How Does a Toaster Work – Learn the Ins and Outs

There is a slim chance that you are not aware of this small kitchen cooking appliance. Yes, who doesn’t love those little slices of bread popping up in the morning while having breakfast? But, have you ever wondered “how does a toaster work?” In our guide we’ll explain what the toaster actually does during the toasting cycle. Knowing more about how it works can help you troubleshoot it later on in case it ever stops working.

Undoubtedly, the toaster is available in almost every household across the country. The reason is simple: it is economical, efficient and toasts the toast to perfection. 

Sounds cliché, right? 

But, it is true! 

How Does a Toaster Work – Know the Secrets of the Toasting Function

If you are inquisitive like me, there would be a lot of questions running in your mind. For instance, how does the toaster work? How does it know when the toast is done and pops it out? How do the different settings on it function? 

So, read on to know exactly what goes on inside the toaster when you switch it on! 

Components of a Toaster 

Before we hop along and see how the toaster works, it is important to be familiar with the different components that make up a toaster.

  • Coils
  • Nichrome wire
  • Handle
  • Release switch
  • Springs
  • Infrared radiation
  • A metal tab
  • Lever
  • Electromagnet or grates
  • Plastic wedge
  • Mica sheets
  • Circuit

Phew! That is some list, isn’t it? 

Don’t worry! The working of the toaster is pretty simple. What we see with the naked eye is the toast going in, the coils lighting up red and the toast popping out! The red color shows that the coils are heating up. This happens because of infrared radiation. This in turn causes the surface of the toast to char and become brown. 

Simple, isn’t it? 

Let’s see how these components come together to do this.

The Toasting Process

Step 1: The toast goes in

The first thing you do is put the toast inside the toaster and pull the little handle on the side down. It has grates on the inside. When you push the handle down, the grates grab the toast and the springing mechanism pulls them downwards. 

In case your toaster does not have grates, it may have an electromagnet and a metal tab. These work together to keep the toast down while it is toasting. 

When the toast goes inside the toaster, the little plastic wedge comes into action. Now, what it does is that it brings two contacts together.

From here, the nichrome wires are connected to the power supply. These nichrome wires are wrapped all around mica sheets and electricity passes through them.

Step 2: Electricity passes through the wires 

Were you thinking copper wires should have been used for better results? 

Bingo! You are right! But, the idea is not to let electricity pass through properly. 

Confused? Keep reading! 

The reason why nichrome wires are used is simple. Because the electricity is not properly being transferred through the wires, it converts into heat. After all, the electricity has to have an outlet. Now that the nichrome wires are well-heated, they will in turn start heating the toast.

Step 3: Heating duration 

You need to select the heating duration. If you leave the toast in for a longer time, it will burn and become all black. For a slight toast, you can choose the lowest setting. On the other hand, for a crispier, brown toast, you can select a higher heating setting. 

Step 4: Circuit break

The toaster does not need a timer, the circuit in it acts like one. There is a capacitor and a resistor. Once the required voltage is attained, the resistor cuts power. Once the power is cut, the electromagnet or grate loses power and the spring comes into action and they are released. 

Consequently, the spring rises! 

Nice and simple! 

But, what happens if you want to toast it for longer? 

When you change the heat setting on the toaster, the resistance level of the resistor is changed. This shows that if you increase the heat setting, the resistor will cut the power later. Hence, you will get a deeper toast! 

As you can see, the mechanism is pretty simple. A few simple steps go on inside the toaster to give you that beautifully toasted toast.

Tips and Tricks to Clean and Maintain the Toaster 

Do you want your toaster to last you long and keep making perfectly toasted bread every time? As with other electronics, it is important to maintain it well to get the best results. 

For this, we have included some bonus tips and tricks to maintain your toaster and keep it as good as new. 

  • Always unplug the toaster before you begin cleaning it.
  • Turn it upside down to remove all the crumbs from the inside.
  • Take out the crumb tray and wash it well.
  • With a clean sponge, clean the outside of the toaster well.
  • Use a little vinegar to give the final touches. Using vinegar will add sparkle and shine to your toaster
  • Clean the toaster once every week if you use it regularly.

Check out our full guide on how to clean out a toaster.


Never clean the toaster right after you have used it. You can end up burning your fingers! 


We hope our guide has answered the question “how does a toaster work?” The mechanism is pretty simple and straightforward, a little genius we must say! Because of the ease of use, it is one of the most used kitchen utensils all around the world. 

You will hardly come across someone who is not aware of a toaster and does not use it. Along with this, our tips and tricks will help you maintain the toaster for longer. So, what are you waiting for? 

Let’s get some toast toasting!

P.S. If you’re in need of a new toaster, please take a look at our best 2-slice toasters in 2021/buyers guide post.

Leave a Comment