alone to determine if his or her machine is running properly. This isn’t always the final step in machine tuning. Often you can look at the armature bar and determine if you’ve got enough "throw” or up and down movement in your machine for good tattooing technique. Often a machine with a too short or too long throw can sound as if it’s running properly when a little fine tuning will increase its performance. Without the correct spring tension, your armature bar will not have the correct throw.

Adjusting the spring is as easy as using an allen key to loosen the socket head cap screw on the back of the frame, then swing the armature bar assembly around to the back of the machine.

Apply slight pressure to the assembly, pushing it up to put a little bend in the spring. Be careful here not to kink your spring or crack it. A cracked spring needs to be replaced immediately. Springs are inexpensive, and you’ll find different spring configurations work well with various machines.

After gaining the spring tension you need, swing the armature bar assembly back into position and retighten the rear socket head cap screw. You’ll want to adjust the contact post to match the new throw of the bar.

Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends you try a variety of springs with your machines to custom tune them to your own preference. Also, combinations of o-rings will effect how your machine runs. There are dozens of ways to fine tune your machine to get the performance you desire, and Superior Tattoo Equipment provides you with all the machine parts you need to keep your investment running smoothly.



Tattoo Machine Won't Run?

1. Make certain the power supply is plugged in to the wall outlet securely and that the wall outlet has power. Check that the foot switch and clip cord connections are secure.

2. Broken wires in the clip cord due to wear can cause a loss of power to the machine. The components inside footswitch can also fail with time, bothe are difficult to identify where the failure might be. It would be wise to have both an additional clipcord and footswitch on hand to determine which item may have failed. It also gets you back making money while ordering a replacement for the failed component.

3. Do a visual inspection of the machine checking for any bare wire touching the frame, this causes a short. If you find a bare wire touching the frame remove the clip cord from the machine and either insulate the bare wire using a small piece of electrical tape (temporary fix only). Replace the component as soon as possible.

4. Check the contact post to ensure that there is no obstruction between the end of the post and the spring. You may need to file the end of the contact post that touches the spring to ensure a clean contact area. (File contact post daily as a preventative measure.)



Tattooing on Dark Skin

The subject of tattooing on darker skinned individuals is full of speculation as well as facts. Here we´ll try to give you as much information as possible for you to determine the best practices for applying a tattoo to skin that has dark pigmentation. You´re going to have to put more thought into the actual tattoo design, and you may want to share some of the advice you learn here with the person being tattooed and direct them towards designs that will work well with his or her skin tone. You can plainly see color variances in skin tone, but how do those differences affect a tattoo? Should tattooing a dark skinned individual vary from people of lighter shades? First it´s important to know how tattoo ink is viewed after it´s healed.

Tattooing on dark skin

Tattoo ink is dispersed about a millimeter under the skin and remains in a layer called the dermis, which is under the epidermis or the layer of skin you can see. Melanin pigment is what makes dark skin dark, and no matter what you do while tattooing, you are always going to see the tattoo through a pigmented layer of skin on people of color. You need to plan ahead for this when choosing your tattoo ink colors. You will have the most success with very bold solid colors. It´s a common misconception that using white or very bright colors produces the best results, because any color you choose is going to be muted by the layer of epidermis above the ink. You can compensate for that by adjusting the size of your tattoo. Large bold designs overcome the skins natural pigment. Not only will a person´s natural skin color affect the final hues, but also plan a head if you´re tattooing someone that is deeply tanned. Again, you´re placing tattoo ink under the epidermis. If there´s any discoloration or darkening of that layer, it´s going to alter the tattoos final appearance.

Whether tattooing lighter or darker shades of skin, large tattoos will result in a better distinction of the design. Small tattoos will not have a very good separation from the skin color when viewed from any distance. The tattoo could end up looking like an ink blot and not a well designed piece. The main thing to keep in mind while tattooing dark skin is contrast. Superior Tattoo recommends using a proven solid black like Ichiban Sumi Japanese Tattoo Ink. Tattooing with thick lines will stand out and shape your design. Thin lines will have a tendency to blend into the skins natural pigment and get lost. Keep this in mind when choosing your needle /tube combos instead of using singles for your outline, think about choosing a 3 tight for a bolder line.

It´s very important to note that turning up your tattoo machine or leaving the needles in one place longer and going over an area again and again is exactly the opposite of what it takes to make a tattoo stand out on dark skin. All you accomplish by doing that is damaging skin that may already prone to scaring. On dark skin you want to be even more cautious than ever to avoid building scar tissue over your tattoo.

Tattooing on dark skin

Use the information we´ve provided here and discuss expectations and the likely results with your client before beginning a tattoo on darker pigmented skin. If you plan ahead and follow some basic guidelines, you can produce brilliant designs on any shade of skin.



Think Before You Ink

Tattooing on dark skin



Sterilization Methods:

Tattooing and Piercing

In general, all tattooing needles, piercing needles or jewelry that enters an already aseptic part of the body (such as the bloodstream, or penetrating the skin) must be sterilized to a high sterility assurance level, or SAL. Examples of such instruments in the mainstream medical field include scalpels, hypodermic needles and artificial pacemakers. Anything that applies to the medial and/or dental fields, while they may not be regulated in your state in regards to body modification, should be regulated in your working environment. Preparation of tattoo equipment and piercing supplies require not only a high sterility assurance level, but also well-designed containers to prevent entry of adventitious agents after initial product sterilization. Understand that sterilization is the ultimate process, killing all life. Now consider sanitization and disinfection, which kill partially and selectively, depending on the processes used. Both reduce the number of targeted [pathogenic] organisms to what are considered "acceptable" levels - levels that a reasonably healthy, intact, body can deal with. An example of this class of process is Pasteurization.

An autoclave is generally considered to be the only form of sterilization appropriate for a body modification studio, although some low-volume home studios may use chemical sterilization. It should be noted that cleaning is the most important part of sterilization - unclean tools may not sterilize properly. Cleaning can be achieved by first putting your tools in a ultrasonic with proper cleaning tablets or Alconox and scrubbing them at least once during the ultra sonic cycle. Then with gloved hands remove your equipment and pat dry it. These tools are still contaminated with microbial bacteria! So make sure you’re setting them on your "dirty” stainless tray and not on any surfaces that cannot be sterilized. After your tools have been properly bagged,an autoclave sterilizes through a combination of pressure and heat. While it might be difficult to justify the cost if you're just tattooing yourself or your fluids-exchanged partner from time-to-time, there is no excuse for not using an autoclave for your non disposable multiuse items and equipment if you're tattooing friends. No special paperwork is required to buy them—consider them essential. That said, as with all things, you have to use them properly. They must reach and sustain the required heat and pressure. They must be packed properly. They must have water in them. They must be spore tested from time to time, about once every 10 hours of cycle time, to ensure they are functioning properly. Any studio which does not employ proper sterile techniques should be always be avoided.

Chemical Sterilization (Chemiclaves)
Chemical sterilization using gluteraldehyde based chemical agents is an effective way to sterilize in a studio environment, but care must be taken to follow the instructions precisely. A common mistake people make is not leaving the tools in the chemical bath long enough because they contaminate the bath by adding additional tools part way through the cycle. If given a choice between a Chemiclave and an Autoclave, choose the Autoclave. The chemical steam that often pours out of a Chemiclave when retrieving your tools is poisonous and unless great care is taken and extra ventilation is installed in your clean room, it’s just not worth the long term health risks.

Boiling water is generally unable to fully sterilize jewelry, needles, or other body modification equipment. Boiling water is 100 degrees Celsius. Although this will theoretically kill most organisms other than endospores and some viruses in half an hour, because endospores are not killed and the consistency is poor, no health boards consider boiling as a viable form of sterilization. The CDC (center for disease control) has permitted boiling of needles and medical tools for an hour in extreme cases in areas where autoclaves and other more functional methods are not available. They emphasize the additional difficulty of controlling contamination from the containers for the boiled items, as well as the tools used to transfer them (since you can't boil something inside an autoclave bag ). After the item is boiled it is then transferred to a sterile field to dry, and then placed in a sterile container if possible. It should also be pointed out that while in theory boiling mostly works, in real-world tests at dental clinics still using boiling as their method of sterilization, staphylococcus bacteria were found on tools that had been boiled - and this is one of the most common bacteria linked to infections in new tattoos and body piercings. It must be emphasized that boiling as a sterilization procedure is not recommended and is utterly unacceptable in a professional context. For self-piercing or tattooing: This might be an acceptable way to clean equipment and jewelry that have been used on either no one or only on you, but this is definitely not an acceptable way to clean tools that have come in contact with anyone else. You can take this a notch up by using a pressure cooker (since one could argue that a steam autoclave is essentially just a fancy pressure cooker). However, realize that because a pressure cooker doesn't have the gauges and monitoring ability that an autoclave does, you'll never really know how effective your sterilization cycle was. It’s just not worth the risks.

While bleach is far a more powerful anti-microbial agent than alcohol, bleach kits often don't kill Hepatitis, and sometimes don't even kill the AIDS virus. Avoid it as a sterilization practice. Rubbing Alcohol Rubbing alcohol will disinfect and to some extent sterilize. However, most of the microbes we worry about (things like Hepatitis) aren't going to be killed using rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol might be a marginally acceptable way to clean your own supplies in lieu of a ultra sonic, but if these supplies have been handled by or used on anyone else, alcohol isn't going to cut it. That means that if you use a steel tube or grip when tattooing a client, alcohol alone isn't going to get rid of his or her germs afterwards. So again, don’t solely rely on it.

Don’t even think about it. We’re not cavemen. Using a flame to sterilize needles or any other body modification implement is generally considered unacceptable. There is little real world data available on the effectiveness of direct flame in killing microbial life, so don’t do it. So now you’re armed with all this information, with all the sterilization possibilities, and the threats of bacteria. The fear of blood borne pathogens, cross contamination, dirty needles, HIV and AIDS, but you can’t afford an Autoclave…AHHHHH!

Relax. We’ve got you covered, literally. [click through to machine covers and disposable needle tube combos below:]

Machine Covers
Clipcord Covers
HB Germicidal Sani Clothes
Protective Barrier Film
Sanitary Procedure Cloth
Ear Loop Face Mask
Disposable Needle Tube Combos



What are the different type of needles used for:

There are four main types of needle groupings.

Some have one specific use and others can vary depending on how the artist is using it. Tattoo Needles that we carry are pre-sterilized in individual blister packs. We carry tattoo round liner needles (tight), tattoo round shader needles (loose), and tattoo curved magnum needles. Our professional tattoo needles are used by professional tattoo artists around the world and are highly recommended. Below is a general explanation of the needle categories and how you can use different types of needles.

Rounds also known as Loose
We carry rounds from single needle to 14 round. A round needle looks like a perfect circle if you´re looking at the needle grouping head on. Depending on the art piece you´re working on they can be used for thin, medium or thick outlines. Loose tattoo needles would work great for shading in tattoos with color or black and gray work.

A tight needle has one basic use and that is for outlining. It´s similar to a round, it is grouped like a circle, but they are clustered tightly together. There are different names people call tight needles such as: liners or a round tight. Depending on how bold you want your outline to be, we carry tight needles with 3 to 14 needle groupings.

The flat needle groupings are great shading needles. These needle groupings are all straight in a row and lay tightly together. They can be used for filling in solid color or can be used for applying unique artistic techniques (for example waves or clouds). Our flats range from 4 to 15 needle groupings.

The other shading needle option is the mag or magnum. A magnum needle has two rows, and is spread out. There are 2 categories of them, regular or double stacked. Double stacked just means they are clustered more tightly together and standard magnums are spread out a little more. They can be used to fill in solid color or like flats you can use different techniques to apply distinctive effects.

Curved Magnums
Curve Magnum Tattoo Needles are group differently than the magnums, the needles tip has a slight arch to it so when you are tattooing it wont eat the skin up on turns.

To see the complete list of all the needles we carry, hit the "Needle and Tube Chart" button. Also, check out our grey wash pigments from Ichiban Sumi, they work great for those special techniques created with the flat and magnum needles.



What is a Rotary Tattoo Machine:

Rotary tattoo machines use an electric motor that physically drives the needle up and down where a standard two coil machines uses magnetism to move the needles. Some advantages a rotary style machine may have over traditional machines are that they often weigh less than standard machines. Because a rotary uses a single motor instead of two coils, and an armature bar assembly, they can weigh as little as half as much as a standard stamped steel frame coil machine.



What size Glove do I wear

Glove size



What Tubes Do I Use With my Needles?

Needle Sizes Needles Needle & Tube Combo
5/8" Grip
Needle & Tube
1" Grip
Disposable Tube
  5/8"  Round Tip
Disposable Tube
5/8" diamond Tip
Disposable Tube
1" Round Tip
Disposable Tube
1" Diamond Tip
Stainless Steel Tubes No Grip Stainless Steel tubes w/ 1/2" Grip Stainless Steel Tips
Single 20041 20698 6331 20609 / 6417 5165 20412 20416 20602 / 20615 20631 / 20629 5815
3 Round 20068 5030 21022 6417 5165 20412 20416 20615 20629 5815
4 Round 20072     6419 6477 20413 20417 20612 20625 5816
5 Round 20045 20022 6333 6419 6477 20413 20417 20612 20625 5816
7 Round 20084 21233 6334 6420 21101 20414   20613 / 20617 20627 5817 / 6067
8 Round 20090 5029   6421 21102 20414   20613 / 20617 20627 5818 / 6067
9 Round 20096     6421 21102 20414       5818 / 6067
11 Round 20102     6422   20415       5819
13 Round       6423   20415       5820
14 Round 20108 5026   6423   20415   20618 20628 5821 / 6067
18 Round   21348 21349              
Needle Sizes Needles Needle & Tube Combo
5/8" Grip
Needle & Tube
1" Grip
Disposable Tube
  5/8"  Round Tip
Disposable Tube
5/8" diamond Tip
Disposable Tube
1" Round Tip
Disposable Tube
1" Diamond Tip
Stainless Steel Tubes No Grip Stainless Steel tubes w/ 1/2" Grip Stainless Steel Tips
3 Tight 20065 6787 6332 6417 5165 20412 20416 20615 20629 5815
4 Tight 20771     6419 6477 20413 20417 20612 20625 5816
5 Tight 20075 5027   6419 6477 20413 20417 20612 20625 5816
7 Tight 20081 21347 21020 6420 21101 20414 20417 20613 / 20617 20627 5817 / 6067
8 Tight 20087 6788   6421 21102 20414   20613 / 20617 20627 5818 / 6067
9 Tight 20093   6335 6421 21102 20414   20613 / 20617   5818 / 6067
11 Tight 20099   6336 6422   20415       5819
14 Tight 20105 20023 6337 6423   20415   20618 20628 5821
Needle Sizes Needles Needle & Tube Combo
5/8" Grip
Needle & Tube
1" Grip
Disposable Tube
  5/8"  Flat / Mag Tip
  Disposable Tube
1" Flat / Mag Tip
  Stainless Steel Tubes No Grip Stainless Steel tubes w/ 1/2" Grip Stainless Steel Tips
4 FLAT 20111   6338 6424   20418   20619 20630 5823 / 6067
5 FLAT 20114   6339 6424   20418   20619 20630 5823 / 6067
6 FLAT 20117   6340 6425   21107   20616 20626 5824 / 6067
7 FLAT 20121 5028 6341 6425   21107       5824 / 6067
8 FLAT 20424     6426   20419       5825
9 FLAT 20127   6342 6426   20419       5825
11 FLAT 20130     6427   21479      
15 FLAT 20397 5025   20214   20421       5827
Needle Sizes Needles Needle & Tube Combo
5/8" Grip
Needle & Tube
1" Grip
Disposable Tube
  5/8"  Flat / Mag Tip
  Disposable Tube
1" Flat / Mag Tip
  Stainless Steel Tubes No Grip Stainless Steel tubes w/ 1/2" Grip Stainless Steel Tips
5 MAG 20137     6424   20418   20619 20630 5823
7 MAG 20140 20024 21387 6425   20419   20616 20626 5824 / 6067
9 MAG 20143     6426   20419       5825
11 MAG 20146 20046 6343 6427   20420   20614   5826
13 MAG 20149 21277 6344 5893   20421   20614   5827
15 MAG 20152 20047 6345 20214   20421   20614   5827
25 MAG 21190                 21449
35 MAG 21191                 21450
Needle Sizes Needles Needle & Tube Combo
5/8" Grip
Needle & Tube
1" Grip
Disposable Tube
  5/8"  Flat / Mag Tip
  Disposable Tube
1" Flat / Mag Tip
  Stainless Steel Tubes No Grip Stainless Steel tubes w/ 1/2" Grip Stainless Steel Tips
5 Tight DS MAG 20155                  
7 Tight DS MAG 20158     6424   20418       5823 / 6067
9 Tight DS MAG 20162     6424   20418       5823 / 6067
11 Tight DS MAG 20165     6425   21107       5824 / 6067
13 Tight DS MAG 20168     6426   21107       5824 / 6067
Needle Sizes Needles Needle & Tube Combo
5/8" Grip
Needle & Tube
1" Grip
Disposable Tube
  5/8"  Flat / Mag Tip
  Disposable Tube
1" Flat / Mag Tip
  Stainless Steel Tubes No Grip Stainless Steel tubes w/ 1/2" Grip Stainless Steel Tips
5 CURVED MAG 21271     6424   20418   20619 20630 5823 / 6067
7 CURVED MAG 21272     6425   20419   20616 20626 5824 / 6067
9 CURVED MAG 21273     6426   20419       5825
11 CURVED MAG 21274     6427   20420   20614   5826
13 CURVED MAG 21275     5493   20421   20614   5827
15 CURVED MAG 21276     20214   20421   20614   5827



50 States Sharps Container Drop Off Information:

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has established guidelines to protect the public from discarded "sharps” i.e.; tattoo needles and piercing needles.. Tattoo shops, like the medical field, deal with contaminated sharps on a daily basis. These sharps must be disposed of properly to ensure public health and safety from needle sticks by objects that could potentially be infected with Hepatitis, HIV, AIDS and other infectious diseases. There are several routes you can pursue in order to dispose of used Sharps. For your convenience Superior Tattoo Equipment has put together a list of the requirements from each state. Please note these requirements are current as of the time this article was written (September 7, 2010) but are subject to change. For the most current and up to date information please contact your state’s Department of Public Health and Environment, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division.


The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) publishes a brochure entitled "Handling and Disposal of Medical Waste – A Household Guide for Alabamians.” The guidance recommends that:

  • Home generated needles, needles, lancets, and other sharp objects should be placed in a hard plastic container such as a liquid soap, bleach, or fabric-softener bottle or metal container with a screw-on (or tightly secured) lid. Sharps should not be placed in glass or clear-plastic containers.
  • The lid should be reinforced with heavy-duty tape.
    Sharp objects should not be placed in any container that will be recycled or returned to a store.
  • Containers should be marked "Not For Recycling.” Containers should never be labeled with the terms "medical waste” or "infectious waste” because those terms only apply to health care professionals.
  • Containers used to dispose of sharp objects should be kept away from young children and pets.
  • Filled containers should be disposed of as frequently as other garbage.


    The state of Alaska has not developed written guidance on the disposal of needles. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has developed the following guidelines:
    The guidance includes these recommendations:

  • Medical sharps should be placed in either a medical sharps container purchased from a medical supplier, pharmacy or health care provider, or in a heavy-plastic or metal container.
  • The container should be puncture-proof with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Household containers, such as plastic detergent bottles, can be used if heavy duty tape is used to secure the lid to the container and the words “Not Recyclable” are written on the container with a black indelible marker.
    The guidance includes these warnings:
  • Do not use a clear or glass container.
  • Do not over-fill the containers (fill only to approximately half full).
  • Keep container out of reach of children and pets.
  • Always sanitize your hands after handling or touching medical sharps.


    The state of Arkansas has no current state-level guidance for individuals on how to safely dispose of used needles. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    California has not published community needle disposal guidance. New law on disposal of needles by home users was passed in January 2007.
    In addition, most household hazardous waste facilities in the state of California accept sharps from the community.  Contact local HHW facility to see if sharps are collected and how are they to be contained. Near Los Angeles:


    Colorado offers guidance on disposing of household-generated needles through two bulletins created by the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division. These bulletins are entitled “Household Medical Waste Management” and Infectious Waste Management.
    The bulletins include these recommendations:
    Needles, needles, lancets, and other medical sharps should be:

  • Placed in strong plastic or metal containers with screw-on or tightly secured lids (examples include empty bleach bottles, liquid detergent bottles, plastic milk jugs, or coffee cans. Strong tape should be used to secure the lid of coffee cans.)
  • Once the container is full and sealed, it can be placed in the regular household trash.
    The bulletins also include these warnings:
  • Recyclable containers should not be used as sharps containers.
  • Glass should never be used as a sharps container.
  • All infectious waste should be stored out of reach of children and pets.


    The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waste Management does not provide written guidance for the disposal of needles.
    However, Bureau staff recommends that before disposing of used needles in the regular household trash, home users properly package them by:

  • Placing needles in rigid, puncture-resistant, opaque containers, such as bleach or liquid detergent bottles;
  • Labeling the containers with the words “Do Not Recycle” and “Sharps”; and
  • Securely sealing the containers with heavy-duty tape.
    Staff also recommends that individuals contact hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, or other facilities to find out if they collect packaged used needles.


    The state of Delaware has not developed written guidance on the disposal of household generated needles. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Department of Health publishes a document entitled, “Safe Disposal of Sharps at Home.”
    The guidance states:
    In order to reduce accidental needles sticks, the Florida Department of Health encourages individuals to find out how their county health department recommends disposing of used sharps. To see if a program exists in your county:
    If you reside in the State of Florida and there is no sharps disposal program in your county, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have developed the following disposal guidelines for home-generated biomedical waste:
    Consult a health care professional about the possibility of accepting home generated waste for disposal in the health care facility’s biomedical waste stream.  This will insure that properly trained and equipped individuals handle these materials.  Contact the local United States Post Office branch for a list of approved biomedical waste main-in services.  Biomedical waste is placed into containers provided by these services and mailed to a facility for treatment.
    If these options are not available, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recommends that individuals follow the guidelines below.
    Place tattoo needles or piercing needles, lancets, and other sharp objects into hard plastic or metal containers with a screw-on top or other tightly securable lid (e.g., an empty paint can or liquid-detergent container).  Before discarding, reinforce the top with heavy-duty tape.  Do not put sharp objects in any container you plan to recycle. Do not use clear plastic or glass containers.  Containers should be no more than half full.  Check with your local waste collection service to make sure these disposal procedures are acceptable in your county.  All sharps should be disposed of in rigid puncture-resistant containers such as liquid detergent bottles, bleach bottles or metal containers.
    For more information contact:
    Florida Department of Health
    Bureau of Community Environmental Health/HSEC
    4052 Bald Cypress Way
    BIN A08
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-1710
    Tel: (850) 245-4277


    Georgia state government does not provide guidance for the safe disposal of community sharps. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Solid Waste Management has posted a fact sheet entitled “Proper Disposal of Home Care Waste.”
    The guidance recommends:
    Place needles, needles, lancets and other contaminated sharps in any strong, leak proof plastic containers, such as empty bleach, laundry detergent or dish soap containers.  The container should have a small opening so that no one is able to stick their hand into it.
    The container must also be clearly marked, “BIOHAZARD.”  Used needles and other contaminated sharps are NOT recyclable.  Keep the sharps container separate from other materials that you set aside for recycling.
    You do not have to recap, purposely bend, break or otherwise manipulate needles before inserting them into the disposal container.  Drop all parts into the container.
    Sharps should be sterilized or be chemically disinfected prior to disposal.  Once your container is full, fill the container with one part bleach solution and ten parts water.  Allow solutions to soak for 20 minutes.  Then, pour the solution into the sink and seal the cap with tape before placing the disposal container into the garbage.  Use heavy-duty tape.  BE sure to keep all containers with discarded sharps out of the reach of children and pets. 
    For more information contact your local Department of Health.


    The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality publishes guidance entitled Eliminating Household Hazardous Waste. The guidance contains the following information:
    Medical Waste/Sharps
    Potential Hazards: 
    The medical waste items most often generated by households in Idaho are disposable hypodermic needles and needles (called sharps) used for home medications in the treatment of diabetes, allergies and other diseases.  Other types of medical wastes produced by households are cultures and stocks, biological waste and pathological waste.  Improper disposal of sharps can injure garbage haulers and landfill workers or, if contaminated with infectious disease organisms, transmit communicable diseases.

    Sharps and other medical wastes are characterized as infectious waste and should be disposed of separately from household garbage.  Contact your garbage hauler, local government solid waste department or public health department to obtain proper disposal containers and service information for packaging and collection in your area.

    Contact the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality‘s Pollution Prevention Program at 208-373-0502.


    Illinois has not created a formal policy on the disposal of needles used by individuals at home.  However, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land, publishes guidance on its web page under the heading “Potentially Infectious Medical Waste (  With regard to disposing of medical waste from homes, the guidance state:
    Potentially Infectious Medical Waste (PIMW) does not include medical waste generated in a household.  If a person chooses to place this medical waste in with their household trash, the following guidelines help protect the trash haulers, landfill workers, and others who may come in contact with the waste.  First, the medical waste should be placed in a sturdy container such as a sharps container from the pharmacy, a laundry detergent bottle, or a soda bottle.  When the container is full, the lid should be put on the container and taped in place.  The container should then be marked “Do Not Recycle” and then placed in the regular trash.
    The Bureau of Land also gives contact information for other agencies that may regulate needle disposal: 
    Illinois Department of Public Health ( (217) 785-2629.
    Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land, Beverly Albarracin, (217) 524-3289.


    Indiana has not developed its own written guidance on safe disposal of needles used by individuals at home.  Instead recommends EPA’s former guidance on at-home needle disposal:

  • Place needles and needles in a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on cap or tightly secure lid.
  • Reinforce the lid of the container with heavy-duty tape.
  • Label the container “Do Not Recycle.”
  • Do not place the container with materials to be recycled.
  • Do not use containers made of glass or clear plastic.
  • Keep these containers out of the reach of children and pets.


    The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has not written guidance on safe disposal of used needles. Individuals are advised to contact local solid waste authorities for safe needle disposal procedures. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The state of Kansas has not developed written guidance on the disposal of needles used in households. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, Division of Waste Management has created a document entitled Medical Waste Management. This document provides guidance on how to safely dispose of sharps (needles and lancets).
    The guidance provides the following recommendations:

  • A commercially available disposal system can be purchased through Superior Tattoo Equipment.
  • An alternative is a hard plastic container such as an empty laundry detergent bottle.
  • Label the container to indicate that it contains sharps.
  • Communicate with your garbage collector that you will be setting out sharps containers on a regular basis.


    The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality provides guidance on how individuals can safely dispose of needles. The guidance states:
    While used tattooing needles, piercing needles, lancets and other sharp implements may be safely disposed with other solid wastes from the home, it is important to exercise care in packaging tattoo needles, piercing needles, and lancets for disposal. The safe packaging of these wastes may be accomplished very simply in the home.

  • Use a rigid plastic bottle with a tight fitting cap, such as an empty laundry detergent or fabric softener bottle, to store and dispose of sharps.
  • When the bottle is full, cap it tightly, and place it with your other solid waste for disposal.
  • Needles and needles need not be recapped.
  • Do not put sharp objects in any container that will be recycled or returned to a store.


    The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the state of Maine has developed a document entitled “Household Biomedical Waste Management.” The document provides guidance to residents on how to safely dispose of household-generated needles. Please follow this link form more information:
    Telephone: (207) 287-7854 (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has developed a document called Maryland Envirothon 2001 Resource Packet and Study Guide for Urban Non-Point Source Pollution-Household/Home Site. This document provides guidance how to safely dispose of medical waste, including tattooing and piercing needles.
    The document recommends that sharps be:

  • wrapped securely in paper or other material;
  • placed in tough plastic or metal containers with tightly sealed lids, such as detergent containers or coffee cans; and
  • placed safely in the trash can.
    It also includes these warnings:
  • Sharps cannot be recycled.
  • Sharps should only be properly disposed of.
  • Sharps should not be tossed in the trash haphazardly.
  • Sharps should not be placed in soft containers such as milk jugs or cartons that can be easily punctured.
    It also suggests that individuals get more information on pharmaceuticals and medical wastes (including sharps), by visiting these two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency websites:
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • How to Store and Dispose of Medical Sharps.


    (NOTE:  Massachusetts is in the process of redefining disposal of needles for patients injecting at-home.  The Department of Public Health and
    The Department of Environmental Protection are working together to develop new disposal options for Massachusetts residents).  Until the new laws are implemented follow the recommendations below:
    The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA-DEP) provides guidance about safe disposal of needles on its Recycling: Home Medical Waste ( website. The guidance describes handling and disposal options for home pharmaceuticals, sharps, and other medical wastes, such as soiled bandages and medical gloves.
    The guidance provides these recommendations:

  • Keep sharp objects such as needles, needles, and lancets in secure containers out of the reach of children. Do not use glass.
  • Place all sharp objects such as needles, needles, and lancets in rigid plastic or metal containers with a screw-on or secure lid. Detergent or soda bottles are good. Reinforce the lid with heavy-duty tape. Label container NOT FOR RECYCLING and dispose of in the trash.
    For more information, check with the Visiting Nurse Association or the MA Department of Public Health, Division of Community Sanitation at (617) 727-2660.

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA-DPH) has also published guidance entitled Home Guide for Proper Disposal of needles and Lancets (
    The guidance gives the following tips:
  • Obtain puncture-resistant plastic or metal container such as an empty detergent or bleach container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid, or an empty coffee can.
  • Superior Tattoo Equipment also sells home sharps containers.
  • Place used lancets, needles, and needles in container.
  • Drop sharps in container immediately after use.
  • Dispose of needles as one unit.
  • Tightly seal the container when 3/4 full.
  • When you are using a coffee can, reinforce the lid with heavy duct or electrical tape (you should completely cover the lid with tape to prevent punctures.)
  • Contact your local board of health for trash disposal ordinances and further instructions.
  • Do not use clear plastic or glass containers.
  • Do not attempt to remove, bend, break or recap the needle.
  • Store out of reach of children.


    (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.) Michigan state publishes a PDF for reference at


    (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.) The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency publishes guidance on disposal of needles at


  • Persons receiving health care from a home health agency are advised to determine whether these services provide a means of disposal for needles or information on proper disposal methods.
  • Persons are also advised to contact their local pharmacy or physician for needle collection services or sharps disposal containers (also available at Superior Tattoo Equipment).
    If the services or persons listed above cannot provide assistance in the disposal of needles, individuals are encouraged to manage household medical waste in the following manner:
  • Place sharps in hard plastic, puncture-resistant containers such as bleach, fabric softener and liquid soap bottles or metal containers with securely fitting lids.
  • Soak sharps in a bleach solution that is one part bleach and ten parts water.
  • Do not place sharps in containers that will be recycled or returned to a store.
  • Do not place sharps in clear plastic or glass containers.
  • Do not label the containers as “Medical Waste” or “Infectious Waste.” If the sharps container already has a label, place the container in a plastic bag that is securely fastened.


    Missouri Department of Natural Resources

    Proper Disposal of Household-Generated Sharps

    Solid Waste Management Program fact sheet

    The document provides general information about the proper disposal of sharps.

    Sharps are a type of infectious waste in Missouri and as such are regulated as a non-hazardous solid waste under the Missouri Solid Waste Management Law. Due to their potential to transmit disease, it is important that anyone generating sharps be aware of the requirements for their proper disposal.

    Specific questions should be addressed to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources using the contact information provided at the end of this document.


    In Missouri, “sharps” are defined as hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets and other sharp items that have the potential for transmitting an infectious disease. Although households that generate sharps are exempt from most disposal requirements, those households are still required to properly package the sharps to prevent accidental sticks or punctures by those handling the waste.

    A household generator is any single-family residential premise or a single-family dwelling unit where the wastes or sharps are generated on-site. Households typically generate small numbers of sharps. Other small quantities of sharps generated by businesses (those businesses that produce less than 220 pounds of sharps per month), such as tattoo parlors, veterinary offices or dental offices are required to meet more stringent requirements for disposal. These requirements are described the department’s technical bulletin Management of Infectious Waste by Small Quantity Generators (PUB188).

    Properly managing and disposing of household generated sharps safely reduces pollution to the environment and prevents injury and disease transmission from needle-sticks.

    Packaging, Storage and Disposal of Sharps

    The department recommends households safely dispose of sharps by following these steps:

    • After use, place sharps or blades back into their protective case, sleeve or packaging. If the sharps or blades have not been used, keep in protective packaging.
    • Prior to placing in the trash, the sharps must be packaged in puncture-resistant containers. Place the sharps in a rigid plastic bottle with a tight-fitting cap, such as an empty laundry detergent or fabric softener bottle (not a soda bottle or milk carton, which is thinner-walled plastic).
    • Although it is legal to dispose of household-generated sharps along with your other trash, the department recommends you contact your waste hauler to advise them of how you plan to package the sharps. This allows you to determine if your waste hauler accepts sharps prior to them being placed in with your other household waste. Waste hauling companies reserve the right to accept or deny waste they transport for disposal. Your prior notification will preserve a good relationship with your hauler and keep their personnel safe from any inadvertent sticks when their truck’s compactor unit crushes the container holding the sharps.


    • After you have worked any details out with your waste hauler, place the sharps container in with your other household waste for disposal.

    Note: Missouri residents may dispose of household-generated sharps along with their regular trash. However, some municipalities prohibit this method of disposal. Please check with your local district, county, or municipal authority to determine if this practice is in compliance with their requirements.

    In addition, please consider these safety reminders when disposing of sharps:

    • Never place containers with sharps in a recycling bin.
    • Never place loose sharps in the trash.

    Alternate Methods for Disposal of Sharps

    You may wish to check with local medical facilities, doctors’ offices, or pharmacies to determine whether they offer any return programs for sharps purchased through their business.

    If they provide this service, coordinate disposal with them. Their service may include providing a sharps container when you purchase syringes. If so, learn about and coordinate disposal of your sharps with them.

    Mail-back sharps disposal programs are available in some locations. They allow residential sharps generators to mail sharps to licensed disposal facilities. These programs charge a fee for their service, and due to federal regulations there are restrictions and requirements you must meet to use this service. Check with your local health care provider, a pharmacist, or search the yellow pages or Internet (search for “sharps mail-back programs”) to see if this option is available in your area.

    Needle destruction devices are containers with mechanisms that bend, break, incinerate (destroy by high heat), or shear needles. In Missouri, if you wish to dispose of your sharps without having to package them in a rigid container, you must use one of these or another device to remove the pointed ends of the sharps that cause a stick hazard. All sharps must be broken, sheared, or incinerated to the extent that they are no longer able to puncture the skin of any person handling them after you’ve used the device. Once your sharps have been either melted down or sheared off, the remaining syringes and melted metal can be safely disposed of along with your other household waste.

    For More Information

    Missouri Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Management Program

    P.O. Box 176 Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176 800-361-4827 or 573-751-5401 office 573-526-3902 fax


    If someone wishes to apply a tattoo to themselves or someone else in the privacy of their home and has all the needles and inks to do so and does not charge a fee for applying the tattoo, then those sharps are residential or house-hold generated sharps.


    However, that is not applicable to the disposal of sharps generated by tattoo businesses.  Tattoo businesses generate biohazard or infectious wastes as they use sharps to create the tattoo or end up with blood-saturated bandages and wipes after they have completed applying a tattoo.  The tattoo artists apply tattoos as a business and get paid to apply tattoos.  As such, tattoo businesses are either small-quantity generators (generating less than 220 pounds of sharps and blood-saturated materials in one months' time) or a large quantity generator of the sharps (generating more than 220 pounds of the material in one months' time).  Large Quantity Generators of sharps are required to hired a licensed infectious waste transporter who is licensed to haul this type of waste in the state of Missouri. 


    Small Quantity Generators are required to either hire a licensed infectious waste transporter to take their waste to a treatment or disposal facility or treat the waste they generate in their tattoo business themselves using an EPA-approved treatment method.  At this point, approved treatment methods include incineration or steam sterilization.  Chemical treatment may be approved on a case-by-case basis, but the treatment method must render the sharps innocuous (disinfect them) so that they will not transmit any infectious diseases to anyone who comes in contact with them.


    The method your webpage endorses does not address the infectious aspect of sharps' disposal, but only addresses the "stick" issue.  Therefore, until this method is approved by EPA, it should not be listed on your webpage as an approved method to dispose of sharps within the state of Missouri.  Any business caught using this method of disposal in Missouri could be subject to citations and fines for violations of the Missouri Solid Waste Management Law and Regulations.


    (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    Montana does not provide written guidance for community needles disposal.
    However, representatives from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, Community Services Bureau, recommend that individuals place used needles in sharps containers purchased from pharmacies (also available at Superior Tattoo Equipment) and check with their local health department to determine a safe means of disposal. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    In 2000, the Waste Management Division of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) developed a fact sheet entitled Handling Household Medical Waste [Click on "Publications/Forms" - "Integrated Waste Management" - "Fact Sheets" - "Handling Household Medical Waste"]. This fact sheet provides guidance to residents on how to safely dispose of household-generated “infectious waste," including needles. The DEQ defines infectious waste as “"any medical waste that is capable of causing disease in another human being if that person comes into contact with the waste."
    The guidance includes these recommendations:

  • Place the waste in a rigid or semi-rigid, puncture resistant and leak-proof container.
  • Mark the container prominently with the universal bio-hazard symbol.
  • Label the container "Infectious Waste" or "biohazard waste."
  • Seal the container.
  • Ensure that the outside of the container is free from contamination.
    DEQ also recommends that any type of sharp medical waste such as needles or lancets, should be sealed in a puncture resistant container whether it is infectious or not. This will protect family members and waste handlers from possible cuts or punctures."


    Nevada does not currently provide written guidance on community needle disposal. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)

    New Hampshire:

    (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)

    The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services provides written guidance on safe needles disposal in a brochure

    New Jersey:

    (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends it’s convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.) NJ Department of Health and Senior Services publishes guidance at

    New Mexico:

    New Mexico’s Environment Department, Solid Waste Bureau, has developed a document called Solid Waste Bureau Guidance on Disposal of Medical Sharps Generated in Private Homes.
    Disposal Tips for Home Health Care
    This document provides tips on how to dispose of needles used during home health care.
    The guidance includes these recommendations:

  • Place needles and needles in a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on cap or tightly secured lid.
  • Reinforce the lid of the container with heavy-duty tape.
  • Label the container “Not for Recycling.”
    The guidance includes these warnings:
  • Do not place the container with materials to be recycled.
  • Do not use containers made of glass or clear plastic.
  • Keep these containers out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Place the container in a cardboard box, secure the cardboard box with tape, and dispose of the box in the household trash.
    To get a copy of Solid Waste Bureau Guidance on Disposal of Medical Sharps Generated in Private Homes, contact:
    New Mexico Environment Department
    Solid Waste Bureau
    P.O. Box 26110
    Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502-6110
    Tel: (505) 827-2924

    New York:

    Two New York state agencies publish the same guidance on community needles disposal:
    1. New York State Department of Health, Expanded Needle Access Program (ESAP) – “Household Sharps: Dispose of Them Safely” (
    2. New York Department of Environmental Conservation
    The guidance states:
    Millions of individuals with serious health conditions manage their care at home. For example, people with diabetes use needles and needles to inject their own insulin, and lancets to test their blood glucose every day.
    These needles and lancets are called "household sharps." Household sharps must be properly contained and discarded to protect trash handlers and waste treatment workers against disease or injury. Careful disposal also prevents re-use of needles that can transmit the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or hepatitis B or hepatitis C ( In New York State, all hospitals and nursing homes must accept household sharps. Contact local hospitals and nursing homes for days and hours of acceptance, location of sharps collection sites and type of containers that will be accepted.
    Contain the used sharps safely in your own home:

  • Use a puncture-resistant, plastic container with a tight-fitting screw top. A plastic soda bottle or bleach bottle will work. Superior Tattoo Equipment sells small, plastic sharps disposal containers. Don’t use glass because it can break. Coffee cans are not recommended because the plastic lids come off too easily and may leak.
  • Label the container clearly. Write "Contains Sharps" with a waterproof marker directly on the container or on masking tape that is placed on the container.
  • Put used piercing or tattooing needles or lancets immediately into your container. Screw on the top.
  • Don’t clip, bend or recap the needles or lancets because you could injure yourself.
  • If you are away from home or there are no sharps containers available, carefully recap all needles or lancets and place them in a plastic bag to carry home or to a sharps collection site.
    The person who uses the needles, needles or lancets should place them directly into a container.
    Keep the container away from children!
    When the container is three-quarters full, screw on the cap tightly. Seal it with heavy-duty tape to be extra-safe.
    There are different options for getting rid of sharps. Some cities and towns have more options than others. Here are the best bets for safety, health and protection of the environment.
  • Call your health care provider, pharmacy or clinic to find local hospitals or nursing homes that accept properly contained sharps for disposal. The hospital or nursing home receiving such containers must dispose of the sharps properly.
  • Ask your diabetes educator or local American Diabetes Association chapter about sharps collection programs in your area.
  • Call your local public works department or trash collector. (Check the blue pages of the telephone book for their numbers.) Some communities have special household medical waste collection or drop-off days.
  • Call your local health department and ask for the health educator. Ask about sharps collection programs in your county.
    New York State law allows disposal of household sharps with household trash. Local laws, however, may prohibit this. Consult your local public works department, sanitation department or trash collector for information about laws that apply in your area.
    Do Not Put the Sharps Container out with the Recyclable Plastics.
    Sharps Are Not Recyclable.

    North Carolina:

    The Waste Management Division of North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has developed a document on medical waste entitled Look Here First (, which includes a section on safe disposal of needles used in the home.
    Individuals who use needles at home are urged to put them in a container that is “rigid, leak-proof when in an upright position and puncture resistant.” This container may then be labeled and packaged in accordance with any relevant U.S Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.

    North Dakota:

    North Dakota has not established regulations for the disposing of infectious wastes. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes guidance on its infectious waste web site
    The guidance suggest the following:
    A person who generates sharp wastes ("sharps" include lancets, tattooing needles, piercing needles, scalpel blades, and non-household glass articles that have been broken) for the purpose of their own care or treatment in their home is considered a home sharps user. For example, an insulin dependent diabetic or a terminally ill person being cared for by family members and given injections. Disposing of loose needles and needles into the household waste poses a risk to family members and solid waste workers who must handle the waste. While Ohio law allows the disposal of sharps used by an individual for purposes of his/her own care or treatment in their home into the solid waste stream, it is important to recognize the hazard they pose to solid waste workers. Solid waste workers handle waste containers without knowledge of the contents.
    It is recommended that home-generated sharps be packaged into a rigid container and marked with the wording sharps prior to disposal into the solid waste stream. Common household containers which meet the description of rigid are: liquid detergent & bleach bottles, 2 liter pop bottles, and coffee cans if the lid is securely taped to the can. In addition, the person may contact their local health department or hospital to inquire if they would accept the home generated sharps.

    The Ohio EPA also publishes a fact sheet that expands upon its published guidance. “Disposal Tips for Household Generated Sharps” ( provides information under the following headings.

  • What are sharps?
  • Who are home sharp users?
  • What are my alternatives to a purchased sharps container?
  • What are some other disposal alternatives for sharps?
  • Can I put “sharps” into the trash?
  • Why is it allowable to throw “sharps” into the trash and not properly package them?
  • If I choose to package my “sharps” in a plastic bottle, will the bottle get recycled?


    Solidification of sharps is required for small quantity generators (under 60 pounds).  Oklahoma does not provide written guidance on community needle disposal. However, the Department of Environmental Quality, Land Protection Division, recommends that individuals who use needles at home place their needles in rigid, puncture-proof containers, such as a liquid detergent bottle, and then fill the container with a matrix, such as cement or plaster. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has a fact sheet on disposing of infectious waste, including needles, entitled, Infectious Waste Disposal In Oregon. (
    The guidance provides the following information:

  • Sharps placed in containers can be put in a landfill without being treated (by incineration or autoclaving) if the containers are:
  • tightly closed and sealed;
  • leak proof;
  • puncture resistant; and
  • clearly identified as infectious waste.
    Landfill operator must store these containers in a separate area of the landfill.
  • Rigid plastic sharps containers are available from many pharmacies, as well as medical supply stores, some garbage hauling companies, licensed biomedical waste management companies and Superior Tattoo Equipment.
  • Individuals can also drop off filled sharps containers at DEQ-sponsored Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events. (For more information, call 1-800-732-9253.)
  • Additionally, individuals may contact a licensed medical waste management company for information about pickup and disposal of sharps.
    The guidance provides the following warning:
    We are pleased to provide the information in this fact sheet to help you understand more about infectious waste in Oregon. Ultimately, however, it is YOU, as a generator of infectious waste, who are responsible for seeing that your waste is collected, handled, stored, treated, and disposed in accordance with all federal, state and local regulations.
    Questions? Contact the DEQ office closest to your facility.
    For additional information about which facilities in the greater Portland metropolitan area accept treated infectious waste and the types of waste that can be placed in garbage, contact:
    Metro's Regional Environmental Management Department
    (503) 797-1650
    For information about Metro's Sharps Container Exchange Program, contact:
    Metro Recycling Hotline
    (503) 234-3000
    Oregon Department of Human Services –
    The Oregon Department of Human Services, Health Division, also provides similar information on disposing of infectious waste. This brochure, Infectious Waste Disposal, ( is a guide for all those who generate used needles, including individuals.


    The state of Pennsylvania has not developed written guidance on the disposal of household-generated needles. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)

    Rhode Island:

    The Diabetes Foundation of Rhode Island, in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Health and other public and private sector organizations, has developed a community sharps collection program with guidance for individuals called “Sharp Smart: The Nation’s First Statewide Residential Needle Disposal Program” (soon to be named “Eureka”). The guidance states: …SharpSmart is a program that provides small household containers, called Sharps containers, to hold your needles and lancets, and collection receptacles located throughout Rhode Island for you to safely throw away your full Sharps containers…
    If you want to make sure that you are disposing of your Sharps the right way, follow these simple rules:
    DO use a container that is puncture resistant and is not see-through

  • 1 gallon bleach or liquid detergent bottles
  • sealed and taped coffee can
  • Sharps container (preferred container)
    DO keep containers in areas that are child and animal proof.
    DON’T put Sharps in soda cans or bottles, juice bottles, glass containers, or milk cartons.
    DON’T put Sharps containers in your recycling bin.
    DON’T flush needles or lancets down the toilet. (Sharps that are flushed down the toilet may end up on our beaches and riverbanks.)
    DON’T throw loose needles or lancets in the recycling bin, trash, or SharpSmart receptacle.
    DON’T empty the Sharps container in the SharpSmart receptacle. Throw away the full container.
    A list of sharps collection locations in Rhode Island is published on the SharpSmart web page (soon to be renamed “Eureka”).

    South Carolina:

    The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has developed a “Get the Point” program that provides guidance on safely disposing of used needles at home. The guidance provides these recommendations if a sharps container is unavailable:

  • Sticker – Label an empty two-liter soda bottle with the warning “DO NOT RECYCLE” using either a “pre-made” warning sticker or one that you make.
  • Store – Carefully put each of your used needles into the bottle.
  • Seal – Put tape over the closed bottle cap when the bottle is full.
  • Safe Disposal – Dispose of the filled bottle in your household trash. Now your needles are safely held in a container that protects people from needle sticks and is unlikely to break open on its way to the landfill.” The guidance includes these warnings: Remember -
  • Keep your container out of reach of small children and pets!
  • Never flush your needles down the toilet!
  • Don’t fill your container to the top! Allow two to three inches between the needles and the neck of the soda bottle.
  • Put a lid on it! After you use a needle or lancet, put it directly into a two-liter soda bottle with a tight cap.
  • Pitch it! When the soda bottle is full and tightly sealed, throw it out in the trash.

    South Dakota:

    South Dakota has not published guidance for individuals on safely disposing of used needles. However, the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources encourages individuals to disinfect used sharps before placing them into a rigid, puncture-resistant container and disposing of them in the household trash. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has not developed needle disposal guidance for individuals who use needles at home. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    Texas has not published information to guide individuals in safely disposing of needles used at home. However, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and the Texas Department of Health recommend using guidance contained in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s former needle disposal recommendations which include the following:

  • Place needles and needles in a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on cap or tightly secured lid.
  • Reinforce the lid of the container with heavy-duty tape.
  • Label the container “Not for Recycling.”
    The guidance includes these warnings:
  • Do not place the container with materials to be recycled.
  • Do not use containers made of glass or clear plastic.
  • Keep these containers out of the reach of children and pets.


    The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, Solid Waste Section provides guidance, entitled "Infectious Waste Management" provides the following guidance for individuals who use needles:
    Infectious waste generated by in home activities is not regulated by the state. Local health departments may have rules that differ from state rules. Please contact them for specific rules. However, the following procedures should be followed to minimize the potential risk from exposure to infectious waste.

  • Isolate sharps in leak-proof, rigid, puncture-resistant containers such as a plastic soft drink bottle, a plastic milk bottle, or a sharps container commercially available at Superior Tattoo Equipment.
  • When the container is full of sharps, the lid should be tightly secured and taped on. The sharps container may then be placed in the regular household waste container for curbside collection.


    Vermont provides guidance for handling and disposing of medical waste, including needles. Medical waste is regulated under the state’s Regulated Medical Waste Procedures. The guidance suggests placing sharps in hard plastic, opaque containers, such as a detergent bottle, and disposing of the container in the regular household trash. The Vermont Department of Health Diabetes Program also has created a consumer booklet entitled Learning to Live Well with Diabetes. This booklet provides guidance on how to dispose of sharps and needles. The guidance provides these recommendations:

  • Place needles, lancets and other sharp objects in hard plastic opaque containers with a screw-on or tightly secured lid, for example, a detergent bottle.
  • Before discarding the container, be sure to reinforce the lid with heavy-duty tape. This container goes into the regular household trash.
  • You may even want to label the container: "NOT FOR RECYCLING." For copies of this booklet, contact – Lynne Dapice, MS, RN, Diabetes Program Administrator Vermont Department of Health PO Box 70, 108 Cherry St. Burlington, Vermont 05402-0070 Tel: (802) 865-7708 Fax: (802) 651-1634 Email:


    Virginia has no published guidance for individuals on safe disposal of needles used at home. (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)


    (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.)The state of Washington has not published any state-level guidance for individuals on how to safely dispose of used needles.

    West Virginia

    The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Public Health Sanitation Division, provides management guidelines for disposing of household generated needles in a brochure entitled “A Household Guide for the Proper Disposal of Needles and Sharps” (
    The guidance includes these recommendations:

  • Place needles and needles in hard plastic or metal containers that have screw on caps or tightly fitting lids (Examples include: liquid detergent bottles, bleach bottles, or coffee cans. If a coffee can is used, reinforce the lid with heavy-duty tape.)
  • Place the container in close proximity to where you will be using the needles.
  • Place the sharps directly into the container immediately after use.
  • When the container is nearly full, add a sanitizing solution made by adding one teaspoon of 5.25% bleach to one pint of water and then seal the container.
  • Label the container, “Not Recyclable Treated Sharps” with a permanent marker.
  • Place the container in a plastic bag and seal the bag with tape.
  • Place the bag in the garbage.
    The guidance includes these warnings:
  • Do not place needles in clear plastic or glass containers.
  • Be sure to store the containers in a secure location that is both child and animal proof.
  • Do not recap, remove, bend or break the needle


    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI-DNR) has developed a brochure, Disposing of Household Sharps (PUBL WA-804), which explain the health risks of unsafe needles disposal, provides four steps to safe packaging, and describes disposal options. The state encourages hospitals, fire stations, and other community facilities to establish needle container collection programs. To foster this effort, Wisconsin provides information about sharps collection stations throughout the state (cover sheet [PUBL WA-808a] and list of facilities [PUBL WA-808b])
    Disposing of Household Sharps includes the following information:
    Used Sharps Pose Health Risk
    As the number of home health care patients rises, sharps (needles and lancets) are increasingly being mixed in with household garbage and recyclables or flushed down the toilet. These sharps pose a health risk to garbage haulers and workers in recycling facilities who might be accidentally stuck by them. All "needle-stick" injuries demand expensive testing, cause long-term emotional stress and increase the risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and HIV from contaminated needles.
    To reduce such health risks, the state adopted rules in 1994 about how to package, treat and dispose of sharps, including household sharps. Sharps must be packaged safely and treated either by incineration at a licensed medical waste incinerator or by methods which render the sharps non-infectious and both broken and unable to be reused. Sharps must be treated before they are disposed of in a landfill. Other infectious waste generated at home may be bagged and put out with the regular trash.
    Four Steps to Safe Packaging
    Follow these four steps for packaging your used, or discarded unused sharps:


    1. Clip the needle points with needle clippers, or recap or re-sheath discarded sharps to help prevent “needle sticks.” Recapping needles is discouraged in hospitals and other health care facilities because medical workers might stick themselves with contaminated needles, but individuals who administer their own medications are not at risk from their own needles.


    2. Place the sharps in rigid puncture-resistant containers with secure lids or caps. Acceptable containers include commercially-available sharps containers or heavy plastic detergent or bleach bottles with screw caps. Unacceptable containers include coffee cans (their lids are too easily punctured), plastic milk jugs, plastic bags, pop cans or soda bottles. Note: DO NOT add bleach to the container. Bleach may not completely disinfect needles, and it could spill and injure you or waste handlers.


    3. Visibly label the sharps container with the words “biohazard,” “infectious waste” or “sharps,” or with the biohazard emblem. It’s also a good idea to label detergent bottles with the words “Do not recycle” so that they are not accidentally included with recyclables.


    4. When the container is full, sealed and labeled, store it out of reach of children and dispose of it properly. Do not put the container out with the trash or with recyclables. Instead, take it to a registered “sharps collection station” or make other arrangements if such stations aren’t available.


    Disposal Options
    Ask your local doctor or clinic, diabetic support group, pharmacy, hospital, public health department, solid waste or streets department or environmental services department about local options. Some of them may be registered sharps collection stations. You may also call your local DNR office (ask for the waste management specialist) or the American Diabetes Association (1-888-342-2383) for locations of registered sharps collection stations. Registered sharps collection stations may only charge fees to recover costs, such as costs for the container, transportation and treatment. Some offer the service for free.
    If there are no local sharps collection programs, you may take sharps directly to a licensed infectious waste treatment facility or contract with a licensed infectious waste hauler to transport them for you. (People transporting more than 50 pounds per month must get a license from the DNR). Ask your doctor where she or he sends sharps, or look in the yellow pages under “waste disposal” or “medical waste.”
    Another option provided by some disposal companies is a mail-in sharps disposal program. The company provides containers and packaging which meet U.S. Postal regulations. Additional sharps collection information can be downloaded at


    (Superior Tattoo Equipment recommends its convenient all-in-one solidification kit for tattooing and piercing needle disposal.) Wyoming has not established regulations for the disposing of needles. However, it does provide recommendations for its management and disposal in a document entitled Infectious Waste Management…Questions, Answers and Options. The document provides these infectious waste management options:

  • Treat the infectious waste, if possible, through technologies that include incineration, steam sterilization, thermal inactivation, gas/vapor sterilization, irradiation sterilization, and chemical disinfection.
  • Dispose of infectious waste at a landfill provided the operator is notified and the facility accepts such wastes.
  • Contact a commercial infectious waste contractor to transport the infectious waste to a treatment or disposal facility. (Persons may contact the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality for a listing of local contractors.) The document provides these recommendations for infectious waste disposal at a landfill: Contact the manager of the local waste management system for any additional disposal requirements.
  • Treat infectious waste prior to disposal if this is possible.
  • Place sharps in rigid containers that are appropriately labeled.
  • Notify all persons handling infectious waste as to its presence.
  • Dispose of infectious waste in specially designated areas, if possible.
  • At the landfill, cover infectious wastes with at least six inches of soil as soon as possible. To get Infectious Waste Management…Questions, Answers and Options, contact the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Solid & Hazardous Waste Division (WDEQ/SHWD) at (307) 777-7752. For further instruction or disposal options, call local WDEQ/SHWD staff: Cheyenne – (307) 777-7752 Casper – (307) 473-3450 Lander – (307) 332-6924



    What’s the difference between a liner and a shader?

    Tattoo machines are generally broken into two categories of function. One machine can be set up as a machine used to create the outlines of a tattoo design, whereas another machine might be set up as shader and used to color in the tattoo. The primary difference is the speed at which the needle bar moves up and down while penetrating the skin. The secondary difference pertains to needle depth.

    As a Rule of Thumb:
    1. The gapping between the contact post and spring needs to be a nickel width (1.85mm) for shading and a dimes width (1.25mm) for lining.
    2. To Set the gap hold down the armature bar ( see diagram above) with your finger and turn the plastic screw until you can move the contact post, adjust the contact post to the proper gap release the armature bar then be sure to tight up the plastic screw again.
    3. You will run the power supply slower (about 6.5 - 7 volts) for shading and faster (about 7 - 9 volts) for lining.
    5. Liner springs generally are a little shorter.
    5. You can also refer to the Tattoo Artist Guide - Click Here

    A liner typically runs faster and delivers more of a punch. The faster speed compensates for the speed at which the artist moves their hand along a tattoo. When lining, you’re drawing one line through a certain distance in the skin. You want the needles moving up and down very quickly so that on every strike they are puncturing the skin straight down, delivering ink, then pulling straight out. Imagine poking a needle into a block of cheese, then trying to draw a shape. It can’t be done because you can’t move the needle while it is imbedded in the material. You have to pull it all the way out before you can move further down the line. A tattoo liner machine moves the needle group up and down very fast so that you can move your hand freely without snagging the skin. Liners are set up to deliver maximum ink in a single pass. Multiple passes with liner machines can easily damage tissue and cause scarring because the needles are moving so fast and hitting so quickly that they can literally tear the skin after a couple passes in the same area.

    Tattoo shader machines generally run slower and back off easier (or “hit” softer) because they are intended to make more passes over a single area of skin. Shading is a slower movement of the hand and machine, and the shaded area of skin is subject to more time under the tattoo needles. Shader machines often use larger coils and there are many opinions on why. Common belief is that the larger coils are more efficient at moving larger needle groupings up and down. The theory is that a large stacked needle group such as a 25 magnum is heavier and also takes more force to puncture the surface of the skin than something like a three tight and therefore needs more electricity moving through the coils to keep the needles positioning up and down at a reasonable speed with out turning your power supply up. Larger coils can handle this extra energy and dissipate heat, while also dampening vibration, but their use is debated among tattooers and depending on preference some choose to run standard 8 wrap coils on all their machines. It’s really a matter of personal opinion and what that person likes.



    What’s the difference between an 8 wrap and a 10 wrap coil?

    The 8 and 10 wraps refer to the amount of times the copper wire is wrapped around the cores in the individual coils.

    8 Wrap Coils
    The 8 wrap coil is used mostly for lining, it takes less voltage to push smaller coils. When using a single needle (3 or 5 outliner), the 8 wraps is a good way to go. With good machines you rarely need more than 8 wraps and you shouldn’t need more than 7 volts or so to hit hard.

    10 Wrap Coils
    When it comes to shading, or thicker outlines, you need to increase the voltage. A 10 wrap coil is great for this. Driving a 7 magnum into skin is no easy task, so naturally more power is required. A 10 wrap can handle more voltage, but 12 volts is the maximum amount you would want to put into your machine. You might break a spring if you run it too high too long.