how does a kettle work

Cooking Mechanics: How Does a Kettle Work

Imagine life before the tea kettle, before it was so quick and easy to fill it with some water, press a button, and enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee in a matter of moments. Wouldn’t that be a different life to now!

Have you ever wondered, ‘how does a kettle work?’

If you have, here is all the information you need to understand how you get that wonderful cup of coffee so quickly.

A Quick Note About the Tea Kettle and Its History

There have been three significant developments in the history of kettles:

  • Traditional pot kettles heated by fire
  • Stovetop or whistling kettles
  • Modern electric kettles

The Traditional Kettle

Kettles have evolved from vessels placed over an open fire to heat the liquid or water inside. These tea kettles were around for hundreds of years before they were replaced by a whistling kettle heated on your gas stove.

Stovetop Kettles

These kettles were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century and were around until the electric kettle became available. They had a flat bottom to sit directly over the heat. And as the water reaches boiling point, the vibration from the water boiling and the steam escaping causes a whistling sound. The stovetop kettle worked but took a long time to boil water.

Electric Kettles

a cup and an electric tea pot

The first electric kettle that contained a heating element was invented in the late 19th century by the Carpenter Electrical Company. However, it took 10 minutes for the water in the kettle to come to a boiling point. This was because the concealed heating element was housed in a separate compartment at the bottom of the kettle rather than in the water.

In 1922, the first electric kettle with a heating coil in the water was invented. This time, the cold water had direct contact with the heating element and came to a boil far more quickly.

Russell Hobbs manufactured the first fully automated electric kettles in 1955. This new kettle type included a thermostat that would switch off the electric current when the water had boiled. It also had a cool-touch lid and a handle so that you didn’t risk hurting yourself on the steam or burning yourself on the handle as the temperature rises.

How Does an Electric Kettle Work? The Technical Bit

But how does a kettle work actually? We are going to provide some information for you in this next section.

An electric kettle contains a heating element made from a metal coil. The metal coil has electrical resistance, And as the energy generated by electricity flows through the coil, it creates heat. When the heat source comes into contact with the water inside the kettle, it starts to heat it until it comes to the right temperature for the water to boil.

Once it is boiling, the thermostat will recognise the water has boiled and switch off the electricity.

What Temperature Does a Kettle Boil To?

The water’s boiling temperature is usually 100°C, but electric kettles may need to heat water to a slightly higher level if there are impurities. If you are a tea drinker, pour the water onto your tea bag or leaves immediately. But if you drink coffee, you can leave the water to cool for slightly longer.

How Long Does a Kettle Take to Boil?

Making tea in an electric kettle is an energy-efficient way to boil water, much more so than boiling water on a stove. One reason is that the kettle stops the heat from escaping, meaning that the water boils much quicker than in other methods. Also, the heating element is in direct contact with the water, meaning none of the energy or heat is lost.

An electric kettle generally takes around 2-3 minutes to boil water, which is much quicker than if you were to use another method. But, the electric tea kettle does use quite a lot of electricity to boil water quickly!

Ways to Save Energy

One way to efficiently use your electric tea kettle is to only fill it with enough water for what you need it for. If you want to make a hot drink of tea or coffee, you don’t need as much boiled water as you do if you are using it for cooking a pan of pasta.

If you fill an entire kettle, it will take a lot of power to heat all the water, so only use what you need.

How Does a Cordless Kettle Work?

It is possible to have an electric kettle that works without an electric cable. The benefit of having this type of tea kettle is that you don’t need it to be near an electric plug socket. Plus, it gives you the flexibility to keep your kettle wherever you want.

You could make hot water in the bedroom if you have a baby to make bottles for and don’t want another electric item plugged in. Another idea is to take one camping with you, no waiting while the water heats over a small stove flame!

A cordless electric kettle is typically powered by batteries and is just as efficient at making your cup of tea or coffee.

Effortless Cuppa

Electric kettles have transformed how we can heat water for drinking or cooking. In just a couple of minutes, tea kettles can give us sufficient water to fill a pot of pasta or rice, or if you want coffee, you can have a cup ready in no time!

Electric kettles contain a coil or heating element that, through resistance, creates heat from electricity. This then directly heats the water until it comes to boiling point.

Modern-day electric kettles also have a thermostat that automatically switches off the electricity once the water is boiling.

We hope that we have answered “how does a kettle work?” and that next time you take a sip of your cuppa, you can enjoy it with that bit of added knowledge!

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