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Nichrome wire is a nickel-chromium resistance wire that is often used as a heating element. The wire has a relatively high resistance (measured in Ohms per unit length) and heats up rapidly when current is run through it. Nichrome has over 50 times the resistance of copper with a resistance of 100 micro-ohms/cm.

Nichrome wire is used in hot wire foam cutters. In this application, it is important to realize that the wire will stretch some when hot.

Nichrome wire is also used in biology. One use is as part of a microbiological loop for the sterile transfer of microorganisms. Loops (which should contain more than 5cm of nichrome wire) involve a completely closed loop of wire attached to a handle. The loop can be sterilized (flaming the loop by heating the loop and 3cm of wire to red-hot above a flame. Let the loop cool for about 5 seconds before using it (and make sure not to blow on it or wave it in the air, as this may contaminate it). Another use in biology is in building electrophoresis boxes.

Nichrome wire is great fun to play with or to make little devices out of if you're bored and have a bunch of junk sitting around.

Most classic-style toasters use nichrome wire wrapped around mica plates. You can obtain quite a large amount of it by cannibalizing an old toaster. A 9 volt battery will heat up to 2 inches of toaster wire to red-hot; 1 inch will heat to white-hot. This drains batteries very quickly, since it is essentially a short-circuit.

A match head wrapped in nichrome wire, powered by a 9V battery makes an excellent homebrew igniter, if you need something ignited. Like a model rocket. Or a physics project.

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