Clean steam


Tom Bates

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Aug 16, 2002
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How was clean steam produced? form cooking thred(Most of the cooking was done with Coal for the general ranges and Coke (basically high heat yield coal) for roasted meat and game.

Soups and stews were prepared in large vats heated by clean steam -- that is steam prepared away from the main boilers so as not to impart a taste.

Bread was baked in a patent oven that used coal as the heat source but actually warmed the bread with recirculating steam in pipes.

Food ready for service was kept warm with Bains Maries: Crockpots were kept in a water bath warmed by steam.

Electrical heating units were used on a small scale for toasting and searing.)
thank you
 
S

Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Clean steam was probably produced by some sort of surface heat exchanger which used boiler steam to heat the water. In 1912 parlance, these were often called "calorifiers". This was also how they made hot fresh water. Hot salt water was made from feedstock drawn from the condenser discharges, providing water that had already been preheated to some degree before being supplied to the tanks.

BTW, steam from the main plant would do more than impart an unpleasant taste; it can be downright poisonous depending on the type and quantities of chemicals added to neutralize it's pH and prevent corrosion and scale. There was also always a small quantity of residual grease and lube oil present even after being passed through the feed filters. If nothing else, it would certainly prevent constipation!

Regards,

Scott Andrews
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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Scott Andrews said:

quote:

BTW, steam from the main plant would do more than impart an unpleasant taste; it can be downright poisonous depending on the type and quantities of chemicals added to neutralize it's pH and prevent corrosion and scale. There was also always a small quantity of residual grease and lube oil present even after being passed through the feed filters. If nothing else, it would certainly prevent constipation!

Scott, that is great info thanks for sharing. Let me add that or I guess confirm what Scott said. In my experience the steam from the engine room or generated by the big boilers where never used for passenger or crew purposes other then power.​
 
Dec 29, 2000
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I can only agree:
Even if steam is 'clean', because evaporating steam is commonly only water, the problem is the point: Steam from the boiler might condense in long tubes, thus salt crystals, which were withdrwn in the steam flow as droplets can not be avoided, and clean tubes will be found to have those salt deposits somewere, as clean steam is often very corrosive.
So boilers with no adjustment of salt levels and corrosion preventing, and oxigen fixing chemicals will have a much difficult handling and need much more maintainance. Salts will be found sinking to the bottom, and build up large deposits. Those deposits have a good insulation, to the heat exchange will be getting less and lesser and more salt depostits were found, thus salt deposit remove is regulary shedule. Engine boilers had salt blow off vents, which blow the sink down salt mud at commonly the lowers boiler point off by the internal pressure, after opening the vents, so salt levels were controled into the boiler, as some salts, like lime, were tied to chemicals and blown off.
So boilers for producing steam for food and drinking supplies cannot use chemicals to tie salt and lime, so the deposits after steam evaporating had to be removed manually and regullary.
And: If you once visit a old steam engine, take a smell of the outgoing steam: It will smell with a slight vanilla and grease aroma, not realy unpleasant, but typically. as a sign of the boiler chemicals used.

Does anybody know which chemicals the used in the engine boilers?
 

Shel Cooper

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Nov 8, 2013
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How would clean steam impart a flavor or toxins unless the pipe end was directly dropped in the soup? Wasn't the steam circulated around the bottom of the pot/vat that was dropped into a fitted hole so the top was separated from the heat source? I remember seeing the same type of stoves used on ships in an old building, and that was how it worked. It was a slightly pressurized box that holes in the top, the pots were fitted down into the holes and dogged so they wouldn't leak or pop out, and there were dogged lids for the openings not used. I believe this is exactly what Titanic had, as they looked identical. So you could cook your food over burning poop and it wouldn't matter because taste doesn't go through metal and the exhaust is vented up the stack, not into the kitchen.
 

TimTurner

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Dec 11, 2012
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How would clean steam impart a flavor or toxins unless the pipe end was directly dropped in the soup?
Steam isn't actually pure steam. It carries with it tiny particles of water which have condensed, and any corrosion particles that might have come free in the pipes. Also, if a chemical is used to treat the boiled water (there are a number of reasons to do this: prevent fouling, corrosion, etc)
this chemical might be in the steam too (it would be common sense to use a chemical which boils at or about the boiling point of water, so it will be recycled with the steam/water). Those chemicals are put into the water system.
 

Shel Cooper

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Nov 8, 2013
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I see that, but how is this steam which is used for heating vats from the bottom introducing anything into the soup? That's what I'm asking. Is this steam shooting directly into the soup, or is it heating from the bottom like a gas stove? It could be chemically treated water or hot cyanide, it can't go through the bottom of the pot.
 

TimTurner

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Dec 11, 2012
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It could be chemically treated water or hot cyanide, it can't go through the bottom of the pot.
Would you like to taste that soup to check for leaks? :D

There's no such thing as a perfect seal, and even though the Titanic was new, it would have been designed to last 20 or 30 years of use. If at any point a dose of chemicals leaked into the soup, it might have made dozens sick, or perhaps hundreds, of passengers. I'd be more prepared to talk about it if I could see the schematics for Titanic's auxiliary steam system.
 

Jay Roches

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Apr 14, 2012
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I couldn't find much information on the chemicals used in 1912 for boiler water treatment, but I did find a list of modern ones. It's possible that boiler water in 1912 just didn't receive any chemical treatments. They are mostly salts, with a few organics, but nothing that boils near the boiling point of water.

See, when you boil water for steam, you're essentially distilling the water -- you just don't condense it (until later on, at least). The steam won't contain sodium phosphate, sea salt, or anything else that's been added. It'll be pure water vapor. (I could say more, but that's all for now.)

I suspect the real reason for a separate clean steam supply is not the steam itself, but the distribution system. The main steam supply would contain traces of oils picked up from sealants and lubricants. These boil off and get mixed into the steam. Since the ship's main steam was recycled through a condenser, oil from the engines would also be present. Rust, scale and corrosion can also be present as small particles of solid carried along by the steam. There were feedwater filters and the process itself tends to keep the water fairly clean, but perhaps not clean enough to bake bread with.

The solution was to have a small boiler in the galley. The distribution system would be carrying lower-pressure steam only and so issues of cleanliness, rather than strength, could take a higher priority in the design.
 

steffen19k

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Jul 5, 2014
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I couldn't find much information on the chemicals used in 1912 for boiler water treatment, but I did find a list of modern ones. It's possible that boiler water in 1912 just didn't receive any chemical treatments. .
The railroads of the day had extensive water treatment regimens. The problem is that water quality determines how much and what kind of treatment it needs. According to my Trusty Audel's guide, page 487, by Frank D. Graham:

Feedwater Treatment Methods - The following methods have been employed successfully for treating feedwater in powerplants.

1. Evaporators
2. Hot process softeners
 
Aug 10, 2014
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Portsmouth, VA USA
A related scenario would be a residential hot-water heating system with an indirect water heater. The hot-water boiler sends water through the distribution pipes into baseboard or floor radiators throughout the home. At the same time, boiler water would be sent through pipes into an indirect water heater tank. The boiler water is kept separate from the potable hot water inside the tank, thus ensuring cleanliness.
 

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