A lightweight steam iron includes most handheld models used in the home or for travel purposes. Typically weighing 4 pounds or less, steam irons need not be bulky and heavy to be effective. While it's true that the weight of the iron is what shapes the fabric after steam penetrates it, lightweight models still feature a durable metal soleplate. When combined with the force applied by hand, seams, collars, edges and creases in fabric become smooth and wrinkle free.
For anywhere from about $20 to $200, you can purchase a lightweight steam iron. A wide variety of manufacturers, including Hamilton Beach, Black & Decker, Bosch, Rowenta, Shark and Panasonic, produce them. With the exception of lightweight travel steam irons, most home models use a 1,200- to 1,700-Watt heating element concealed beneath a stainless steel or aluminum soleplate. Its nonstick surface provides for better gliding motion and heat retention while resisting corrosion and scale buildup.
Among the features commonly found on lightweight steam irons are a translucent or transparent water tank for easy viewing, temp-ready light, fine mist spray function and a temperature select button. Most lightweight irons are self cleaning and feature an anti-drip valve to prevent big messes. A 3-way auto shutoff function adds a measure of safety, while a retractable cord eliminates a tangled mess when putting the iron away for the day.