Earlier this year we asked you to help solve the mystery of smelly, foul-tasting kettle water – a problem that for many of you has been spoiling your daily cuppa. And now we’ve discovered a common cause.
The problem bubbled up when Which? members complained that the water heated in their kettle had a ‘plastic flavour that made it undrinkable’. We carried out testing in our lab, which confirmed there was a problem with how the water in one of the kettles tasted and smelled.
But it soon turned out to be far from an isolated problem. In fact, we’ve so far had more than 130 comments complaining about the taste and smell of the boiling water your kettle produced.
But what’s the cause? It soon turned out that it wasn’t a single brand that was to blame. Was it the water supply? Even some of you who used filtered water had the same problem.
The cause of smelly kettle water
We contacted scientists Luke Montgomery of Yorkshire Water and Dr Robin Price of Anglian Water. They told us that the chlorine in tap water reacts with phenol-based compounds sometimes found in plastic and rubber parts of the kettle.
There aren’t any associated health risks. And not everyone will have this problem – chlorine levels vary, and people have different sensitivities to taste and smell, Dr Price told us.
It’s recommended you compare the kettle water with water boiled in a saucepan to see whether it’s the kettle’s causing the problem. If it is, you can get rid of the chlorine by storing tap water in a covered jug in the fridge for a few hours.
We’re looking into whether in the future we can test every kettle we review for this problem, so you can avoid buying models likely to produce smelly water.
However, the mystery still isn’t fully solved. We had problems with the Russell Hobbs’ Ebony 15076 kettle even with filtered water that didn’t contain any chlorine.