The use of gas for heating, lighting, and cooking purposes is amazingly on the increase. Nobody can doubt for a moment its immense convenience, and the saving of labour, as compared with a coal fire; whilst for the servantless household, or the lonely woman worker, it is practically indispensable. The enormous popularity of gas is also largely due to the ingenuity and enterprise of rival gas companies and private individuals who are constantly putting upon the market new inventions and improvements, many of them well within the compass of the slenderest purse.
Consider for a moment the possibilities nowadays connected with a single gas-ring. A kettle would formerly boil upon the burner in half the time that it would take over a coal fire. Now, owing to a recent invention, the "quick-boiling kettle," the water will boil in one-third less time, saving, on an average, fourpence in every shilling, and retaining the heat considerably longer than the ordinary kettle.
The kettle is of English make - its patentee is an English clergyman - and its special qualification is the metal jacket attached to the sides, as shown in the illustration, which not only keeps the bottom off the stove, but confines the heat round the sides of the kettle, so that none of it is wasted (Fig. 1). It has been proved by a trial experiment that, without the patent attachment, the water took six minutes, on an average, to come to the boil. With the patent attachment the time was reduced to barely four minutes. No wonder the patentee claims that his invention saves 33 per cent. on the gas bill! Another advantage from the use of the jacket is that the kettle is more uniformly heated, tending to prolong its working life. Both kettle and jacket may be bought complete for the moderate sum of one shilling upwards. The same principle may also be applied to saucepans, as shown in the illustration (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2. A similar jacket can be applied to saucepans with equally satisfactory results
Fig. 3. A contrivance by which four pieces of bread may be toasted at one time on a gas-ring in two minutes
Fig 4. A " handy toaster, ' for toasting one slice of bread at a time. This costs sixpence only
The toast for breakfast may now be comfortably made on a single gas-ring by means of little portable stands, with sloping sides and hollow centres, placed directly over the burners. As will be seen by the illustration, the heat from the burner passes up the hollow centre, and is reflected again through the porous sides on to the slices of bread leaning against the surface. Four slices at a time may be toasted in two minutes (Fig. 3). The cost is only Is. 6d. While toasting, the top of the toaster may be used for preparing tea or coffee. A cheaper form is known as the "handy toaster," a grill-like apparatus which toasts one slice at a time, and costs sixpence only (Fig. 4).
Fig. 5. A gas-burner will be found very convenient for heating wash coppers. It is very cleanly and saves much labour
Fig. 6. A movable enamelled plate at the back of a gas stove protects the wall, and can be fitted with a rack for warming plate
Another invention which takes the place of the ordinary circular burner is the flat-iron or triangular burner, costing from two and sixpence upwards. This is a specially useful substitute, for everybody knows how-wasteful a round burner is when heating irons, and as a flat-iron burner can be economically utilised for cooking purposes it will probably be preferred to a round burner by many a woman worker.
Fig. 7. An extension for airing linen that can be arranged over the plate-warmer of a gas stove
Gas-burners, by the way, are now being increasingly utilised for heating wash coppers instead of the ordinary firing (Fig. 5).
A great many new detachable improvements have lately been added by the gas companies to their cooking stoves. Perhaps the most important of these, and one that is supplying a long-felt necessity, is a movable enamelled back plate for protecting the wall behind the gas-stove, with an iron rack attached at the top for warming plates (Fig. 6). The need for a wall protection has often been brought home to us, especially during the splutterings of frying-pan operations, and the plate-rack will usefully economise waste heat rising from the burners. The price is 10S. 6d.
A very ingeniously contrived clothes-horse and plate-warmer has recently been invented, also, to utilise the rising of waste heat from a stove (Fig. 7). The top of the rack consists of a number of long prongs for the purpose of airing and drying clothes, kitchen cloths, etc. The lower rack or grid for plate-warming purposes just clears the kettles, saucepans, and other utensils on the hot-plate of the cooker. Each rack folds back, but is prevented from damaging the wall by means of a stop. The clothes-rack being galvanised, it is impossible for clothes to be stained by ironmould, and is altogether an in-valuable invention in flats where outdoor drying is impossible. The plate-warmer will also do duty as a handy shelf for odds and ends and utensils during cooking operations.
Fig. 8. A useful little arrangement for heating curling-tongs, which are slipped into a hollow tube over the gas flame
The combined attachment costs only 12S. 9d.. or 6s. in a modified form without the clothes-rack.
A useful little arrangement for heating curling-irons may now be purchased and affixed to the side of an open gas fire in a bed-room. As will be seen by aid of the accompanying illustration, the action is very simple (Fig. 8). The tongs are slipped into the top-most hollow tube, and are heated by means of gas issuing from the apertures in the lower tube. This little apparatus, including the cost of fixing, is only a matter of 3s. The " pivot " toaster has been specially made for an open gas fire in a dining-room, where it will be much sought after at breakfast-time. It is only 2s. 6d., and may be fixed before any sort of gas grate, the pivot needing only an occasional turning as the toast browns.
It would take up too much space to enumerate the numberless improvements that are constantly being introduced into the gas cookers themselves, apart from the various detachments above mentioned. One gas cooker, known as the "Advance," boasts of special receptacles for matchbox, used matches, and taper-holder, with a towel-rail below for holding the oven cloth. Another novel and useful feature to be found on many present-day cookers is a sliding meat-hook operated from outside the oven, which prevents burning the fingers when attaching the joint on to the hook. The general construction of modern gas cookers has now reached to a great height of perfection. All the parts will, as a rule, take entirely to pieces for purposes of cleaning.
The examples illustrating this article were placed at our disposal by the Gas Light and Coke Co. and the Richmond Gas Stove and Meter Co., Ltd.