Oh Iron…..

My Shark Iron that died this morning
My Shark Iron that died this morning

I was sewing when I  heard the  strange hissing sound, then  saw the brown smoke coming off the tip of my iron.   It can’t be, I said out loud.  The iron is only a couple of months old.  I held  horizontally, like the directions said and pressed the cleaning switch.  Some noise, but no water, no steam.  At least there was no more brown smoke. Then I saw that the green light indicating that iron is on was not on.  I brought it into the house and tried it again over the sink.  When it started to get cold, I was just grateful I didn’t get any of that brown gunk on the hankie I was ironing just before the iron died.  Because it wasn’t just any hankie, it was Suzy’s duckie hankie from when she was a kid.  I finally got to making her scarf, the one we did a trade for (she spun Sock’s wool and made me a hat using it) and now I didn’t have an iron.

Instead of running to the KMart in Greenwich and buying what ever I thought looked and felt good, this time I went online and did some iron research.  It seems that most of the quilters mentioned the Rowenta (I had no idea there were so many different irons out there) and when I saw a picture of a couple of different models,   I wanted one.  Not only did it look cool, but it had a great name, and I saw myself gaining legitimacy by owning such a tool.  This is the type of iron a professional uses.   I’d get the $90 version, more than I ever spent on an iron and a lot less than the most expensive model.

But as I read about it in reviews and on quilters sites, I became disillusioned.  Yeah, some people loved it, but it had its problems.  Mostly with  steaming and leaking water and yes, brown gunk.  As I searched further, hoping to disprove what I wanted to be untrue rumors about the Rowenta, I noticed I kept seeing, amongst the long rambling personal accounts with the Rowenta, simple messages about the durability and dependability of Black and Decker irons.  I tried to ignore them, favoring the exotic Rowenta, but they wouldn’t go away.  And the more I looked the more I found them.

I was drawn to the old looking black and silver iron, the kind we had when I was a kid, (hoping it would be of the same quality) but the D2030 digital on/off  for around $40 seemed to better suit my purposes.  I ordered it next day delivery from Amazon so I can get back to work.  I’ll use bottled water instead of our tap, which is hard water ( I read on several sites many different things about the type of water to use and decided bottled is best) and continue to clean it regularly.  And I’ll see what happens.  I don’t expect an iron to last forever, not the way I use them, but it would be nice if they lasted more than a few months.    I’ll let you know how my Black and Decker does.

22 thoughts on “Oh Iron…..

    1. Well, I am not JoAne. I never read in any of the directions that I got with my irons to use distilled water. I’m glad I started this discussion, I’m learning lots.

  1. Maria-
    It’s been my experience that irons are not what they used to be. I had one iron for over 20 years and that was when I ironed at least once/week. Now I’m down to once/month but I’ve gone through 3 irons in the last ten years. I just decided that I’d get the cheapest iron that fit my needs and then let the chips fall where they may. I’ve had my Proctor Silex for about a year now. We have two other old irons; one my husband uses for waxing his skis; the other is my craft iron that I use for making scarves and other projects. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of your Black & Decker. With the type of ironing you do I’m sure it is important to have quality tools.

    1. I guess I don’t expect them to last too long any more Jill. But it’s taken me a while to get to this point. I’ve only had 4 irons since I started my business in 2008. And the last 2 have been in the past year.

  2. hey maria, i use a black and decker and love it. it gets hot and is sturdy. i never put water in mine, just use a spray bottle. plus, the next time you are at a tag sale, pick up a junker. a dollar back up iron is just the thing to keep your regular iron going!

    1. What a great idea Kenna, to get a used back up iron. Why didn’t I think of that! THis discussion has been so great and useful. I might just try a spray bottle instead of stream.

  3. Maria,

    I’ve owned two Rowenta irons in my lifetime and can’t say enough about them. Never had a leak.

    Also, heard good reviews from quilters about the Sunbeam model. Even steam. No leaks.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Getting a new iron to me falls within the same category as selecting and purchasing a new toaster. These are two small appliances that I rely on daily. And the old, heavy silver ones from the 1950’s that I grew up with that my parents had are still amongst the most reliable, dependable and functional there are. Sadly, they don’t last forever. I understand and appreciate the study you went through for your new iron. As needlewomen, we have our needs! 🙂 I do recommend only ever using distilled water in your iron. I big Gallon jug costs pennies and will save you a lot of grief.

  5. Hi Maria,

    I think you need to use distilled water. Maybe that’s what you meant when you said “bottled.” Nothing worse that nasty gunk getting iron onto your fabric!

    (I’m the “fan” who wrote you last week asking about your techniques.)

    1. Nice to hear from you Laura. I’m hearing that distilled water is the way to go. I read that the Rowenta directions suggest 1/2 tap and 1/2 distilled. I also heard to use bottled water and not distilled water. But I’m hearing more and more to just use distilled water.

  6. I would echo the experience of the reviews you read with my Rowenta. It is a great iron, but I think that the auto off feature messes with how the water is delivered as steam. Mine was always leaking when what I wanted was a shot of steam. I didn’t have any brown or icky water from it, but I use distilled water with it. My solution has been to stop using steam. I took this hint from Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville blog. She believes that steam distorts fabric, so it makes accurate piecing more difficult. The hot, dry iron works great. If I have stubborn wrinkles, I just spritz the fabric with a spray bottle of water I keep on hand. I wish I’d kept my old iron, I think it was a black and decker. When I replace this one, I’m going for the flat sole plate with no steam model that you can get from the Vermont County Store.

    1. Jane I keep hearing about not using steam. I never knew you could use an iron without steam. I haven’t heard of the one from the Vermont country Store, but I just might try that one next time.

  7. I was one of those who posted bad reviews about the Rowenta. Mine leaked water (a lot of it) after just a few months. Sent back to be fixed (even under warranty it cost almost $20 for s&h) and it only worked for a few weeks until it started leaking again. Very sad since my previous Rowenta had worked wonderfully for many years. I use bottle water also because of iron in my well water. It’s worth it to keep the iron working longer and cleanly. I’ll be watching for your review on the Black and Decker.

  8. Whew, close call with the ducky hankie. That would have been so sad. Finding a reliable iron has been like the holy grail for me, too. I, too, considered buying one of the old black and silver irons from my past. I did like their weight, too, but settled on the Panasonic, now only a month old and doing well. We shall see. I’ll look forward to progress news on your Black and Decker. I’ve always liked that brand.The reviews and word of mouth from other quilters scared me off the Rowenta. Let us know!!

  9. I have had a Vermont Country Store, no water/steam old fashioned iron for over 20 years now–still going strong and I compulsively iron sheets and pillow cases, while I make my own dresses, jumpers and shirts from 100 % cotton and they have to be ironed–it gets hard use. When my daughter’s 3rd steam iron died after a few years I got one of the former for her also. This was about 13 years ago, about, and it is still perfect.

  10. p.s.

    and we have a Waring blender that belonged to my grandpa-in-law. It is over 40 years old and I used it yesterday to make pomegranate juice. It’s as good as the day it was bought.

  11. Maria, hi… sorry to hear about your iron dieing on you.. that’s the pits! I used to iron for people… (yep, gluten for punishment that was me!!!) anyway, I went thru a lot of irons… Black and Decker wasn’t too bad, there warranty was good. For a while there I returned one at least every 6 months or so… Rowenta!!!!! Yeah!!!! I iron/sew a lot! And if you will read the instructions mine says that you should use distilled water w/tap water. So, I use 50/50 and I’ve had this Rowenta now for several years. The last one I had lasted about 8 years. So good luck. One quilter Bonnie Hunter, uses old irons she finds at the thrift/antique stores… you know the old silver looking ones with black handles. She never puts water into them… uses a spray bottle if she needs water.

  12. I have had a Black & Decker iron for years. Got it for Christmas sometime in the early 90’s. Best little iron I’ve ever had. Of course I don’t iron much but when I need it it’s there!! AND I use tap water in it…….

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