The Steam-e is a ground-breaking battery powered chewing gum removal machine.
It is estimated that gum removal costs the UK £60 million a year, so this is a pretty big deal!
With a combined running cost of only £2.50 an hour, and the ability to remove more than 2000 pieces of gum on a charge, this is definitely a machine worth looking at for large schools, universities, shopping centres and local councils
Overall Review Rating
How it Works
Instead of having a boiler, like a traditional steam machine, the Steam-e just heats up a teaspoon-sized amount of water at a time in the lance. This allows the machine to run on batteries with a long run-time. The steam (combination of the water and chemical from the tank) comes out the end of the lance where the brush agitates the gum and disolves it. Very simple and effective.
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The machine actually performs better than a LPG/propane or generator-run machine, and is quieter in operation. Each piece of gum will take you 4-6 seconds, and after a period of time, you definitely will need to take a break as it is a monotonous task. The lance feels sturdy, and is ergonomic to use.
The speed of set up is a real bonus (it is heated and ready to go within a minute!)
Ease of use
Fairly easy to use. The start up process is simple, but does take a bit of getting used to. The steam comes out constantly, and the handle feels like you should be pressing something for it to work, but it is on constantly.
It is very quiet in operation, and is really compact, as well.
The other impressive feature with the Steam-e is the safety. Because it isnt propane/LPG or petrol-run, there are no exhaust fumes (means you can use it inside and out). Also, the fact it is battery-powered means there are no cables. The chemical is vegetable-based, so it is completely safe to use in public areas.
A new machine, so it's difficult to comment on the reliability. It is built in Britain, and all the components feel tough and well-built. The manufacturer assures us that they have had very few quality or warantee issues.
The machine comes standard with a year warantee.
For a steam machine, the maintenance required on this chewing gum removal machine is very small. There is no boiler which makes things easier, but it will still need periodic descaling (there is small light on the machine which tells you when to do this).
Value for Money
Initially, we did baulk at the price a bit, £3495 seemed a lot of money for the size of the machine! However, when you look around at the propane-based machines or a trolley-mounted machine with a generator the price is around £5000.
This machine is expensive, but we feel that the build quality, run time and running costs justify this outlay. You can get over 3 hours constant run time from the machine, which cuts down on labour costs and there is no fuel bills like propane/LPG machines.
The machine only comes with the lance, so the brushes and chemical are extra. The brushes and chemicals are good value when you consider the running costs.
The other accessory that we feel is necessary, is the trolley - Steam-e have worked with Vermop to create a really well-built trolley that looks great, and is narrow enough to be used in a train carriage!
If you are running the machine constantly, we would recommend looking at getting a second battery for a longer run-time.
Other similar machines
Osprey Gum Cart - This is a generator based machine, which works great, and is powerful. However some of the earlier models had issues where the power-spikes from the generator would constantly blow the printed circuit boards (very expensive!). This has been rectified now, with a new digitally-controlled Honda generator which should have fixed all the issues. It is a good piece of kit, but it costs more, and we feel that the battery element of the Steam-e is a very compelling feature!