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The Stovetop Kettle. 2011 WHERE Project. History of the stovetop kettle.

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the stovetop kettle

The StovetopKettle

2011 WHERE Project

history of the stovetop kettle
History of the stovetop kettle

Stovetop kettles are probably the oldest cooking utensil still used today. The earliest known example was made in Mesopotamia between 3500 and 2000 BC. Early kettles were made of iron and by the 19th century copper was a commonly used material. The whistling kettle was invented by Sholom Borgelman after WW1 and remains a popular kettle today. Modern kettles (left) are mostly of the whistling variety and many are coated in enamel for a timeless scratch and heat resistant finish.

hold on one second
Hold on one second!

Before we continue it’s important to know what we’re dealing with! Most of the following resources are classified as non renewable. Non renewable means that a substance occurs naturally in the earth and must be mined, pumped or quarried from underground. They are limited in quantity so we have to use them wisely and sparingly!


Non renewable resources crossing

what makes up modern kettles
What makes up modern kettles?

Modern kettles aren’t just your average kitchen utensil. They are timeless, iconic examples of functionality and simplicity. Modern kettles are generally steel based, with rubber coated handles. The inside and outside are coated in enamel or polished to a high shine.

what in the world is in enamel
What in the world is in enamel?

There are two types of enamel, vitreous enamel and tooth enamel. Kettles use vitreous enamel. The base coat is composed of a mixture of quartz, borax, and feldspar.


Composed of three particles (two silicon and one oxygen) is the second most abundant mineral on the earths crust. Colour varies from transparent (below) to light pink and near black.


Composed of Sodium, oxygen, hydrogen, and boron; borax is a usually found as a soft white powder. It has many varied uses including insecticide, fire retardant and anti fungal soak.


Feldspar is the most abundant mineral on earth. It accounts for ~ 60% of the earths crust. Feldspar used in the production of enamel is composed of potassium, silicon, aluminum and oxygen.

Canada has one quartz mine in Bonsecours, Quebec. Top producers are: The US, Brazil and China.

Top producers: United States, Argentina, Turkey, China, Russia, Kazakhstan and Chile

Top producers: Turkey, China, Italy, Thailand, and Japan.

what in the world is in enamel 2
What in the world is in enamel? 2)

Enamel’s second and often colorful coat is composed of titanium dioxide, quartz, borax and its coloring agent.

Titanium dioxide

Titanium dioxide is one of the whitest minerals on earth. Composed of titanium and oxygen it’s responsible for blocking the suns rays in sunblock, as well as providing sunblocks white color.

Coloring Agent

Enamel is known for its vibrant and unique colors. Unlike paint enamel colors cannot be mixed to form new shades. Minerals must tint the enamel to the exact hue you want it to become for it to function properly. The most popular mineral choices are cobalt, praseodymium, iron, and neodymium

Top producers: Australia, India, South Africa and the US.

Top producers: Vary depending on the mineral used

what composes steel
What composes steel??

Kettles nowadays are most commonly made of steel due to its strength and durability.


Steel is composed or iron but reinforced with carbon. By combining these two materials the metal can become up to 1000x stronger than just plain iron. Steel is one of the few materials on earth that can be recycled repeatedly without losing its strength. Due to this almost all steel available at hardware stores is recycled. Even though iron and carbon are both non renewable the steel industry is doing its best to help preserve our environment.

Top producers: China, European Union, Japan, Russia, United States.

rubber what s in it and where does it come from
Rubber. What's in it and where does it come from?

In today's world we have two different types of rubber. The first is natural rubber and the second is synthetic. Modern kettles have been known to use both on the handles to avoid overheating and to provide grip for the hand.

Natural Rubber

Natural rubber is made from the latex of the guayule shrub and the Para rubber tree. The latex is collected from the tree in a similar way to how maple syrup is extracted from maple trees. Natural rubber is often vulcanized (combined with sulfur) to improve its strength and durability. The first known use of natural rubber was by the Mayans in 1600BC to make balls for sport. This is a renewable resource.

Synthetic rubber

Synthetic rubber is a non renewable form of rubber. Originally use started to fuel the need for rubber in the world wars, but eventually it grew in popularity due to its relative low cost compared to natural rubber. In 2005 68% of rubber produced was synthetic. Synthetic rubber is derived from petroleum, coal, oil, and acetate and is mostly used for car tires.

Top producers: United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia

Top producers:Thailand, Malasia, India and China


Voila! A kettle!

There we have it. After a trip to many different countries, after learning about the history, composition and uses of the kettle we’ve come to the finished product! A beautiful continuation of the long, lasting legacy of the kettle. But, due to the fact that most of the materials used in the kettle are non renewable, their legacy might not continue forever. That’s why we need to be aware of our impact and sustainability regarding the earth, and help promote a greener future.

Kettles. The iconic, timeless, kitchen utensil.


A huge thank you to the following websites for making this project possible. Also, a special thanks to Le Creuset for making the kettle that this project was based on! Thanks again!

Rub composition