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Q: I have had an old gas iron for a long time. It got its gas fuel from a hose on the wall in our apartment in Poland. I used it as a doorstop because it’s so heavy. There are no markings on it. Can you give me more information about it?

A: Before 1850, irons had to be heated on a stove or in a fireplace. Charcoal-burning irons were invented in the early 1850s. Gas irons were invented in about 1860. Some, like yours, have a rubber or metal tube that could be connected to a gas light jet or gas canister. Others had tanks that could be filled with gasoline, kerosene, alcohol or another fuel and then ignited. One early manufacturer of natural-gas irons advertised that its irons could be heated in four minutes. Keep using your iron as a doorstop. Do not try to heat it. We hear that some have exploded.


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