The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Home made tool for steam. Think it'll work?

Royall Clark's picture
Royall Clark

Home made tool for steam. Think it'll work?

I was looking at the oven a few nights back. I was contemplating my navel a mean steam in my home oven. There is high temp.silicone rubber tubing available that seems to have a rather large tube wall with a faily small ID. I thought, why not make a couple of brackets that when bent into an "L" shape would be held in position under the left and right side of my baking stone. I've seen small brass nozzles somewhere and thought that running a tube in through the oven door, through a "Y" to feed the two nozzles that would be facing more to the rear of the oven to keep the water off the door glass. Hook the whole thing up to a spray bottle with out the nozzle. You have steam in the oven with out having to open the door a let the heat out. A little Rube Goldberg but what do you think? Waste of time??

Hope you could follow the rambling....'^)

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

will boil too!  You could get a geyser of boiling water back at you.

I don't know how modern oven steam injectors work, but they probably make the steam outside the oven and then force it inside.  I have read of some of the much older "low tech" solutions that used things like drip plates that extended from inside the oven itself out into little chambers accessible from outside the oven without opening it up, and they would set up a drip from outside that would then run down inside, where it would then turn to steam.

Keep thinking and reading, because you are on the right track.  Getting more steam is important.  One TFL'er that I have learned a lot from, dmsnyder, has done a lot of work on steaming and it's effects.  You might want to try a search for "dmsnyder lava rocks steam" to see many takes on using pans in the oven, skillets full of lava rocks (from gas grills) and some other ideas as well.  Leave out the name and get even more results to look thorugh, since many have made contributions for us with less experience to learn from. 

No doubt there is still room for more creativity in the arena, so keep at it!  Good luck, and do be careful!


Royall Clark's picture
Royall Clark

Thanks for the advice OWS. I'll look into the lava rocks. I've got a great source for those as I'm sitting on lava!  I'm trying to get that "crunchy" thin crust so will try anything. It may be a loosing battle in Hawaii due to the higher humidity.


Yerffej's picture

I once ran flexible copper tubing down through the vent of an electric oven to the cast iron pan below on the oven floor and used a funnel to pour water into the tube at the top.  It worked quite well.


Royall Clark's picture
Royall Clark

I didn't even think of going through he vent! That would be a lot easier than having something in the doorway. With your method it's quicker, easier, and cheaper! I can always do "cheap"!!

Thanks for your ideas!


PeterPiper's picture

I went with the lava rocks option and on the first try, I realized why it is such a terrible idea.  Lava rocks are mostly air pockets and have incredibly low heat retention.  When I preheated the oven and poured hot water on the rocks, it let out a gentle hiss then simmered, a far cry from the large burst of steam from the preheated cast-iron skillet I used before.  As I understand it, you want a big burst of steam, not an anemic output of water vapor.  I'm going to swap out my lava rocks with larger dense gravel, something with real heat retention.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Lava rocks won't explode from thermal shock and calm spitting reactions from water, the kind that can spit on your glass door and break it.  They prevent accidents.  The big burst of steam is not always wanted (surprise!) it can create a small shock wave and it can burn you. 

Since you want to be dramatic, please take care what large dense gravel you pick out.  Rocks for a Sauna are a special type that don't explode when water is thrown on them.   Most steam is non-visable when the oven door is shut.  It is only when the door is opened that you can see it as it hits the cooler air in the room.  Non visable steam is hotter, be warned!  

tananaBrian's picture

I would try those smooth ceramic fake briquets (sp?) that they used to sell for barbequers ...if they are still available.



PeterPiper's picture

Yes, I totally agree on safety.  Water will expand 16 times when it makes the phase change to steam, and steam burns are much worse than hot water.  With the lava rocks, I found that they were such good conductors that they were still wet when I took the steam pan out of the oven, so they were terrible for staying hot and converting water to steam.  Just my 2 cents!



caseymcm's picture

At least that's what I learned as a Junior Firefighter.

asicign's picture

If I remember my chemistry correctly, 1 mol of water weighs 18 g, and in liquid form would have a volume of 18 ml (0.018 l) .  As steam, that mol of water would occupy 22.4 l, which means the expansion would be 22.4 / 0.018, which works out to 1244.



Janknitz's picture

or desireable.  I get AMAZING crusts just using a cloche method--covering the bread and letting it's own hydration create the steam.  Even when the cloche is nothing more than a cheap aluminum foil pan, it works great.  The crusts come out shatteringly thin and crisp and "sing" when you take them out of the oven.    My observation is that a slow and steady source of steam does a great job. 

Sometimes, I mist the dough  for a lower hydration bread very lightly with water before putting it in the oven under the cloche, but I'm not sure that's even needed.



Floydm's picture

It sounds like it could well work, but I'll second or third the "safety first" comments.  Contriving something that produces superior steam and crust would be exciting, but please do not put the safety of yourself or loved ones at risk while trying to do so!

mredwood's picture

I put my lava rocks in a steel pan or cast iron. Both give a burst and then settle down for a longer gentler moisture release.


LindyD's picture

Steam is beneficial only for about the first third of the bake.  That's why steam injected deck ovens have vents and levers to open them.

Oversteam and you can wind up with a low profile bread and cuts that won't open fully.

Moisten the oven before you load the bread (a couple ice cubes dropped into a preheated pan will do the job), load the bread, then add a cup of boiling water to a superhot cast iron pan and close the door.  

I keep lava rocks in my cast iron pan, place a sheet of cardboard over my oven glass, and always wear protective gloves.  Steam burns hurt.

Royall Clark's picture
Royall Clark

Well I guess my Rube Goldberg thoughts will have to go onto other projects! It sounds like I'll go pick up a few lava lava rocks out in the yard and maybe got to the recycle center and get a used cast iron pan. I guess what I was after would have been over kill, now that I've read through all the input on the subject. Still the copper tube down the vent is still intriguing! I think I'll just keep it simple and get more adventurous when I know more of what I'm doing! Thanks to all the took the time to post!