A piece of equipment we use regularly in the industrial cleaning business had its beginning in 1926 as a moonshine still.
During Prohibition, when moonshining, or the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol, was illegal, many citizens in defiance of the law, continued to moonshine. The story goes that a young inventor named Frank W. Ofeldt, who built gas fired boilers and water heaters for his employer, also did a little entrepreneur work on the side. And one of his projects was designing a portable whiskey still for one of the local moonshiners.
One day when Mr. Ofeldt was working to perfect his portable still, he noticed that when he fired it up, the stills steam outlet happened to be pointed toward the greasy floor, and it began to move the grease away, leaving the floor clean.
The modern day steam cleaner works by heating water in a boiler to 240°F and up to just over 300°F. At those temperatures, the process provides the energy to break up the contaminant bonds and release the contaminant into water suspension. Because of these high temperatures, steam cleaning is effective enough to sanitize surfaces.
Contrary to what you might have always believed, steam is invisible (what you see is the steam after it has cooled, condensed, and formed a cloud). And steam is dry. It has a moisture content of about 4 to 6% water. Because sailors on US Navy ships couldn't see main steam line leaks from 1200 psi boilers on the ships, it is said that they found the leaks by running a broom handle along the steam line until it was either sheared off or burst into flames!
What had such an inauspicious beginning, is now a much valued piece of equipment in industrial cleaning.
Specialized Industrial Cleaning, Concrete Coatings and Concrete Repair