What's in a toaster

How a toaster works

Toasting began long before the toaster

The toaster is an ingenious invention that has made people's lives much easier. Because toasting old (or old) bread is not a habit because there are toasters. Rather, people have always toasted their bread to make it tasty and crisp again. Even with the ancient Egyptians it was so common.

History of the automatic toaster

The toaster as we know it today began with electrification. But even then it took a while. People quickly discovered that a wire acts like a resistor that heats up. Even the good old light bulb is based on this principle. The problem with the toaster, however, was that the resistance had to be in the air, so it couldn't work in a vacuum like the glow wire.

Important components of the bread toaster

To do this, developments in a completely different area first had to be initiated. A new metallic alloy was necessary. That happened in 1906 with the chrome-nickel alloy, also known as "Chromel". A wire with this alloy could now also be used as a resistor in the atmosphere. This made many different inventions possible:

  • Toaster
  • Fan heater
  • Pre-glow resistor for vehicles as a visual check
  • open ovens etc.

The ejector or pop-up toaster under construction

But the way to today's toaster was still a long one. The pop-up toaster that is widespread today was invented in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the second half of the 20th century that it really became established. The basic principle of the ejector toaster (top) has hardly changed since then. The structure of the following components influence the functionality:

  • Mechanism to push the toaster or the toast basket downwards
  • Mechanism to hold the basket down (in the toaster)
  • Glow wire or resistance for heating
  • Mechanism for timing the roasting process

The control (switching on and duration)

It's a simple basket that is simply pushed down. The basket is then held in the lower position in different ways:

  • via a magnet (electronic)
  • via a bimetal (thermal-mechanical)

In an electronically controlled toaster, the time control is controlled by a potentiometer. The degree of browning is set accordingly and passed on to the control. With the bimetal control, the deformation of the bimetal is changed by the setting. The tanning time is correspondingly longer or shorter, since the electrical circuit is also opened and closed in this way.

Defects in the toaster

In fact, toasters aren't one of those household appliances that are often repaired. Rather, they are (unfortunately) disposable products. Still, you can fix a toaster. Often it is just small things like a broken cable, a deformed bimetal unit or a magnet that is bent downwards. Explicitly after cleaning the toaster, it can lead to the toaster no longer "locking into place". This then has to do with either the crumb tray or the safety storage.

The term “toaster” was only established in Germany from the middle of the 20th century. Until then, toasters were used as bread toasters in this country.