The Website of Carlos Whitlock Porter

ANNEX 4 (from, slightly revised)

This article is in 3 parts.
Part 1
Part 2

World's Record for Continuous Tattooing: 178 Simple Tattoos in 35 1/2 hours [!]

The Auschwitz tattooist

The Australian Jewish News

December 19, 2003

LOU Sokolov wears a permanent reminder of the three years he spent in Birkenau. Although it is faded, the number 32407 is still clearly legible on his left forearm. The tattoo which indelibly scars his tanned skin bears witness to his encounter with hell on earth.

Indeed, thousands of Holocaust survivors worldwide, as well as at least 10 in Melbourne — including his late wife Gita — bare the same reminder, not just of the horrors they endured at Auschwitz/Birkenau, but of Sokolov’s presence at the Nazi death camp.

Small with pale blue, haunting eyes which large glasses fail to hide, Sokolov was the Auschwitz/Birkenau tetovierer (tattooist). From August 1942 to late 1944 he, along with assistants, tattooed the arms of 200,000 Jews from Holland, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Norway, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Austria and Hungary.

A piece of wood attached to two needles and a pot of ink were the tools of his trade. Each tattoo, he says, took 30 seconds. Yet those numbers have become long-lasting evidence of the most heinous crime in history.

[Note: For the latest world's record in super-fast, non-stop tattooing, see tattoorecord.htm - C.P]

Smiling as he reclines in an armchair in his Caulfield apartment with his two precious dogs — which he calls his children — Sokolov, 87, says his role as tattooist was simply a “job”.

“It had to be done,” he says. “We weren’t human beings, we were numbers. Those who got a number, those that went into the camp, I call them lucky because they had another few days or months or whatever to survive.”

Sokolov smiles often, but his broad grin has the impression of someone who has taught himself to laugh in the face of trauma.

“I witnessed things, killings, torture, beatings. Unbelievable. Boys killed boys, inmates killed inmates, for a piece of bread. People killed people. I saw it with my own eyes.”

In fact, the only way he has been able to cope with the scars of his experience is with the knowledge that his job as a tattooist, which gave him a position of some status in the camp, enabled him to save countless lives.

“I saw one-and-a-half million people die. One-and-a-half million people go through the chimney. Some people can’t take it , but one good thing is that I helped a lot of people.”

Sokolov even came face to face with the notorious “Angel of Death”, Dr Josef Mengele, whose infamous medical experiments have been well documented. Dr Mengele also acted as an Auschwitz selector, sending new arrivals either to the gas chambers or the camp. After witnessing these selections on numerous occasions, Dr Mengele approached Sokolov, though the encounter is one he would rather forget.

“He said to me in German, 'One fine day you will go next.’ I said to him, "Yes sir.’”

Born Ludwig Eisenberg in the Czechoslovakian town of Krompacly in 1916, Sokolov was raised in a “good Jewish” home, although his parents and older brother and sister were not religious.

Graduating from high school, he moved to Bratislav, where he worked for the Bata Shoe Factory.

According to the 1930 census, Czechoslovakia had a Jewish population of 356,830. In 1938 Slovakia established an autonomous totalitarian government and on March 14, 1939, declared itself an independent state, becoming a vassal of Nazi Germany. The following day Hitler occupied Bohemia and Moravia, effectively breaking up Czechoslovakia.

Sokolov, then 21, worked as an assistant to the leader of a Slovakian political party. He was given the job by a friend who wanted to protect him from increasingly frequent antisemitic attacks. Dressed in party uniform, Sokolov travelled around the country disseminating newsletters.

In 1941 Slovakian Jews were increasingly ousted from life and 10,000 Jewish businesses were liquidated. In February 1942 the German Foreign Ministry requested the Slovak Government to begin transporting Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

Between January and October 1942, 60,000 Jews were deported to Nazi camps in the east. Auschwitz was the main port of call. Sokolov was one of 1500 Jewish men on the first Slovakian transport to Auschwitz/Birkenau.

The two-day journey in cattle cars, direct to Birkenau, was “shocking”, but Sokolov wasn’t afraid.

“I couldn’t imagine where I was going or what could happen to me.”

Upon arrival, the “hell started”. Greeted by SS guards armed with dogs, Sokolov recalls people were beaten if they failed to move quickly enough onto the platform.

Sokolov was tattooed as he entered the camp. He says he is one of only four men from the original transport of 1500 who are still alive with the numbers that begin with 32,000. The others live in Sydney, Slovakia and America.

In those early days, Auschwitz was mainly populated by political prisoners and criminals. In his first few weeks at Birkenau, Sokolov worked with inmates building the barracks that would soon house hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over Europe.

Sokolov became an assistant to a Polish kapo, but was soon infected with typhoid. He recovered and later met a Czechoslovakian political prisoner named Pepan, who unwittingly saved his life.

Pepan, Auschwitz’s original tattooist, took Sokolov under his wing and taught him the trade. Two months later, when Pepan was transported out of Auschwitz, Sokolov took over as camp tattooist. All inmates were tattooed with a number on their left forearm. More than 400,000 tattoos were issued.

When Sokolov started the job in August 1942, the tattoo numbers commenced at 38,000. When they reached approximately 70,000, the tattoos commenced with the letter A. By that time, Sokolov had a number of assistants helping him cope with the transports, which were arriving day and night.

There was barely any exchange between himself and the person whose arm he was tattooing.

“People had no hope. They were the walking dead,” he recalls grimly.

Sokolov’s position came under the auspices of the political arm of the camp, which oversaw the SS. He was therefore considered untouchable by the SS and lived in relative peace. He had his own room in the gypsy camp.

During his time as the camp tattooist, he used his privileged position to save lives.

Jewish boys were required to sort through the luggage of inmates who, unaware of their pending fate, brought all their worldly possessions. The boys would steal whatever valuables they could, including jewelry, diamonds and money. They would then give it to Sokolov in exchange for bread, alcohol and chocolate, which Sokolov would buy from local Poles who worked in the camp offices. He also used the money and jewels to bribe the SS to secure better working conditions for inmates, which ultimately saved many lives.

One of them became his wife, Czechoslovakian-born Gita. Although he does not recall it, the pair met for the first time when Sokolov tattooed Gita’s arm upon her arrival at Birkenau in August 1942. Shortly after, he saw her again and bribed an SS officer to deliver a letter to her in the women’s camp. The couple arranged clandestine meetings and Sokolov secured Gita an office job working with other Polish women.

When, in the face of the advancing Russian Army, the Nazis began their infamous death marches in 1945, Gita escaped during the night and was hidden by a Polish colleague in an attic for the remainder of the war.

Sokolov also used his skill to save a man who was scheduled to be hanged after a failed escape. He transformed the man’s tattoo into a picture of a snake and bribed an SS officer to register the man on the next transport out of Birkenau. Today that man lives in Israel.

Sokolov witnessed many of the events at Auschwitz and Birkenau which fill the pages of history books and memoirs. He recalls the daily suicides by people who threw themselves against the electric fence, the public hangings, the day the entire gypsy camp of 4000 inmates was gassed, the building of the three crematoria in 1943 and the uprising by the Sonderkommando — Jewish men who worked in the crematoria and revolted by throwing SS officers into the flames. He also recalls the day, in 1944, that Crematorium Three was blown up by the Sonderkommando.

He holds the rare distinction of being one of the only Jews who went into the crematorium and came out alive. When two men, one dead and one alive, were registered with the same number, Sokolov had to go into the crematoria to verify the number on the dead man’s arm.

“I saw more bodies than you could count lying around like sacks,” he recalls. “Thoughts of survival kept me going. I always looked for the positive — maybe because I wasn’t beaten like others or I had more to eat,” he says, adding that the fact that he spoke Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, German and Russian aided his survival.

On January 19, 1945, as the Russians approached, Sokolov joined one of the last groups to march out of Birkenau. A few days later, he was taken by train to Mauthausen in Austria. From there, with the aid of a Slovakian kapo, he was transported to a camp outside Vienna.

When the Russian Army advanced, Sokolov and other inmates were marched out of the camp. He escaped and spent time with a Russian Army unit, introducing the soldiers to local Austrian women.

By the time he returned to Czechoslovakia, the war was over. Sokolov was reunited with Gita and they married shortly after the war. They migrated to Australia in 1949 and had a son, Gary, now 44.

Sokolov narrates his epic story with relative calm, becoming emotional only when talking about Gita, who died two months ago.

But when asked about Holocaust denier David Irving, he becomes enraged. “I would kick him in the pants and say "I was there. I saw it.’”


Questions asked a tattooist about the above claims

Q: How long do you need to tattoo five (5) numbers onto someone with an electric machine ?

A: About 10 minutes.

Q: Is that the fastest you could do it?

A: Yes.

Q: How good do the numbers have to be?

Answer: Readable

Q: Do you think it's possible for someone with needle(s) between two pieces of wood to tattoo five numbers into an arm in just 30 seconds?

A: No, I do not.

Q: How long have you been a tattooist?

A:  12 years.

This man needs lessons from the tattooist of Auschwitz!



----- Original Message -----
From: "cwp" --
To: "Walter Mueller" <
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2004 11:58 AM
Subject: Re: Patriot Letter: It's all your turn, with a few comments from me

On the subject of tattooing, a modern tattoo artist would take 10 minutes
partly because he would need to shave the arm, change the needles, and
 disinfect the spot being tattooed (for example, with rubbing alcohol in a
spray bottle), both before and afterwards, then bandage the tattoo. 


Anybody using a sewing needle and a cork (like modern gang or prison 

tattooists) or block of wood (as mentioned below) would naturally take

 much longer, simply due to clumsiness. If the National Socialists are 

alleged to have tattooed people in their camps they would either have

 required tons of tattooing needles, and/or an autoclave, or else every inmate

 in the camp would get some blood-borne disease, usually hepatitis-B or C, 

sometimes syphilis.

It hardly seems a mass production process to me. Or maybe they had a
tattooing needle factory at Auschwitz. The tubes, ink pots, wooden skin 

depressors, rubber gloves, cotton swabs, etc. would also have to 

be changed after every inmate if they didn't want the whole camp to come

 down with some sort of disease. 


It seems absurd to build huge complicated disinfestation
stations using Zyklon, Argon, steam, ultrasound, and hot air to prevent
typhus if half the camp is going to die of hepatitis or syphilis caused
by tattooing, including the tattoo artist. 


The transcript of the First Nuremberg Trial contains only reference to

 tattooing, as I recall, a single sentence in the testimony of a Communist 

named Schmagalevskaya, volume 8, page 317, and even that was just

 her assertion.

In a famous case in the United States (LEGAL MEDICINE AND TOXICOLOGY, Peterson, Haines and Webster, 1923, Vol. 1, pp. 116-117, 158), 20 people were infected with syphilis because the artist suffered from secondary syphilis (during which stage the spirochete is carried in the saliva as a result of lesions in the mouth) and licked the needle with his tongue for some reason during the tattooing process: “As tattooing artists have at times in the course of their work occasion to use their own saliva for cleansing purposes in removing traces of blood or to efface a sketch badly made, syphilitic infection or abscess formation may oftentimes result.” (ibid, 116-117). (This was written in the 19th century, and would probably never happen today, but given all the filth at Auschwitz and the total lack of sterilization during the alleged tattooing process, it is remarkable that any of these “survivors” are still alive...)

Deserters, prisoners and slaves have been tattooed throughout history, but
never on a mass-production line basis. The British army stopped this
 practice because the rumour became widespread that deserters were being
branded with a red-hot iron (considerably safer where the question of
disease is concerned). (The intent was to prevent them from re-enlisting
under a false name, claiming a bounty, then deserting again). Victims of
the modern trans-Atlantic slave trade were never tattooed, they were branded.



---- Original Message -----
----- Original Message -----
From: "cwp" --
To: "Walter Mueller" <
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2004 12:25 PM
Subject: Re: Patriot Letter: It's all your turn, with a few comments from me

Incidentally in case some smart-ass objects that the victims of
the trans-Atlantic slave were not tattooed just because they were black, the
answer is that tattooing is widespread in Africa, but that it is an
entirely different process, involving the rubbing of clay into incisions.

Another thing that occurs to me is the obvious absurdity of using TWO
needles stuck in a piece of wood? How the hell could anybody tattoo using
two needles at once? Unless you wanted to tattoo in parallel straight lines,
like a pantograph. Even it would be impossible because they'd run out of ink
at different times. Gang members use one needle stuck in a cork, and keep
dipping the needle in India ink. But they use one needle at a time.
The Jews are nuts.

It is worth noting that hepatitis B and C can both be fatal, and hepatitis C
can even cause cancer of the liver. The same people who invented ultrasound
are going to tattoo hundreds of thousands of people with a couple of
[presumably sewing] needles stuck in a piece of wood?

Incidentally I don't see how anybody could "change" a tattoo of a number into a picture of a snake using ordinary needles and a block of wood. I've seen a lot of home-made tattoos, but never one of a snake.


  Incidentally, since this amounts to an admission than any tattoo can be

 covered with another tattoo, and since the H-survivors claim they hate

 their memories so much, why don't they just have their tattoos covered 

up and forget about it? No, they want to be able to produce them every

 five minutes. By the same token, they would have the same motivation

 to have numbers tattooed on their arms after the war, just to attract pity

  and demand money. If you gave the Jews heaven they'd hang pictures of

 hell on the walls. Or as Nahum Goldman said, “Jewish life has two

 elements: collecting money and protesting” (THE JEWISH PARADOX, p. 52).


Response from:

6,000,000 (their number) x 30 seconds per tattoo per person (their number again) = 180,000,000 seconds.  180,000,000 seconds divided by 60 seconds per minute = 3,000,000 minutes.  3,000,000 minutes / 60 minutes per hour = 50,000 hours.  50,000 hours / 24 hours per day = 2083 days.  2083 days / 365.25 days in a year (accounting for leap year) = 5.7 years.  So it would take a tattooist, working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 5.7 years to tattoo 6,000,000 Jews, providing that he could do one tattoo in 30 seconds per Jew and never sleep nor get tired.  (And I think 12 minutes is a much more realistic time to tattoo these numbers on a person, which would then put that number at 24 times this, making it 137 years to do, working day and night.)
I guess Germany should get back to work, because there are many more people who still need their tattoos, having over a 130 years worth of tattoos to give.





George Rosenthal, Trenton, NJ
Auschwitz Survivor, based on documents obtained from The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

For many, the blurred blue lines of a serial number on a forearm are an indelible image of the Holocaust. The tattoos of the survivors have come to symbolize the utter brutality and of the concentration camps and the attempt of the Nazis to dehumanize their victims. 

The tattoos are also a testament to the resilience of those who bear them.Yet despite the importance of the tattoos, as testament, symbol, and historical artefact, little scholarship has been devoted to the subject. There exist virtually no official period documents relating to the practice ; what we know stems from anecdotal evidence contained in camp records and the accounts of those who were at the camps.

The Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex (including Auschwitz 1, Auschwitz Birkenau, and Monowitz) was the only location in which prisoners were systematically tattooed during the Holocaust. Prior to tattooing, several means of identifying prisoners, both by number and by category, had been implemented; serial numbers were the main method. When they arrived at the camp, prisoners were issued serial numbers which were then sewn to their prison uniforms. These serial numbers were most often accompanied by different shapes, symbols or letters which identified the status, nationality, or religion of the prisoner. This practice continued even after tattooing was introduced.

The sequence according to which serial numbers were issued evolved over time. The numbering scheme was divided into "regular," AU, Z, EH, A, and B series'. The "regular" series consisted of a consecutive numerical series that was used, in the early phase of the Auschwitz concentration camp, to identify Poles, Jews, and most other prisoners (all male). This series was used from May 1940-January 1945, although the population that it identified evolved over time. Following the introduction of other categories of prisoners into the camp, the numbering scheme became more complex. The "AU" series denoted Soviet prisoners of war, while the "Z" series (with the "Z" standing for the German word for Gypsy, Zigeuner) designated the Romany.

 These identifying letters preceded the tattooed serial numbers after they were instituted. "EH" designated prisoners that had been sent for "reeducation" (Erziehungshäftlinge). These prisoners had either refused to work at forced labor or had been accused of working in a manner that was not found satisfactory. They were sent to the concentration camps or to special "Labor Education Camps" (Arbeitserziehungslager) for a specified period of time not to exceed 56 days. 

Initially their serial numbers belonged to the regular series; in February 1942 a separate series was instituted for the EH category and their old registration numbers were reassigned.¹

Women were not issued numbers from the same series as the men. The first female prisoners arrived in March of 1942; they were issued numbers in a new "regular" series, just as the men had been. As the number of female prisoners brought to the camp escalated, new number series were started in the respective categories.

In May 1944, numbers in the "A" series and the "B" series were first issued to Jewish prisoners, beginning with the men on May 13th and the women on May 16th. The "A" series was to be completed with 20,000; however an error led to the women being numbered to 25,378 before the "B" series was begun. The intention was to work through the entire alphabet with 20,000 numbers being issued in each letter series. In each series, men and women had their own separate numerical series, ostensibly beginning with number 1.

There were, however, many exceptions to this rule and the extant information regarding serial numbers is but one of the tools for determining the number of prisoners that came through the Auschwitz camp complex. Prisoners selected for immediate extermination were virtually never issued numbers, and many Soviet prisoners of war and police prisoners (Polizeihäftlinge)* sent from the Myslowice prison due to overcrowding² were not registered.

It is generally accepted that the tattooing of prisoners began with the influx of Soviet prisoners of war into Auschwitz in 1941. Approximately 12,000 Soviet prisoners of war were brought to and registered in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex between 1941-1944; most arrived in October 1941 from Stalag 308 in Neuhammer. They retained their army uniforms, which were painted with a stripe and the letters SU (Soviet Union) in oil paint

In November a special commission led by the head of the Kattowitz Gestapo, Dr. Rudolf Mildner, came to Auschwitz. Following the guidelines of an operational order of July 17, 1941, the Soviet prisoners of war were divided into groups described as "fanatic Communist," "politically suspect," "not politically suspect" or "suitable for reeducation." After a month's work, the commission had singled out approximately 300 "fanatic Communists. ³  

Those designated as such were tattooed by means of a metal plate with interchangeable needles attached to it; the plate was impressed into the flesh on the left side of their chests and then dye was rubbed into the wound. 

The tattoo read AU (for Auschwitz) followed by a number. Other Soviet prisoners of war had their Identification numbers written on their chests with indelible ink, but this wore off too quickly.4 Thus tattooing of most Soviet prisoners of war was eventually implemented. Circumstantial evidence indicates that tattooing of prisoners was not systematically implemented in Auschwitz in 1941.

On November 11, 1941, the Polish national holiday, the camp authorities executed 151 prisoners in Auschwitz. Prior to execution, the prisoner's number was written on either his chest (if he were to be shot at close range) or his leg (if he were to be shot by firing squad). The so-called camp infirmary had also adopted the practice of writing a prisoner's number on his chest.5

As the number of prisoners brought to the expanding Auschwitz complex rose, so did the death rate. But if a corpse were separated from its uniform, identification was rendered all but impossible [?]. With often hundreds of prisoners dying per day, other methods of identification were needed. In Birkenau the method used to tattoo the Soviet prisoners of war was implemented for emaciated prisoners whose deaths were imminent; the tattoos were later made with pen and ink [?] on the upper left forearm. By 1942, Jews had become the predominant group represented at Auschwitz. They were tattooed based on numbers in the regular series until 1944; their numbers were preceded by a triangle, most likely to identify them as Jews.

By spring of 1943 most of the prisoners were being tattooed, even those who had been registered previously. There were, however, notable exceptions. Ethnic Germans, re-education prisoners, police prisoners, and inmates selected for immediate extermination were not tattooed.

While it cannot be determined with absolute certainty, it seems that tattooing was implemented mainly for ease of identification whether in the case of death or escape; the practice continued until the last days of Auschwitz.  

*Polizeihäftlinge is a general term that may be used to indicate anyone arrested by the Gestapo. These prisoners may have been so-called career criminals (Befristeter Vorbeugungshäftlinge, also known in camp jargon as Berufsverbrecher), protective prisoners (Schutzhäfilinge), or reeducation prisoners (Erziehungshäftlinge).

¹ Piper, Franciszek and Teresa ¥wiebocka, eds. (trans. Douglas Selvage), Auschwitz Nazi Death Camp (O¥wiecim The AuschwitzBirkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, 1996), p. 62.

²lbid ., p. 66.

³Czech, Danuta, Auschwitz Chronicle 19391945 (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1990), p. 102.

4 Klarsfeld, Serge, ed., Les matricules tatoués des camps d'AuschwitzBirkenau (Beate Klarsfeld Foundation), p. 27.

5 Council for the Protection of Monuments of Struggle and Martyrdom (trans. lain W. M. Taylor), Auschwitz: Nazi Extermination Camp (Warsaw: Interpress, 1985), p. 54.  








1. Each tattoo establishment shall have an operating room which shall be separate and apart from a waiting room or public room that may be used for other than tattooing purposes.  Patrons or customers shall be tattooed only in the said operating room.

2. The operating room shall be equipped with hot and cold running, potable water, together with such sinks and basins as may be necessary.

3. Furniture and furnishings used within the operating room shall be constructed of such material as to permit proper cleansing with hot water and disinfecting solutions.  Flooring material must be of a washable nature. Rug or carpet materials are prohibited. All outside windows and door openings must be fitted with insect screens.  

4. There shall be no overhead or otherwise exposed wastewater lines so as to create a potential hazard to the sanitary environment of the establishment. 

5. All operating tables shall be constructed of easily cleanable material with a smooth washable finish and at least 6' from any observer or waiting customers and/or separated by a panel at least six feet high.  Observers shall not be allowed in the Operating Room during the tattooing process.

6. The operating room shall have proper and sufficient lighting as needed to perform the tattooing process.


1. The practice of Universal Precautions shall be used during the tattooing process as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Blood Borne Pathogen Rule (OSHA). This rule applies to any workplace in which one or more employees is engaged in practices that may present a risk for transmission of HIV (AIDS) or HBV (Hepatitis B) to the worker.

2. There shall be available within said tattoo establishment adequate hot and cold, potable, running water, soap, germicidal solution, individual hand scrub brushes, and fingernail files or orange sticks for each tattoo artist.  

3. Each tattoo artist shall scrub his hands and forearms with soap and hot water using individual hand brush, clean his fingernails with an individual file or orange stick and thoroughly rinse his hands in a germicidal solution before working on each patron or customer. An individual disposable towel or napkin shall be used for drying the tattoo artist's hands and arms after rinsing. 

4. Each tattoo artist shall wear clean clothes or clean lab coat. Surgical gloves shall be worn during the tattooing process and shall be changed for each patron. Gloves shall not be reused and any torn or defective gloves shall be removed immediately.

5. There shall be no smoking, eating, or drinking in the operating room during the tattooing process.

6. The following table summarizes the use of disinfectants in the tattooing procedure: 




Sodium Hypochlorite

Make up daily.

Corrodes metal. Use for


5.25% bleach

1 part bleach to

disinfection of needles

10 parts water.

before disposal. Excellent

Dated and Labeled.

for other materials.


Make up weekly

Use for pigment capsules,


using activator.

motors and damp wiping.  

70% spirit/alcohol

Do not dilute.

Skin, table tops, metals 

Clear phenolics

Make up daily.

Table tops, damp wiping, motors  


Dated and Labeled


Solutions of proven equivalence may be approved by the local Health Officeror his/her duly appointed agent. All products shall be used according to label requirements and have EPA approval. 


A. The needle bars and tubes shall be cleaned by use of an ultrasonic cleaner prior to sterilization. Immersion time for all equipment shall be in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations for the product. Ultra-sonic cleaning tank detergent shall be changed daily. The tank shall be scrubbed thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol between detergent changes. Records of such changes shall be maintained for a minimum of two years.

B. Any establishment licensed after the effective date of this ordinance shall have an autoclave on site for the sterilization of rods, needles, tubes, needle bars, and other instruments used in the process. Any establishment licensed prior to this date shall have a sterilizer on site approved by the Health Officer or his/her duly appointed agent. In the event of equipment replacement, an autoclave shall be required.

C. Instruments used in tattooing such as needle bars, grips and tubes, shall be sterilized before use on each customer. Autoclaving shall be done under 15 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes at 126'C or for 20 minutes at 121 'C. Instrument sterilization bags or wrap shall have autoclave indicator tape, and shall be dated.

D. If autoclaving is the method of sterilization, all tubes, grips, and needle bars shall be left in the wrappers used during the autoclaving process until use. The autoclave must be monitored weekly for sterilization. Records of such monitoring tests shall be maintained for a minimum of two years.

E. Boiling is not an approved method of sterilization, nor is immersion in alcohol.

F. If re-sterilizable stainless steel needles are used, they must be ultrasonically cleaned and sterilized in the autoclave between clients. Chromium-plated needles, if used, shall be used only once and discarded in a puncture resistant container.

G. Under no circumstances shall needles, or any instrument to be sterilized, be coated with petrolatum, lubricating jelly, glycerin, oil or grease before being sterilized.

H. The "tubes" (holders for the stainless steel needle bars) shall also be sterilized together with other instruments used.

I. The "motors" or frames cannot be sterilized and they must be damp-wiped with 70% alcohol or with freshly made 1.5% solution of clean and soluble phenolic (carbolic acid) or with activated aqueous glutaraldehyde (e.g. Cidex).

J. Contaminated equipment must be decontaminated according to local, state, or federal regulations before it is sent out for repair or maintenance, and packaged for transport in accordance with local, state, or federal regulations before removal from the facility.  


The floor of the operating room of the tattoo establishment shall be of impervious material and shall be, at all times, maintained in a clean condition. The walls and ceiling of the operating room shall be a light color, shall be maintained in good repair without flaking or chipping, and shall be of such material as to permit cleansing.

A sufficient program of pest control must also be established and maintained for the establishment.


A. The tattoo establishment shall have proper facilities for the disposition of biomedical waste materials as now defined by State or Federal regulations and as subsequently defined. A contract with an approved, licensed biomedical waste company is required and a copy of such contract shall be required at time of licensing and any subsequent license renewal.  

B. Sufficient toilet, urinal, and hand-washing facilities shall be accessible to customers, operators, and artists within the tattoo establishment or the building in which said tattoo establishment is located. 



1. When it is necessary to shave the area to be tattooed, a new disposable razor for each patron shall be used. The common use of shaving mugs and shaving brushes is prohibited.  

2. After shaving the area to be tattooed, or if the area does not need to be shaved, the site of the tattoo shall be cleaned with soap and hot water, rinsed with clean water and germicidal solution applied in a sanitary manner before the design is placed on the skin. Only sterile, individual towels and gauze shall be used in preparing the site to be tattooed. These dressings shall be properly disposed of after use on each patron. 

3. If Vaseline or other jellies are applied, it shall be done with a sterile swab or sterile spatula for the use of each patron. Unused portions of jellies remaining from service on a patron shall be discarded.  

4. Alum or any material used to stop the flow of blood must be used only in the form of a powder or liquid and applied only with sterile gauze or sterile absorbent cotton.

B. STENCIL FOR TRANSFERRING DESIGN : If the stencil for transferring the design to the skin is not disposable, it shall be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed in a germicidal solution approved by the Health Officer or his/her duly appointed agentfollowing each use and shall be maintained in a clean, sanitary condition.


1. A sterile set of needles shall be used for each patron. Needles used in tattooing shall be sterilized by a sterilization method approved by the Health Officer or his/her duly appointed agentafter each use and, if not immediately used, stored in sterile containers. The open end of the needle tube of the tattooing machine shall be cleaned and sterilized in a similar method after each use. The use of disinfectants does not constitute an approved sterilization method.  

2. Single service or individual containers of dye or ink shall be used for each patron and any remaining ink or dye in the container following the procedure shall be discarded.  

3. Single use containers shall be disinfected prior to use.  

4. Excess dye applied to the skin shall be removed with individual sterile gauze pads or sterile cotton only. The area tattooed shall then be allowed to dry and the entire site covered with a piece of sterile gauze only, which may then be covered with a piece of dressing and fastened with adhesive. Only approved surgical dressings and tapes shall be used on patrons. The use of paper napkins, other materials, and mastic tape for dressings is prohibited. 


1. No tattooing shall be done on any person who is under the obvious influence of alcohol or other drugs.  

2. No tattooing shall be done on any person under the age of 18 (Per NH RSA 639:3II). A person under the age of 18 with a tattoo is Prima Facie evidence that this section has been violated and that the proper identification process did not occur. 

3. No tattooing shall be done on skin surface that has a rash, pimples, boils, infections, or other unhealthy skin conditions. 

4. No skin area shall be penetrated, abraded or treated with chemicals for the purpose of removing, camouflaging or altering any blemish, birthmark, scar, or previous tattoo. 

5. Anyone giving a history of jaundice, hepatitis, HIV infection or other infectious or communicable diseases shall not be tattooed.


1. After each customer is tattooed, the needle bars must be disengaged, with the tubes, from the machine and placed in an autoclavable dish. Unless re-sterilizable needles are used, at the end of the session the needles are "burned off' by flaming, by use of a loop incinerator, from the point to the soldered junction and disposed of properly. Reusable needles must be used only once before being cleaned and sterilized. The needle bars must be cleaned ultrasonically, as before, then re-sterilized. Ultrasonic treatment alone is not effective. All used needles shall be disinfected before discarding. Used needles must be placed in a fresh solution of hypochlorite for thirty (30) minutes and be disposed of in a puncture resistant container.

2. The pigment capsules must be disposed of after each customer.  

3. Capsule holders and forceps must be sterilized between sessions.

4. Holding tubes for motors must be sterilized between sessions.

5. Surfaces contaminated by blood must be properly sterilized after each use.

6. Red or orange warning labels being the biohazard warning system must be affixed to containers used to transport potentially infectious materials and needles.  


1. Written instructions shall be given to each patron or customer on the care of the tattooed site to prevent infection after each tattooing. A copy of these instructions shall also be posted in a conspicuous place in the tattoo establishment, clearly visible to the person being tattooed.   

2. All infections resulting from the practice of tattooing which become known to the operator(s), owner(s) and/or artist(s) shall be reported to the Health Officer or his/her duly appointed agent(s) within twenty four (24) hours by the owner or operator of the tattoo establishment.

3. All tattooists are strongly advised to receive the Hepatitis B vaccine which would provide them with immunity from contracting the disease from a patron and protect patrons from contracting the disease from a non-symptomatic tattooist.    




Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Permanent Cosmetic and Tattoo Establishments. Section

 XI. Equipment - C. Sterilization of needles and tubes shall be accomplished by: 

1. Holding in an approved autoclave for thirty (30) minutes at fifteen (15) pounds pressure at a temperature of 248 degrees F or 120 degrees C. The use of approved autoclave packaging is required. The date the procedure is performed shall be written on the packaging. Indicator tapes or strips for checking temperature shall be provided each time the autoclave is used. 2. Culture testing of sterilization equipment, using appropriate microbial spore strips, shall be required when deemed necessary by the Health Officer.

This article is in 3 parts.
Part 1
Part 2