I fell in love with electric water kettles while staying with my friend Molly, a fellow tea drinker. Although I love tea, I never bought one because I didn’t think I needed it. “That’s what I have a stove for!” I would think. “Why do I need another gadget taking up counterspace?”
Most electric kettles use plastic
But was I ever wrong.
As it turns out, the ease of having boiling water at one’s fingertips is indispensable once experienced. To begin, the water boils faster—much faster. This morning I was in the mood for a nice french press coffee, so I set up a test: 12 ounces in my electric kettle and 12 ounces in a pot on our gas stove. Results? The electric kettle had the water at a rolling boil in 1 minute 45 seconds. The pot—a 1.5-quart stainless steel with the burner set to medium-high—took over twice as long at 4 minutes, 20 seconds!
The other great thing about electric kettles is auto shut-off. Once the water is boiling, the kettle turns itself off. This is great for the busy and the forgetful. You just depress the button and walk away! No risk of ruining a nice pot, and when you come back, your water won’t be half evaporated or taste flat like overboiled water does. It even stays hot for a while.
But I digress. Even though it was love-at-first-sight with Molly’s electric water kettle, I was worried about “the morning after.” You see, Molly’s kettle had a little plastic window on the side that showed the water level. And that just isn’t cool. Because every few years, another major study comes out that shows that plastic we previously thought was safe for food use actually isn’t.
And many of these studies are conducted using room-temperature water. For example, rats are fed tepid water from a Nalgene bottle and monitored for infertility and incidence of birth defects. How much more BPA and other chemicals can we expect to absorb from water boiled in plastic? Hot water is not only a powerful solvent, it also breaks plastic down, more and more with every use. As a person with other challenges who wishes to preserve her ability to bear healthy children, this was not a risk I was willing to take.
So, I began my search for a no-plastic electric water-kettle. I spent hours researching kettles, periodically getting my hopes up when I found a windowless kettle, only to have them dashed in the reviews when I learned they had internal plastic parts. At last I gave up. I could find no plastic-free kettle.
But then, a few months later, Molly gave me what might be the best Christmas present ever—a no-plastic water kettle!
The Russell Hobbs Ellora Kettle, Model RH13552
The Russell Hobbs Ellora Kettle (RH13552) is a window-less electric kettle that can be modified so that no plastic is in contact with water. In its unmodified state, the only plastic that would contact the water is a little filter screen that snaps on the inside spout, the purpose of which is unclear to me. I believe I read something about it filtering scale from hard water, or perhaps people could use it to strain loose leaf tea brewed directly in the kettle. In any case, I would have no use for this even if it weren’t made of plastic and promptly threw it out!
Inside plastic is above the water level
There are two more areas inside the kettle that contain plastic but they’re above the water level. One is around the handle near the top. There’s a bunch of black plastic that screws into the inner handle mount. I believe that’s for the auto-shutoff feature, and I removed it. And there is the inner handle mount itself, which stabilizes the top part of the handle. I tried removing that, but the handle became a little unstable with just the metal screws and I put it back.
The other spot is a little speck of plastic on the inner lid, smaller than a mustard seed. It keeps the outer plastic lid-knob fastened to the stainless steel lid. It would probably make the lid unusable if removed, but the lid is not necessary unless you want auto-shutoff.
Interestingly, the auto-shutoff feature still works for me, even after removing the plastic modulator for it. The kettle takes a little longer to shut off than it did before I removed the piece. This is remedied by draping a dishtowel over the kettle so that it covers the spout, but I don’t bother as it only takes 5-10 extra seconds for shutoff to kick in.
Some people would still be bothered by the small amount of plastic inside the kettle, even though it doesn’t contact the water. This is because steam from the water can condense on those parts and then drip back in. I agree that an electric kettle completely free of all plastic would be ideal, but since I haven’tt seen such a product, I am content with my no-plastic-in-the-water kettle. I use my Ellora constantly, and love it so much I bought a second one for my desk at work!
Do you know of another no-plastic electric water kettle? Let us know in the comments!