Category Archive: Electro-Steam Articles

Steam Sterilization in the Pharmaceutical Industry

There are certain industries where cleanliness and sterilization must be a priority; the pharmaceutical industry is one of them. Pharmaceutical workers rely on steam cleaning for fast, efficient sterilization. 

Pharmaceutical applications use clean steam, which is created from treated water of either RO or DI quality. They also commonly use autoclaves, or steam cleaners, which are machines that use pressurized steam to kill viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms on the items placed inside the sterilizer chamber. These autoclaves can be as small as a microwave, making it easy to keep them in labs, clinics, and other medical facilities, or even to transport them from room to room or facility to facility. Hospitals and busy labs may use larger models that can sterilize many pieces of equipment at the same time. 

What Is an Autoclave and How Does It Work?

In an autoclave, pressurized steam reaches temperatures of 250-273 °F (115–134 °C), which is hot enough to kill mold spores, viruses, and bacteria. The higher the temperature, the less time the items must remain inside the autoclave. For example, at 250 °F, the items would have to remain inside for 15 minutes to ensure sterilization; at a temperature of 273 °F, they would only need to stay for three minutes. Autoclaves are common in pharmaceutical, medical, dental, and laboratory facilities, and they’re used to sterilize tools, equipment, and even waste.

Autoclaves work by removing the air around the items that are to be sterilized, which allows the steam to penetrate the surface of the objects. There are two ways to achieve this with two specific types of autoclaves:

  • Gravity Displacement Autoclaves: Steam is heavier than the air in the chamber, so the machine injects the steam—which forces the air out via the drain vent. It’s the simpler of the two types of autoclaves, and it’s common in labs and for use with biowaste. It does, however, take longer to work than a prevacuum autoclave, because it takes time for the air to leave the chamber or some air may get trapped inside; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mention that 10 pounds of microbiological waste would require at least 45 minutes in a gravity displacement autoclave at a temperature of 121°C.
  • Pre Vacuum Autoclaves: A vacuum removes the air from the chamber first, then the steam is injected. This allows the steam to go right to work on the objects inside. This is the preferred type of autoclave for use with large, porous objects. 

Items in the Pharmaceutical Industry That Can Be Sterilized With Steam

Because steam sterilization is cost-effective, non-toxic, and time-efficient, autoclaves are common in a variety of medical and pharmaceutical facilities. In hospitals, they’re more likely to be called steam sterilizers, while in laboratories they’re more often called autoclaves; however, they are the same thing. 

While items made of polyethylene, polyurethane, and polystyrene cannot be steam cleaned, many of the other tools and devices in use in medical facilities can be sterilized in an autoclave. This includes respiratory therapy and anesthesia equipment, dental instruments, sharps containers, and more—basically, anything that is heat and moisture resistant. Microbiological waste can be decontaminated in an autoclave, but it typically requires more time inside. 

Sterilizing equipment in an autoclave is fast and efficient, and it doesn’t require a team of people devoted solely to cleaning after everyone else has gone home for the day. Instead, technicians and medical practitioners can sanitize as they go along, ensuring their equipment is always free from potential disease-causing microorganisms. 

Clean Steam Units From Electro-Steam for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Our stainless steel line of clean steam generators are just a few of the many generators we offer at Electro-Steam. Available in various sizes, these are ideal for steam sterilization in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals and clinics, surgery centers, labs, veterinary clinics, and pharmaceutical production facilities. Our stand-alone units can pipe easily into any autoclave brand, or you can choose an integral unit that will fit in or under most autoclaves. Either way, you get high-quality steam and efficient sterilization. Our stainless steel clean steam generators are ASME CSD-1 compliant and feature a high-pressure safety reset, dual-pressure controls, and low-level cut-off. 

Since 1952, Electro-Steam has been proudly manufacturing steam generators in the United States, and we’re committed to providing our clients around the globe with high-quality solutions. If you can’t find the equipment you’re looking for, our team can create a custom solution designed to meet your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our extensive catalog and our customization capabilities.

How Does Steam Kill Viruses?

Steam cleaning is used in a variety of industries, from medical to food and beverage, because it’s an efficient, eco-friendly way to kill viruses and bacteria. Because there are no chemicals required, it’s also a safer cleaning method for those applying the steam and those who will use the clean surfaces. Let’s take a closer look at why steam is so effective at killing microorganisms and where it’s used as the primary means of sanitation.

How Does Steam Kill Viruses?

Steam cleaning relies on high heat to eliminate viruses. The steam must be at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit to sanitize surfaces, and because hotter is better, it often goes to 212 degrees and above. The heat damages the structure of the organism to kill 99.9 percent of molds, viruses, and bacteria like E. coli, staph, and salmonella.

Steam is safe to use on any surface that can withstand heat. Not only does it sanitize and disinfect, it also helps remove dirt and grime. 

Applications Where Steam Sterilization Can Prevent the Spread of Viruses

Steam cleaning has applications in many industries as a sustainable, cost-effective way to ensure rooms and equipment are clean and sterilized. For many of these facilities, failure to sanitize completely can ruin entire batches of product, or it can put people’s lives at risk. There’s no room for error. These applications include:

  • Commercial kitchens, especially countertops
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, including tools, equipment, and production areas
  • Cleanrooms
  • Food and beverage manufacturing facilities
  • Bakeries
  • Garment care centers
  • Breweries and wineries
  • Hospitals and other medical facilities, for use on countertops, equipment and tools, beds, and hospital rooms

From floors to countertops, walls to specialty equipment, steam is an effective way to kill viruses and other microorganisms while removing dirt. 

A More Sustainable and Healthier Way to Kill Viruses

By using steam cleaning in your facility, you eliminate or greatly reduce the need for toxic chemical cleaners. Those harsh cleaners can be dangerous for the people who handle them, particularly if they are not diluted correctly or if they get mixed inappropriately, and they can leave vapors and residue that can affect anyone who uses the space after it has been cleaned. Traditional cleaning methods also leave floors wet and slippery, which can cause accidents. 

As an alternative, steam cleaning is every bit as effective as chemical cleaning, if not more so, and the only thing you need is water. It’s more cost-effective and safer for your employees and visitors. It dries almost immediately, so surfaces won’t be left dangerously wet.

It’s also better for the environment. With steam cleaning, there’s no groundwater contamination to worry about, and you’ll improve the air quality in your facility. Avoiding chemicals also means avoiding chemical packaging, so you’ll send fewer toxic containers to the landfill. Steam cleaning is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint while maintaining high standards for cleanliness in your facility. 

As a cost-effective solution, you’ll save money not only because you don’t have to buy expensive chemical cleaners, but also because steam cleaning requires less time and labor than traditional chemical cleaning. The steam finds its way into the cracks and crevices that may be hard to reach manually or that may be missed altogether during the manual cleaning process. Imagine how dirt and bacteria can build up in those small spaces over time if left unchecked.

Steam sanitation has long been relied upon by food producers, hospitals, garment care facilities, and more, as a way of ensuring cleanliness while saving money and reducing waste. At Electro-Steam, we specialize in industrial process steam generators and food safety sanitation systems. We have a wide range of standard solutions, and we can further customize them to meet your unique specifications. 

Since 1952, we’ve worked with a number of clients in diverse industries, and we’ve established ourselves as a leading provider of steam cleaning equipment. Contact us to learn more.

A Guide to the Different Types of Steam

Steam is water that has passed from the liquid phase to the gaseous phase. This process occurs when enough heat is applied to bring the water to its boiling point (i.e., enthalpy of vaporization). At this point, the hydrogen bonds keeping the H2O molecules joined together break down, allowing them to move more freely. These free molecules form steam.

Steam can be classified into two main types: dry steam and wet steam. These can be further divided into subtypes based on a variety of characteristics, such as quality (e.g., clean steam) and temperature (e.g., superheated steam). Since there are many types of steam and each type has distinct properties that make it suitable for different applications, some people may find it challenging to choose the one that best suits their needs. That’s why the experts at Electro-Steam have put together the following guide on the different types of steam. It outlines what they are, what benefits they offer, and what applications they are used in to help readers with the steam selection process. 

Dry Steam

Dry steam—also referred to as saturated steam—does not contain any water molecules in suspension. As a result, it holds almost no moisture (less than 0.5% commercially) and maintains a highly transparent appearance. It is produced by heating water in a pressure vessel or other closed chamber until it reaches vapor-liquid equilibrium. 

Benefits of Dry Steam

There are many benefits to using this type of steam. For example: 

  • It is eco-friendly. Dry steam vapor is often used as a green cleaning alternative. It can be utilized to clean and sanitize surfaces without the use of harsh chemicals.
  • It is less likely to cause corrosion. Due to its low moisture content, dry steam carries a smaller potential for corrosion.   
  • It is sanitary. Dry steam can easily penetrate beneath surfaces and spread to hard-to-reach places, making it highly effective for cleaning and sanitation operations.
  • It is safe. The pressure of dry steam is very low, which makes it much safer to use than pressurized hot water. 

Applications of Dry Steam

Dry steam finds use in a number of industrial and commercial applications. Typical facilities and locations where it is used for cleaning and sanitation operations include: 

  • Car washes
  • Commercial cleaning sites
  • Food processing plants
  • HVAC systems
  • Kitchens
  • Medical and pharmaceutical facilities
  • Wineries and breweries

Clean Steam

Clean steam is a broad term used to refer to steam that is suitable for use in applications with high sanitation requirements (e.g., medical and pharmaceutical processes). The steam is processed and produced such that it does not contain any additives or unwanted materials that can contaminate the surfaces it touches. It must be able to generate condensate the meets the US Pharmacopoeia specifications for purified water. 

Benefits of Clean Steam

This type of steam offers the following benefits:

  • It is suitable for sanitary environments. Due to its high purity level, clean steam is suitable for use in operations where it may come into contact with food, beverages, and other products that must remain uncontaminated. 
  • It prevents the growth of microbes. Clean steam can be used to destroy microbes on surfaces without leaving behind any contaminants. 

Applications of Clean Steam

The high purity level of clean steam makes it suitable for use in the following facilities:

  • Biopharma facilities
  • Patient care and treatment centers
  • Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturing plants

Superheated Steam

Superheated steam refers to steam that has been heated to a temperature greater than its vaporization point for the given pressure. As a result, it can cool slightly without condensing back into a liquid. 

Benefits of Superheated Steam

Superheated steam has many beneficial properties that make it suitable for different applications. For example: 

  • It is used in power generation operations due to its ability to carry large amounts of energy. 
  • It is used for food processing operations due to its high heat transfer efficiency.
  • It is used in biofilm disinfection operations due to its effectiveness at destroying microbes.

Applications of Superheated Steam

As indicated above, superheated steam is commonly used for the following applications: 

  • Food processing
  • Surface cleaning and sanitization

Learn More About Steam From the Experts at Electro-Steam

Want to learn more about the different types of steam and find the right steam source for your application? Ask the experts at Electro-Steam!  Equipped with over 60 years of steam equipment manufacturing experience, our team can answer and address any questions or concerns you may have. Additionally, if you need steam equipment, we’ve got you covered! We offer a range of high-performance steam generators and steam cleaning equipment suitable for use in a wide range of industries and applications. If none of those suit your needs, we can build a custom solution tailored to your exact requirements and restrictions. 

Contact us today for more information about our equipment catalog and customization capabilities.

How to Mitigate Allergen Buildup in Food Processing Equipment

Facilities that deal with allergen-containing foods and substances must pay especially strict attention to maintaining clean facilities. Leaving even a small amount of allergens in food products can result in customer sickness or even death, so it’s essential to take every opportunity to ward against allergen buildup in your facility.

The FDA enacted the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act of 2004, (FALCPA), in an effort to identify known food allergens and reduce food borne illnesses. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was later enacted to prevent food borne illnesses rather than just react to them.  Food processors began refining and improving their Food Allergen Control Programs. In this guide, we discuss some of the best ways to implement these practices in your facility.

The Four S’s for Controlling Food Allergens in Food Processing Equipment

Effective allergen removal strategies rely on the four S’s:

  • Separation
  • Segregation
  • Scheduling
  • Sanitation


Many facilities separate contaminated areas from clean zones. This technique is even more important to the allergen-control process than it is to manufacturing products, as it allows workers to employ rigorous cleaning procedures without risking the spread of allergens to other areas.

Sectioning off your facility especially helps when your processes carry the risk of splattering or projecting substances across far distances. Partitions within your facility can catch such residue and channel it to appropriate receptacles for safe disposal.


Food processors must segregate ingredients from each other to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. This means that they carry out as many processes as possible on allergen-containing and “safe” ingredients in separate areas of the facility.

Some food processing plants employ physical barriers to help mitigate the problems associated with the airborne spread or spilling of allergens. This practice is especially prevalent in receiving areas, and many facilities elect to load and unload allergen-containing foods in separate areas from allergen-free materials. Other facilities have employees mark pallets of allergen-containing foods with indicators to keep everyone on the same page.


Many food processing plants adjust their schedules to accommodate working with allergen-containing and allergen-free foods and processes. For example, scheduling all your processes that involve allergen-containing products for a specific period of the day or week means that you can clean the relevant equipment to an acceptable standard before switching to another type of food. This enables you to dedicate more production time to both allergen-containing and allergen-free processes and spend less time cleaning in the long run.


The thread holding all these other techniques together is, of course, sanitation. Investing in the latest sanitation equipment and procedures will ensure that your facility maintains its health and safety ratings and provides high-quality products to customers. There are a few handy tricks for implementing good sanitation practices.

Traditionally, facilities employed a mix of chemical and water processes to clean equipment. However, chemical sanitation methods don’t always adequately sanitize food, as microorganisms have developed survival mechanisms to tolerate various stresses during food processing, and chemicals used for pathogen control don’t often have the same effects against allergens (and vice versa).

Furthermore, cleaning to remove potentially harmful allergens during product “change-overs” can be problematic when introducing water and chemicals into the production areas and preparing the equipment to a validated standard in a timely manner. Water left on the floors and aisle-ways can pose significant safety hazards.

This is why more manufacturers in the food industry are turning to dry steam cleaning. When paired with other sanitation techniques, steam is highly effective at cleaning allergen residues and harmful pathogens on surfaces and equipment, thereby helping clean surfaces to acceptable levels.

Allergen Control Points in the Manufacturing Process

Pay close attention to the areas in your facility that pose the highest risk of accumulating or spreading allergens. Some of the most common control points include:

  • Ingredient storage: Products containing allergens must be isolated from allergen-free products in your facility 
  • Production scheduling: Production schedules should be formatted to isolate products that contain allergens
  • Food contact surfaces: Surfaces contaminated with allergens must be effectively cleaned to validated standards
  • Non–food contact surfaces: Even surfaces that don’t regularly come into contact with allergens must be safeguarded against employee contact and airborne particles
  • Sampling and testing: Many facilities use test kits to detect the presence of allergens in food products and on surfaces and equipment
  • Appropriately labeled packaging: It’s essential to clearly label allergen-containing foods to prevent customer food borne illness and death

Efficient Allergen Removal with Electro-Steam

If you would like to learn more about how to best incorporate our systems to your facility, contact us today. 

Electro-Steam manufactures highly efficient electric-fired miniature boilers and steam cleaners that have kept facilities around the world free of contaminants since 1952. We also offer custom solutions for a wide range of industry challenges. With the exception of our hawk series, all of our steam generators are built by an ASME Certificate holder in accordance with ASME BPVC Section I – Rules for Construction of Power Boilers (“ASME BPVC Section I”). They also comply with the requirements outlined in The National Board Synopsis of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Laws, Rules and Regulations (NB-370) RULES FOR CONSTRUCTION AND STAMPING section, which for many jurisdictions include but are not limited to ASME BPVC Section I, ASME CSD-1, ASME B31.1, and REGISTRATION WITH THE NATIONAL BOARD.

Guarding Against MRSA

Over the past several years, the number of documented cases of Community-acquired Methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) in otherwise healthy people has been steadily on the rise. Many of these infections have occurred among the following groups:

  • Athletes who share equipment
  • Those sharing personal items, such as razors and towels
  • Children in day care facilities

Symptoms of CA-MRSA can include the following:

  • Cellulitis
  • Endocarditis
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood poisoning
  • Organ failure
  • Death

Due to the increase in outbreaks, (more…)