Posted June 6, 2013
Two thousand years ago, women in Korea and China were pressing wrinkles out of cloth with flat-bottomed metal pans full of hot water.
A few centuries later, Vikings were pressing wrinkles out of linen with smoothers made from glass.
From the 17th Century, sadirons were used. These were thick slabs of cast iron, heated up on a stove or other device. They were lifted from the stove and pressed onto cloth using wooden or bamboo handles. Sometimes people had many small irons heating at once; as soon as the iron in use began to cool down, the ironer would switch it for a hot iron.
Box irons were developed later. Inside the metal box of one of these irons, people put hot coals or (in India) burning coconut shells.
In the late nineteenth century, many people used liquid irons that were heated by fuels such as whale oil, natural gas, or even gasoline! These clothing irons were a fire risk—but I would think would also risk making clothing stinky and stained!
Finally, on this date in 1882, a man named Henry W. Seeley applied for a patent for an electric iron. Yeah! Our cloths and clothing were saved!
(Not that I personally ever use an iron!)
Of course, Seeley's iron wasn't the last improvement in clothing irons. People went on to invent an iron with a thermostat and later a steam iron. And permanent press fabric!
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