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Author Topic: Cleaning a copper kettle, and making it safe for use.  (Read 15075 times)
Doctor When
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« on: April 05, 2009, 12:19:29 am »

I managed to pick up a rather lovely copper kettle this weekend.

I have spent a good few hours cleaning up the thing, which was in a bit of a grimy state.

I have soaked it in Soda Crystals as recommended by the blpke that sold it to me, but that didn't have much of an effect.

Elbow grease worked a bit better: I have polished the kettle inside & outside (cleaning the inside with a "modded toothbrush" and mini bottle-brush for the spout) using Barkeeper's Friend - a particularly good metal polish in my book - and washed it about six times. I even worked round the inside folded rim with a pointy stick to clean out the furthest corners.

It looks a treat now. But... is it safe?

The tinning on the inside appears to be intact, and I've got rid of the blobby bits of rust, dark stains, verdigris and limescale. It's been washed and rinsed several times in antibacterial washing-up liquid at high temperatures.

I've done everything I can think of to make sure it's OK to actually use.

Has anyone got experience with old kettles? Would I be crazy to use it, or am I pretty safe? I will probably only use it a couple of times a year. Do I need to worry about anything else?

Thanks!

Dr. W.
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TimeTinker
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2009, 10:22:02 am »

Hello Sir,

If the tinning seems sound then it is perfectly OK to use.  People get very hung up about copper for no real reason.  Copper in itself is not toxic - your water probably comes through copper pipes. Verdigris is a potential hazard in that it can cause stomach upsets and a loosening of the bowels.  Keep it clean and all is fine.  If you go into some of the finest restaurants in the world you will find them using untinned copper pans - they are just kept scrupulously clean.

May I suggest you fill it and boil it a few times - this will have the effect of both boil and steam sterilising the inside of the kettle. Don't let the water level drop too low though or you will find the spout may decide to come detached.

Personally I have no qualms at all in drinking tea made with water from the kettle - indeed I look forward to it.

Tink
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icyuod2
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2009, 11:35:48 am »

heres canada's take on copper (health canada)

"Copper conducts heat well, making it easy to control cooking temperatures. Brass, made from copper and zinc, is less commonly used for cookware.

Small amounts of copper are good for everyday health. However, large amounts in a single dose or over a short period can be poisonous. It is not certain how much can be safely taken each day.

Because of this, copper and brass pans sold in Canada are coated with another metal that prevents the copper from coming into contact with food. Small amounts of the coating can be dissolved by food, especially acidic food, when cooked or stored for long periods.

Coated copper cookware can lose its protective layer if scoured.

In the past, tin and nickel were sometimes used in coating copper cookware. Such cookware should be used for decorative purposes only. Anyone allergic to nickel should particularly avoid nickel-coated cookware."

that being said, considering water is an aggressive solvent (and will disolve most metals) i'd steer clear.
(the dangers will increase if your using distilled/rodi/pure water) maiking tea will increase your daily intake, if ya drink a crap load of tea, well better safe than sorry.

theres always the argument we use copper piping in our homes, but once upon a time (not too long ago) we also used lead piping.

Smiley
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 11:40:22 am by icyuod2 » Logged
TimeTinker
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2009, 08:07:51 pm »

UK Guidelines are different in fact they make it clear that copper is essential for health.

"Acute copper toxicity in humans is rare due to the emetic properties and unpleasant taste of the
compounds. There are relatively few data on lower level or chronic oral copper exposure in man.
Copper is kept under tight homeostatic control to prevent the accumulation of excess amounts. Where
dietary copper is high, absorption is reduced and, in particular, biliary excretion increased. Other
mechanisms, which sequester excess copper within the cell, may also occur. Copper toxicity occurs
when such defences are overwhelmed. Thus, in man, liver toxicity has only been seen in genetically
determined conditions such as Wilson’s disease and in Indian Childhood Cirrhosis where hepatic copper
accumulation occurs. There is no evidence for copper carcinogenicity in the general population,
although an elevated incidence of hepatoma has been suggested in untreated Wilson’s disease patients
or subjects recovering from ICC."

Many people confuse the problems of verdigris  poisoning with copper poisoning.  The use of nickel to coat copper has also caused difficulties and confusion.  In fact the UK Food Standards Agency indicate it is safer to use an uncoated copper kettle than an electric kettle with a nickle coated element. There has not been a case of copper toxicity poisoning in the UK or USA recorded in the last 50 years.

Copper is in itself an oxidant, yet in the body it has an antioxidant function by being a participant in the enzyme superoxide dismutase (S.O.D.). This enzyme protects the cells from the damage.

Copper is also part of the protein, ceruloplasmin, found in the blood plasma. Ceruloplasmin regulates the level of certain hormones in the blood and is also required for the formation of red blood cells.

Additionally, copper plays a part in energy production, melanin (Skin pigment) formation and fatty acid oxidation.

The risk of heart and circulatory problems is increased with copper deficiency, especially if accompanied by a deficiency of Selenium.
Copper deficiency can also contribute to Anaemia, some bone diseases and  nervous system disorders. In children copper is required for the metabolisation of calcium so a deficiency can be a contributor to growth inhibition and brittle bone disorders.

Copper consumption is actually recommended for Lactating women - normally the group where science gets hyper cautious.


A US Study in 2005 recommended a reduction in the use of copper supplements in the diet.  A minor reduction in the immune system was suggested after 100 days consumption of supplements in excess of 7mg per day.  This was contrary to a UK study of 1985 (Pratt) which suggested that the human body maintains homeostasis even with supplementary consumption of 10mg copper per day. (I am not sure about the elevels of copper in US water - here in the UK it is generally less than 1mg per litre with a legal maximum of 3mg - this could explain a discrepancy in the results.)

Copper itself is an algaecide in water and is now used deliberately in water systems to keep it clean and potable.  Copper mesh and silver mesh are used together in water purification filters. Recent studies have also shown it has antimicrobial properties and is able to eliminate MRSA, E Coli, Listeria and even Influenza whilst these survive in contact with stainless teel. There have even been recommendations that copper should be used to replace stainless steel operating tables etc.

The UK daily maximum intake guidelines are 16mg per day which could be provided by drinking 8 litres of tea produced in a copper kettle with UK tap water from an acidic area. Of course if you want to eat a kilogram of oysters in the same day I would recommend you reduce your tea intake to four and a half litres or 36 cup fulls just to be on the safe side. Grin  The FSA is at pains to point out that this is a guideline and there is little evidence that exceding these amounts would be hazardous.

There are numerous other studies from all over the World. The EU and WHO guidelines concern themselves with copper supplements and suggest that people should concentrate on trying to glean copper from their diet and drinking water.

Hope that is helpful.



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Doctor When
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2009, 01:54:49 pm »

In the past, tin and nickel were sometimes used in coating copper cookware. Such cookware should be used for decorative purposes only. Anyone allergic to nickel should particularly avoid nickel-coated cookware."


Oh, my. We're all going to die! And here was me worrying about copper when nickel/tin is the real problem...

If the tinning seems sound then it is perfectly OK to use ... Personally I have no qualms at all in drinking tea made with water from the kettle - indeed I look forward to it.


Hell, worth the risk I reckon. As far as I know, I'm not allergic to nickel or tin - anyone coming to the Picnic on the 19th who doesn't want to risk Certain Death By Canadian Safety Regulations can bring their tea in a thermos flask  Tongue

Hmm... see also:
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/459509.html
http://www.dwi.gov.uk/consumer/pr0302QandA.htm

I don't think my little old kettle will have enough nickel to be a problem.

Thanks for your help, folks!
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Vampyre Master
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2009, 03:58:50 pm »

I used to work for Brooke Bond Tea and all their tea tasting was done using copper kettles, they had about 100 of them

V
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