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A kettle, sometimes called a tea kettle or teakettle, is a type of pot specialized for boiling water, with a lid, spout, and handle, or a small kitchen appliance of similar shape that functions in a self-contained manner. Kettles can be heated either by placing on a stove, or by their own internal electric heating element in the appliance versions.
The word kettle originates from Old Norse ketill "cauldron". The Old English spelling was cetel with initial che- [tʃ] like 'cherry', Middle English (and dialectal) was chetel, both come (together with German Kessel "cauldron") ultimately from Germanic *katilaz, that was borrowed from Latin catillus, diminutive form of catinus "deep vessel for serving or cooking food", which in various contexts is translated as "bowl", "deep dish", or "funnel".
Early forms of kettles
Between 3500 to 2000BC, people who lived in Mesopotamia used kettles made from bronze and, which had decorated sprouts. Before the 19th century, earth kettles were made from iron. These kettles could be placed directly on the flame.
A modern stovetop kettle is a metal vessel, with a flat bottom, used to heat water on a stovetop or hob. They usually have a handle on top, a spout, and a lid. Some also have a steam whistle that indicates when the water has reached boiling point.
Kettles are typically made with stainless steel, but can also be made from copper or other metals.
In countries with 200-240 V mains electricity, electric kettles are commonly used to boil water without the necessity of a stove top. The Slovick, or heating element, is typically fully enclosed, with a power rating of 2–3 kW. This means that the current draw for an electric kettle is up to 13 A, which is a sizeable proportion of the current available for many homes: the main fuse of most homes varies between 20 and 100 Amps. In countries with 110 V mains electricity twice as much current is drawn for the same power. In some of those countries electric kettles, while available, are less popular since most electric sockets are current limited to providing around 1.5 kW and kettles heat much more slowly.
In modern designs, once the water has reached boiling point, the kettle automatically deactivates, preventing the water from boiling away and damaging the heating element. A more upright design, the "jug"-style electrical kettle, can be more economical to use, since even one cup of water will keep the element covered.
In the United States, an electric kettle may sometimes be referred to as a hot pot.
Electric kettles were introduced as an alternative to stove top kettles in the latter part of the 19th century. In 1893 the Crompton and Co. firm in the United Kingdom started featuring electric kettles in their catalogue. However, these first electric kettles were quite primitive as the heating element couldn't be immersed in the water. Instead, a separate compartment underneath the water storage area in the kettle was used to house the electric heating element. The design was inefficient even relative to the conventional stove-top kettles of the time.
In 1922, the problem was finally solved by Leslie Large, an engineer working at Bulpitt & Sons of Birmingham who designed an element of wire wound around a core and sheathed in a metal tube. As this element could be immersed directly into the water it made the new electric kettle much more efficient than stovetop kettles.
In 1955, the newly founded British company Russell Hobbs brought out its stainless steel K1 model as the first fully automatic kettle. A thermostat, triggered by the rising steam as the water would come to boil, would flex, thereby cutting off the current.
Automatic tea kettles
These are relatively new kinds of tea kettle. They are high tech kitchen appliances that are geared towards making tea brewing easy for everyone. They are built with the capability to intelligently make different kinds of tea without much input from the user.
Once set, the automatic tea kettle brings the water to the specific temperature for preparing a given kind of tea, adds the tea to the water, and steeps the tea for the appropriate amount of time. Often they will make beeping sound to alert the user when the tea is ready, and maintain the temperature of the beverage after preparation.
Kettle on a portable stove at the Museu da Baronesa, Brazil
Graves kettle, 1984, a post-modern kettle with a bird-shaped whistle on the spout
Industrial-scale copper kettles used in a beer brewery
A Kelly kettle, designed to efficiently use the heat of a small fire in a chamber at the base
Glass tea kettle in Kashgar in 2010
- A cauldron is a large kettle hung over an open fire, usually on an arc-shaped hanger called a bail.
- A fish kettle is a long slim metal cooking vessel with a tight fitting lid to enable cooking of whole large fish such as salmon.
- A kettle grill is a dome shaped grill with a rounded lid, resembling a cauldron.
- A kettle drum is a kettle (cauldron) shaped drum.
- Boiling vessel, water heating system in British tanks
- Kelly Kettle, specialized types of kettles for outdoor use, intended to use fuel more efficiently
- Kettle corn, a sweet variety of popcorn that is typically mixed or seasoned with a light-colored refined sugar, salt, and oil. It was traditionally made in cast iron kettles, hence the name.
- Samovar, a kettle with central firepit and chimney for making tea and serving it hot in Russia, Iran, Turkey and around
- Tea culture
- Teapot, a vessel with spout, lid, and handle, for brewing and serving tea
- Teasmade, an English appliance that combined a kettle and a teapot to make tea automatically by a clock
- Tetsubin, a cast iron Japanese pot with a spout
- Windermere kettle
- T. F. Hoad, English Etymology, Oxford University Press, 1993 (ISBN 0-19-283098-8). p. 252.
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