Hot Tip #7 – Thermo Oil

My question is would switching to all ironers on thermal oil be more efficient than steam?

What are the pros and cons of Oil Vs Steam?

Oil Pros:

  • Oil can be heated to higher temperatures. (>400 F), steam at 150 PSIG = 366 F.
  • Oil will be at a lower pressure, Typically 30 to 40 PSIG not 100 PSIG or greater as with steam.
  • Fewer steam traps are required. (None on oil systems)
  • Less make-up water, boiler water treatment, boiler chemicals, boiler blow-down.
  • Lower TDS (total dissolved solids) in discharged sewer water.
  • Little if any internal pipe corrosion
  • No catastrophic expansion of oil during containment vessel rupture. (Steam expands to 1500 times boiler water volume)


  • Addition capital investment. (Oil system & steam system)
  • Electrical cost increases. (Oil must be pumped; oil pumps are larger than boiler feed water pumps)
  • Additional maintenance. (Oil heater & pumping system)
  • Additional building space is required to house the oil system
  • Heated oil can burn (be destroyed) during an electrical outage if not circulated. (standby, non-electrical pump required)
  • Oil has a limited life expectancy and is considered hazardous waste when disposed of in most states.
  • Oil can catch on fire.
  • Oil is considered less safe. A small pinhole leak can send hot oil 40 to 60 feet. (Steam only a few feet)
  • Oil “spills” are much harder to clean up.  (Oil spills may require HAZMAT involvement.)
  • Additional air emission permits are required.
  • Higher temperature equals greater thermo losses in the delivery system & in the oil heater exhaust gases. Some of these additional losses are heating up your already too hot laundry.