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The primary function of a boiler is to capture the heat from combusted fuel to heat water and generate steam. The conditions within a modern boiler place some stringent requirements on the water which circulates through it. First, at the high temperatures and pressures within the boiler, low concentrations of some chemical compounds in the boiler feed water, which are not a problem at room temperature, will either become corrosive or create damaging deposits on the hot walls of the boiler tubes.
Second, as water boils and creates steam, solids in the water tend to remain in the water. This creates a situation where even small concentrations of impurities in the feed water tend to increase with time. Increased concentrations magnify the negative effects of the impurities.