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I have a hand held steamer that requires a small amount of salt to make it function. My question is will the small amount of salt hurt the knitted item that I am blocking?

Thanks for all of your great advise.

Deval
 

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I own an upright garment steamer, a small hand steamer and I have owned MANY, MANY steam irons. None of them have ever directed me to put salt in them to produce steam.... I have never even heard of this.

Although I don't think the salt would HARM your project.... I would simply use my steam iron instead.
 

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devale said:
I have a hand held steamer that requires a small amount of salt to make it function. My question is will the small amount of salt hurt the knitted item that I am blocking?

Thanks for all of your great advise.

Deval
In many steamers the electrodes in the water heat the water to create the steam. Since the water must conduct the electricity to do this, you cannot use distilled water. Minerals (salt) dissolved in the water are necessary. The more minerals in the water, the more electricity is conducted and the more steam is produced. This will not affect your garment at all.
 

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I bought a new steamer in the last few years, and have used distilled water in it from the beginning. It steams great with distilled.

When you heat water and turn it into steam, you're distilling it. The salt and minerals in the water are left in the steamer to clog it up, so they can't possibly harm the fibers you're steaming.

My previous steamer got minerals clogged inside it, and the water container cracked. That's why I only use distilled water now.
 

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I really doubt that the amount of salt your steamer calls for would cause any harm. How many have water softeners and use soft water in their laundry. Most water softeners have you add 40-60 pounds of salt which is what is used to soften the water.
 

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From my science classes many years ago:

Plain water boils at a temperature of 212F or 100C
The steam produced is a little hotter than the water.

Adding salt to the water causes it to boil at a higher temperature. (it was as stated many years ago, I forget the new temp)

Higher temperature water means higher temperature steam.
Higher temperature steam means more efficient effect (be it blocking or taking wrinkles out of fabric.
 

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AmyKnits said:
I own an upright garment steamer, a small hand steamer and I have owned MANY, MANY steam irons. None of them have ever directed me to put salt in them to produce steam.... I have never even heard of this.

Although I don't think the salt would HARM your project.... I would simply use my steam iron instead.
Salt is used in modern "steam" irons because it causes the water to create steam/vapor at a lower temperature. This is important for tailors, for example, who work with natural fibers and need to have the steam occur at the normal temperature that it occurs. Modern irons and steamers often have agents inside that do the same thing that the salt does, i.e., cause the water to create steam/vapor at a lower temperature.

It is more and more difficult each day to find the old steam irons like the ones that tailors use that heat the water to the temperature needed to create steam. Likewise, it is more and more difficult to find the old irons that have a flat sole plate with no steam vents--tailors and couture designers use damp press cloths and irons with flat sole plates to mold and shape fabric as they put garments together. Sometimes sleeves are set in by first using basting to partially shape, then they are draped over a "ham" and then draped with a damp press cloth after which heat is applied by an iron with a flat sole plate. Then the sleeve is left for at least a day to completely dry so that it won't get pulled out of shape when lifted off the ham while still retaining any dampness. Irons that have steam vents and produce "real" steam are used in a similar manner--shape is built into different parts of the couture garment by draping it in a certain way and then applying steam or a combination of steam and weight, and then left to completely dry before moving.

Before omitting the salt, I would make sure that the iron was guaranteed to withstand the higher heat needed to create the vapor or steam.
 

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wyldwmn said:
Salt is used in modern "steam" irons because it causes the water to create steam/vapor at a lower temperature. This is important for tailors, for example, who work with natural fibers and need to have the steam occur at the normal temperature that it occurs. Modern irons and steamers often have agents inside that do the same thing that the salt does, i.e., cause the water to create steam/vapor at a lower temperature.

It is more and more difficult each day to find the old steam irons like the ones that tailors use that heat the water to the temperature needed to create steam. Likewise, it is more and more difficult to find the old irons that have a flat sole plate with no steam vents--tailors and couture designers use damp press cloths and irons with flat sole plates to mold and shape fabric as they put garments together. Sometimes sleeves are set in by first using basting to partially shape, then they are draped over a "ham" and then draped with a damp press cloth after which heat is applied by an iron with a flat sole plate. Then the sleeve is left for at least a day to completely dry so that it won't get pulled out of shape when lifted off the ham while still retaining any dampness. Irons that have steam vents and produce "real" steam are used in a similar manner--shape is built into different parts of the couture garment by draping it in a certain way and then applying steam or a combination of steam and weight, and then left to completely dry before moving.

Before omitting the salt, I would make sure that the iron was guaranteed to withstand the higher heat needed to create the vapor or steam.
Please double check your facts - salt *RAISES* the boiling point of water.
 

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<<<Thanks so much for your advise. I have never blocked an item before. You have given me courage to try>>>
Deval - if you're new to steaming the MOST important thing to remember is to let the steam do the work, not the appliance.
It's very tempting to want to let the tip or flat edge or whatever shape of your appliance rest against your knitwear a bit, to help it out... to nudge the fabric into shape or press out a rolled edge or work out some eased-in materials.
If the project is pinned in place it will be OK by itself. If you're steaming w/o pinning or working small sections one-at-a-time, let the steam enter the material, wait a second for it to cool enough to touch and finger-press the material into desired shape. Then allow that section to cool and dry in place before moving on.

Never ever touch the appliance to the material or you run the risk of 'killing' it: taking all of the life out of it. Totally limp and stretched out. It's bad enough with wool & wool blends but absolute DEATH to synthetics.
 
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