Because FDA seems to work for industry and not the citizens of the United States I can’t trust that cordless variable temperature tea kettles for sale in the U.S. are actually safe. Is having BPA or other kinds of plastics in contact with boiling water o.k.? A functioning FDA would long ago have investigated and come to authoritative conclusions. So I’m stuck spending a ton of time and effort trying to find a kettle which seems as harmless to my family’s health as possible. When I first wrote this article in December of last year my choice of kettle was the Pino Digital Kettle Pro. Unfortunately all of four months later (but out of its 90 day warranty) it’s stopped working. I list below all the candidates, the final winner was nothing. I literally can’t find a variable temperature plastic free kettle that meets our needs.
I don’t trust the FDA to protect my family’s health. This is unfortunate because it means when I buy something I have to worry not just if it’s a good product but if it’s a safe one. One of the areas where this problem shows up a lot is with plastic and food. Beyond the well publicized issues with BPA which took the FDA forever to even notice I just don’t know what the potential health issues are of mixing plastic and hot water. So when it came time to replace our current kettle I had to not just find the functions I wanted but the safety as well. This means the purchasing process took longer and products that might have better met my needs were passed over because I couldn’t be confident of their safety. This is exactly how corruption causes so much poverty. Because the FDA appears to have been corrupted so completely (it’s called regulatory capture) I have to spend more time, more energy and avoid products in what is likely a futile effort to protect my family. This slows down economies, increases the cost of transactions and makes everyone poorer.
The irony is that for all I know the kind of BPA used in kettles or plastic in general might have no deleterious health effects. But since I can’t trust the FDA to look out for my family I have to err on the side of caution.
The following were the only kettles I could find that had no plastic in contact with the water, didn’t have issues (that I could find anyway) with silicon or other gaskets and were variable temperature.
Kalorik Cordless Electric Kettle Stainless Steel It’s made of stainless steel and has a 1.7 L capacity. The only plastic that comes near to the water appears to be the lid which only has contact via condensation. More than a few complaints on Amazon about its lid getting stuck. I couldn’t find a picture of its controls so I have no idea how they work.
Bonavita 1.0L Gooseneck Variable Temperature Electric Kettle This seems to meet my requirements that it only have steel (or glass) in touch with the water and nothing else. It also has o.k. reviews but consistent complaints about build quality. My big concern however is that it’s too small! Our previous 1.5 L kettle was a tight fit for a normal night’s tea, a 1 L just isn’t going to do it.
The following are variable temperature kettles I considered and my reasons for rejecting them:
Pino Digital Kettle Pro At 1.5 L it’s a decent size. The controls are a little fiddly but nothing awful. It appears that only stainless steel comes in contact with the water. There is a metal bit that lets you measure how much water is in the kettle but it fell off immediately and I never missed it. Unfortunately after only 4 months or so my kettle stopped working.
Bonavita 1.7 Liter Variable Temperature Digital Electric Kettle At 1.7 L it solves the size issue I had with its 1.0 L sibling. But the reviews on Amazon are pretty consistently awful.
Breville Variable Temperature 1.8 Liter Kettle A nice user interface and great water capacity with a stainless steel interior. Unfortunately according to this review on Amazon the Kettle has plastic in contact with the boiling water.
Melitta 1.7 L Cordless Kettle Good size and stainless steel interior but it still has plastic in direct contact with the water for it’s fill meter. Also the temperature settings are kind of vague, based on the type of tea rather than the actual temperature and doesn’t appear to show the current temperature.
Zojirushi Water Boiler and Warmers These are really cool. They let you set up a temperature and the kettle will keep it there all day at relatively little electrical cost due to good insulation. The interiors are stainless steel but they do use gaskets that while BPA free are made of silicone or plastic.
Chef’s Choice 688 SmartKettle I owned this kettle (or one of it’s sibling models, I’m not sure). It does have plastic parts that contact the water and since day one it had issues with it’s water sensor incorrectly thinking that there was not enough water in the kettle. The problem has only grown worse with time so I gave up and ended up buying the Pino which of course also died and much faster than the Chef’s Choice.
Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper and Kettle It’s a bit small at 1.2 L and the tea steeper accessor isn’t terribly useful to me (what a pain to clean). But you can easily pull it out. It does have plastic on the top and on the lid but a glass carafe. In theory the water only touches the plastic as either condensation or on it’s way out as being poured. It’s not ’marinating’ in the plastic. However I am concerned about the bottom which is steel. Traditionally they are connected with a silicone or similar type gasket which has its own issues with chemical leakage.
Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7 Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle It’s big and stainless steel but unfortunately plastic does come in contact with the water.
Breville One-Touch Tea Maker At $250 the cost knocked me cold. Also it’s core mission, which is completely automated tea making, is cute but really, I don’t need it. Cleaning the kettle is a lot more trouble than cleaning a cup. Also it apparently uses a silicone seal to match the glass with stainless steel and I have no idea what that is leaching.
Capresso 261.04 TeaC100 Temperature Controlled Water Kettle It uses a design that mates a glass carafe to a metal base using some kind of gasket whose chemical qualities I don’t know. Also on Amazon there were numerous complaints about it breaking quickly.
The following are kettles that came up when looking for plastic free kettles, they aren’t variable temperature though.
Jura-Capresso H20 Water Kettle At around 1.4 L it’s kind of small but it’s container is glass except for a silicon/rubber washer around the heating element which seems to be the cause of a number of complaints of a noxious smell.
Precise Heat 1.5 Liter Electric Water Kettle It seems to only have stainless steel in contact with the water.
Cusinart PerfecTemp Porcelain Enameled Tea Kettle Porcelain, which is great! But rather than letting you set the temperature it just has a thermometer. It’s also not clear to me exactly how the thermometer works and if it uses plastic to connect the thermometer to the water.
Hamilton Beach 40898 Cool-Touch 8-Cup Cordless Electric Kettle Stainless steel and large size with no plastic.