Charcoal-Heated Iron (Plantsa de Uling)

Talking about the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, a truly great lady, made me remember another lady with a charcoal-heated iron who is a marvellous woman blessed with an iron will herself Рmy Mother.

Long time ago, really, really long time ago, ūüėČ back when I was a girl living in Marag, Luna, Kalinga-Apayao, Mountain Province, Philippines – where there were no amenities like electricity, water on taps, gas on pipelines, television, medical care from doctors/nurses, dentist, cars, etc, everything¬†was done through basic manual labour. ¬†LOL, really ¬†a ¬†long, long time ago.

Anyway my mother used to iron all our clothes once a month. ¬†That was a gargantuan task! ¬†She used to iron just after lunchtime up to almost 8 o’clock in the evening when her tiredness was made more tiresome by the dimly flickering kerosene lamp which was barely sufficient to shed¬† brightness into a darkening night.

She used the charcoal iron; and that was laborious task to say the least.




Coconut shell

Before the day of the ironing, my sister and I would gather up all the coconut shells that we could find. ¬†We usually had a stack of them as we use coconut in most of our cooking. ¬†We would also ask neighbours, but the ¬†most fun was looking for them from under coconut trees where we usually find some weird and wonderful objects which usually waylay us from our task, much to my mother’s consternation.



When we had enough of the coconut shells and some bits of light woods, we would dig a hole and put  all the coconut shells and and tinders  into the prepared hole in the ground.  They would then be lightly drenched in a very small amount of kerosene.

We would cover the whole thing with an old tin kerosene can of which the bottom and top bits have been removed.  We would light them and leave them until the shell and woods have  turned into a burning embers. To cool it down we would remove the covering tin can and  bury the embers using the soil from when we dug the hole.  After a day we would dig them out as they were ready and  ideal to heat up an iron.


My mother would tell us to be good little girls and do the cooking and everything else as she would be too busy and too tired from the literal mountain of ironings. (I actually understand now how my mother must have  felt after ironing.  To date I could only iron for a couple of hours at the most and I am beat and I use an electric iron which is one of the best there is in the market)

My mother’s ¬†iron is like the one on the picture below.



 Mother would put in the charcoal inside and sprinkle on it a little bit of kerosene. Then away she goes dashing away with a smoothing iron. LOL  From time to time, she would empty the iron of the ash from the charcoal and put in fresh charcoal and start with the whole process all over again and again until every single piece of cloth had been ironed and pressed.





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