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Steam Studies

Steam Studies

 

Properties of Steam

 

Steam is an unadulterated, invisible gas according to both physical chemistry and engineering laws. However, when we think of steam, we think of the white mist that condenses above boiling hot liquids (especially water) as the vapor meets the cool air. Technically, this is “mist” (a big difference in the world of science), but many laypeople refer to it as “steam.” For the sake of argument, we will label “mist” as “steam” and let steam assume the role that we are speaking about in this context.

 

Steam is a useful tool with many practical applications. We often use steam to power engines, perform mechanical work, as an energy source, and much more. It can also be used for cooking, cleaning, and for hygienic purposes.  Looking at some of these applications a little deeper can help us to have a better understanding of what steam is and how we can use it.

 

Hygienic Applications

 

Hygienic purposes are a valuable use for steam. Whether you are talking about your body, food, or something else, we all like things to be clean. From steam showers to steam processing, we use steam to keep things clean and hygienic. Scientists have done studies to show the effectiveness of using steam in the capacity for meat processing. The results are as follows:

 

1.      Canadian Food Inspection

           

Manufacturers routinely use steam as a means of sterilizing the meat that is packaged and shipped for daily consumption. The steam is used in many different ways, but all are critical for the cleanliness and purity of the meat itself. Some of the ways steam is used:


Displacement. This processes uses steam by being injected it into a headspace, thus displacing the air. This is followed by a closure of the space. A vacuum is created by the condensation of the steam.

Steam-air processes. These are used to ensure sterility in the meat. Commercial sterility is necessary in the meat world, or consumers risk serious illnesses. In order to obtain a seal of approval, a steam-air process is used to package the meat.

Testing. According to Canadian law, all thermometers used to check the temperatures in meat facilities must be tested in both steam and water.  This ensures that all the thermometers are completely accurate for the job they are designed to do: keep the machines running and the people running them safe.

Recording. Steam is used as a means of recording the time and temperature for the machines. A steam controller is a temperature controlling and recording instrument. Used correctly, it is an invaluable tool for sterilization and temperature control. All instruments must be equipped with a steam controller before they are powered on in these meat-packaging facilities.

Bleeders. Steam is also used to control the amount of air coming and going from the ventilation systems. You must make sure these are not clogged up, though, or a catastrophe could back up harmful gases into the facility.

 

2.    Salmonella Studies


Studies have been done to show the effectiveness of using steam to treat salmonella in meat. Household steam cleaning methods were used in a commercial application to test the theory that steam cleaning could be a useful way of controlling the salmonella levels in freshly slaughtered pigs and cows. 

72 cow carcasses and 72 pig carcasses were used in the study. Three different sites on the same side of a carcass were treated with the steam for a total of 60 seconds each, while the other side received no treatment. Samples were taken before the study began, right after the application of the steam, and 24 hours after the initial application of steam. Before treatment began, at least five of the carcasses showed the salmonella bacteria. After the treatment, no carcass showed salmonella bacteria.

Tests done on the beef carcasses had very positive results. Prior to the steam treatment, mean populations of aerobes (1.88 log CFU/cm2), coliforms (1.89 log CFU/cm2), and Enterobacteriaceae (1.36 log CFU/cm2) were found. At the second testing, these numbers had dropped to 1.0 log CFU/cm2, 0.71 log CFU/cm2, and 0.52 log CFU/cm2. At the third testing, these numbers were different again: to 1.10 log CFU/cm2, 0.95 log CFU/cm2, and 0.50 log CFU/cm2. Overall, this shows a drastic reduction for bacteria in the meat. A bacterium was found in its highest concentration on midline, then the neck, and finally the rump.

The tests run on the pig carcasses were also helpful. Mean populations of 2.50 log CFU/cm2, 2.41 log CFU/cm2, and 1.88 log CFU/cm2 (again, aerobes, coliforms, and Enterobacteriaceae, respectively) were found prior to the steam application. At the next testing, populations had changed to 0.50 log CFU/cm2, 0.94 log CFU/cm2, and 0.21 log CFU/cm2. At the final testing, the results were positive. The readings were 0.91 log CFU/cm2, 1.56 log CFU/cm2, and 0.44 log CFU/cm2, showing a marked improvement of the initial test results. Bacteria in the pork showed the highest concentration in the belly, then jowl, and finally the ham.

 

Healing Purposes

 

Many people have used steam showers and steam rooms for cleansing purposes for years. Our grandmothers and their grandmothers for a plethora of generations have used the inhalation of steam as a remedy for breathing difficulties. We are again catching onto this theme with the inventions of modern steam showers and steam rooms. Studies relating to this practice have indicated an overall benefit to the immune system, removal of harmful toxins and germs, stress relief indicator, and the cleanliness of the body in general. They are now recommended by massage therapists, chiropractors, coaches, and health practitioners, beauty practitioners for both treatment and therapy purposes. Steam showers prevent the skin from becoming dehydrated and itchy during the hot summers or cold winter months. They also open the pores of the skin, allowing toxins and dirt or germs to drain from the body.  This increases blood circulation, clears sinuses, and frees nasal passages to make for better breathing. Those who suffer from breathing conditions such as asthma or bronchitis are especially encouraged to either buy or use a steam shower on a regular basis. People with allergies also benefit from the removal of allergy-causing toxins and pollens from their bodies. Another practical application of steam in this aspect would be the relief of aching and sore muscles. In addition to all these applications, steam baths can also help boost the body’s metabolism naturally.

 

Scientific studies have shown that these practical applications of steam are sound. While not all have been proven without a shadow of a doubt, it can be reasonably suggested that steam is a wonderful remedy to be used either in addition to or instead of more traditional approaches to several common diseases or health complaints. Diseases/maladies that are treated with the use of steam baths (sitting in a hot steamy room and then taking a cool bath or shower) include the following:

 
Heart failure: Fifteen patients suffering from CHF (chronic systolic congestive heart failure) were subjected to repeated steam bath therapy including 165.6 d/F for 15 minutes. Thirteen of the fifteen patients experienced improved hemodynamic parameters, clinical symptoms, cardiac function, and vascular endothelial function after only four weeks of steam bath treatments.

Weight loss: While few real studies exist to show the mean average of how much weight can be lost by steam bath alone, some studies suggest that women are more susceptible to weight loss from steam bath than men are. Some scientists believe this to be the result of an increased metabolism, though this has not been effectively proven.

Chronic bronchitis/asthma: Steam baths may help open the bronchial tubes and allow more air to pass unrestricted into and out of the lungs, making breathing easier. Studies are mixed as to the effectiveness of steam use for bronchitis and asthma, with some patients showing marked improvement and others showing little to no improvement at all.

 

While studies have shown that patients with these problems and others can improve from the use of steam baths, they should still be taken in moderation. Overexposure to the heat in a steam bath can lead to myocardial infarctions and strokes, and ultimately serious injury or death can occur.

 

Skin Benefits 

 

Steam is also used as a mean’s of healing and/or beautifying skin. Hyperthermia (the use of steam to warm up the body) is most useful as a means of detoxifying the skin from toxins such as PCBs, DDT, and dioxins. Cigarette smokers were used as an example in this study. If you use a steam wrap around a cigarette smoker’s body for 15 minutes (more can cause heart problems or stroke), the towel will be yellowed with nicotine and tar removed through the pores of the skin.

           

Hyperthermia studies have also been tested on AIDS/HIV patients. The results have shown no difference in these patients, and the jury is still out on whether or not the hyperthermia has any affect whatsoever on these patients.

 

This approach has been applied to cancer patients as well. European and American phase III trials have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of using hyperthermia on these patients.  These well-controlled trials determined that the use of hyperthermia along with radiation therapy resulted in superior tumor response, control of tumor, and overall survival of the patient as compared to using radiation therapy alone. Eight patients were monitored throughout the phase III trial, and one out of the eight patients was completely disease free after only 24 months of the combined therapy. All patients tolerated the treatments very well, and some experienced a reduction in the size and/or severity of the cancerous tumors tested. Positive results were noted in brain, liver, and advanced kidney cancer, some of the most difficult cancers to influence. This method was shown to be extremely effective in removing tumors up to 7 cm under the skin. Some sources rate the effectiveness of hyperthermia as high as a 97% response in patients, but this has not been proven.

           

Once again, there are risks involved when using steam in this aspect. Pain, sensitivity of the skin in the affected area, and burns happen frequently when hyperthermia is not done correctly. Only attempt a treatment like this under the advice and guidance of a doctor, and let your doctor know what your body says. If it hurts or burns, do not be afraid to speak up. The healing process does not include this type of pain, as many of the illnesses that this therapy is designed to heal have enough pain involved in them already.

 

Summarization

 

Overall, there have been many theories that were proven or disproved in the overall scheme of things concerning steam and steam therapies. While studies have shown that steam can be effective in the cleaning and detoxifying of not only the human body but also the food we eat and the air we breathe, other studies have raised questions about the same methods. Researchers have effectively proven that steam is useful, and its many practical applications are used daily in most homes. We all enjoy a hot shower at the end of the day, and what better way is there to relax than to soak in a nice hot tub? Steam is what makes these so relieving, and this steam can be used in many other ways if we can harness it in the proper manners. Whether you are shooting for a healthy approach to healing your body of toxins and other harmful things, cleansing your food, or simply wanting to relax, steam and heat make a wonderful combination and therapy for the human body.

1 Comment»

  nedleigh wrote @

So I’m wondering if anyone can tell me more about the ‘mist’ vs. ‘steam’ question. My wife says she doesn’t think our newly constructed steam shower room is not as ‘steamy’ (actually, I think she means ‘mist’, since that’s the visible part) as it could/should be. We have a Mr. Steam generator in a 4′ x 5′ space with a glass door with silicone seals. The steam head is under the stone bench at one end, and she feels like that may be preventing the ‘mist’ from forming, since there’s a lot of condensation dripping from the underside of the bench. There is some mist in the air, the room definitely gets hot and humid, and the walls quickly start to ‘sweat’ with condensation. My own experience in commercial steam rooms is that they are often so thick with ‘mist’ you can barely see, and I’m pretty sure they just use bigger versions of a home steam generator. Any thoughts on how to make our shower ‘mistier’?


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