Improve Kiln-Dried Lumber Production with Proper Boiler Water Treatment

The lumber industry is challenged with meeting high demand while simultaneously controlling costs – especially when labor and parts/equipment are in short supply. This makes it extremely important that the production process is optimized to be fast and efficient with minimal downtime while creating quality lumber with little waste.

One of the most important aspects of kiln dried lumber production is controlling the moisture content in the wood. Drying the wood effectively until it reaches the proper moisture level is critical for producing quality lumber. Improper moisture content can affect the appearance, dimensions, and strength of the wood, and potentially yield lumber that cannot be used.

Kilns are often used to dry wood during the lumber production process. Since wood takes on the moisture content of its surroundings, it is imperative to precisely regulate the environment during kiln drying. Kilns use air flow, steam injections, and temperature to control the humidification of the wood and reach desired moisture levels.

Steam boilers are used to supply steam during this lumber kiln-drying process. High-quality, pure steam is essential for properly controlling the humidity in the kiln.

Issues from Steam Boiler Carryover
A common issue that can occur with steam boilers during lumber production is carryover. Carryover is a phenomenon where liquid water and impurities get carried out with the steam from the cycled-up boiler water due to poor steam-water separation. This means that the steam is no longer pure and can become very problematic for kiln drying operations.

If boiler water is carried into the steam line and injected into the kiln, it can cause damage to both the lumber and the kiln structure itself. Because carryover produces low-energy, low quality steam, the results are inconsistent drying and conditioning times which can cause variations in lumber quality, negatively affecting its value. Carryover also accelerates corrosion in kiln coils, steam lines, and equipment downstream of the boilers.

Additionally, carryover can cause a sharp drop in boiler efficiency, lead to water hammering and erratic boiler behavior, and make it difficult to manage any chemical program. In summary, carryover can seriously affect the operation and health of your entire steam system and greatly increase costs by increasing boiler fuel use. These semi-hidden costs must be eliminated in today’s business environment.

What Causes Carryover?
Carryover can occur in your steam system for a number of reasons. Fluctuating steam demand (often seen in kiln-drying yards), low operating pressure, poor water chemistry and control, and improper plant design can all promote boiler carryover.

Many kiln drying lumber producers may not be aware that issues with their equipment, delays in production, or damaged lumber are the direct result of boiler carryover. Once identified as a problem, the challenge becomes how to effectively correct it.

One common approach to curb carryover in systems that struggle to maintain good steam-water separation is to increase boiler blowdown. However, increasing the blowdown rate is a costly method and a waste of energy, water, and treatment chemicals.

Boiler water chemistry is another way companies attempt to thwart carryover. However, many of the conventional chemical treatment programs that are often used are problematic because they add more and more dissolved solids to the water. These solids, along with other impurities, contribute to the carryover-potential of the boiler water, which can only be removed via boiler blowdowns. Again, increasing blowdown results in greater utility and chemicals consumption and higher costs.

Corrosion from Standard Operation of Kilns
Even without boiler carryover, other aspects of standard kiln operation can lead to corrosion of the metal inside the kiln. Lumber yards rotate their kilns to keep an efficient production schedule. Kilns are often cycling between drying, conditioning, and remaining idle. The continual wet/dry operation of equipment causes metal surfaces to become susceptible to oxygen, carbonic acid attack and flash corrosion. Any leaks in coils and steam/condensate piping will draw in air (oxygen and CO2) whenever a vacuum is pulled and accelerate the corrosion process.

“Oxygen and carbon dioxide can also be drawn directly into the coil through leaks of various kinds. This commonly occurs after the steam supply valve closes and the residual steam condenses, drawing a slight vacuum”.1

Due to the nature of kiln operation, flash and oxygen corrosion is of particular concern for equipment and, when left unchecked, results in costly failures and untimely maintenance.

Clarity Has the Solution:
A water treatment program from Clarity Water Technologies featuring our proprietary technology, EcoSHIELD™, has proven to be extremely effective in preventing boiler carryover during lumber production. This state-of-the-art technology is more effective, economical and eco-friendly than traditional chemical solutions.

EcoSHIELD™ was designed to replace conventional water treatment methods and eliminate the use of chemicals that add dissolved solids to the boiler water. This greatly lowers the carryover potential of the water and significantly reduces blowdown, thus conserving energy, water, chemical, and sewage costs.

Additionally, EcoSHIELD™ is the perfect solution to combat the types of corrosion and scale deposition typically observed in kiln drying yards. It forms a molecular protective bond with the metal surfaces of the boiler and inside the kilns, extending the life of these assets while reducing the chances of unscheduled shutdowns due to corrosion-related issues. The film created by EcoSHIELD™ on metal surfaces lasts at least 2 weeks, which has been proven to greatly reduce/stop flash corrosion inside the steam supply and return piping (and heat exchangers) between run cycles.

Controlling Iron Levels Limits Corrosion:
The graph below displays dissolved iron trends for a current Clarity customer in the kiln drying lumber industry. Active corrosion rates correlate to the level of dissolved iron in the water. Before beginning the EcoSHIELD™ program, this customer was experiencing high rates of corrosion and dissolved iron in their feedwater supply to the boilers, as iron concentration was nearly 1 ppm in the boiler feed water prior to starting. Since moving to Clarity’s EcoSHIELD™, iron levels have dropped and remained consistently below ASME’s water chemistry guidelines for boiler feed water (<0.1 PPM for low pressure boiler systems).

Kiln dried lumber mill graph of feed water iron
Efficiency loss from scale deposits in steam boilers

There are additional benefits of achieving low feed water iron levels. There is less iron cycled up in the boiler, which greatly reduces the potential for boiler scale that contains this iron. Just 1/16th inch thick of scale in a steam boiler results in 12.4% increase in fuel use. Also, dirty boiler water polluted with insoluble iron further increases risk of boiler carryover. Boiler water, at full cycles, should be crystal clear.

How Clarity Can Help:
Clarity’s technical consultants have extensive expertise in a variety of water treatment applications, including kiln dried lumber production. A custom water treatment plan from Clarity that incorporates EcoSHIELD™ will help lumber mills prevent steam boiler carryover. Our proprietary technology will have your boilers running at peak performance while protecting your equipment from corrosion and reducing the need for blowdown. Clarity’s EcoSHIELD™ will limit production issues related to carryover, conserve energy and water, and lower your total cost of operation!

If you are experiencing symptoms of carryover or have issues with corrosion, give us a call. We’ll do a FREE evaluation of your entire system to assess your process and help customize a water treatment plan for your facility!

1 Carroll, Steven W, Western Dry Kiln Association, and Nev.) Western Dry Kiln Association. Meeting (48th : 1997 : Reno. Steam-side Coil Corrosion In Dry Kilns. : Corvallis, Or. : Western Dry Kiln Association, 1997.

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Ten Huge Mistakes Facilities Make in Boiler Operation and How to Avoid Them

How Canning Facilities Can Prevent Rusty Cans

When consumers pop open a can of their product of choice, it’s pretty simple. If they enjoy what’s inside, they’ll most likely stock their shelves with that product again. Their satisfaction with the product will drive that future decision. They’re certainly not saying “wow, that can looks great, so I’m going to buy more!” And, they’re most likely not thinking about what it takes to get that product into the cans so they can buy more from their favorite brick-and-mortar or online store.  But behind the scenes lies a very complex process to get high quality product into clean, rust-free cans.

A Major Challenge for Canning Facilities

The canning process is very involved. It requires precise engineering and careful execution to run a safe, efficient process that preserves the quality of the contents. With the rising costs of raw materials, energy and labor, it’s more challenging than ever to maintain an efficient process. There’s no room for waste.

A common issue for canning facilities that severely impacts efficiency is tainted cans from ineffective water treatment during the canning process. There aren’t many options once you have a batch of cans that are rusted and contaminated. Manually cleaning the cans is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and costly. When cans are beyond salvaging, it leads to a great deal of wasted material and product, and replacing the production means more energy use and labor hours. In the end, this inefficiency and loss of production hurts the bottom line.

Good News: There’s a Technology to Eliminate This

In the past, food companies just accepted that a certain percentage of cans will be lost in the process due to can quality. They’d have to account for it in their planning and budget. Clarity has seen companies with up to 22% can rejection rates, which is a significant hit to the bottom line. Luckily, things have changed for the better.

There is now advanced water treatment technology that will properly treat the water used in the canning process and will eliminate the issue of tainted cans altogether. No more loss in production due to this issue. No more wasted time, energy, and money to compensate for the lost cans. In addition, this technology will prevent your retorts from corroding, so no more production issues from corrosion.

Clarity Has the Solution

The solution is a retort treatment program from Clarity Water Technologies featuring our proprietary EcoSHIELD™, a state-of-the-art technology that has proven to be extremely effective in the metallurgical protection of cans and retorts from the heating process. EcoSHIELD™ is a more economical and eco-friendly way to protect your cans and reduce the number that deteriorate. This technology is changing the entire industry.

EcoSHIELD™ forms a molecular protective bond barrier to the can’s surface that protects it from corrosive properties of the heated washwater. Unlike conventional treatment programs, it yields wastewater that is both eco-friendly and free from metals. And, it provides food-grade protection, so it’s safe for your canning process.

This technology also prevents stainless steel and mild steel retorts from corroding thanks to this molecular bond. It extends the life of these assets while reducing the chances of unscheduled shutdowns due to corrosion related issues.

The Proof is in the Pictures

Ugly, rusty cans may be an unwelcome but familiar sight at canning facilities. Unfortunately, cans like the ones below are all too common. These come from one of Clarity’s customers BEFORE their canning system was treated with EcoSHIELD™.

Tainted, rusty can from improper water treatment
Tainted, rusty cans from improper water treatment
Rusty can basket from improper water treatment

Once Clarity implemented a water treatment plan using EcoSHIELD™, that same facility saw drastic improvements almost immediately. The batch of immaculate cans below was treated with EcoSHIELD™. Any canning facility can achieve these results with a plan from Clarity.

EcoSHIELD™ Can Also Protect the Steam Boilers at Canning Facilities

The same benefits described above for retorts also apply to the steam boilers at canning facilities. A customized water treatment plan from Clarity implementing EcoSHIELD™ technology will improve steam boiler efficiency, extend the life of the system, reduce fuel and water consumption, and lower the cost of operating your steam system.

EcoSHIELD™ is different from traditional chemical treatments because it protects the metal surfaces of the entire steam system. It creates a tenacious barrier between water and metal that inhibits scale formation and corrosion, ultimately improving heat transfer and boiler efficiency.

It facilitates the reduction of feedwater conductivity, which enables your boiler to run at higher cycles of concentration. This yields an increase in efficiency by reducing boiler blowdowns, thus decreasing both the amount of makeup water taken on, salt used to soften the makeup water, and the fuel used to heat the makeup water. Not only are blowdowns decreased, but EcoSHIELD™ is also a much more environmentally friendly product to send down the drain than the traditional boiler treatments that contain heavy metals, phosphates, and sulfites.

EcoSHIELD™ works with a feedwater tank and does not require a functioning deaerator. Broken or poor-performing deaerators don’t need to be fixed to use this chemistry.

How Clarity Can Help

Tainted cans can be a huge problem at canning facilities. However, a water treatment plan from Clarity that incorporates EcoSHIELD™ can eliminate rusty, contaminated cans while simultaneously protecting your retorts. Our expertise with the technology will help you protect your steam boilers so they are running at peak performance and saving you money.

Clarity’s technical consultants have extensive expertise in a variety of water treatment applications, including the canning process. We will do a FREE evaluation of your entire system to assess your process and help customize a water treatment plan for your facility.  To schedule an evaluation, or if you are experiencing any problems or have questions, please contact Clarity Water Technologies today!

How Breweries Can Save Energy and Money with Proper Water Treatment

One of the most important issues craft brewers are trying to resolve is how to become more sustainable.  While things like packaging and shipping pose environmental challenges, the brewing process itself generally consumes a great deal of energy and water.  One of the main culprits is an inefficient steam boiler. 

Ready for the good news?  There is a quick and easy way to improve the efficiency of your steam boiler operation.  A proper water treatment program can make huge gains in energy and water conservation during the brewing process.  Not only does this help you become greener, it will also greatly reduce your operating costs! 

An Eco-Friendly Solution for Steam Boilers

When it comes to running an efficient steam system, EcoSHIELD™ is the perfect fit for breweries. This is because most breweries use steam to heat brewing vessels with steam jackets, and thus, return most of their condensate, which we call ‘liquid gold’ in the water treatment industry. The ability to return condensate is the most significant factor affecting steam boiler efficiency for several reasons.

  1. Returning condensate means you have to take on less water from the city tap, saving on your water bill.
  2. Any city water taken on must first be softened. Taking on less water means you’ll use softener salt at a lower rate.
  3. Significant fuel savings occur as most returned condensate is relatively hot (130°F to 225°F) reducing the amount of cold makeup water (50°F to 60°F) that must be heated. Energy in condensate can be more than 10% of the total steam energy content of a typical system.
  4. Condensate is as pure as the water gets, essentially distilled water containing low levels of dissolved solids. The fewer solids you add to your boiler, the less often you have to blow it down, saving water and sewer costs.


EcoSHIELD™ is an example of Clarity’s ability to develop unique blends tailored to a customer’s specific water treatment needs.  It is an enhanced chemistry that protects the metallurgy of the entire steam system and allows greater conservation of water and fuel than traditional chemical programs. It is one of the most effective, state-of-the-art, and environmentally-advanced water treatments on the market.

Why is EcoSHIELD™ an ideal fit to use in systems that return the majority of its condensate like Craft Breweries?

  1. EcoSHIELD™ can be recycled through the condensate return, requiring you to feed less chemical into the feedwater tank.
  2. EcoSHIELD™ keeps heat transfer surfaces (inside the kettle and hot liquor tank steam jackets) clean and has even been shown to assist heat transfer better than a bare metallic surface.
  3. EcoSHIELD™ doesn’t contain any solids, further reducing boiler blowdown frequency.

Protecting Your Equipment from Corrosion and Scale

In addition to what EcoSHIELD™ does differently to boost boiler efficiency, all boiler treatments aim to limit the corrosion of the system and prevent scale from forming on the boiler tubes. There not a more effective way to treat a steam system than with EcoSHIELD™ due to the protective passivation formed on all metallic surfaces it touches. Lengthening the lifespan of your steam system and the steam side of brewing equipment saves lots of money in the long run. Preventing scale formation on boiler tubes is manageable with a water softener and an effective boiler treatment like EcoSHIELD™, but it can become very costly if left unchecked. By insulating the boiler tubes, scaled boilers have to use more fuel to achieve the same level of heat transfer. A mere 1/8th inch of scale requires a fuel increase of 25%!

See the Results:  A Brewery Case Study

A great example of a brewery taking advantage of the efficiency gains afforded by using EcoSHIELD™ is Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Clarity has been a fantastic partner in maintaining our boiler chemistry and I recommend Clarity to everyone I know installing a steam system.

Cole Hackbarth, Rhinegeist Brewery

An analysis of the water testing data gathered at Rhinegeist demonstrates just how efficiently their boiler operates. Below is a chart showing the conductivity of water collected at different points of interest in their system. Conductivity is a measure of how easily the water can carry an electrical current and is a good measure of the number of solids present in the water sample.

As mentioned previously, the condensate is the purest water in the system. The feedwater is a blend of condensate return and city water, but it is still very pure since Rhinegeist consistently returns over 90% of their condensate. The day this data was gathered, their feedwater consisted of 92.02% condensate and 7.98% city water.

Cycles of Concentration (COC) is another good way to gauge boiler efficiency. It is calculated by dividing the conductivity of the boiler water by the conductivity of the feedwater. This essentially tells you how many cycles the feedwater can be reused before the boiler needs to be blown down to remove solids that have accumulated as steam is driven off. By calculating COC, you can also do a quick calculation for blowdown percentage.

We aim for 50 COC in the boiler because there are diminishing returns on efficiency once you start getting higher than 50 COC, making running higher cycles not worth it unless local sewer costs are expensive.

In addition to the energy savings Rhinegeist has made, their steam system and brewing vessels are being protected against corrosion exceptionally effectively. Iron oxide corrosion can never be completely stopped, only slowed; thus, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) sets the guideline for effective corrosion control at an iron concentration of 0.10 ppm in the boiler feedwater. Our goal is to be below this number, and with EcoSHIELD™ and proper boiler operation, that is the norm. The feedwater iron level upon the most recent data at Rhinegeist was 0.02 ppm, which is the lowest the iron measuring device can read before hitting zero. Iron was also tested in the condensate, which is the most corrosive water in the steam system (because it’s so pure and wants to dissolve anything it touches), and the result was also 0.02 ppm iron.

How Clarity Can Help

In addition to the advantages EcoSHIELD™ affords in returning condensate and protecting against corrosion, it is unmatched in its ability to increase energy efficiency and save money. For an industry that cares deeply about green initiatives, EcoSHIELD™ is a straightforward way to reduce water, fuel, and effluent loading costs.

Clarity has extensive experience with boiler operation in brewing applications.  We will do a FREE evaluation of your entire system to ensure your water is properly treated and you are operating at peak efficiency.  To schedule an evaluation, or if you are experiencing any problems or have questions, please contact Clarity Water Technologies today!

Environmentally Friendly Cooling Tower Water Treatment Chemicals

Cooling towers have been in the news a lot lately. Always on the search for the best water treatment solutions, many building engineers and facilities management professionals have been anxiously awaiting ASHRAE Standard 188 to be officially released so that they can get more guidance (and see the implications) regarding the need for proper cooling tower maintenance, cooling tower disinfection and how to kill legionella in a cooling tower.

When it comes to cooling tower chemicals, there is no one size fits all solution; but for the right situation there is one option that is proving to have many significant advantages over the competition. Enter the EcoSafe Solid Feed System for Cooling Towers powered by Smart Release®. The EcoSafe Solid Feed System is doing for cooling towers, what rubber tires did for the automobile industry –  making them safer, more efficient and easier to maintain.

EcoSafe Smart Release Solid Feed System for Cooling TowersEcoSafe is a full water treatment feed station for cooling towers that features specially designed feeders and chemicals that eliminate the need for liquid chemistry. The major difference between EcoSafe and traditional solid feed water treatment options is that EcoSafe’s scale and corrosion inhibitor tablets are truly dry (not a paste), they do not require mixing and are engineered to offer many eco-friendly advantages over traditional liquid water treatment including reduced toxicity. In fact, while you may be hesitant to plunge your bare hand into a typical drum of liquid corrosion or scale inhibitor, you could easily hold a handful of EcoSafe inhibitor in your hand. These tablets are less toxic than Asprin, and they do not require pH altering additives to stabilize their chemistry.EcoSafe Osmotic Pressure Illustration

The secret lies in the coating of the tablet. The tablet is polymer coated and acts in very much the same way as time-released medicine. When in use, EcoSafe’s membrane coating allows water into the tablet, where it creates a concentrated chemical slurry which is then pushed out of the membrane via osmotic pressure. This happens slowly over time allowing for a very consistent release rate and virtually eliminates high chemical spikes which are often associated with other dry chemical feed applications. This coating also acts as a barrier between users and the active EcoSafe chemistry inside. Therefore, EcoSafe tablets are extremely safe to handle, and the potential for hazardous chemical spills is completely eliminated.

Sometime a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is a great video that shows what EcoSafe and Smart Release Technology is and how it works:

Is EcoSafe environmentally friendly?

There is a beautiful elegance to an EcoSafe Solid Feed System. It requires no energy to run. Properly installed EcoSafe feeders are easily plumbed into your existing system and water flows through them. As the water flows through the feeders, the exact amount of chemical needed to treat the system is released into the flow. No measuring. No guessing. No calculating. All that extra work has already been done…  and no additional fuel consumption, which means lower CO2 footprint.

Requiring no electricity to operate is only the tip of the iceberg in reducing the overall carbon footprint of your cooling tower’s chemical feed station. No more liquids means no more heavy polyethylene drums lying around your mechanical room. And no water to ship means that, in many cases, total shipping weights can be reduced by over 600lbs during every 30 day period. That means reduced shipping costs with better shipping and storage options. EcoSafe chemicals are generally shipped in cardboard boxes, which are lightweight and 100% recyclable. The elimination of the polyethylene drum and the huge decrease shipping weight means less fossil fuels are being consumed to deliver the same amount of protection to your cooling towers. And while there is really no such thing as 100% ecofriendly water treatment chemicals that we know of, using an EcoSafe Solid Feed System does reduce a typical liquid water treatment program’s carbon footprint by over 73%! That is a big deal; especially if your facility has made a commitment to the environment and sustainability.

This huge reduction in carbon footprint is one way in which EcoSafe Solid Feed System for Cooling Towers is helping some buildings qualify for additional LEED points.

What about biocides?

A widely accepted modality of cooling tower water treatment is running a dual (or alternating) biocide program. This means that the chemical program being administered calls for an oxidizing biocide and a non-oxidizing biocide. Oxidizing biocides kill microorganisms by destroying their cell walls and oxidizing protein within the organism. Typical examples of oxidizing biocides are chlorine and bromine. Non-oxidizing biocides are chemicals that kill by ways other than oxidation, including interference with cell metabolism and structure. DBNPA and isothiazoline are examples of non-oxidizing biocides. EcoSafe allows for a dual biocide program; and biocide canisters are available in various forms and sizes depending on the application.

EcoSafe Tablets and Canister

EcoSafe biocides are delivered in much the same way as the corrosion inhibitors; however they are not pressed into tablet form. They are delivered in granular form via a specially designed canister or feeder. Since they are also shipped dry, they are highly concentrated and are a very effective method to reduce biological organisms in cooling water. In fact, if you have been trying to figure out how to kill legionella in a cooling tower or wondering what a long term strategy is for keeping bio-organisms like legionella at bay in your cooling tower might be, look no further than EcoSafe.

One last point –  while EcoSafe is a potential no brainer for many (if not most) cooling tower water treatment solutions, it is definitely not the solution for everyone. Most of the limitations regarding EcoSafe have to do with the overall size of the operation; however, we have seen success with smart release water treatment on many very large cooling tower systems.

If you would like more information regarding the EcoSafe Solid Feed System for Cooling Towers, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may also download our free whitepaper “Why Solid Feed Water Treatment is the Future.” It contains a ton of great information about EcoSafe and the future of cooling tower water treatment.

Thanks for reading!

Why Solid Feed for Cooling Tower Maintenance is the Future!

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