I like to think of myself as the ever-loving husband. I like to buy my wife those little gifts that bring a sparkle to her eyes and a rush to her pulses - chocolates, flowers, jewels, an iron. An IRON? Well, yes, the poor old thing (not the wife - the iron!) that she had been valiantly challenging the family wash with since long before I met her had certainly seen better days. I don't say it was the same one that Mrs Noah took on board the ark but it was feeling its age. Although she likes to cling onto things and won't throw something away when there is a chance that "it might come in useful", she was having to admit that the present model took a long time to produce steam, didn't press well and always had a dirty bottom! INVESTIGATION! A REVELATION!!. So it was off to the local shop. Buy a new iron, couldn't be easier I thought. I don't know when you last bought one - my own last experience was probably 25 years ago. It has to be flat underneath, have a hole in the top where you poured the water, had to get hot and wouldn't break the bank. Right? Wrong!! The store presented us with a fact sheet and Free Guide about what you should consider when buying an iron. Did you know that irons: -. Are of five types: Dry; Steam (comes out of holes in the bottom); Steam / Spray (has a small water spray housed at the front); Steam / Spray / Shot (Generates a blast of steam for heavy fabrics); Steam Generator (Constant flow of high pressure steam) -. Have four types of sole plate: Aluminium (basic ? but may stick to clothes); Coated non-stick (prevents pulls and wrinkles); Stainless Steel (uniform heat distribution but prone to scratching); Ceramic (durable, non-stick, more expensive) -. Differs in scale prevention: Dry (no water - no limescale problem); Manual (scale cleaning); Automatic (water filtration system) -. Some models may have cordless operat
ion; Some models may have steam generator tanks. Irons may also have additional functions such as variable thermostat control; vertical steam (pressure your suit on its hanger, treat curtains on the rail); Jets of steam; Anti-drip (stops water marks on clothes); Self-cleaning. The range of prices was stunning from cheap models at about £15 to a huge thing that came with its own reservoir (and free ironing board!!!) costing £229.00 Come off it, there are degree courses out there that are less complicated! OUR DECISION At the end of the day, the model you buy is a mixture of compromise and, hopefully, good fortune. We did not want to pay the earth for the replacement and did not want one that was too heavy in use. It should be reasonably aesthetically pleasing to have around the house. On the other hand a non-stick, non-scratch base plate seemed a good idea as did some form of limescale prevention. Cordless operation would have been a bonus. After much deliberation, our chosen model was an upper range Tefal - the Turbo Pro 400 (also curiously and confusingly called model 2710). We chose to overlook where it was made (!*) but it is coloured a reasonably attractive shade of pale green (eau de nil) and white with a grey and white striped ceramic base plate. This is perforated by two rows of steam holes. The water tank is filled from an aperture in the handle. This is shielded by a sliding cover for safety purposes. A measuring cup is provided for this. The upper body of the iron is translucent and there is a convenient mark to show the maximum fill level when the iron is placed in a vertical position. A thermostat light at the rear of the body goes out when the iron has reached operational temperature. There are several controls to get used to. On the handle are the 'Spray' and 'Burst of Steam' buttons. Spray is ejected out of the front of the iron. Under the handle is the
39;Jeans' trigger which increases the flow of steam when ironing heavy fabrics. On the top of the tank is a sliding thermostat control which has five fabric points (Linen, Cotton, Wool, Silk, Synthetics) and the Steam Control which switches between steam and dry operation. No special water is required. The base plate is cleaned with a soft cloth when the iron is still warm. THE TEFAL IN ACTION My wife tells me that this iron is heavier than the old one. In fact it weighs 1.5 kg when empty. It is a long 3m power cord that wraps around the base of the iron with a self-retaining cable clip. The weight is offset by the much smoother operation and much less drag. Garment for garment, the ironing time is much reduced. The iron is ready for steam use within three minutes of switching on. The tank holds 300 mls which provides about 10 minutes of steam use. The manual recommends starting a batch of ironing on the coolest setting, working progressively to the hotter settings for the most robust fabrics at the end. The controls are easy to use ' once you have figured out which is which - and require little pressure. Vertical steaming is also surprisingly easy and effective. We are not particularly troubled with limescale in our area. The instruction sheet suggests cleaning the anti-calc valve every month or so. We have not had to do this yet but removal and replacement are straightforward. The iron is guaranteed for one year. AVAILABILITY Most department and electrical stores. Price about £49.99 We bought ours at COMET: £42.97 CONCLUSION Did my wife like her gift? Well, she has come to like the new iron in her life and has accepted the passing of her "old friend" with good grace. Would she prefer it in preference to a few carats of sparkles or a large box of pralines? I haven't dared ask yet!!!. * POSTSCRIPT: · TEFAL - owes its origins t
o a Frenchman, Marc Grégoire, and his wife, Colette. M. Grégoire, a keen fisherman, wanted to make his rod reel in more smoothly and, in the 1950's, experimented to see if a non stick coating might provide the answer. It did! But it was his wife who made the real breakthrough by gently suggesting that coating the cooking pans would have a more worthwhile application by making them easier to cook with and simpler to clean. Now, Tefal is the number one name in non-stick products and small appliances, operating in over 120 countries. Tefal remains committed to making household tasks easier and cooking results better, through a constant flow of new ideas and technology · TEFAL is now part of the French conglomerate SEB Industries. [Reprinted from the Company website at: http://www.tefal.co.uk/tefal/default.asp?mscssid=FJ386FN9HF7D8GKT61EJ2CHSX1735RW4] Our iron was made in France.