Friday, 8 July 2011

Fabulous Things About England #34: Electric Kettles

When I was just about to become a teenager, my mother complained rather endlessly about the lip imprints on the full length mirrors in the living room. They clearly belonged to my sister as I mostly remembered to wipe mine off with my sleeve. Mom never would have been able to tell that the smudges had been lip marks, right?

I kiss shiny objects much less frequently than I once did. I do have the occasional run in with the rings of royalty.  Otherwise the kettle is the only inanimate object of my desire, and the housemate suggests that kissing it is insanitary.

Most every home in the UK has an electric kettle. They often turn up along side the washing machine, refrigerator and oven in unfurnished rentals.  You can get them in the States, but given that American's drink far fewer hot drinks, mostly wouldn't consider drinking powdered coffee, and haven't learned tea as part of first responder (first aid) courses, electric kettles are rarely seen in the US. They are different than the hotpots that you young things (ahem) might remember from your first dorm room. They boil water in at most a couple of minutes. And I do now drink a lot of freeze-dried coffee.

Hard water is rather a problem in and around Bath. The easiest way to avoid needing to descale your kettle is to only fill it with filtered water (insert discussion of water filtration jugs, bottled water, etc). It also helps if you only ever fill the kettle with as much water as you need. The more times you reboil water, the more limescale that is going to be left behind (and it is a waste of energy as well). Failure to descale your kettle can result in the early demise of your kettle (they're not cheap), hard chewy bits in your tea (they're not bad for you), and your kettle having to use more energy to boil water (have you read your electrics bill lately). We tend to boil water for cooking in the kettle as well, since boiling the kettle is cheaper than heating it on the stove.

I am head (and only) descaler at my house. This means that my housemate religiously uses the filter jug to fill the kettle and I do not. You can use the heavey duty descalers we talked about earlier this week, but honestly, I always worry about having gotten it all out. Now I descale the kettle with vinegar. Here's how it goes.

Not nearly as gross as it looks. It is really hard to photograph lime scale.

1. Empty Kettle, pop out filter.
2. Fill Kettle half full and boil.
3. Put Kettle into sink. Add vinegar to full line on kettle.
4. Go to bed.
5. Wake up. Rinse out kettle. Use toothbrush (not an old one that's been in your mouth, please) to brush away any remaining scale.
6. Fill kettle to full with water. Boil.
7. Rinse out your kettle.
8. Make a cup of tea.

Most manufacturers encourage descaling at least once a month. A kettle, they say, should last for five years when treated kindly. Ours is on year 8. It is a good thing I like it so much. If you're off to buy a kettle, go for the kind you do not have to unplug before you pour. It makes life so much easier when they simply lift off the base.

I'm hoping there is a run on electric kettles in America after this.

See you Monday.

1 comment:

  1. Great !!! This is so phenomenal!!!That is very impressive! Kettles are gorgeous and the makeover is totally amazing. I love it. You really did a super job with the Kettles! I use to do buy online Kettles as its time saving.


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