What do the numbers on a toaster actually mean?

What do the numbers on a toaster actually mean?

Whether you're grabbing a quick breakfast before your rush out the door, or making yourself a snack in the evening, toasters are something that we all use day in, day out. If you're anything like us, you probably set your toaster dial based on trial and error- a few limp underdone slices, a few that are scorched to a crisp, and then you found the right setting and have left it on that ever since. But what do the numbers on a toaster actually mean? Read on, and all will become clear!

Lots of people quite naturally assume that the numbers on a toaster refer the number of minutes it will toast the bread for. If you think about it, though, this doesn't really make sense. After all, most toaster dials run up to six, or even higher in some cases. If you left the bread in for that long, you'd probably wind up burning your kitchen down!

Truth is, there are some toasters that let you set a specific amount of time for your toast. These are called "timer" toasters, and they tend to be quite expensive. In fact, many household brands don't make actually make timer models. The timers also tend to be digital, much like a microwave.

Most home toasters are what's called "capacitor" toasters. These work by sending a current through the circuit- via the heating elements- to charge up a central capacitor. When that's fully charged- up pops your toast. With these models, the numbers refer to the resistance rate. The higher this is, the longer it takes for the capacitor to charge, and therefore the longer your toast stays in for.

Unfortunately, toasters aren't uniform. Bread that's toasted to a three on one model may come out completely different on another model, since the time all depends on the capacitor inside.

The crispness of your toast also depends on the bread itself. A slice with more moisture in it will take longer to crisp up, whereas a drier piece of bread will be quicker to burn to a crisp. The type and freshness of the bread will therefore have just as much effect on your final toast as the number you set the toaster to.

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