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Who heats a kettle full of water for a cup of tea?

 
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When I was impressionable in my student days at uni, I saw the folly of heating a gallon of water for a single cup of tea.
It was part of saving energy when the 1970's oil crisis hit.
Oil went from $1 a barrel to $5 a barrel and we thought it was the end of civilisation!!

I am surprised at the number of people who still fill right up.
Even when they are living with limited gas supplies in remote places.

I always mention something and people respond with shock that is it something somebody would worry about.

Am I the only one cup heater in the world?

PS My point is only about heating more water than you need at the time you decide to have a single cup of tea. Nothing else
 
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Quite often when I boil the kettle, I do more than a cuppa tea.

Pouring boiling water down the drains a few times a week helps prevent clogs.  We used to get a clog in the drain every 4th day and since I started filling the kettle all the way, then pouring the extra down the drain, it's now a clog every 9 months.  

Also, now we are on a well, the water goes out every time the electricity does - and in summer drought, even more often.  Having a full kettle overnight means we have two days worth potable of water for all the humans in the house.

I also hate cold water, so instead of keeping filtered water in the fridge, I drink room temperature boiled water out of the kettle.  

So... yes, I used to be a one cuppa until we moved to the farm.  Now I'm a full kettle, oh noses, we need a larger kettle, girl.  
 
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This winter I took a page from the Japanese. I have a 4-cup kettle - so not large - and a 4-cup tea pot. I make a whole pot in the morning and then pour the extra into a wide-mouth thermos bottle so then I have instant hot tea for lunch time with not extra heating.

But otherwise, no I wouldn't heat the whole kettle for just a small amount. In fact if a recipe calls for "2 cups boiling water" I'd use my 2-cup measure to fill the kettle with a smidge for the steam.
 
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When I make coffee it takes about half of the kettle worth of water and I fill it to 3/4 full. Mostly because I don't look that close when I fill it up and most of the time it's in the dark because I don't even turn the light on.
 
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At home I heat lots of water and put it in a thermos, same as Jay. I drink tea all day at work cause the office is so cold, and I only ever heat enough water to fill my water bottle that I make my tea in. I always fill it with fresh water, too. Everyone else heats a whole kettle and never empties the water left in it. They just keep topping it up. This seems really gross to me. I switched to a different office this year and brought a new kettle with me cause the one they were using smelled like mildew and made the water taste bad. I used to work in that office once in a while to cover vacation time for people, so I knew the state of the kettle going in. I'm pretty sure it's because it didn't get used all that often and would sit there with water in it for a week at a time sometimes.
 
John C Daley
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I am surprised nobody seemed to think about storing water in a jug instead of the kettle, or using a smaller kettle.

As for not recognising the energy or water waste astounds me.
Perhaps I am the only fool on the planet.

R Ranson, perhaps other stuff is being poured down the drain that should not be, thus causing the blockages?
I know oils and fats are a no no.
 
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I rarely make less than two cups of tea at a time. And I heat whatever is in the kettle at the time, I do not pour the extra out. The next time I need to make tea I fill it up enough for a couple cups and boil away.

I make my coffee in a perk pot and I drink the whole pot, I drink coffee hot and even once it is cold.

I buy the propane to heat my water, when the propane is gone I'll just heat with wood as I do in the winter.

 
Jay Angler
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I would like to suggest that when you boil water, you produce steam which is pretty much pure H2O. That means that if there are any minerals in the water - beneficial or harmful - the water left over will have a greater concentration of them. Thus, any time I boil the kettle, if I don't use all the water, I either pour it down the drain or into a jar to save the water or the heat depending on the time of year. I then put a little cold water in the kettle to cool it, so I don't get as much deposit on the heating coil. I admit that we have noticeably hard water, and it may be less of a risk in some environments, but one of the nasties I worry about is lead.

I definitely don't simply waste the left-over water - if it didn't all turn into tea for later consumption by me, I let it cool and then give it to plants. I try not to heat more than I need, but that can be tricky at times.

No, John C Daley, you are not the only "fool on the planet". I am regularly astounded by the things people waste because they never thought of alternatives or of the need. My dad grew up in England during the war, so that may have been why I learned young not to waste.
 
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I dunno, got data? I think it depends. Water is excellent thermal mass, and heating a larger volume is potentially more energy efficient than a small volume. That is, if you can retain a good portion of the added heat (tea cosy over the kettle) and reheat within the hour. Which is what I do.
 
r ranson
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perhaps other stuff is being poured down the drain that should not be, thus causing the blockages?



Yes.
Although all excess cooking oil is composted or disposed of in the oil jug, we use mostly natural soaps, and these are made with the cold reaction, they often put excess oils in there that aren't reacting with the lye to make soap.  These tend to coat the side of the drain (as we found out when we had the man with the camera scope in).  In the summer, we don't use enough water to flush down the little bits of food residue that get washed down the drain so these dry out and create clogs while we wait for the dirty dish pile to reach a critical mass.  

It wasn't so bad when I had a pasta heavy diet where I would drain the boiling pasta water once or twice a day.  But since I got the pressure cooker, there's no wastewater left from making pasta - it uses exactly the amount the pasta absorbs.  This method uses far less electricity (about 1/10th) what it used to.  

The library has a kit we borrow every few months and in that kit are tools to test electrical usage.  Of our various habits, it turns out that boiling some extra water in the kettle each time we make tea and using this to flush the drains is more energy-efficient than doing more boil water cooking of veggies and pasta.

I am surprised nobody seemed to think about storing water in a jug instead of the kettle,



We've experimented with this.  Long term storage in jugs is difficult.  Mould, bad tastes, dangerous bacteria.  The only time we've managed to do it without the water spoiling is to pressure can the water.  Even then it doesn't taste good and uses one heck of a lot of electricity.

Even keeping a water filter in the fridge doesn't get cycled enough and goes pink after a few weeks.  It doesn't work for our lifestyle as we would have to remember to empty the jug down the drain every day, only to wash it, and refill it.  Bringing the water up from 800+ feet is more power heavy than running the kettle with extra water in it from time to time.

It's much easier to cycle through the water in the kettle since we use it many times a day.  




This is very different from our water usage in the city.  We would measure the water in the mug, then put the water in the kettle to boil just enough for tea.  The amount that evaporated was exactly the right amount to leave space for the teabag.  

Every situation is different.  Sometimes what seems wasteful in one situation, is actually economical and ecologically sound in others.  

The way I find out what works for me is to run tests that give me measurable results like the kit I get from the library or the tests the plumber ran on to find the clog causing issues.  
 
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I heat about 2.5 cups of water for 2 cups of tea.  I allow for evaporation and what cup I am going to grab. I never heat a full pot for 1 cup.
 
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In the winter like right now, I boil the whole darn kettle and it goes into several thermos bottles (nothing stays in the kettle). Usually it's all gone by lunchtime, we use it while it's still hot enough for tea.
I found when I was staying with my mother and using an electric kettle, it was easier to not use up the entire amount, perhaps because I wasn't in my own house and didn't have a million other uses for the hot water.
 
Jay Angler
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Tereza Okava wrote:I found when I was staying with my mother and using an electric kettle, it was easier to not use up the entire amount, perhaps because I wasn't in my own house and didn't have a million other uses for the hot water.

If nothing else, I pour a little left-over hot water on dishes as a pre-rinse!

Many herbal teas don't actually want boiling water to steep in. Black tea does, so I'd make a whole teapot full of it while the water is boiling. However, it occurs to me that many people may not have a teapot these days. A 4 cup glass measuring cup with a plate on top will fake it well enough!
 
John C Daley
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My point is only about heating more water than you need at the time you decide to have a single cup of tea. Nothing else

Not washing your feet or feeding a footy team.
 
r ranson
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"more water than you need"

And we can see all these different situations where the need is different.  I love this.  

If I'm going to put the kettle on, I'm going to make as much use of the water as I can.  
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Currently, our well water is a bit dodgy -- rather skunky, high in dissolved salts. I grab (municipal, treated, river sourced) water for drinking when I'm passing through. Otherwise, a big boil makes our skunky water quite palatable. A useful tool as we work through the options.  
 
r ranson
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Currently, our well water is a bit dodgy -- rather skunky, high in dissolved salts. I grab (municipal, treated, river sourced) water for drinking when I'm passing through. Otherwise, a big boil makes our skunky water quite palatable. A useful tool as we work through the options.  



I've often wondered about boil water advisories.  Do you bring to a boil or do you keep it boiling for a time?  

I lived in a house where they boiled a big canning pot of water every morning because they believed this killed off the city water supply chemicals and used the tepid water for anything related to human food (dishes, drinking, whathaveyou).  It was an aluminium pot... but they were okay with that.  

 
Jay Angler
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r ranson wrote:

I've often wondered about boil water advisories.  Do you bring to a boil or do you keep it boiling for a time?  

I've heard that in my area if the city water is given a boil water advisory, the prescription is to bring it to a boil and keep it there for 10 minutes.
and wrote:

It was an aluminium pot... but they were okay with that.

There were a lot of aluminium pots around in my childhood. I would certainly not want to boil acidic liquids in them and I admit that I'm wondering if they'll say the same thing about stainless steel in 40 years! Modern ceramic coated pots *should* be safe, but old ones could easily contain lead - but would it be lead that was locked in by the ceramic process, or would it be released by heat?  I get to the point that I get tired of worrying about everything, because it's so hard to know what the real risk is? If it's really low, I feel like walking on a road or driving in a car is so much riskier, that I just need to live life as best I can.

 
John C Daley
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but old ones could easily contain lead


Is this true ? I have never heard of that before.
 
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Many old ceramic glazes did, indeed contain lead (and sometimes, mercury). It added qualities that were desirable, I suppose, but once it was discovered to cause brain damage, it was banned, in most countries, though some lagged. The same is true for paints - including paints used on cribs. The 'lead' in pencils is no longer actually lead. We, as humans, try to learn from our mistakes.
 
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I'm pretty sure I'm the really odd one here, but we never use our kettle. It takes SO MUCH longer to boil the kettle than it does to just grab a little handled pot, put the amount of water that fits into our cup into the pot, and put the tea leaves (or coffee, in the case of my husband) into the bot.

The steps for my tea go like this:

(1) Put cold tap water into the small pot

(2) Put the pot on the stove and turn it to high. Find the leaves/herbs/whatever I want to have in my pot of tea and throw them in the pot.

(3) Put the lid on the pot.

(4) Put honey, quercetin, ginger poweder, collagen, whatever into my cup while I wait for the pot to heat up.

(5) Once the pot is about to simmer (make that kind of pre-boil sound), I turn the stove down to low/2 and walk away, because I like my tea to steep

(6) After 15 minutes (or when I remember), I come back and pour my tea through a strainer into my mug. It's now usually just the right temperature to drink. Huzzah! (If I used tea bags, I could entirely skip step 6, and would only need to wait until my water came to a boil, which is pretty quick when only boiling 2 cups of water)


Steps for my husband's coffee (If I've got this right). He does a version of "Cowgirl Coffee" (see Paul Wheaton's thread about cowgirl coffee here)

(1) Put the amount of water that fills his giant coffee mug into the pot (he has his pot, and I have my pot. So I don't end up getting coffee flavor in my tea--blech!)

(2) Put the small pot on the stove and turn it to high.

(3) Grind the coffee beans and put them into the pot.

(4) Call the kids over and have them guess where the coffee volcano will appear

(5) Wait another minute and see the coffee erupt. :Insert gleeful kid who guessed correctly where the coffee would erupt:

(6) Pour coffee through metal tea strainer and into mug. Done!

My husband actually made a video of his cowgirl coffee erupting...which also shows the size of pot I'm talking about.



Exception to the above: When there's a power outage and/or we're heating with the woodstove anyway. I fill the full kettle for hot water to use for washing dishes, and for filling our little pots with pre-heated water so we don't have to wait longer for the tea/coffee to be made (water usually heats up slower on the woodstove than on our electric range). Since it doesn't take any more energy to heat the water on the woodstove than it does to not heat water, I might as well just fill the kettle and have hot water always ready.
 
Nicole Alderman
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As for ceramics having lead (and other heavy metals), I recall going down that rabbit hole when I was looking into buying a crock pot. Since I couldn't find any ceramic crock pots that actually were tested to not have lead/heavy metals, I ended up going for the stainless steal Instapot (before Instapots were all the rage, hahaha!)
 
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Our kettle takes more than one cup for the minimum so it's always got at least 2 cups in it, also you don't want the very bottom of the kettle it's always got tiny bits of chalk in it!
Personally I don't drink tea or coffee so if I boil a kettle it's always full as I want water for a wash or washing up.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:As for ceramics having lead (and other heavy metals), I recall going down that rabbit hole when I was looking into buying a crock pot. Since I couldn't find any ceramic crock pots that actually were tested to not have lead/heavy metals, I ended up going for the stainless steal Instapot (before Instapots were all the rage, hahaha!)


Reminds me of one of the extremes...uranium glass.  Very pretty....but they used uranium oxide!!!  Dang.  I've read that some glazes also had uranium oxide in them such as the orange Fiesta Ware glaze.  I think it's unlikely folks would run into this today, but it almost makes me want a geiger counter.

Regarding the water....I always add the amount of water I want to the mugs I'll use and then pour it into the kettle.  Besides heat use, it just takes longer to boil more water.  I like your right sized pot approach Nicole!
 
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Yep! Fiesta ware. I think cookware and eat-ware glazes have been tested for the nasty metals for a very long time. Reds---cadmium, blues and greens- copper, orange and yellows- uranium. Etc.
 
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It hasn't been an issue here, because there are two of us, both tea drinkers; because we like large mugs of tea (16 - 20 oz.); and because we heat our tea water, usually, in an electric kettle.  It only holds about a liter and a half, so barely more than we want for our two mugs.  Off-grid, I'd be heating the water in a small saucepan, and would still only heat about as much as we need for our two mugs.  In hot weather, we drink water, or lemonade, or sun tea, so the issue is totally moot then.
 
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I heat 16 ounces of water for my 16 ounce cup.  With the 1/2 ounce heating losses my cup doesn't spill over.  I also use a tea ketal on the smallest burner so the flame doesn't shoot past the pot's bottom and into the summer kitchen air.  In winter we keep a full kettle of water and any waste heat warms our unheated and uncooled kitchen.  With my kitches 5 quadrouple glass windows a1 triple glass door with single glass storm door we lose little heat in the winter and our ceiling has R-60 insulation with a 2 foot deep leaf-duff garden plus 11 inch R-36 walls it doesn't get much summer heat either.
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Honestly, I boil 2.5qts at a time, make a big batch of concentrate, then just add hot tap (well) water, as needed. I don't have time to screw around with one cup at a time, when we go through more than half a gallon of tea, per day. There are other things just as precious as water that I can't afford to waste, including my time and energy. *FOR ME* this way saves the most of everything.
 
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Greg Martin wrote:

Nicole Alderman wrote:As for ceramics having lead (and other heavy metals), I recall going down that rabbit hole when I was looking into buying a crock pot. Since I couldn't find any ceramic crock pots that actually were tested to not have lead/heavy metals, I ended up going for the stainless steal Instapot (before Instapots were all the rage, hahaha!)


Reminds me of one of the extremes...uranium glass.  Very pretty....but they used uranium oxide!!!  Dang.  I've read that some glazes also had uranium oxide in them such as the orange Fiesta Ware glaze.  I think it's unlikely folks would run into this today, but it almost makes me want a geiger counter.



I actually have an antique uranium-glass green salt shaker. It was my grandma's. It came to us full of salt....radioactive salt. Needless to say, we don't use the salt shaker, but we have it up on our decorative shelf, still full of salt.

A lot of older Correlle plates have heavy metals in their paints. I mean, it makes sense. You use metals to make pigments. It's hard to make certain pigments without using metals. My grandma also had these plates:

correll green flower leaf plate

According to Lead Safe Mama, it has

Lead (Pb): 15,200 +/- 400 ppm
Cadmium (Cd): 108 +/- 12 ppm

Mercury (Hg): Non-Detect / Negative
Arsenic (As): Non-Detect / Negative
Barium (Ba): Non-Detect / Negative
Chromium (Cr): 318 +/- 110 ppm
Antimony (Sb): Non-Detect / Negative
Selenium (Se): Non-Detect / Negative
Zinc (Zn): 775 +/- 62 ppm
Copper (Cu): 111 +/- 45 ppm
Nickel (Ni): 1,034 +/- 112 ppm
Iron (Fe): 458 +/- 142 ppm

Bismuth (Bi): Non-Detect / Negative
Vanadium (V): Non-Detect / Negative
Titanium (Ti): 5,722 +/- 294 ppm
Zirconium (Zr): 2,901 +/- 91 ppm
Platinum (Pt): 266 +/- 96 ppm
Cobalt (Co): 1,163 +/- 134 ppm



Needless to say, as much as I love Correlle, and my husband and I love the pattern, we had to pass on the plates I had such wonderful memories of eating on.
 
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Even fine crystal was 24% lead.
 
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r ranson wrote:I've often wondered about boil water advisories.  Do you bring to a boil or do you keep it boiling for a time?



Since our water is from a deep modern well, bringing it to the start of a rolling boil is more than enough to pasteurize it. And it does improve the flavour and odour, which indicates that a shock chlorination is overdue, even though it's a pain.

The old saw about "boil for 10 minutes" seems like massively energy wasting overkill to me. Wilderness types seem to agree that a one-minute rolling boil is enough for surface water in wilderness areas of North America; that should be enough for questionable tap water too. Though if I were dealing with surface water in the tropics, with poor sanitation and all sorts of tough parasitic nasties, I would certainly boil the hell out of it (on a rocket stove).

My 2 cents.

 
Jay Angler
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Carla Burke wrote:Even fine crystal was 24% lead.

Well, wasn't it called "Lead Crystal"? But was the lead bonded in such a was as it couldn't leach out?

Nicole's link has sent Hubby down the rabbit hole. All those Corell products that you guys think of as "antique" - well clearly we're also antiques! Hubby had the gold Corelle when we married and we've been using it ever since. I had the set of mixing bowls which are even worse, although most of the "worse" part is on the outside, rather than the inside. I know I've got a set of stainless mixing bowls in our old stationary motor home, so I will bring them down and give them a clean and we'll toss the dangerous ones as I don't feel good about giving them away to potentially hurt someone else.

The good news is that when the kids were little, I bought a bunch of the "luncheon" plates in plain white, and the fruit nappies, and I always preferred to give kids those plates and regularly use them myself because to me a small amount of food on a large plate doesn't "look" right. I think it's too easy to over-feed people on a large plate, although I've read that going too small is bad also. The luncheon ones are a nice compromise to me.

Either way, I don't appear to be massively poisoned, and there are so many other toxins out there, it's really hard to live safely. Assuming that it was "better" back in history is totally faulty logic when you look at what was in pipes (lead), plates (pewter - lead), women's make-up (many seriously nasty chemicals), clothing dyes, things like wall-paper even! Paul's emphasis on cast iron is looking better and better!
 
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In our household, we don't drink tea or coffee at the same time, so someone fills the kettle and boils and the next person needs much less time to come to a boil. Personally, I don't drink hot beverages in hot times, so around here that's half the year, but the kids do, so that's their problem.
I find the lead issue interesting, I did lead edged stained glass as a teenager, I had to stop when I got pregnant. My aunt then told me of the dangers, weird that she would not have mentioned it before.

At this point, I don't do any caffeinated beverages, so all these type beverages are herbal and caffeine-free. The discomfort caused by caffeinated beverages in me is almost immediate and definitely not worth it.
 
Carla Burke
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Jay, yes, on both counts. In fact, I still have a few pieces - family heirlooms. But, they're too fragile for me, lol. So, mine are kept safely put away, and I've finally found a cabinet that I'm willing to put some tlc into, to display them, instead of hiding them.
 
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Fill a kettle full of water and boil.  Add water to teapot with 2 tea bags.  Not wasteful.
 
John C Daley
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Except you have heated a full kettle, and used a smaller amount to make the tea.
There will be a component of what I would call wasted use of heating energy!
 
Jay Angler
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John C Daley wrote:Except you have heated a full kettle, and used a smaller amount to make the tea.
There will be a component of what I would call wasted use of heating energy!

It appears to me that you are assuming the teapot holds less water than the kettle. My big teapot holds one and a half kettle-fulls (I have a kettle that's on the smaller size.)
John, I think that here on permies, you are "preaching to the choir" - you need to take your message out into the parts of the world where many folk seem to not consider where energy comes from. Having canoe-tripped in my younger years and had a father who lived through the Second World War in England, I know where energy comes from, and I know there's more than one way to not waste it.
 
r ranson
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This is why I do tests to get quantifiable data.  

Every situation is different and the numbers of what it cost when I lived in the city are very different from the results I get living on the farm.  

Being armed with the numbers, I can find out what works for MY situation, at this time.  

It's great that the library has free testing kits to borrow so people can learn the numbers for their own situations.  
 
Just let me do the talking. Ahem ... so ... you see ... we have this tiny ad...
The Wheaton Eco Scale
https://permies.com/t/scale
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