Since the last time I posted about ironing, a few people have asked me for advice about how to iron their clothes using a 19th-century sadiron. I couldn’t tell if they were being sarcastic or not, but in case anyone is interested and doesn’t mind getting a few second-degree burns, here is a step-by-step guide. The whole process is actually easier than you think! (Though I’m assuming here that you think it is really, really, really hard.)
- Before you start heating up your sadiron, make sure it is clean and sanded. You’ll know it wasn’t clean enough if it catches on fire.
- Heat your sadiron on a bed of hot coals. Put out fires as necessary. D.J. insists that I put out fires “the Slow Laundry way,” which he says means dumping a bucket of sand on it. (I end up getting a lot of the sand on the floor, which is why ironing sort of reminds me of a day at the beach. A horrible, horrible day at the beach.)
- If your sadiron has a metal handle, you’ll need to use an oven mitt to pick it up. If your skin starts to blister, then you should consider using two oven mitts.
- The sadiron will need to be hot enough to get wrinkles out, but not so hot that it burns your clothes. You’ll get the hang of it eventually, and you will also burn a lot of clothes. On the plus side, this means there will be fewer clothes to iron.
- After a minute or two, your sadiron will cool off, so you have to put it back on the coals and wait for it to heat up. This is a good time to sweep up all of the clothes-ashes and sand you’ve spilled. I’ve found that a good way to make sweeping more fun is to have a glass of wine while you sweep.
- At this point, it is normal to start fantasizing about packing a suitcase of wrinkle-free clothes and moving to a new city, adopting a new name, and starting a new life away from the oppressive burdens of ironing.
- Oh no, while you were daydreaming your kitchen caught on fire! Don’t panic—this happens all the time. My kitchen is actually on fire as I type this! Ha ha. No, really–but it’s a pretty small fire.