Kymberly loves to cook, bake, and preserve. She'd love more time to experiment in the kitchen and come up with delicious (healthy) recipes!
Kettles are regarded by many as must-have tools in the kitchen. Used for quickly boiling water for tea or coffee to sanitizing bottles and jars, they are regarded as safer than stove kettles, with little risk for boiling dry thanks to their automatic cut-off switches.
Even in households avoiding plastic storage containers and bottles, the ubiquitous plastic kettle, or a brushed steel version with a plastic fill indicator, spout filter, and plastic lid remains on the kitchen bench.
For those trying to go plastic-free, it can be nigh impossible to find an electric kettle with no plastic components in contact with both the boiling water or steam.
Health Concerns About Plastics
When plastic is exposed to heat, it starts to break down. As plastic ages, small cracks and imperfections develop, increasing the risk that unwanted chemicals can leech into the water boiled in plastic kettles.
Kettles are commonly made with polycarbonate (PC) or polypropylene (PP).
Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly found in polycarbonates and in some resins. In the human body, it mimics estrogen and disrupts the body's hormones, especially in unborn fetuses, babies and young children. Several studies have suggested may increase the risk of developing obesity, and has a lasting effect on the structure of the growing brain. PC and other plastics made with BPA are commonly used to make kettles and components for metal kettles (such as lids), and many food storage containers. It's also used to coat the inside of food and drink cans.
BPA has been declared a toxic substance in Canada, and BPA-containing plastics have been banned from being used to manufacture baby bottles and sippy cups in the US, Canada and the European Union. Japan has also stopped lining cans with resins containing BPA.
Scientists discovered that even plastics used in labs were contaminating experiment results, with synthetic oleamides detected especially where polypropylene was used.
PP plastics are used a lot in food containers, and occasionally kettles. Synthetic oleamide may interfere with the body's use of its naturally produced oleamides, which regulates the need to sleep and has an impact on depression.
A Note on Metal Kettles
Many stainless steel versions are only mostly metal on the inside, but many of them contain small plastic parts.
Read More From Delishably
Watch out for
- plastic fill-gauges.
- plastic spout filters.
- plastic lids that the hot steam condenses on, and then drips back into the water.
- plastic handles that go through metal lids and kettle bodies, exposed to steam on the inside.
If you want to truly avoid any plastic contact with hot water, then you will need to investigate their insides thoroughly!
My Search for the Perfect Kettle
I knew I wanted a metal cordless one—preferably brushed stainless because it is easy to keep clean. Cordless is practical, and being electric, there was no danger that I would forget it on the stove!
I found that most of the kettles available hurt my hands dreadfully when lifted. I have neuropathy in my hands, synovitis in my wrists, and fibromyalgia, so minimizing pain is important, especially as I have many cups of tea, coffee, and herbal tisanes each day!
I needed to find one that had a handle I could easily hold and pour, that was cordless and metal (for ease of keeping clean). I chose the Alice Elegance by Ottoni Fabbrica, not for being plastic-free, but for the way it didn't hurt my hands. Plus it looks so stylish! However, after reading much more about how chemicals leached from plastics can affect our bodies, I'm really glad I bought it!
I was shocked when I found out the link between plastics and hormonal diseases, as I had extreme endometriosis which developed into untreatable adenomyosis because it was not detected until too late.
Just how much of an impact the plastic microwave and storage containers, plastic kettle, egg poacher and other plastic food appliances had on my endometriosis, I can't be sure. However, I will certainly minimize any future exposure for both me and my family!
More About the Alice Kettle
Ottoni Fabbrica (now Metalgo), an Italian design company, has developed a range of super-stylish, all metal (stainless steel) kettles, with the most popular being their Alice model—a cordless 1.7L electric version.
- The Alice is available in a range of accent colours—pink, blue, cream, white, red, or black external plastic surfaces with a chrome finish, or black plastic accents with a matte black or shiny purple body finish.
- The Alice Elegance by Ottoni Fabbrica is available from the German Amazon store. If you order from outside the EU but have a compatible electricity supply (220-240V), send them an email and they will also change the plug to suit your electrical outlets.
- Although it ships with a plastic spout filter, Ottoni Fabbrica will send an all-steel filter without charge if you send them an email.
- There is no water gauge, and even the inside of the lid is all metal.
- The heating element is hidden, making the inside easy to clean if you have hard water like mine!
- Of course, to minimize burns, the handle and the lid's handle are both plastics but are absolutely not in water contact.
- The outside base is lined in sturdy plastic so it won't damage surfaces when placed down off its charger.
- As with most metal kettles, the body does get quite hot on boiling, but the handle's design keeps hands away from the heat.
- The handle design is easy to use for both right and left-handers, and you can grip further back on the handle if you have wrist pain on pouring, making it a great choice for those with nerve or wrist pain.
A Note on Stainless Steel and Glass Electric Kettles
Many stainless steel or glass electric kettles are advertised as being plastic-free, yet their lids are still plastic, or they still have a plastic water gauge in contact with the boiling water. However, these are still better choices than a fully plastic one!
- Bisphenol A: An endocrine disruptor with widespread exposure and multiple effects, B. Rubin, Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, Oct 2011;127(1-2):27-34
- Environmental Estrogens and Obesity, R. Newbold, et.al., Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, May 25 2009; 304(1-2): 84–89
- F.D.A. Bans BPA from Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups, Sabrine Tavernise, NYTimes, July 17 2012
- Companies reduced BPA exposure in Japan, Environmental Working Group, Accessed 23 November 2012