Most people love toast, be it white, brown or wholemeal, thousands of people enjoy a nice crisp piece of buttered toast first thing in the morning to kick-start their day. Some stand by the oven watching and waiting for the bread to turn brown, where as others take the easy route and use an electric toaster which turns the power of electricity into heat that can cook the bread.
But how does the electricity that flows into the toaster actually toast the bread? A toaster heats the bread by infrared radiation. The vital component of the toaster is the nichrome wire which is an alloy of nickel and chromium. When looking down inside of the toaster, all that can be seen is a row of wires on each side of the bread. When the electricity runs through the wires, they get very hot and direct their heat towards the bread. Nichrome is not very good at conducing electricity, so when electricity is run through the nichrome wire it gets very hot very quickly. When the toaster is switched on, the wires must never be touched, either with fingers or even more dangerous, a knife. They are very hot and also carry large electric currents that could go through the body, cause electrocution, and in the worst case scenario be fatal. If a piece of bread gets lodged in the toaster it should be removed safely, so always unplug the toaster first. It is not a good idea to leave a toaster unattended, it has been known for them to catch fire which could mean a claim on the household insurance.
Making toast has come a long way since the days of piercing the bread with a stick and heating it over the fire. Most electric toasters now have a function that allows the user to select how long the bread is toasted. When the bread is toasted it will pop out of the toaster automatically and the electricity stops flowing. The shell of the toaster is made of either plastic or metal that does not come into contact with any of the mechanisms that are inside the toaster. This is to keep the toaster cool to the touch yet not lose any of the heat in the toaster. They vary in size and capability but almost every home in the country will have one that can toast two, four or six pieces of bread at a time. Some toasters have wider slots which enable thick bread or bagels and they now include a defrosting capability.