I’ve used a kettle all of my life, so when I was asked whether they were safe by a friend in the US I was surprised. I’d never actually considered that they might not be.
My research found that kettles as a whole are safe kitchen appliances. However, you should look to avoid those which are manufactured from plastic as they could include chemicals and toxins which can leach into the water which you drink. Instead, I recommend buying a glass or stainless steel kettle.
I conducted specific research into the different materials which kettles are made from following my discovery about plastic in particular to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a kettle in the near future.
Are Electric Kettles Safe?
There are two types of kettles, electric kettles which receive power as a result of being plugged into a power outlet and stovetop kettles which are placed on top of a gas stove.
Electric kettles are often seen as the most convenient type of kettle and are made from a variety of materials such as glass and plastic (more on this later).
While electric kettles do pose some risk (after all you’re boiling hot water in close proximity to an electrical outlet) the major risk factor comes from the heating element situated inside of the kettle which is used to boil the water.
In 2003, The Guardian published a report which found that some old kettles may still have nickel elements which as a result could be causing some health-related issues.
However, electric kettles which are manufactured today are done so with safety in mind and pose limited health threats to those using them.
That said, there are some material factors you should consider when choosing your new kettle which is why I’ve broken down the remainder of this post to look at the different materials used in kettle manufacturing.
Are Plastic Kettles Safe?
Plastic is the material most commonly used material when manufacturing kettles as it’s incredibly affordable and allows for electric kettles to be retailed for less than $20.
However, plastic kettles are the most unsafe type of kettle available. Again, this is due to the plastic material used not as much the fact the kettle is electric.
Plastic isn’t recommended for kettles as they may leach chemicals such as BPA (Bisphenol A) or Phthalates into your water.
These chemicals have been known to have various drastic side-effects to your health and in some cases can change the taste of the water boiled inside the kettle significantly.
Are Glass Kettles Safe?
Glass is one of the best and safest materials for a kettle as it does not emit any kind of chemicals from the manufacturing process (unlike plastic). However, you may be worried about a glass kettle with boiling water specifically.
Luckily, there’s no need. The vast majority of glass kettles manufactured today are treated to avoid any damage to the glass as a result of the boiling water making them completely safe.
Glass kettles also have improved temperature control, they don’t discolour and they also don’t retain the taste or odour of the material.
While glass kettles may be more expensive than plastic and easy to damage when compared to some of the other materials on this list, they are, in my opinion, a material worth investing in.
Are Brass / Copper Kettles Safe?
Copper kettles are of the stovetop design (not electric) and have been incredibly popular in recent years thanks to features in a variety of home design magazines.
Modern-day copper kettles are completely safe as they include a lining of either stainless steel, tin or nickel which prevents the risk of copper tea kettle poisoning. That said an old vintage copper kettle may not be safe.
You’ll want to look at the material which is used on the interior of the pot specifically as this is the part of the kettle which will come into contact with the water you will go on to drink.
While the health and safety aspects of copper kettles are relatively good, the material does come with a downside. Copper tarnishes incredibly easily when exposed to air, and can dent and scratch easily.
Which isn’t the best news considering a copper kettle is one of the most expensive material kettles you can purchase.
If you do decide to invest in a copper kettle be sure to purchase a variety of suitable polishes alongside it allow it to continue to shine on your worktop.
Are Aluminium Kettles Safe?
Aluminium is an incredibly soft and lightweight material which would buckle as a result of boiled water inside. Therefore, a small amount of other materials such as manganese are often included in the mix to help maintain the kettles structure.
The aluminium material is oxidized which locks in any potential leaks and makes the material relatively safe to use in a kettle.
I say only relatively safe as the research into consumption of aluminium is minimal despite it being a material which is commonly used for drinks (cans of pop etc.). With much safer materials to choose from when purchasing a kettle, I’d advise against aluminium.
Are Stainless Steel Kettles Safe?
Stainless steel kettles are incredibly durable and come in a range of stylish designs. In recent years they have become the most popular material for kettle manufacturer.
This is because stainless steel is the safest material for a kettle and is far better than a kettle made from plastic. Water drunk from a stainless steel kettle is no threat to humans and doesn’t release a metallic taste (which you may find with brass, copper and aluminium).
Stainless steel kettles are relatively affordable and incredibly durable which is why they are often favoured over other safe kettle materials such as glass. The manufacturing and technological advancements have been geared towards stainless steel kettles.
Today you can buy stainless steel kettles by designer brands such as KitchenAid and Smeg, as well as smart stainless steel kettles with features such as Alexa built-in.
Personally, the only material I look at when buying a kettle is stainless steel. I’m clumsy which pretty much rules glass out, and I don’t have the time to polish things (plus I prefer electric over the stovetop) which rules out brass or copper, and then, of course, plastic kettles are unsafe for use.