While I'm making a hot brew, I look around my kitchen at all the appliances. I then focus back on my kettle, a metal green SMEG.
Suddenly, a thought comes to mind, why are kettles made of metal?
So I did a bit of research and found out the following.
Most kettles are made of metal because it is required for conducting heat. A substance that didn't conduct heat would make a terrible water heating device.
In some models, they also make up the upper structure of the unit. While others have metal enclosures on the bases that contain the heating elements.
What else are kettles made of?
Depending on the design of the kettle, the type of raw materials to make it can vary. This depends on the quality of the kettle.
For top quality quality kettles, high grade steel is commonly used for the inner structure.
In fact, high grade steel is the most common material used for creating the outer shell of a kettle. The shell is created by using a punch press to cut steel sheets and create steel stampings.
This steel is also used to create the solid base that houses the electrical components.
Some of the cheaper options on the market may just be comprised of aluminium.
In electric kettles, the heating element is most vital part of boiling water in the unit. Because of this, it needs to be made of metal.
If you were to open up an electric kettle and look at the bottom of the container. You will see the heating element. This heating element powers the kettle heat capabilities.
Over long periods of use, i.e a few years these heating element are susceptible to burning out. It usually cannot be replace and in these instances are new kettle is usually bought.
What were kettles originally made of?
The tea kettle's origins can be traced back to the cooking kettle that was placed on an iron post in the cooking fire. An external metal hook was turned to move the kettle directly over the fire, and a makeshift tilting process helped to pour water from the kettle.
Originally, kettles were made of iron, one of the first metals to be mined and processed.
I found the following extract from MadeHow:
In Japan, the iron cooking kettle became a small, rounded bowl with two short arms or loops (one on either side of the bowl) for pulling it off the hearth and a lid. A classic example of a bowl-type iron kettle dates from 1517. As methods of casting iron became more sophisticated, the outsides of these kettles were decorated, and the two arms became a spout and better handle. Iron casters who made tea kettles were highly respected.
What is a kettles heating element made of?
Many heating elements inside tea kettles are comprised of Nichrome, 80% nickel and 20% chromium, wire, ribbon or strip.
Nichrome benefits from having a relatively high resistance, and therefore is an ideal material for heating water.
According to Kettle Heating Element:
This oxide coating prevents the wire inside the application from burning away or breaking. In most heating elements, the element is well insulated and fully embedded into an outer copper housing which is chrome plated to help delay corrosion from the water surrounding it, which is heated by the element.
When lifting the lid and taking a look at the very bottom of the container, you will see a thick metal called the heating element. Such hidden element work very well, but still holds disadvantages, one being that when the element burns out it cannot be replaced and a new kettle has to be bought.
Are Electric Kettles made of metal?
Electric tea kettles are made primarily made of steel, iron, silver, aluminium, or a combination of plastic and metal.
The electrical components of an electric kettle include the heating element, a thermostat, which turns off the kettle automatically when finished boiling, a wire linking the element to the cord, and the plug.
And for kettles with a base unit, this base container provides power to the heating element.
However, electric kettles can be categorised as either metal or plastic. In both these cases, the heating element will still be made of thick metal.
The advantages of electric metal kettles are that metal, like stainless steel can be more durable when heated. This can make the water used flavour neutral compared to a primarily plastic electric kettle.
Another advantage of stainless steel teakettles are that being dishwasher safe. Porcelain exterior teakettles i.e some stove top kettles are not dishwasher safe.
Having the water be flavor neutral, leads to a hot brew having an unaffected taste, which is very important.
On the flips-side, after the heat has been removed, electric plastic kettles keep their contained water hotter for longer. This is because they conduct heat more slowly than metal.
This benefits those going back for a second hot brew. and don't want wait around reheating their kettle.
Are Stove top kettles made of metal?
Stove top kettles tends be made of sturdier raw materials. This is because they are often placed over very hot heat sources for long periods of time.
They can be placed on stoves, gas hobs, fires and conduct the heat from these source from up to 10 -20 minutes before they are at boiling point.
Some are made with stainless steel and zinc to make sure that this pot doesn’t rust, these high quality materials and made to retain the heat inside.
This means that your water will boil faster and it will actually stay hot a lot longer than with electric kettles.
A lot of stove top kettles are renown for whistling at boiling point.
Stove top kettles whistle because of consist of two parallel metal plates with a hole running through them through which steam passes. The whistling sound is the result of this flow of steam making the air vibrate rapidly.
Stove top kettles, in the 17th century were originally made of iron.
Iron kettles could withstand cooking fires, so they needed to be made out out these harder substances.
While the materials inside both stove top kettles and electric kettles can be varied, they all seem to serve the same purpose. To heat up water efficiently through their own sources of heat. While this might seem obvious, being made with metal appears to be most efficient raw material to serve this purpose.
It's ability to conduct heat and its availability for manufacturing is unrivalled amongst other raw materials.
Who would have known!?