Steam is a colorless expansive and invisible gas resulting from the vaporization of water. The white could associated with steam is a fog of minute liquid particles formed by condensation. That is to say, finely divided condensation. This white cloud is caused by the exposure of the steam to a temperature lower than that corresponding to its pressure.

If the inside of a steam heating main were visible, it would be filled part way with a white cloud and in traversing the main the little particles combine, forming drops of condensation too heavy to remain in suspension and accordingly drop to the bottom of the main and drain off as condensation. This condensation flows into a drop leg of the system and finally back into the boiler, together with additional condensation draining from the radiators.

Although the word "steam" should only be applied to the saturated gas, the five following classes of steam are recognized:
1. Saturated steam
2. Dry steam
3. Wet steam
4. Superheated steam
5. Highly superheated or gaseous steam

It should be pointed out that neither saturated steam nor superheated steam can be seen by the naked eye.

Saturated steam may be defined as steam of a temperature due to its pressure. Steam containing intermingled moisture, mist, or spray, is referred to as wet steam. Dry steam, on the other hand, is steam containing no moisture. It may be either saturated or superheated. Finally, superheated steam is steam having a temperature higher than that corresponding to its pressure. The various changes which take place in the making of steam are known as vaporization.

The amount of heat necessary to cause the generation of steam is the sum of the sensible heat, the internal latent heat, and the external latent heat. Sensible heat is that part of the heat which produces a rise in temperature as indicated by the thermometer. The internal latent heat is the amount of heat that water will absorb at the boiling point without a change in temperature---that is, before vaporization begins. External latent heat is the amount of heat required when vaporization begins to push back the atmosphere and make room for the steam.

Another important factor to consider when dealing with steam is the boiling point of liquids. By definition, the boiling point is the temperature at which a liquid begins to boil and it depends upon both the pressure and nature of the liquid. For instance, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and ether at 9 degrees Fahrenheit under atmospheric pressure of 14.7 lbs. per square inch.

The relationship between boiling point and pressure is such that there is a definite temperature of boiling point corresponding to each value of pressure. When vaporization occurs in a closed vessel and there is a temperature rise, the pressure will rise until the equilibrium between temperature and pressure is re-established. By definition, condensation is the change of a substance from the gaseous to the liquid (or condensate) form. This change is caused by a reduction in temperature of the steam below that corresponding to its pressure.

The condensation of steam can cause certain problems for steam heating systems unless they are designed to allow for it. The water from which the steam was originally formed contained, mechanically mixed with it, 1/20 or 5 percent of its volume of air (at atmospheric pressure). This air is liberated during vaporization and does not re-combine with the condensation. As a result, trouble is experienced in heating systems when attempting to get the air out and keep it out. Suitable air valves are necessary to correct the problem.

KANJI: KI (steam, vapor)

ASCII Art Representation:

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Character Etymology:

The radical for water (at left) combined with the radical for vapor, thus, steam.

A Listing of All On-Yomi and Kun-Yomi Readings:

on-yomi: KI

English Definitions:

  1. KI: vapor; steam.

Character Index Numbers:

New Nelson: 3068
Henshall: 94

Unicode Encoded Version:

Unicode Encoded Compound Examples:

(kisha): steam train.
(kisen): steam ship.
汽笛 (kikan): steam whistle; siren.


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This is Valve Software's great scheme for world domination. It is a system allowing for the seamless integration of many of the more troublesome aspects of playing a modern multiplayer game, things like keeping the game up to date, going to the store and buying them, finding servers for the game, IM'ing your friends while playing, Valve getting paid gobs of money, and maintaining world peace. Other, loftier terms like "content management system" or maybe "content delivery system" have been bandied about, but for my sake and for the sake of you the reader, I will try and avoid such marketing buzz.

Steam acts as a front-end to all of Valve's products. All of their games and their mods are launched through it (though it is possible to create a shortcut to launch a specific game directly, they are still being run via Steam), and the server lists for the multiplayer games are all in one place. It also contains an IM client through which various parlor games (chess, checkers, &c) can be played.

The true genius of Steam is that it allows users to buy games online. In order to use Steam you must have an account, with the username and password this implies. If you have an old Half-Life CD key, you can associate it with your account. Once you have done this, you can download Half-Life and its assorted Valve-supported mods to any computer you happen to be logged into as that account (note that you can only play these games then if you are logged in as the proper account, and that obviously only one person can be logged in on a given account at a time). You can then feel free to lose your Half-Life CD. Buying games over Steam is exactly the same procedure, only it associates the fact you own your new game with your account from the moment they charge your credit card.

Vivendi Universal (who owns Sierra, the plastic disc publisher of Valve's games) has in recent months expressed displeasure at the fact Valve has devised a way to make them irrelavant. Due to certain clauses in their contract with Valve, they are allowed to delay the release of the impending Half-Life 2 in both the virtual and physical realms for up to six months, even though the game is finished. This has not stopped a decent number of people from already giving Valve money for the game over Steam and "pre-loading" it, which will let them play the game the very moment this contract dispute is resolved. (As incentive to buy Half-Life 2, Valve is already letting people play Counter Strike: Source, an updated version of HL1's classic mod in the HL2 engine, once they fork over the cash.)

Aside from the costs of buying the games, the service is free to download and use, and Valve claims it will remain so. If all you want to do is play online chess or chat with your Half-Life-playing buddies, it will in fact cost you nothing. The main downside to Steam is that it really, really requires a broadband Internet connection. You poor dial-up sods may find the massive game downloads a little much, not to mention the long-commented-on disparity in online gaming between dial-up and broadband.

All told, Steam is a brilliant idea which I fully expect to flourish in the years to come. And it helps that Half-Life rocks.

Check it out at

Steam (?), n. [OE. stem, steem, vapor, flame, AS. steam vapor, smoke, odor; akin to D. stoom steam, perhaps originally, a pillar, or something rising like a pillar; cf. Gr. to erect, a pillar, and E. stand.]


The elastic, aeriform fluid into which water is converted when heated to the boiling points; water in the state of vapor.


The mist formed by condensed vapor; visible vapor; -- so called in popular usage.


Any exhalation.

"A steam og rich, distilled perfumes."


Dry steam, steam which does not contain water held in suspension mechanically; -- sometimes applied to superheated steam. -- Exhaust steam. See under Exhaust. -- High steam, ∨ High-pressure steam, steam of which the pressure greatly exceeds that of the atmosphere. -- Low steam, ∨ Low-pressure steam, steam of which the pressure is less than, equal to, or not greatly above, that of the atmosphere. -- Saturated steam, steam at the temperature of the boiling point which corresponds to its pressure; -- sometimes also applied to wet steam. -- Superheated steam, steam heated to a temperature higher than the boiling point corresponding to its pressure. It can not exist in contact with water, nor contain water, and resembles a perfect gas; -- called also surcharged steam, anhydrous steam, and steam gas. -- Wet steam, steam which contains water held in suspension mechanically; -- called also misty steam.

Steam is often used adjectively, and in combination, to denote, produced by heat, or operated by power, derived from steam, in distinction from other sources of power; as in steam boiler or steam-boiler, steam dredger or steam-dredger, steam engine or steam-engine, steam heat, steam plow or steam-plow, etc.

Steam blower. (a) A blower for producing a draught consisting of a jet or jets of steam in a chimney or under a fire. (b) A fan blower driven directly by a steam engine. -- Steam boiler, a boiler for producing steam. See Boiler, 3, and Note. In the illustration, the shell a of the boiler is partly in section, showing the tubes, or flues, which the hot gases, from the fire beneath the boiler, enter, after traversing the outside of the shell, and through which the gases are led to the smoke pipe d, which delivers them to the chimney; b is the manhole; c the dome; e the steam pipe; f the feed and blow-off pipe; g the safety value; hthe water gauge. -- Steam car, a car driven by steam power, or drawn by a locomotive. -- Steam carriage, a carriage upon wheels moved on common roads by steam. -- Steam casing. See Steam jacket, under Jacket. -- Steam chest, the box or chamber from which steam is distributed to the cylinder of a steam engine, steam pump, etc., and which usually contains one or more values; -- called also valve chest, and valve box. See Illust. of Slide valve, under Slide. -- Steam chimney, an annular chamber around the chimney of a boiler furnace, for drying steam. -- Steam coil, a coil of pipe, or collection of connected pipes, for containing steam; -- used for heating, drying, etc. -- Steam colors Calico Printing, colors in which the chemical reaction fixed the coloring matter in the fiber is produced by steam. -- Steam cylinder, the cylinder of a steam engine, which contains the piston. See Illust. of Slide valve, under Slide. -- Steam dome Steam Boilers, a chamber upon the top of the boiler, from which steam is conduced to the engine. See Illust. of Steam boiler, above. -- Steam fire engine, a fire engine consisting of a steam boiler and engine, and pump which is driven by the engine, combined and mounted on wheels. It is usually drawn by horses, but is sometimes made self-propelling. -- Steam fitter, a fitter of steam pipes. -- Steam fitting, the act or the occupation of a steam fitter; also, a pipe fitting for steam pipes. -- Steam gas. See Superheated steam, above. -- Steam gauge, an instrument for indicating the pressure of the steam in a boiler. The mercurial steam gauge is a bent tube partially filled with mercury, one end of which is connected with the boiler while the other is open to the air, so that the steam by its pressure raises the mercury in the long limb of the tume to a height proportioned to that pressure. A more common form, especially for high pressures, consists of a spring pressed upon by the steam, and connected with the pointer of a dial. The spring may be a flattened, bent tube, closed at one end, which the entering steam tends to straighten, or it may be a diaphragm of elastic metal, or a mass of confined air, etc. -- Steam gun, a machine or contrivance from which projectiles may be thrown by the elastic force of steam. -- Steam hammer, a hammer for forging, which is worked directly by steam; especially, a hammer which is guided vertically and operated by a vertical steam cylinder located directly over an anvil. In the variety known as Nasmyth's, the cylinder is fixed, and the hammer is attached to the piston rod. In that known as Condie's, the piston is fixed, and the hammer attached to the lower end of the cylinder. -- Steam heater. (a) A radiator heated by steam. (b) An apparatus consisting of a steam boiler, radiator, piping, and fixures for warming a house by steam. -- Steam jacket. See under Jacket. -- Steam packet, a packet or vessel propelled by steam, and running periodically between certain ports. -- Steam pipe, any pipe for conveying steam; specifically, a pipe through which steam is supplied to an engine. -- Steam plowplough, a plow, or gang of plows, moved by a steam engine. -- Steam port, an opening for steam to pass through, as from the steam chest into the cylinder. -- Steam power, the force or energy of steam applied to produce results; power derived from a steam engine. -- Steam propeller. See Propeller. -- Steam pump, a small pumping engine operated by steam. It is usually direct-acting. -- Steam room Steam Boilers, the space in the boiler above the water level, and in the dome, which contains steam. -- Steam table, a table on which are dishes heated by steam for keeping food warm in the carving room of a hotel, restaurant, etc. -- Steam trap, a self-acting device by means of which water that accumulates in a pipe or vessel containing steam will be discharged without permitting steam to escape. -- Steam tug, a steam vessel used in towing or propelling ships. -- Steam vessel, a vessel propelled by steam; a steamboat or steamship; -- a steamer. -- Steam whistle, an apparatus attached to a steam boiler, as of a locomotive, through which steam is rapidly discharged, producing a loud whistle which serves as a warning signal. The steam issues from a narrow annular orifice around the upper edge of the lower cup or hemisphere, striking the thin edge of the bell above it, and producing sound in the manner of an organ pipe or a common whistle.


© Webster 1913.

Steam (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Steamed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Steaming.]


To emit steam or vapor.

My brother's ghost hangs hovering there, O'er his warm blood, that steams into the air. Dryden.

Let the crude humors dance In heated brass, steaming with fire intence. J. Philips.


To rise in vapor; to issue, or pass off, as vapor.

The dissolved amber . . . steamed away into the air. Boyle.


To move or travel by the agency of steam.

The vessel steamed out of port. N. P. Willis.


To generate steam; as, the boiler steams well.


© Webster 1913.

Steam (?), v. t.


To exhale.




To expose to the action of steam; to apply steam to for softening, dressing, or preparing; as, to steam wood; to steamcloth; to steam food, etc.


© Webster 1913.

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