The bed bug epidemic has taken the country by storm. You can find bed bugs in all 50 states, and they seem almost impossible to get rid of. Luckily this nationwide frustration has prompted our brightest minds to get to work.
New bed bug treatment methods are hitting the market every year due to tireless research and development. One of the most popular inventions for bed bug professionals is Cryonite, a portable CO2 machine designed to freeze bed bugs to death. But how does Cryonite stand up to bed bug steamers, which aims to kill bed bugs with extreme heat instead of cold?
What is Cryonite?
It’s well known that bed bugs are highly susceptible to extreme temperatures. Heat over 180 degrees Fahrenheit can kill bed bugs on contact. With that in mind, many companies have developed tools specializing in delivering the heat. There are dozens of steamers on the market designed specifically for pest control.
Cryonite may be the first device on the market that went in the other direction. This machine is designed not to kill bed bugs with heat, but with freezing cold temperatures. Cryonite machines use a patented pressure hose that converts liquid carbon dioxide into a dry ice solid. This powdered snow is then blasted out to hit bed bugs with temperatures way below freezing points, killing them instantly.
Cryonite treatments are growing in popularity among pest control operators. They’re a safe alternative to pesticide chemicals and even to steam vapor. They can be used on surfaces and materials that may be damaged by the water vapor or heat from a steamer. They’re also very easy and fast to use, and carry a low ongoing cost of operation.
Steaming vs Freezing Bed Bugs
A lot of pest control professionals have begun comparing steaming bed bugs versus freezing them with Cryonite. When you kill bed bugs for a living, you need to make sure you’re using the right tools for the job. Your toolkit needs to be efficient, cost-effective, and suitable for the treated environments. These different factors make choosing between tools like Cryonite and steam difficult.
One advantage of Cryonite treatment is that it is safer for some surface materials than steam. Steamers emit water vapor, albeit a minimal amount if you use a high pressure steamer. They also hit surfaces with over 180 degrees of hot air. This moisture and heat can be harmful to materials like hardwood, laminate, and some leathers. Since Cryonite emits cold dry powder, it can safely be used to treat these types of surfaces for bed bugs.
However, there are other factors in real-world usage that tip the scales in steam’s favor. First and foremost is the issue of penetration. The key advantage of steaming for bed bugs is its ability to penetrate soft materials. The water vapor transfers heat inches into a material being treated, killing bed bugs hiding out of sight. This is essential for hitting bugs hiding in mattresses, box springs, couches, and other upholstered furniture. Since Cryonite is an air-propelled solid, it cannot penetrate those materials.
Another issue with Cryonite treatments is that they release too much pressure. The dry ice solid is expelled from the pressure hose at such a high velocity that bed bugs may be blown away. A bed bug that is knocked out of place may survive, and is now able to scurry out of sight somewhere else.
Professional-grade steamer models almost always feature steam pressure adjustment. This allows the operator to turn down the pressure when treating open spaces like the top of the bed or couch. With a lower pressure output, a steamer can deliver lethal heat to a bug without blowing them away and giving them a chance to survive.
A final drawback of Cryonite is its price. While the ongoing costs of both water and CO2 are low, Cryonite rifle systems start at almost $4,000. Additional rifle features can add thousands more to the price. Meanwhile, professional-grade steamers like the Armato 9000 start at under $1,000.
Caveats to Both Methods
When comparing Cryonite to other treatment tools, it’s important to remember that these are just tools in a treatment. Neither Cryonite nor steam are an end-all, be-all solution to a bed bug infestation. If such a thing existed, our jobs would be much, much easier. Until then, bed bug treatments need to be performed in multiple steps and with multiple tools.
Cryonite systems and steam cleaners are an effective way to kill bed bugs on contact. However, they are not able to kill bed bugs over time, or to address any bed bugs that they did not reach. They also have no way to prevent bed bugs from reaching the same place again, such as a freshly treated mattress or sofa. Finally, neither tool is guaranteed to be safe or effective for every type of surface in your home.
For a comprehensive bed bug treatment solution, you’ll need more than just these tools. With that in mind, both tools are very effective and practical contact killers, but in most cases we prefer steam treatment. Check out our steam comparison page to see which professional bed bug steamer is right for you.
(Note: Cryonite is a registered trademark of Cryonite USA, who holds copyright of the product photo shown.)