Steam in Food Service

Restaurants and Food Service operations rely on combination ovens, boilers and steamers in their day to day operations. Understanding how steam equipment and water quality relate to each other, and how they impact the success and profitability of your business, is essential.

Water acts as a natural solvent picking up particles, chemicals and contaminants that can affect food quality and equipment performance. When water is heated to make steam the evaporation causes dissolved minerals to build up as limescale forming an insulating layer which prevents the efficient transfer of heat which increases maintenance frequency and reduces equipment life.

Water Characteristics and Contaminants

  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) – A combined measure of all organic and inorganic substances dissolved in the water, including minerals, salts, metals and other particulates.
  • Particulates – Fine sediment, rust and other particles that provide a catalyst for scale buildup and wear on equipment.
  • Hard Minerals – Evaporation causes dissolved calcium and magnesium ions to build up as limescale in boilers and steam generators. This rock-like scale acts as an insulating layer, preventing the efficient transfer of heat. It increases maintenance frequency and can reduce equipment life by years.
  • Iron – In addition to giving water an unpleasant metallic taste, iron in water that’s made into steam is a recipe for corrosion.
  • Chlorides – Even at low levels, chloride ions can penetrate the passive film on stainless steel and trigger corrosion in steam equipment. In steam equipment, corrosion can be rapid, destructive and expensive, drastically reducing equipment life.

Water Quality and Steam Equipment Performance

The chemical and physical properties of water have a significant impact on steam equipment and performance. Manufacturers require water quality standards be met to validate equipment warranties. Optimized water quality can drastically reduce water-related problems in combination ovens and steamers. Most water in North America cannot meet manufacturer standards without treatment.

The chart below shows the efficiency loss from limescale deposits in boilers. A 1/4″ limescale layer results in a 40% increase in fuel cost!

Scale Thickness (inches)Extra Fuel Cost (percent)
Source: Johnston Boiler

Is poor water quality affecting your business profitability?

  • How frequently does your equipment require service and at what cost?
  • Are water-related problems covered under the equipment warranty?
  • Is scale buildup affecting the efficiency of your water-using equipment?
  • How will corrosion impact equipment life and what is the replacement cost?
  • How will downtime and service interruption affect business?

At Sierra Filtration Services we know that figuring out the quality of the water supply you have and how to improve it is confusing. Let us help you with a thorough water analysis and custom water solution designed for your business.

CALL US TODAY AT 1-800-951-FILTER (3458)


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