Wanting to know who invented the kettle is a common question. It is one you may have asked yourself when enjoying a delicious cup of tea or when you decide to boil water for a meal. The automatic kettle, which most of us use today, is a simple and effective tool for boiling water.
However, the electric kettle hasn’t always been the simple device we know and love today. Throughout the years, the evolution of tea kettles began with a handful of inventors keen to find a reliable way of getting water to the right boiling point. Without these inventors experimenting with copper kettles, whistling kettles, and electricity, we wouldn’t have one of the world’s most popular small kitchen appliances in the world.
Where Did the Kettle Originate?
The automatic electric kettle is a relatively recent invention. However, the kettle as a concept goes back many centuries. Over the years, we’ve seen cast iron kettles, tea kettles, and stovetop kettles. Long before companies began producing plastic kettles and using an electric heating element to boil water, people already used their own version of the kettle.
How Did Kettles Boil Water in the Past?
Vessels almost identical to the modern tea kettle, from the spout (or metal tube) to the body’s shape, date back all the way to 3500 BC. Of course, these were often time consuming and inefficient. Most often, they had a small water chamber and nothing but fire for heating.
When Was the First Kettle Invented?
There’s not much information about the history of the kettle, nor do we know where the first kettle came from. On the other hand, most agree that the age of the modern kettle began in the nineteenth century.
Kettle history is complex. If you asked someone when the first kettle was created, they’d often ask whether you’re talking about old-fashioned kettles with decorated spouts, the old kettle with a spout that emitted a whistling sound, or the new modern era kettle.
Carpenter Electrical Company
The first kettle for making tea and boiled water with electricity first emerged from the Carpenter Electrical Company in 1891. Based in Chicago, the company made perhaps the first kettle capable of heating water with electricity. Still, it took around 10 minutes for the water to come to a boil because the heating element was in a separate compartment from the water. The separate chambers made it harder to heat the water quickly.
The Swan company’s early kettles solved the inefficient electric kettle by sealing the heating element into a metallic cylinder placed directly in the water. This new design outshined the first electric kettle with something that could heat water a lot faster.
These kettles were made almost entirely out of metal and featured their new electrical component. During the war, shortages in metal for the new electric kettle meant manufacturers had to switch to ceramics.
While he might not have been the first to use electricity to heat water, Arthur Leslie is often credited with inventing the electric kettle because he was the first to create a plug-in model that rendered the whistling kettle unnecessary.
The first whistling kettle was designed by a man called Harry Bramson. This initial design featured a device creating a whistling sound to inform users when the water inside had boiled. This tea kettle let users know when to take the kettle off the heat and add green tea leaves or pour the water into teacups for serving. Kettles were also regularly used for cooking food at this time.
Peter Hobbs and William Russell
The first fully automatic kettle was introduced in 1955, designed by Peter Hobbs and William Russell. The two men created a company titled Russell Hobbs. The K1 automatic kettle had a sleek design and was made with polished chrome.
When Did the Kettle Become Popular?
A simple method for boiling water, the kettle has been a popular investment for homes for centuries.
Popularity of Tea
It wasn’t until the eighteenth century when the kettle really started to take off. Even before Peter Hobbs and similar designers, the kettle grew in popularity as the British began drinking tea – an expensive drink imported from Asia.
Originally, tea was intended only for the wealthy. Still, as the British East India Company started trading more commonly with China, tea became more available. The demand for a solution that could inform users when the water reached boiling point became more of a necessity. During the 19th century, the arrival of the new electric kettle made it much easier.
A Hot Cup of Tea Every Day
Today, the kettle is a common appliance in virtually every home in the UK, and it’s also popular in many other parts of the world. There are all kinds of kettles available, from those designed in plastic to traditional metallic models.
With most of us using a kettle every day of our lives, we think it’s important to know who invented the kettle, where they came from and how they have developed over the years.