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Tea Kettles

Water kettles (commonly called Tea Kettles) are meant to heat only water. That's it! Important elements to consider might include: Capacity, Efficiency in heating, Handling comfort, Pouring ease, To whistle or not to whistle, and Care requirements.

Capacity: The sizes shown are the manufacturer's claim of the total capacity up to the brim, not necessarily of the quantity of water that is safe to boil in them. It is generally safest to fill only to the bottom of the spout opening, so that boiling water does not spit out of the spout, whether or not the spout is covered. You can safely fill a little higher in kettles with wider, longer spouts. Look for the recommended fill level in the descriptions of the kettles.

Whistling kettles usually need to be at least half full in order to whistle. On some, the water level may need to be above the spout opening, to cover it and to thus create enough internal pressure to blow the whistle. An occasional de-scaling will help keep the whistle working properly, and let the whistle air dry before storing your kettle.

Copper kettles are generally the most efficient because of their speed. As the most conductive material for making kettles, copper will heat the water from all sides. Take care not to put them over high heat; it's not necessary and they'll last a lot longer if you don't 'abuse' them as such. If you intend to use a lacquered kettle, remove the lacquer first. You can keep it polished using a cleaner like Wenol or Red Bear, which is based on jeweler's rouge and won't scuff the copper. Empty after use. Allow to cool before cleaning. Clean, rinse, and wipe dry.

Anodized aluminum will heat the second-fastest on your stove. Empty after use. Allow to cool before cleaning. Clean, rinse, and wipe dry.

Glass is beautiful and easy to keep clean; be sure to use a metal trivet or diffuser between the heat source and the glass, and heat slowly. Never boil dry. Empty after use. Allow to cool before cleaning. Clean, rinse, and wipe dry.

Cast iron ones are most often used on heaters, to humidify rooms; once a protective coating of minerals develops inside, through repeated boilings, they won't easily rust, especially if you boil your tea leaves right in the pot. They take a while to heat up, but then are the best of the non-electrics at retaining heat. Empty after use. Allow to cool before cleaning. Wipe clean without soap, rinse, and wipe dry.

Enameled water kettles come in beautiful colors, and are also quite easy to keep clean. Some care is required to keep them from hitting other objects to prevent chipping. Never boil dry, never place on heat without water inside, and never subject to thermal extremes. Empty the kettle after it cools down a bit, then dry thoroughly; this will diminish the chance of moisture reaching hidden weak spots in the glaze, and thus reduce the chance of rust forming in these areas. Emptying the kettle also helps prevent scale from forming on the inside surface. To help remove stains and rust, put 2 tablespoons of baking soda and a little bit of lemon juice into the kettle, add water, and bring to a boil. Distilled and chlorinated water can have an effect on enameled surfaces over time, so you might consider using filtered water as an alternative. Empty after use. Allow to cool before cleaning. Clean, rinse, and wipe dry. Store in a dry area when not in use.

Stainless ones are the easiest to care for; they're slower to boil than most, and ones with sandwich bases will heat the fastest. Empty after use. Allow to cool before cleaning. Clean, rinse, and wipe dry (stainless steel resists staining when it is dry).

Electric kettles are the fastest to heat, they may provide the option of keeping the water hot, they may have an auto-shutoff, and in general are very convenient. Empty after use. Follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning.

Plastic parts on stovetop kettles require a bit of attention to the amount of heat you put under the kettle. Heat that radiates from a flame or element should never come anywhere close to contacting plastic parts.

How good is your water? A kettle is not going to improve the taste of your water. It'll just heat it. If you don't like the way your water tasted, try bottled water, or use a water filter.

How hard is your water? Limescale is common in hard water, and will create chalky surface deposits that inhibit heat conductivity, and clog whistles, and tubes in electric kettles. Occasionally de-scaling the inside of every kettle is a light chore that will make your kettle last a long time. Follow manufacturer instructions, and see our page on Cleaners for the appropriate cleaning agents. Or you can usually boil 1/2 cup of white vinegar to each quart of water for 10-15 minutes, or put it through twice on an electric kettle's cycle, then boil clean water several times to totally remove the vinegar.
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