What kind of water for steam irom?

stu2900July 24, 2011

I'm so confused. My old Rowenta steam iron said don't use distilled water, use untreated tap or bottled spring water. My new iron says use only untreated tap or if the water is hard use 50/50 with distilled water. Do not use pure distilled or demineralised water. Our water is very hard so all our tap water is hooked up to the water softener. To get untreated water I'd have to go to the outside faucet each time. On the old iron I used bottled spring water and then a few times a year would run through the untreated tap water from the outside faucet. Should I take this iron back and find one I wouldn't have to go through so much trouble for? Or are they all going to be this way?

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I have a Rowenta and was baffled a couple of years ago by the concern you wrote about. I was annoyed enough to call Rowenta and then research it further on my own.

Your iron -- and many other water-using appliances like hot-pots and ice-makers -- have sensors incorporated that depend on electrical conductivity of the water in order to operate properly. Distilled water is a poor conductor and often these devices won't work properly with it. "Soft" water is fine because it still has plenty of dissolved solids so the "soft/hard" way of looking at it doesn't really apply.

What is required is water with some "threshold" level of conductivity which, of course, is pretty hard to determine for Joe and Sally Average. The simplest measurement is TDS (total dissolved solids) measured in ppm (parts per million). Don't get discouraged....you don't really have to be able to measure it. Distilled water is zero TDS. City-supplied tap water is typically 200-800 TDS depending on location.

I can tell you this: I have a properly calibrated TDS meter because of the two RO systems I want to keep track of. My RO water at one location has TDS of 3 and won't work. My RO water at another location is 23 and works fine. Bottled "drinking water" is typically around 20-40TDS and works fine.

One example I can give you is my Cuisinart hot-water dispenser. It holds about five cups of water. If I use my RO water at 3ppm TDS, it won't turn on -- sensor thinks it's empty. If I use my RO water at 23ppmTDS from the other location it works fine. If I use store-bought "drinking water" at 30TDS it works fine. I think you can see what I'm getting at.

For an iron the ideal would be water with just enough TDS for required conductivity but not enough to leave mineral residue. For most folks without the ability to test their water, I'd recommend store-bought "drinking water" for the purpose. (NOT "spring water" or "mineral water" which typically have much higher TDS content.)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:30PM
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Good explanation!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 4:17PM
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Thanks....BTW, the "drinking water" recommendation comes from learning that most offerings in your store are comprised of RO water with just small dose of trace minerals added back for taste.

Another example I could use would be the water vending machines where I live. These are self-contained RO processors with other added filters. Their "pure" RO water comes out between 3-5 TDS. Selecting the "drinking water" option runs it through an added-mineral filter and it comes out about 25TDS. $.25 per gallon.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 5:47PM
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