Modern steam rooms use what's known as a steam generator to fill the room with steam. These systems are also used in steam showers or steam baths, which are both effectively just smaller versions of a steam room.
How do steam generators work?
Most modern steam generators work in a similar fashion to hot water systems. While most are electric, gas versions also exist but are far less common. Electric steam generators normally consist of a tank component with a resistive element in it, a water inlet valve and a steam outlet valve. An electric current is passed through the element, which heats it up rapidly to boil the water.These tanks are typically designed to be airtight, and because of the pressure that builds up as steam is generated, they need to be quite strong. In many cases, the tanks will be made of welded steel, and most will also feature a release valve to help release steam if the pressure becomes too great.
As steam is produced, it is sent through the outlet pipes to the steam heads in the steam room, which are either controlled manually or via a timer.
It should go without saying, but steam generators will need to be installed by specially trained professionals. Water and electricity are a dangerous mix, and there's also an added risk when dealing with a steam generator as a result of the fact that the tank contains pressurised steam. If installed incorrectly (or if they're not correctly maintained), steam generator tanks may explode and cause a great deal of injury or damage.
Potential health benefits
According to some, there are a range of health benefits to be had from steam showers. They are used variously to treat the symptoms of dry skin and arthritis, to sporting and muscular injuries, although there's not a great deal of clinical proof pointing to their effectiveness for these purposes.