How Does A Blender Work?

How Does A Blender Work?

Have you ever wondered what is happening inside your blender to make your favorite fruits and veggies turn from a solid to a delicious liquid? Maybe you watch, fascinated, as the solid food swirls around inside the jar changing appearance until your “Green Goodness Smoothie” is perfectly finished ready to enjoy and improve your health and fitness. This post, “How Does A Blender Work?”, explains the inner secret.

 

 

Let’s start with a brief history of where the blender came from:

History

How Does A Blender Work? - Soda FountainThe kitchen blender was invented by the Polish-American Stephen J. Poplawski, owner of the Stevens Electric Company, who patented the drink mixer in 1922. The mixer was designed to make Horlicks malted milk shakes at soda fountains. He also introduced the liquefier blender in 1922.

The Hamilton Beach Company under the ownership and management team of L. Hamilton, Chester Beach, and Fred Osius produced an improved model of the blender in the 1930’s.

In 1933 Fred Osius worked with Fred Waring, a popular musician, to finance and produce the “Miracle Mixer”. The Miracle Mixer had a leakage problem around the jar base so Waring redesigned the appliance and released his own blender in 1937, the Waring Blendor with which Waring popularized the smoothie in the 1940s.

Also in 1937, W.G. Barnard, founder of Vitamix, introduced a product called “The Blender”. Functionally a reinforced blender, it came with a stainless steel jar. The Waring model used a Pyrex glass jar.

Learn more at Wikipedia – Blenders.

Basic Parts

Now let’s look at the basic parts of a blender:

How Does A Blender Work? - Typical Blender Parts

The above picture illustrates a typical countertop blender. Read my Blenders page for more information on the different types of blenders.

Typical blender parts are:

Lid

  • most countertop blender lids have a hole in the center, covered by a removable fill cap. Various inserts can be fitted in the hole e.g. funnels, measuring cups, smoothie sticks, etc.

Jar

  • (or container) – various sizes and shapes are available. Some countertop blenders double as personal blenders by having a single serving container with a travel cap for portability. Jars may be made of glass, plastic or metal (usually only available on high-end commercial appliances). No matter the shape of the jar it is important that the container is tapered from wide at the top to narrower at the bottom. This taper acts as a funnel to direct the solid particles down towards the blades.

Blades

  • this is the most important part of the blender. Almost all blenders use stainless steel for the blade material, but there are different grades of stainless steel, different hardnesses, and different designs. The best blenders use high-grade stainless steel with little or no contaminants that can result in harmful corrosion, harmful to your health as well as the machine’s longevity. The blade should not have impurities that reduce the strength of the steel and the steel should be hardened or cold-forged. The best-designed blades do not trap pieces of food underneath the blades. If you are constantly stopping the blender and digging out food particles from under the blades in order to finish the process, then you have poorly designed blades.

Base or bottom screw cap

  • attach the blades to the jar.  Usually made of one piece molded plastic. In manyHow Does A Blender Work? - green smoothie in a mason jar, apple, veggies models, the base is lockable to the motor housing to ensure the coupling between the motor and blades is secure. Inside is a rubber gasket to prevent leaks. Did you know that a standard (not wide mouth) Mason jar has the same threads a the base of a blender? You can use one to replace the blending jar that came with your blender.

Drive stud

  • connects the blades to the motor to make the blades rotate. There are different designs for drive studs from simple squares to multi-faceted precision fit couplings. Precision fit multi-faceted couplings reduce vibration and noise.

Couplings and Seal

  • plastic couplings will break to prevent motor overloading and more severe damage in case of a jam. Blenders with metal to metal couplings have built-in motor overload detection and protection. The seal is important because it keeps liquids and small particles from leaking down into the motor housing.

Motor (not shown)

  • the motor drives the rotating blades. The speed of the motor is adjustable, usually in steps but may be infinitely variable. The more steps or variance from slow to high speed, the more control you have over the blending process. Specifications state the power of the motor as either watts and/or peak horsepower. Watts are what the appliance consumes, not what it produces. Peak horsepower is the power that the motor produces when it first starts spinning. For those that want to do the math: 1 HP = 746 x watts.

Multi-speed switch

  • can be simple push-button style or touch face with a waterproof cover. Push buttons often trap dirt, food particles and moisture between and under them thus limiting the lifetime of the appliance. The multi-speed switch determines the speed at which the motor runs. The pulse mode available on most blenders runs the motor only as long as the button is pushed.

Motor housing (not indicated)

  • covers the motor and electrical/electronic parts including the multi-speed switch and provides a sturdy base for the blender. Non-slip feet or suction cups are necessary to keep the appliance from moving during assembly/disassembly and operation.

The Blender’s Secret Weapons

Watch these two videos to find out how the blender does its job:

First, your blender cuts chunks of fruit or veggies into much smaller pieces, with rapidly spinning sharp blades. Then a process called cavitation demolishes the smaller pieces. The rapidly spinning sharp blades form tiny air bubbles at the bottom of the jar, from the in the moisture in the fruit and veggies. When these tiny bubbles collapse they cause shock waves that break the bits of food up until they become liquid.

Here’s hoping this post answered your question – “How Does A Blender Work”?

If you would like to find the right countertop blender for you, visit my Blender Reviews page.

Did you enjoy reading and learning? If you did, please leave a comment or ask any questions in the comments box below.

5 Replies to “How Does A Blender Work?”

  1. Wow, this is a really informative article as to how blenders really work. Cutting, downward suction and finally the bubbles that are amazing.
    I now understand the difference between the cheap blender I have and the large professional blender I have.
    Having said all of that the main thing that always steer me away from using my blender is having to clean it at the end. I love the end product from my blender but not the cleaning. Alan

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, clean up is not the most pleasant part of using blenders but the removable parts of most blenders are dishwasher safe and the removable parts are the ones that get dirty. If you don’t have a dishwasher or don’t have enough dirty dishes to justify using your dishwasher try this easy cleanup method. Put warm water and a little soap into a large pot. Disassemble the blender, removing the lid, base and blades from the jar putting the disassembled components, including the jar, into the pot. Let them soak in the warm water while you go do something enjoyable. After an hour or so, take the parts out of the pot rinsing them under warm running water in the sink. Air dry and reassemble. For most foods there shouldn’t be any residue left stuck on any of the parts so you don’t have to do any scrubbing.

      Ed

  2. This is an interesting post. Although I don’t need to know technically how a blender works it is still good to know as general knowledge. I liked watching the 2 videos.
    Btw, I am looking at some handheld blenders. Is it possible to use it to make smoothies? Any recommendations?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for the comment. 

      The “Reviews/Immersion Blenders” page on this site has several handheld blenders that you might be interested in and yes handheld blenders are quite suitable for making smoothies. My personal favorite is the KitchenAid KHB2561OB 5-Speed Hand Blender. After you’ve used it for making smoothies you will find it very useful for lots of other things like soups, sauces and dips. It is also very easy to clean.

      Ed

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