Iron sole coating: which is better and what to choose

The sole of the iron is its main working body. How easy the iron will slide, whether it will burn through thin synthetics, how long the iron will retain its advantages – it all depends on the sole. It is not surprising that manufacturers pay so much attention to the sole material, offering the buyer about a dozen different modifications. Let’s try to understand this variety and find out what the properties of the proposed materials are and what advantages they provide.

Basic properties of the outsole
What should it be – the perfect outsole? An easy question for anyone who has ironed linen at least a couple of times. The sole should be easy to slide, not burn through the fabric, there should be nothing sticking to it or burning, and it should be easy to clean. It should heat up quickly and cool down quickly. It’s still nice if it’s easy. How can all this be achieved?

For the sole to glide easily, it must be perfectly smooth. Smoothness is easy to achieve with almost any material – it is more difficult to maintain it. That is, the material of the outsole must be strong so that constant friction does not reduce its smoothness. Moreover, not only about the fabric, but also about buttons, fasteners, zippers and other elements of clothing.

So that the fabric does not burn out quickly even at an incorrectly set temperature, the sole must have a slight thermal conductivity. Why does a hot metal kettle burn more than a ceramic kettle of the same temperature? Because metal has a higher thermal conductivity. The same with the fabric: a sole with a high thermal conductivity transfers heat to the fabric faster, as a result, it is worth making a slight mistake with the temperature, and noticeable marks remain on the synthetics.

But if the material has a low thermal conductivity, it will take a long time to warm up and cool down. That is, the sole must still have high thermal conductivity? There is a contradiction that each manufacturer solves in its own way.

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So that nothing sticks to the sole and it is easy to clean, it must have a low adhesion rate – the ability of the material to stick to other materials. Adhesion depends both on the material itself and on its processing: polishing reduces adhesion, and the presence of scratches, on the contrary, increases it. Another reason to increase the hardness of the material. Well, the material itself must be low-adhesive.

Now we will consider all the popular materials of iron soles, taking into account the selected criteria.

High thermal conductivity – heats up and cools down quickly
Low strength – easily scratches and even deforms.
High thermal conductivity – it is easy to burn the fabric.
High adhesion – easy to get dirty and difficult to clean.

Corroded – oxidizes in air, leaving traces during ironing.

The minuses outweigh significantly, therefore, in its pure form, aluminum is almost never used. Today, anodized aluminum is used – covered with an oxide film, which gives the sole corrosion resistance and additional strength. The oxide film has low thermal conductivity, so irons with such a sole manage to maintain a high heating rate of the sole at the same time with respect to the fabric.

The oxide film, although stronger than aluminum itself, is also scratched by metal objects.

Stainless steel is a solid middling in most metrics. Its thermal conductivity is 10 times lower than that of aluminum, but 10 times higher than that of ceramics. Being new, the stainless steel sole glides well, does not get dirty and is easy to clean, but over time, the polish still comes off. The performance characteristics are average, but this outsole is absolutely not afraid of impacts.

Teflon and other non-stick coatings
First of all, you need to understand that the sole of the iron is not entirely Teflon. Most often it is aluminum, less often it is steel and covered with a thin layer of Teflon. This allows conflicting requirements for thermal conductivity to be resolved: the aluminum sole heats up quickly, but the thermal conductivity of the Teflon layer is low, so there is no rapid overheating of the fabric.

Overall, the Teflon-coated outsole has the following pros and cons:

pros Minuses
Respect for the fabric.
Warms up and cools down quickly.

Low adhesion – the outsole stays clean for a long time.
Teflon coating is fragile, easily scratched with metal objects.
Enamel soles are similar in characteristics to Teflon soles. The main disadvantage of most enamels is low strength. However, there are enamels close to ceramics in terms of scratch resistance.

Ceramic soles are also not entirely ceramic, the base of such a sole is usually steel. The ceramic layer on the outsole ranges from a few microns to millimeters.

pros Minuses
Respect for the fabric.
Low adhesion – the outsole stays clean for a long time.
The surface is scratch resistant. Ceramics are fragile, they are afraid of shocks and falls; chips and cracks can form on it.
The excellent performance characteristics of ceramics are spoiled by low impact resistance. Therefore, manufacturers are constantly looking for a way to reduce the brittleness of this material, while maintaining the rest of the characteristics.

Cermet and glass ceramics
Sintered metal is produced by sintering metal and ceramic powders. The resulting material has all the advantages of a ceramic with reduced brittleness. These characteristics make cermet one of the best materials for irons. Glass ceramics – glass produced using a special technology. It is stronger than ceramic or plain glass, but can still be shattered with a strong blow.

pros Minuses
Respect for the fabric.
Low adhesion.

Scratch resistant. Cermet and glass ceramics are stronger than pure ceramics, but metal impacts can cause chips.

Titanium soles are similar in performance to steel, but titanium is lighter and stronger. It keeps polishing longer and, like steel, is not afraid of impacts. But its thermal conductivity is the same as that of steel, so you need to be careful with delicate fabrics. To increase the strength of the surface, some manufacturers carry out carbidation of the sole: the surface of the titanium sole is covered with a layer of titanium carbide – a material close in strength to corundum and sapphires with a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale. Only diamond is stronger. To reduce cost, the outsole is usually made in two layers: a titanium layer on top of a steel base.

Developments by manufacturers
Almost every manufacturer offers its own unique sole material. However, most of them use the same materials as discussed above. Let’s take a look at some of the branded offerings.

Steamglide – Philips soles . Ceramic or Steamglide Plus coated steel base. The Steamglide Elite and Steamglide Advanced have a titanium carbide coating.

Saphir is another interesting development from Braun. Steel sole, coated with a high-strength alloy of aluminum, nickel, zinc and chromium. The strength of the alloy is close to that of sapphire, which is why the coating received this name.

Ceranium Glisse and Palladium Glisse are ceramic and sintered soles from Bosch , respectively .

Iron Bosch TDI903231H purple

[3200 W, sole – cermet, steam boost – 220 g / min, 2.5 m]
8 099 *
38 1
In stores: in 37 stores
Durilium Airglide is a ceramic soleplate from Tefal .
When making soles, it is not enough just to use some material. The specific composition of this material is important, the manufacturing technology and the accuracy of surface treatment are extremely important. Therefore, cermets from a budgetary little-known manufacturer and cermets from a well-known brand are two completely different materials. When choosing the sole of an iron, it should be understood that only materials of the same class can be compared.