Category Archive: Electro-Steam Articles

Steam Applications for Different Industries

Because it is so versatile, steam is used in many industries. It’s common to find steam sanitization systems and specialized manufacturing processes that incorporate steam in many settings. Steam generators are an affordable and reliable source of steam ready to use, on demand. 

Below are just a few examples of steam sanitation operations and other ways steam is used in manufacturing.

Steam Pipe Cleaning

In-line degreasing and cleaning use hot steam to clean and maintain equipment without disrupting production or disassembling equipment. These steam pipe cleaning operations are called clean-in-place (CIP) and sanitize-in-place (SIP) systems. Examples include cleaning systems for:

  • Oil and gas industry pipes
  • Paint lines and nozzles
  • Filling lines, bottles, and conveyors in beverage bottling

Similarly, home and commercial kitchen drains can be cleaned with steam. It removes grease and food residues from drains and grease traps without chemical cleaners or clog removers.

Furniture Bending

Steam bending is a method of shaping natural materials like wood and bamboo. The material is placed inside a sealed steam box into which steam is injected. Depending on its hardness and thickness, the material sits for several hours until it becomes pliable.

The hot steam softens the lignans and fibers in the material so it can be formed into the desired shape. The softened material is clamped or braced against a metal form and left to cool. Once cool it will retain the new shape.

This method does not involve glues or cuts to the material, which reduces waste and scrap. The end result is also highly aesthetic because the process does not break the wood grain or cause cracks.

Musical Instruments

Steam bending is also used in making wooden musical instruments such as guitars or violins. The principles of steam bending for musical instruments are very similar to those for making furniture and in woodworking.

Heating of Railcars and Shipping Containers

Steam is used for multiple processes that involve railcars and shipping containers. It can be used to create a heat jacket around tank cars, making it easier to pump viscous liquids like adhesives, waxes, or molasses, into and out of the vessels. 

Steam is also used to clean and sanitize rail tank cars to remove grease and residues and prevent microbial growth. Dry steam is used, so it does not leave standing or condensed water behind. Another advantage to steam cleaning is portable systems can be brought to the individual railcars instead of sending them all to a separate facility for cleaning.

Concrete

There are two ways to cure concrete with steam: under atmospheric pressure or with high-pressure steam. The size of the piece and environmental conditions determine the method. Curing under atmospheric pressure is best for large pieces or cast-in-place units. It is critical to carefully control the temperature ranges and amount of time the concrete is held at each temperature.

Curing concrete with high-pressure steam is beneficial when high early strength is needed for quick unmolding, or when the concrete requires heat to properly hydrate. Pieces must be enclosed in an autoclave to control the pressure, so this process is limited to smaller pieces. High-pressure curing is used in areas with cold temperatures for relatively quick curing. 

It is also possible to steam clean concrete once it is properly cured and finished, such as in flooring, landscaping, or driveway applications.

Candy

In the food industry, some types of chewy candy are coated with sugar crystals. This adds texture and flavor and prevents sticking. 

A conveyor belt moves the candies into a chamber filled with food-grade steam. This heats them just enough to partially melt the surface. They are slightly moistened by the humidity as well.

Next, the candies are conveyed into a rotating, double-walled cylinder, along with a large amount of sugar crystals. As the cylinder turns the individual candies tumble and are coated with the sugar. Excess sugar falls through small holes in the inner cylinder and is held in the outer one so it can be used for subsequent batches.

Once fully coated, the candies are conveyed out of the cylinder and are ready for packaging.

Contact Electro-Steam for Steam Generation Solutions

Regardless of the application, Electro-Steam has the generators and steam equipment to meet your needs. Since 1952, we’ve supplied customers in many industries with easily operated, easily maintained, top-quality steam solutions.

Our experts are ready to discuss your application and help you find the right solution based on your specifications. For more information or a quote, reach out to us today and we’ll connect you with one of our experts.

Upcoming Trade Shows

Dry steam cleaning offers a great way to ensure sanitary conditions in various food processing environments. Compared to more time-consuming washdown methods that use a lot of water, dry steam cleaning is more effective and makes it easier to reach cracks and crevices that would normally be unreachable. As such, more food processing companies are switching to dry steam cleaning as a way to save time and money while reducing the risk of contamination and enhancing worker safety.

Electro-Steam offers high-quality steam cleaning solutions for customers in the food processing industry and many others. We are excited to share information about our products, capabilities, and expertise at the following upcoming trade shows!

Pack Expo East – Philly

At Pack Expo East, you’ll be able to gather with packaging and processing professionals from along the East Coast to view the latest solutions from hundreds of exhibitors, including Electro-Steam. Come to Philadelphia to find the dry steam cleaning solutions you need to keep your projects moving smoothly and efficiently. At this expo, you can get hands-on experience with materials, talk to industry experts and thought leaders, and witness our equipment in action.

  • Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA
  • Dates: March 18-20, 2024
  • Our booth: #1333 (find us with this floor plan)

Pack Expo International – Chicago

Later in 2024, we’re excited to share our dry steam cleaning technologies with you at the biggest packaging and processing expo in the world – Pack Expo International. This trade show connects more end users with suppliers and showcases more innovation than anywhere else. It covers more than 40 vertical markets and includes over 2,500 exhibitors under one roof!

  • Location: McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, IL
  • Dates: November 3-6, 2024
  • Our booth: #2387 (find us with this floor plan)

Trade Show Recap

Earlier this year, we attended the following expos:

Pack Expo – Las Vegas

Pack Expo Las Vegas showcased a wide variety of solutions for the packaging industry. With over 2,300 exhibitors and more than 32,000 attendees, this trade show allowed industry professionals to exchange ideas, connect with suppliers and buyers, celebrate innovation, and strengthen partnerships. 

  • Location: Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV
  • Dates: September 11-13, 2023
  • Our booth: #SU-7124 (view floor plan)

Process Expo – Chicago

Process Expo Chicago provided buyers and manufacturers the chance to network, discover new trends and technology, and view equipment updates. It was attended by both small and large food and beverage companies from around the world. Attendees covered a wide range of food manufacturing and production responsibilities, including owners, CEOs, sales and marketing, corporate management, operations, production, sanitation, maintenance, and many more. 

  • Location: McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, IL
  • Dates: October 23-25, 2023
  • Our booth: #3412 (view floor plan)

We’ll See You There!

At the abovementioned trade shows, Electro-Steam will demonstrate all of our dry steam cleaning technologies, so you can see them in action and determine the best solution for your needs. We look forward to showcasing our products and capabilities, as well as illustrating the many benefits of steam cleaning. 

At Electro-Steam, we offer quality steam cleaning equipment for bottling facilities, food and beverage processing facilities, manufacturing plants, and more. If you can’t find the equipment you’re looking for, our expert team can build a custom solution that fits your exact requirements. To learn about our products, or for more information about what to expect from us at the upcoming expos, contact us today.

 

Benefits of Steam Cleaning in Food Processing

All food production facilities must maintain stringent sanitation protocols, but dry food processing facilities face additional challenges. Because moisture would ruin a package of crackers, a bag of flour, or a powdered drink mix, traditional cleaning methods aren’t an option. Many companies resort to the slow, painstaking process of removing conveyor belts to wash them or performing a tedious process of scraping, wiping, and vacuuming.

Fortunately, there’s another way. Dry steam sanitation is faster, safer, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective. More and more facilities use it to meet sanitation requirements without putting their products at risk.

This process relies on high-temperature, low-moisture steam, which not only kills mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms, but also removes grease, dirt, and other grime. Because the dry steam evaporates quickly, floors, countertops, conveyor belts, and more are left clean, dry, and ready to use.

Main Advantages of Steam Cleaning in Food Processing Environments

Food high technology manufacturing with automatic machineIn food processing facilities, dry steam cleaning has several advantages over traditional wash-down or chemical cleaning:

Clean-In-Place (CIP) Technology

Instead of removing a conveyor belt to wash it down and let it dry outside the production room, commercial steam sanitation systems allow you to safely clean it in place. This saves time and labor, and it provides a more thorough cleaning since the hot steam can get into all the cracks and crevices in the equipment that may be hard to reach manually. The steam dries quickly, so you don’t run the risk of contaminating your food products with moisture.

Chemical-Free Cleaning

Traditional harsh chemical cleaners are a common choice for sanitizing food and beverage processing equipment, but they pose a number of risks, including:

  • Toxic Ingredients: The concentrated chemical cleaners used in food processing environments can potentially harm facility sanitation workers. Using these cleaners typically requires special protective gear, including protective clothing, eye protection, and even respirators.
  • Contamination: Residue from these harsh chemical cleaning agents can remain on conveyors and other equipment, contaminating food and packaging when processing resumes after cleaning. This can potentially impact product quality and consumer health and safety.
  • Improper Use: Chemical cleaners typically require users to follow a detailed set of instructions for proper use. Sanitation workers in food and beverage processing facilities must be well-trained in the suggested preparation and application of these cleaners for the safest results. If applied improperly, these cleaners can be hazardous.
  • Regulatory Compliance: OSHA guidelines specify “permissible exposure limits (PELs) to protect workers against the health effects of exposure to hazardous substances, including limits on the airborne concentrations of hazardous chemicals in the air.” Using chemical cleaners could result in violations of these guidelines.
  • Bacterial Resistance: Just as bacteria and other microorganisms have evolved to survive various antibiotics, they can also adapt to survive against chemical cleaners. For example, many cleaning chemicals contain oxidizers that must be allowed sufficient dwell time to work effectively against bacterial pathogens. However, cleaning routines or personnel may not allow enough time, causing pathogens to develop resistance over time. As a result, facilities may require increasingly harsher substances and concentrations to achieve sanitary conditions.
  • Environmental Hazards: Chemical cleaners must be rinsed safely away from equipment, and the facility’s effluent must be treated and disposed of properly to prevent clogging drains and releasing harmful chemicals into the surrounding community. This is a complex process that, if not done responsibly, can harm the environment.

cookies on conveyor beltDry steam cleaning offers a very safe, powerful, and cost-effective solution for cleaning equipment surfaces of contaminants such as:

  • Oils and fats, including animal-based substances
  • Protein soils
  • Lubricating grease and oil
  • Plant matter
  • Residual debris

Drastic Reduction in Water Consumption

Traditional chemical-based cleaning and sanitizing methods consume a remarkable volume of water, with typical industrial water hoses spraying up to 10-12 gallons each minute. A single hose could use over 170,000 gallons of water in just one 8-hour shift.

Dry steam vapor provides the same or better results using just a few ounces of water per minute, and virtually none of it goes down the drain. This significant reduction in water consumption and wastewater generation can lead to substantial reductions in costs and environmental impacts, enhancing sustainability while maintaining excellent hygiene and safety.

Increased Cleaning Efficiency

Traditional cleaning methods are time- and labor-intensive, requiring careful equipment preparation and protection, manual cleaning, and clean up afterward. Dry steam cleaning, on the other hand, makes the entire process faster and easier, minimizing downtime and freeing employees and resources for other activities. In terms of efficiency, dry steam cleaning benefits food processing facilities in a variety of ways:

  • No need to cover electrical components, as dry steam vapor will not affect them
  • No special safety gear needed for employees
  • No extended training needed
  • No need to dismantle equipment for cleaning access
  • No brushes or accessories to install or maintain
  • No messy cleanup
  • No extensive manual labor with hands-free, automated cleaning
  • No rinsing and virtually no drying time
  • No additional wastewater processing needed

Higher Levels of Sanitation

food processing beltFoodborne health risks from pathogens and other cross-contaminants are a top priority in food processing, so improved levels of sanitation are more important than ever. Traditional cleaning approaches typically require substantial manual labor and inspection to ensure thorough cleaning. These methods rely on a combination of proper techniques, adequate time and effort, appropriate cleaner application, and other factors during every cleaning cycle.

Dry steam cleaning eliminates bacteria by destroying microorganisms’ biofilms with heated steam at temperatures from 212 °F to 340 °F (100 °C to 170 °C). The steam can reach every surface, crack, and crevice, leaving behind bacterial debris that can be easily removed with built-in vacuum systems or even by hand with a microfiber cloth.

Dry steam cleaning offers higher sanitation levels than traditional cleaning methods, thereby minimizing liability and maintaining company reputation. Making the switch to dry steam can help your company save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and increase production—all while maintaining the fully sanitized facilities demanded by the industry.

Electro-Steam’s Commercial Steam Cleaning Equipment for Food Processing Facilities

At Electro-Steam, we have years of experience working with clients in the food processing industry, and we have a variety of solutions to meet your needs. These systems come in different sizes with features designed to suit a number of applications while upholding safety standards:

  • Eagle Series: Built in accordance with UL 353, the Eagle Series features dual pressure controls, a high-pressure safety reset, low-level cut-off (LLCO), and a 200 psi safety valve, complete with the ASME V mark.
  • Steam Master by Menikini Series: An adjustable temperature regulator allows for greater safety and adaptability, and it has a 174 psi safety relief valve with automatic pressure controls set at 145 psi. The tank and low-level cut-off system features an alarm to ensure you’re aware of low solution levels. This series is European Conformity (CE) compliant. Options include a steam gun with a 20-foot hose and an accessories kit.
  • Conveyor Belt Systems: Avoid equipment shutdowns and downtime with hands-free, chemical-free cleaning. The FDA-approved materials in our steam cleaning systems can be used on plastic, vinyl, and mesh conveyor belts. You’ll meet industry standards for cleanliness, reduce labor costs, and use up to 99% less water than what you would have to use for traditional conveyor belt cleaning.

Learn More About Steam Cleaning

Dry steam cleaning is cost-effective, time-saving, and environmentally friendly. To learn more benefits of using steam to clean conveyor belts in food processing facilities, download our eBook, “The Benefits of Steam for Conveyor Belt Cleaning in Food Processing.” If you have any questions about our catalog and customization capabilities, please contact us. We’re happy to help you find the right steam cleaning solution for your facility.

How to Sanitize Winemaking Equipment Properly

When it comes to wine, taste is key. Any good winemaker knows that anything that touches the winemaking equipment (e.g., barrels, bottling lines, etc.) can leave residues or contaminants that affect the quality of the final product. That’s why it is vital to invest in the best possible cleaning systems to ensure facility equipment can be cleaned, sanitized, and sterilized. For this reason, many winemakers turn to steam cleaners.

Understanding Washing and Sanitizing of Wine Equipment

Wooden barrels and large aluminum barrels wine factoryHidden microorganisms that collect in winemaking equipment can spoil wine during the production process. Effective washing and sanitizing of wine equipment removes organic and inorganic contaminants to a level where they are no longer a threat.

During the washing process, various washing agents break down contaminants so they can be washed away. Washing typically combines soaking equipment and gentle agitation to remove materials before sanitization. Not every washing agent is compatible with all materials used in winemaking equipment, so it’s essential to understand how specific chemicals affect different materials.

While the terms sanitization and sterilization are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Sterilization eliminates all living microorganisms with the use of specialized technology. Sanitization removes microorganisms to a level at which they are no longer a threat.

Autoclaving is a highly effective sterilization method that exposes equipment to high-pressure saturated steam at 250 °F (or 120 °C) for 15-20 minutes. Pouring boiling water onto equipment will not have the same effect and can even damage equipment.

What Wine Equipment Can Be Steam Sanitized?

Steam cleaners are ideal for cleaning a wide range of winemaking equipment. Some of the equipment often subjected to steam cleaning and sanitizing include:

  • Wine Barrels: Oak barrels are huge investments for wineries. Steam cleaners are effective at wine barrel cleaning and sanitizing without damage, ensuring they remain useful throughout their expected service life. The penetrating ability of the steam produced allows for the removal of old wine, tartrates, and tannins that can affect the taste of the final wine product. If needed, the steam can also be used to rehydrate the barrels.
  • Bottling Lines: Steam cleaners are effective and efficient at cleaning and sanitizing bottling lines. Unlike cleaning systems that utilize water or chemicals, steam cleaners can evenly distribute the steam throughout the lines since gravity is not working against it. The steam is completely safe for cleaning and sanitizing all parts of the bottling system, including the lines, the filters, the monoblocks, and the spouts.
  • Tanks: Many substances can stick to and build upon the walls of storage tanks. The hot and dry steam produced by steam cleaners breaks down these residues and deposits. Once they condense, the contaminants can be removed easily through the drainage outlet of the tank. While a cold water rinse may be necessary to remove any remaining residue and deposits, no chemicals are needed to clean and sterilize the tank.

In addition to these types of equipment, many other components and systems found within wineries can be cleaned and sanitized with steam. Examples include pipes, flanges, and taps.

How to Clean and Sanitize a Wine Tank

To learn how to sterilize winemaking equipment, follow this thorough cleaning process that removes particulates and dissolves residue before sanitizing:

  1. Begin with a cold-to-warm high-pressure rinse where water is no warmer than 109 °F. For the highest level of effectiveness, direct the spray at an angle to the surface being cleaned.
  2. After pre-rinsing, apply a strong inorganic alkaline solution (such as soda ash, caustic soda, sodium metasilicate, or trisodium phosphate) to dissolve food wastes and acid soils. Follow instructions to avoid damage to stainless steel due to the corrosive effects of these alkalis.
  3. Follow washing with a high-pressure, cold water rinse.
  4. After washing, sterilize to completely eradicate microorganisms. Steam is an ideal sterilant because it is noncorrosive, penetrates a variety of surfaces, and is effective against wine microorganisms. Steam sterilize for 20 minutes at 180 °F.

How To Clean and Sanitize Bottling Lines

Due to its effectiveness, steam is one of the most popular methods for sanitizing a bottling line. However, it is recommended that all areas that will come into contact with steam be cleaned first. The washing process follows the same basic procedure used to clean the wine tank.

Begin with a cold water high-pressure rinse. Follow the pre-rinse with a mild alkaline solution before completing the process with a final cold water, high-pressure rinse. Before beginning sterilization, complete a visual inspection of the filter housing, filler bowl, filler spouts, and other areas for dust or foreign matter that may come into contact with the wine.

Follow these steps for steam sterilization.

  1. Obtain a source of steam that will be plentiful enough to handle your set-up.
  2. Select a wine hose that will safely allow steam to flow through it. Use this hose for all the connections steam will pass through.
  3. Attach the hoses as if preparing to pump wine through the filter to the bottling line.
  4. Leave all valves downstream of the steamer open, and turn on the steamer to initiate the creation of steam. As steam appears, partially close valves to allow the steam to flow throughout the system.

Winemakers typically steam for at least 18 minutes, but 25 minutes or more is also considered safe.

How To Clean and Sanitize Wine Barrels

Unlike the stainless steel tanks used in the winemaking process, wooden barrels allow wine to soak into the surface. To effectively remove these microorganisms during steaming, barrels must be thoroughly cleaned before sanitation to remove solids, tartrate coatings, or color from the barrel’s surface.

Immediately upon emptying, invert barrels to the 6 o’clock position to drain. Use a barrel washer with a rotating spray head to rinse with cold, high-pressure (100 to 3,000 psi) water for three minutes. Then, steam sterilize at over 212 °F for 5 to 10 minutes to destroy all active bacteria, fungi, and yeast.

Dry steam has gaseous properties that allow it to reach a quarter to a half inch into wood, using moisture and temperature to naturally kill bacteria. Its saturated vapor can penetrate the wood’s surface and pores better than heat alone. Steam can also combat yeast microbes resistant to high alcohol and low pH that are known to cause spoilage. In only a few minutes, dry steam can rehydrate and sanitize barrels with just a half gallon of water per barrel.

Why Is Steam Cleaning the Best Way to Sanitize Winemaking Equipment?

Given the conditions commonly found in wineries—i.e., high humidity, temperatures, and sugar content—microorganisms can grow quickly in winemaking equipment. Steam cleaners—also sometimes referred to as steam generators—are a safe and effective solution for cleaning and sanitizing wine equipment.

When in contact with a cold surface, dry, saturated steam from steam cleaners condenses into water, depositing all of its heat energy onto that surface. This process of vaporization and condensation delivers far more heat than is conducted by contact of a surface with hot water. Therefore, steam cleaning is far more effective in achieving sanitization or, if in contact for long enough, sterilization, of surfaces.

Steam can also clean and sanitize areas that are inaccessible by boiling water or chemicals since it penetrates farther than heat alone and diffuses evenly without being counteracted by gravity. Additionally, it melts away residues, removes deposits, and kills microorganisms without requiring chemicals or specialized removal methods, making it an eco-friendly and efficient cleaning and sanitizing solution.

Swash™ Delux for Winery Sanitation and Barrel Cleaning

Standard Features:

  • Built in accordance with A.S.M.E. Miniature Boiler Code
  • A.S.M.E. CSD-1 Compliant
  • UL Listed and labeled under UL 834
  • Dual Pressure Controls (UL 353)
  • High Pressure Safety Reset. (UL 353)
  • Low Level Cut-Off (LLCO) (UL 353)
  • 100 psi Safety Relief Valve (A.S.M.E. Section I – V-Stamp)

Multiple Accessories Available

Menikini® Steam Master Wine

Standard Features:

  • CE Compliant
  • Low Level Cut-Off with alarm
  • High/Low Pressure Selector
  • Low Pressure 1.3 bar (19 psi) for Wooden Barrels
  • High Pressure 5.5 bar (80 psi) for Steel Tanks
  • 7.5 Bar (109 psi) Safety Relief Valve

Contact Electro-Steam for Your Winery Steam Cleaning Needs Today!

If you need steam cleaners for your winery, turn to the steam cleaning experts at Electro-Steam. We’ve provided electric steam generators for over 65 years. Equipped with extensive expertise in the food industry, we can provide quality steam cleaning solutions for a variety of sanitary applications.

To learn more about our winery steam cleaning products, visit our wine-making/bottling page or contact us today.

Why Sterilize Soil and Mushroom Substrates With Steam

For successful mushroom substrate cultivation, it’s important to implement soil steam sterilization. Soil steam sterilization is a low-pressure steam process that helps eliminate any potential pathogens, mold, contaminants, weeds, and insects from impeding the mushrooms’ growth. Here we’ll discuss the advantages and applications of this proven process.

A Time-Tested, Chemical-Free Solution

Putting soil in bags as part of steam sterilizationOriginally begun over 100 years ago, soil steaming remains one of the most well-established and reliable soil treatments. Historically, it primarily helped eliminate weeds, but many applications now use it as an alternative method to chemical solutions to eliminate diseases, pests, and contaminants.

In the 1950s, chemicals took over in popularity as a solution to most agricultural problems. Farmers came to believe that synthetic chemicals could control any type of pest or disease, but in reality, these chemical solutions were harmful to organic life and unsustainable over the long term.

Using only heat and water, steam is chemical-free and far safer to use, and its applications extend beyond soil pasteurizing to sterilizing any growing pot, tray, bench, or other isolated container. Another advantage of soil steam sterilization is the fact that, unlike chemicals, the weeds eliminated through steaming won’t grow resistant to this treatment. Steam sterilization physically damages the weed’s capillaries to prevent photosynthesis.

Soil Health

Stacks of oil substrate stored in warehouseProper soil steaming does not completely sterilize the soil, killing off both beneficial and pathogenic microbes. Rather, it’s a pasteurization process that leaves the good microbes while killing off the pathogens and weeds. Soil steaming has few lasting effects on soil quality and microbe communities. Following steam pasteurization, biodiversity returns rapidly to the soil, akin to what occurs following a forest fire. This gives mushroom substrates the ideal environment to grow and propagate.

Versatility of Steam Generation for Soil Sterilization

Steam offers more versatile applications for soil pasteurization than chemicals. In addition to soil, it works to sterilize pots, trays, benches, and other types of DIY vessels. When integrated with a steam generator, any container that can hold steam and maintain temperatures for a certain length of time is a viable autoclave. These include refrigerators, walk-in freezers, sheds, and more.
Unseen person holding mushroom substrate bag
With this in mind, you can use soil steam sterilization to reap a variety of benefits, such as:

  • Full utilization of plant assets
  • Reuse potting soil and vessels
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Elimination of harmful chemical solutions
  • Faster planting
Why Sterilize Soil and Mushroom Substrates With Steam
Click to expand

Learn More with Electro-Steam

The benefits of using a steam sterilizer on mushroom substrates and soil make this solution ideal as a safe and versatile alternative to chemicals. Steam helps improve the efficiency of sterilization, maintains better biodiversity, and offers more operational flexibility.

Considering purchasing a steam sterilization system for your soil or mushroom substrate? Electro-Steam offers plenty of solutions, including industrial process steam generators for a range of uses. We also offer food safety sanitation systems for food and beverage applications.
Contact us today to learn more about our equipment and to find the right solution.