Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stainless steel electric water kettle with no plastic

A "thank you" goes out to the media and whatnot for telling me about the dangers of BPA, plastics, and whatever contaminants that may leach out of plastic. But it's not just the media et al. I still remember going on trips as a child with family. A plastic electric water kettle was a common travel item brought along for use in hotel rooms. Everything that came out of there tasted like plastic, so this really shouldn't be news.

Daily coffees add up
Coffee and tea are both treats and necessities in my adult life. For at least a few days a week, I usually stop at a coffee shop to pick up either a hot beverage to help wake me up. Obviously, the costs do add up over the course of a year. If you check out my post about everyday expenses, a morning coffee at $1.65 per day at 5 days per week over a year adds up to $429. Not that much, but not insignificant. And sometimes I feel bad about the disposable cups, lids, and cup rings that go in the garbage. The result is that I've been looking for a water kettle to make my own coffee or tea at work.

There are kettles available at work, but they're either plastic or stainless steel with plastic. Also, I don't trust all 40 of my coworkers not to do something unsanitary or healthy.

Totally stainless steel kettles: Hard to find?
With the public awareness on plastics and the demand for non-plastic beverage containers, you'd think that a completely stainless steel electric kettle would be easy to find. Well, you'd be wrong. I have been looking for a while now and have only found one or two electric kettles that are mostly steel.

If a stovetop were available or allowed at work, it'd be extremely easy to find what I'm looking for. However, adding the cord seems to complicate everything. Price is a concern for me, but I'm willing to splurge $100 or so for one -- still can't find it.

There are a bunch of electric kettles with stainless steel bodies, don't get me wrong. However, they usually have some plastic portions on their interior that make contact with the water and/or steam. These parts are usually windows to see water level, gauges, plastic anchors or mounts, and lids. Maybe the parts are BPA free, but I'd prefer not to take the risk at all.

On the other hand, all of my store-bought coffee comes with a plastic lid that makes contact with the hot beverage and steam. Also, there's a good chance that the coffee drips used have plastic parts. Hmmmm....

Findings: Best of what's available
I still want a completely stainless steel kettle -- however irrational it may be, I still just want it. The best ones that I've found are listed below. They don't appear to be completely stainless steel, so while I may settle on them, I still haven't been convinced to actually buy them yet.

Hamilton Beach 40898 Cool-Touch 8-Cup Cordless Electric Kettle
This is the one that comes up pretty early from a quick search on Amazon. There are a ton of customer reviews, mostly positive. I've never seen one in person, but according to the product photos and reviews, there is some plastic on the interior of the kettle.

It looks like the lower interior portion where water would usually sit is completely stainless steel. However, plastic appears to be found on the lid and near the top where the plastic handle mounts to the body. This should be fine unless, like me, you're concerned about the hot steam and bubbles from boiling making contact with both parts and dropping back down into the water.

The kettle is only US$ 40, so the price is right.

Edit: A local store actually had this thing in stock, which gave me a chance to take a look at it in more detail. The maximum fill line in the kettle I saw was at the half-way point, which meant a clear buffer area between the plastic mounts and lid -- not sure how high bubbling/boiling would go. There was a grill at the spout attached to the lid too. Most surprising was the length of the electric cord attached to the base. It was extremely short and I think I read somewhere that someone only received one with a 2' cord.

Bonavita 1.0L Electric Kettle BV3825B
Bachelor number two was a winner for me -- right up until I read the reviews and looked at the customer images on Amazon. Again, I have never seen this product in person. This is a US$ 60 electric kettle that appears to have a mostly stainless steel interior. Even the lid may be all steel on the inside according to the customer images in the other Bonavita kettles, assuming all kettles in the series use a similar design. There might be some plastic where the plastic handle is mounted to the body.

I really thought I found a winner. However, like I said, the customer reviews and images are not encouraging. The reviews are generally very positive, but a few people appear to have had problems with rust in their "stainless steel" kettles. Maybe they got a bad batch. It appears to be a problem across three Bonavita kettles from two electric versions to the stovetop version.

It still looks pretty good. For $60-ish, I might be willing to give it a shot.

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