Your Copper Kettle is It Safe to Use

October 15, 2021
Table of Contents

Your Copper Kettle Is it Safe to use? Hammered copper kettles are a treasure, and with proper care, can last for generations. They are also a popular item for eager antique cookware collectors and second-hand bargain hunters.

However, if your new copper kettle or hand me down has excess degradation or cracks in the interior lining, then you could be risking copper poisoning.

So, what can you do to learn how to check if a copper kettle is safe? Read on to learn more.

Your Copper Kettle is It Safe to Use


Table of Contents

The Benefits of Copper kettles

If copper kettles have the potential to poison their user if degraded or cracked, then why do people make kettles and cookware out of copper in the first place?

The reason serious cooks and professional chefs prefer copper pans and Copper Kettles is that copper is a fantastic conductor of heat. So why does this make copper cookware superior?

Coppers impressive heat conductivity means the vessel or pan distributes heat evenly, achieving the following benefits:

  • Reduction or elimination of hot spots
  • Less stick and burning
  • Evenly cooked food
  • Faster boiling water and liquids
  • Less energy required to heat and more

The interior cooking surface in a copper kettle, pot or pan is coated in a thin, non-toxic metal lining, often tin, to shield the food from copper’s toxic properties.

Copper pots, however, do require more attention and maintenance than a more robust metal, like stainless steel or aluminium, and is susceptible to degradation if care is not taken.

So what is it that makes copper toxic to humans? Read on to find out more about copper kettles and cookware.

Your Copper Kettle is It Safe to Use 2


Why is Copper Toxic?

Copper is an essential mineral for human health and is responsible for vital functions within the human body

Some of the many functions that copper serves as an essential mineral include, but are not limited to:

  • The metabolising of iron
  • Aiding in the formation of energy-producing enzymes
  • The building and rebuilding of connective tissue
  • Aids the development of new blood cells
  • Regulation of gene expression
  • Hormone function and more

A healthy diet should give the human body all the copper it needs to function, around 340–890 mcg per day for children and 900 mcg/day for adults.

If this amount is exceeded by over-exposure to copper, like from regular use of defective or degraded copper cookware, for instance, excess copper can accumulate in the body, running the risk of copper toxicity.

Although copper toxicity is rare, if excess copper has accumulated in the body, a person could suffer a range of severe symptoms, including:

  • Stomach cramps and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe headaches
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Cold chills and fever
  • Muscles aches, and body pain
  • Increased heart rate and more

In severe excess, copper toxicity can result in:

  • Liver disease
  • Dangerous loss of red blood cells
  • Heart and kidney failure and more

If copper toxicity reaches critical levels, the subsequent outcome can even be brain damage or death.

Although copper toxicity is something you are very unlikely to come across in your lifetime, it is still worth being aware of its potential risks.

Are Copper Kettles Safe to Use?

Although copper poses a risk with excessive exposure, copper kettles and copper cookware are generally completely safe to use, especially if bought brand new from a reputable manufacturer.

Copper poses no risk if the tin lining is well maintained and there are no cracks on the cooking surface.

However, if you have inherited, or if you have picked up a second-hand copper kettle or a set of copper cookware, then you may want to carefully inspect the vessel or pan before you commit to using it for consumables.

So how do you check a copper kettle for dangerous cracks and degradation? Read on to learn more.

How to Ensure Your Copper Kettle is Safe to Use

Once you know how to check a vintage copper kettle to ensure it’s safe, the same protocol can be used on any copper cookware.

Clean the Heating or Cooking Surface

Old or used copper kettles and cookware build up on the bottom after years of collecting mineral deposits and other matter from hard water. If this build-up is not removed, you will not be able to inspect for excessive wear or cracks.

You can clean your pot by using vinegar and soda bicarbonate. Apply as a paste and gently work the build-up off with a cloth or rag and a little elbow grease.

You will find many other tips and tricks online if you find this simple method ineffective.

There are some commercial copper pot cleaners on the market. However, some can be too harsh for restoration. Speak to a copper cookware professional for advice if you are unsure.

Check for Chips, Wear and Tear

If a copper pot or copper kettle has been hit with a metal utensil, dropped, or scrubbed too hard with a harsh cleaning pad, like steel wool, then the thin metal lining may be exposed.

If this is the case, you will see the copper colour starting to show through the silver tin lining or see a blatant divot in the cooking surface.

If inspecting a copper kettle, use a bright but soft light source to look inside the vessel’s base and sides.

If there are no apparent signs of cracks, wear, or degradation to your copper kettle or cookware, then you can generally assume it is safe for use for culinary applications.

If you are still not 100% sure, it is worth taking your copperware to a restoration specialist to inspect it and give a professional opinion.

Do you own a copper kettle? Maybe you have some copper cookware? Perhaps you inherited some old school copper cookware from your grandparents?

The team here at Kitchenairy are passionate about quality cookware and love to provide you with culinary tips and tricks to help you be the master chef in your kitchen.

Have you signed up for our mailing list? Get more inspired in the home galley and gain access to regularly updated deals and members-only specials.