I’d like to build a beefed up steam cleaner/weeder/wood-bender.
Dom was asking me about the solarization project we have going on in the garden and about some weeding needs of his own and I went down a very tiny rabbit hole. Consumer steamers are weak, commercial steamers are tediously expensive.
Could we wire 3 or 4 cheap laundry steamers (or other rapid water heater) together with an oversized reservoir and make something scary?
I figured electronics, metals, garden, and woods could collaborate on a design and build…
Whatcha think?


There is a steamer poop joke I’m trying to avoid…

So I’m not quite clearly convinced I’m kind of cognizant of your questions. What is the problem we are solving?

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We’d be solving the following problems:

  1. We need to do more cool stuff- making a frankensteamer contributes to the solution, vroom vroom we can paint flames on it too

  2. The garden has tonnes of weeds- a frankensteamer contributes to killing them

  3. Dom has weeds in his rock garden - frankensteamer to the rescue

  4. The woodshop doesn’t know they need a steam bender, but they do- frankensteamer will be up to the task

  5. Ceremics glazing techniques are in need of innovation- frankensteamer might fail at this one, but it would be cool to try something!


So you are trying to make a mobile multipurpose steaming rig mainly for weed killing purposes but might also be used to supply steam for a wood bending set up. That pretty much sum it up?


I’d be down for a FrankenSteamer. As someone who needs one for apparel use, I’ve never found one that’s portable that I’m happy with. I would suggest having a carbon filter like gravity feed Irons to stop calcium buildup and other impurities.

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I forgot textiles completely, sorry Malissa!
And it could be good for cleaning and prepping all manner of stuff too.


It might also be helpful to steam clean the floors in the bathrooms on occasion - flames would be a nice touch!


This seems like a bad idea for our purposes, but the coils around the heat source is a good idea, just need a different heat source.

So we need to compress the water, and super heat it. You might have a good idea there about hacking the tankless water heaters.


Propane venturi burner w/ a small tank
A few yards of copper tubing, fittings, solder
A water pump and water tank, maybe a diverter to switch from water from pump or a building supply.
The 8 ball from a billiards set for style.

Plus lots of trial an error.

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I was thinking water compressor into a steel pipe superheated heated by a small induction forge.

From someone who used to control steam boilers,
CAUTION strongly advised. Boilers explode and burn and kill and cause great damage.
Not advisable.

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I’m too pretty to be burned. I’m out.

I would assume the heating of the water into steam would give enough preassure, water just needs fed in to keep the coil cooled and steam produced. Don’t have a super firm grasp on thermal dynamics visavi boilers but I would advise against any preassure vessel with boiling liquid inside.


I agree a steam box for wood bending is very cool.

I try to never say don’t do something. I have seen some pictures of old original contraptions that were made before you could buy something off the shelf. With the materials and tools available now anything is possible with enough thought/care/research/math.

Please show pictures of your personal project if you go down that road.

That being said I doubt a makeict sanctions build of a steam steam producing device would fly with board or insurance. Way too many liabilities

Steam is something to be respected as others have said. At work the boiler ares are surrounded by very thick walls for a reason.

actually…ive been wanting to build a wood steamer…i have the pvc, but have been just too busy to build one.


Many of you want to build a Mecha-Kaiju-Frankensteamer. I just want a Frankensteamer.

To be explicit, modern handheld cloths steamers, weed steamers, wood bending steamers, and electric water pots use small electrical elements that quickly heat small amounts of water. I wan’t to use multiple elements in a common chamber to even more quickly heat a larger volume of water. The chamber would not be sealed, it would lead to a hose and wand that would emit steam through a purpose specific tip. The steamer would not contain steam, when it’s on it’s on and when it’s off the water just starts cooling, no pressure. The two limiting factors that concern me with weed steaming are speed to heat the water and volume of water. To this end I would like to have the multiple elements in a slightly larger reservoir that itself has an autofill function similar to a water cooler. A tank with tap-hot water would provide more water to the heating chamber whenever the heating chamber got too low.

This attached sketch is for concept purposes only, not how i think it would necessarily look. The proportions are for demonstration purposes only!!!

Not a “boiler”, pressure cooker, or bomb of any sort.


Will you run into energy density issues relying on electricity? Someone suggested combustible gas.

For comparison was the first I could find. It shows a current of 12.5A. That seems to max out a standard 15A circuit. So running the in parallel might be out.

Do you have a desire steam output? Volume of water through put?

For weed killing what is the duration needed or temperature rise of the soil?


Might not need to be 12A at 120ac.

Dumping a full circuit of power would for sure boil water quickly

Tom, James,
figuring the practical limits in amperage (anything power consumption wise) is exactly where my comfort level ends… What could one get away with?
Steam output desired? More than the general steamer!
Volume of water throughput desired: A function of steam output, and tank capacity, 20 minutes at full steam.
Duration needed to kill weeds: varies, along the fence I’ll estimate 1 minute per linear foot at 6" wide. For Dom’s application where he’ll need to fill the crevasses between landscaping stones it could be longer…

Well at 120V 10A is 1.2kW. That’s a (theoretical) change of about 38C per minute. But there are a lot of variables this doesn’t take into account. Geometry of the container, thermal resistance of the materials, dissipation into the surroundings, James’s bad math…

I’d start with a small prototype. Grab a coffeemaker at a garage sale. Bypass the thermal switches so that the heating element is constantly on. See how long it take to boil carousel volumes of water.

And remember, the difference between science and messing around, is writing it down.

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