My experience with steamers for years has just been with the big
boiler-type units. Drain out the rusty water from the boiler every
morning, then fill with distilled water, turn on and wait 30 min. or
more to reach temp. They work fantastic for cleaning, lots of
pressure even for extended steam-blasting. No water marks on
finished jewelry. Down side: eventual replacement of gaskets in
water-level viewing glass to avoid leaking, eventual heating element
breakdown, or boiler failure over time. Definately worth the $1200
cost for a production shop, though.
Recently, I got a very slightly used Steam Dragon steamer for $400
from a local supplier. I was hesitant, knowing it was rated for only
65 psi (against the boiler-type steamers 80 psi), and couldn’t steam
for extended periods without pressure fall-off, but the price was
affordable for my new studio.
I was pleasantly surprised! The heat up, from time to turn on to
good-to-steam was about 10 min. or less, and the steam pressure was
impressive! Plenty of pressure and steam to fully clean a complex
piece after polishing. No boiler filled with pressurized hot water.
(Water is injected into an empty super- heated “boiler” as needed,
which comes out as steam, I understand) I mounted mine above my
utility sink on a shelf (the unit is quite light, compared to a
bigger machine) and I drilled a hole through the shelf to put my
added-on 3 ft. of copper tubing through into my sink. I insulated the
tubing length to avoid being burned by the hot tube, and now it works
great. A press on the foot pedal gets an instant extended shot of
high powered steam into my sink. The machine feeds itself from a
plastic tube inserted into a gallon of distilled water. Easy to
check the water level on the gallon jug. So simple, and safe!
Oh, and don’t forget those long handled, plastic- tipped tweezers!