/ Food & Drink, Home & Energy

Why kettle water tastes funny: mystery (nearly) solved

Steaming red kettle

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.

Comments

Thanks for the update, Paul. Some people have returned kettles because of this problem, but are we legally entitled to a refund if we return a kettle soon after purchase?

It would be good to have input from the kettle manufacturers about this issue.

Interestingly very similar to comments on the United Utilities pages:

“Sometimes chlorine reacts with materials used for tap washers, anti-splash devices and seals in kettles causing an unpleasant ‘chemical’ taste.

A chlorinous or metallic taste in hot drinks, especially tea, will not be due to the presence of chlorine. Instead it is most likely to be associated with plumbing materials, such as rubber washers, or if you have appliances (such as vending machines, dishwashers, washing machines) plumbed in close to taps used for drinking water”.

Not sure why one has to put the jug of water in the fridge to out-gas rather than at room temperature whuch would probably be quicker ?

Almost all new sink installations these days involve flexible connexions between the taps and the incoming water supply. These flexible tubes have a plastic inner core through which the water passes. I presume this meets the required standards for water supply since plastic pipework, with plastic fittings, has superseded copper tubing in most new installations and I am not aware of any concerns over plastic plumbing materials which have been in use for many years now.

Modern mixer taps often have an anti-splash device made of plastic in the outlet. Despite the high price of such fittings the a/s device often looks poorly made and cheap. Sometimes they seem to cause more splashing not less but that might be more to do with limescale than manufacturing quality. However, given that the flow of water is in contact with this part for a fraction of a millisecond I am surprised it is cited as a possible cause of the taste problem.

It has always been my habit to run off some water first before filling the kettle or using any for drinking or cooking.

Water companies will come up with reasons to blame kettle manufacturers and visa versa, but I would hazard a guess that it is a case of a combination of both. I have checked Brita website who claim only to remove lead and copper due to domestic plumbing along with mercury and cadmium but only reduces the chlorine taste with their filters which means a percentage still remains.

I have tried putting my filter jug in the fridge for 24 hours but strangely this seem to increase the unpleasant taste and so did some research and discovered that “Liquid water, when cooled from room temperature becomes increasingly dense as with other substances, but at approximately 4C (39F) pure water reaches its maximum density. As it is cooled further, it expands to become less dense. This unusual negative thermal expansion is attributed to strong orientation-dependent, intermolecular interactions and is also observed in molten silica.”

Whatever or whoever is responsible for the foul tasting kettle water still remains a bit of a mystery but my theory about steam still persists and is related to distillation. For example, water boils at a lower temperature than some of the contaminants it contains (such as toxic heavy metals including chlorine). These remain behind as the steam separates away and boils off (distillation) which would explain why not emptying the kettle each time after using exacerbates the nasty taste.

I am no scientist but as this seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon it would be nice to get to the bottom of it.

Boiling water removes chlorine and oxygen. Distillation isn’t the right word because this is a way of separating materials by evaporation and condensation.

Some of the calcium salts are deposited as limescale. Heavy metals such as lead remain in solution.

Like Beryl, I would like to know why we now have a problem with kettles.

Wavechange: If boiling water for a couple of minutes in a kettle to make a cuppa can remove chlorine then the unpleasant taste is not caused by chlorine reacting with anything else, or would you have to boil the water for a longer period to completely remove it, which is important as it can make a huge difference to the taste.

PS I was never a popular student with lecturers because I was always asking too many questions!

Beryl – Chlorine is volatile so is easily removed by boiling. Other chemicals are not volatile – salt is an example. The reason we can smell things is because they are volatile, and are gradually lost from liquids or solids. We can taste things we can smell but we can also taste non-volatile things like salt and sugar. If the bad taste is caused by something that is not volatile boiling for longer will not help.

Unless I had another lecture or other commitment I always stayed behind to answer questions, but that had to be outside the lecture theatre if the next group and their lecturer was waiting to get in. You cannot ask too many questions but you can ask them at the wrong time. 🙂

joan says:
28 July 2015

if you have a plastic inside kettle I found that can give a taste to water let water run save water for plants we have a Tesco stainless steel kettle have found ok

I have never had a problem with strange tasting water but if I had a problem I would take the kettle back for replacement or a refund, after checking that water boiled in a pan tasted OK.

Has anyone been refused a replacement or refund if they have acted promptly?

Sue B says:
31 July 2015

In my case, it is definitely something else at fault – it is not the water.
As I explained in the other comment page:
– I have two kettles of the identical make and model (Moulinex, red, metal not plastic), purchased 2 years apart;
– the older kettle never had this problem;
– the older kettle still does not have this problem;
– the newer kettle is unusable;
– I used them in the same kitchen, with the same water supply, the same coffee/tea.
The ONLY difference is the date of purchase of the two kettles – everything else is identical.
Therefore, the cause MUST be in the manufacturing process somewhere.

You cannot get better evidence than this, Sue. 🙂 I hope you will return your new kettle, explaining that the old one is fine.

If everyone returns their dodgy kettles then it will help the manufacturers focus on solving the problem.

Sue B says:
31 July 2015

Thanks, yes I sent it back last week. They will probably just send me a replacement.
I’ll let you know what the outcome is!

Sue, a decent manufacturer should be interested in tracking down a problem. I hope you gave them the whole story so they can see what the differences are between your two year old kettle and the new one. Be interesting to see how they respond.

ThomasB says:
11 October 2015

It’s nice to see it’s not an isolated incident, and I agree it has nothing to do with water supplies.

A few days ago my old, cheap plastic kettle finally died, so I nipped up to Tesco to buy one of their cheap metals ones. Got home and boiled up a few fills to clean it out before first proper use, then made a cup of tea and it’s absolutely horrid. I’d been hoping it would fade with use, but after a few days use it’s still as horrid as ever.

It seems far too much of a coincidence that different brands of kettles are causing the same problem. I wonder if the problem kettles are being produced by a single manufacturer for several brands.

They are. “Brand engineering”, as they used to call it in the motor trade. Morris, Wolseley, Riley, Austin Minis for example.
My Hotpoint fridgefreezer has many well-known “brother” brands. Same applies to various “manufacturers” of kettles, irons, washing machines.
My excellent Lidl Silvercrest Espresso maker is made by Delonghi, as are other ownbrand coffee machines.
Judging by the very slight cosmetic differences in Halogen ovens, the same applies.
And as for ownbrand and “budget” groceries…

I’m sure most kettles are now by by either Messrs “Kettles Ltd (China)” or their arch rival “China Kettles Ltd” with both of these firms now serving in the “supply chains” of the various brand owners.

If some people are more sensitive to taste than others this does not mean whatever is causing this problem with kettles doesn’t exist and so needs to be explained. Sue noticed the difference in taste between her two kettles but her sensitivity levels remained the same presumably for both the old and the new kettles. Proof in itself, so that suspicion can be eliminated from the mystery.

Sue B says:
3 August 2015

Absolutely! I still have the older kettle, so I really could compare them literally side by side.
The only reason I bought another one was because the lid broke a little after some not too gentle handling by one of the teens of the household. I was that happy with it that I deliberately sought out the same model.
We’ve gone back to using the older one in the meantime.

Change in manufacturing process or materials – it has to be.
Maybe a common supplier of parts of all these brands?

Bought a new plastic kettle which smelt strongly of “plastic” – which I was told many years ago was due to the “plastiser” used…. but could also be due to the release agent used during manufacture.
To get rid of the smell and taste, I boiled a full kettle, put dishwasher liquid in it, allowed it to cool to “warm” and then scrubbed it internally with a brush. 2 full kettle boil and rinses later, no recurrence of the problem.

Enterprise says:
3 August 2015

Having just experienced this with a Dualit Kettle it is not the water at fault.

The only thing that changed was the Kettle which gave a horrible metallic taste – this was the same with tap water – filtered water – bottled water and after several boils.

It is clear that the material used in the construction is the cause of this (the Kettle has been returned and refunded – it has been replaced with a Prestige plastic kettle (which does not have any taste problem).

Looking at this more it appears that the production of these is in China using Chinease Stainless Steel. (Although it is hard to find out from the Dualit website)

It may be worth asking the manufacturers what the quality of the Stainless is and if this is rigorously tested and checked. (There are many grades of Stainless – all with different constituents and cost).

It “could” well be a lower grade stainless has been used that has not been passivated.

Leaving water in a jug overnight would only make this worse as it would loose the oxygen in the water which should react with the stainless to passivate the surface.

Until anyone can confirm that the quality of the Stainless is of an equal (or higher) quality than UK produced stainless then I will avoid stainless kettles made in China.

Whatever the Kettle manufacturers may say – Ceteris Paribus – the ONLY thing that has changed is the Kettle – therefore it is the Kettle causing the problem.

(Speaking around several people have had the same issue with Stainless kettles bought recently).

Enterprise, if there are no plastics involved in contact with the water, I wonder whether the stainless steel used is still contaminated with lubricant used in the forming operation?

Enterprise says:
3 August 2015

Could be – but even after several boils – rinses etc the foul taste was still preset.

It is a mystery – the only common link appears to be the production moving to China

Enterprise – I have a Russell Hobbs stainless steel kettle and have no problem with a strange taste – and it’s made in China.

Enterprise says:
7 August 2015

Hi Wavechange – Likewise I have had stainless kettles – I lalso use many in friends houses – with no issue. But this one from Dualit caused a metallic taste – I then looked around and found this had ocurred with several other people.

Funnily enough the day it was taken back (and refunded) another person had the same problem with this kettle.

As there are many different grades of stainless – all at different costs – I would question whether consistent quality control on the grade used for manufacture can be applied to manufacture in China. It would also be helpful if the kettle manufacturers declared which grade of stainless the kettle has been made with – rather than just stainless – as the quality has great variation.

I am glad that your kettle does not give strange tastes – I guess that the majority are fine – it appears to be a small minority that causes a problem (as the number sold is large this leads to a high level of comment/complaint)

Perhaps the kettle manufacturers are aware of this and have costed in the relatively small percentage that need to be refunded as being a lower cost than raising the stainless grade and instituing metallugical testing QC – which all costs. Just a muse.

I am not aware of these types of complaints when kettles were made in the UK with UK sourced stainless – then again China now dominates stainless production as they can make it cheaper than we could in the UK – but is the quality the same?

Hi Enterprise – Your problem with a metallic taste is clearly different from the main issue being discussed here. I do know about different grades of stainless steel, having had to learn about them to specify the appropriate grades for research equipment built in our university workshops. I did not experience quality control issues but can certainly understand that these could be very relevant.

I presume a metallic taste comes from metal ions going into solution. That could be caused by electrolytic reaction. With mild steel, it is possible to get electrolytic corrosion from use of different batches of steel and even welding can enhance corrosion. Some of the Dualit kettles have a removable base that allows it and the attached heating element to be replaced in event of failure. If the base and the rest of the kettle are made of different grades, that could be the problem.

As you have pointed out, the preparation of the steel may be a factor. I doubt that it would be difficult to monitor the change in the concentration of metal ions in water that has been boiled in a kettle.

What complicates matters is that manufacturers choose their suppliers according to cost and availability. I would be very interested in finding out if you can find others with the same problem and get anywhere with finding an explanation.

It would be interesting to see what happens with soft water. The salts in tap and bottled water, particularly chlorides, do affect the surface of stainless steel, particularly at higher temperatures.

Enterprise says:
10 August 2015

Hi Wavechange

Thanks for the comments which I agree with.

As far as the Dualit kettle – I have since learnt of three other with the same issue – no explanation – but all (including myself) had the cost refunded.

I realise this is different from the main issue with Plastic Kettles – but I have been “lucky” in that respect as my previous Kettle was plastic and I replaced the Dualit with a low cost Prestige plastic kettle – neither have any taste issues.

The comment about soft water is interesting – I am in a hard water area and do not use a water softener on drinking water – but this could certainly affect the surface of the stainless.

I only came to this site after the bad tasting water produced by the Dualit and I hope that a solution is found – but at the back of my mind I doubt it and, as you comment, based upon cost and availability, I “guess” the kettle manufacturers expect a certain number of refunds for kettles made in China.

It would be good if Which? would have some of these dodgy kettles tested in a lab. Those that give water a metallic taste – like yours – would probably be easier to investigate, even if they are in the minority.

I imagine that most kettles are made in China these days. My Russell Hobbs is and the water tastes fine, even if I reboil it.

If enough people return problem kettles the manufacturers will have to investigate the reason. Do let us know if you have any other ideas.

Enterprise says:
16 August 2015

Good point – perhaps that is why it is easy to send these back and get the money refunded (I was expecting a hassle) – could the manufacturers know that some have problems and are happy to refund – but not resolve – I have no way of knowing the issue for the one I sent back – perhaps KayJay below will get an explanation?

lyn williams says:
12 August 2015

The smelly, bad tasting water problem i think is caused by the water in the kettle boiling for too long before shutting off.The rubber seal or plastic being exposed to too much heat for too long.
Do we really need boiling water for tea these days?
We don’t need boiling water for coffee.

Sue B says:
13 August 2015

That’s not the cause in my case. Same make and model of kettle, same boiling time – one fine, the other undrinkable.

KayJay says:
15 August 2015

Like Sue B (above) I have just replaced my, in this case, Russell Hobbs (illuminating glass/metal) kettle with exactly the same make/model because the plastic lid hinge broke after just a year.

The new kettle makes the (filtered) water taste really horrible, chemically and/or metallic. Completely spoils the tea. I’ve now had to resort to using the old damaged kettle in order to get a decent cuppa!

Having boiled and rinsed it out numerous times with no success I’ve now reported the problem to Russell Hobbs as essentially it’s THEIR problem. I look forward to their response and hopefully a resolution. Will update.

MR HARVEY says:
8 October 2015

NOT HAPPY ,MY New Kettle Smell’s STRONGLY of Chemicals has soon has it was UNBOXED,my old PHILIPS Kettle also Stainless Steel NEVER had these issue’s.Ive so far BOIL’d three times and its still has STRONG. WHY do you NOT use less TOXIC chemicals and NO BPA’s in your Kettle’s?.The smell is like a New running shoe smell whenBRANDNEW.
The Kettle a RUSSELL HOBBS ILLUNIA 20160.
Are there ANY Kettle’s thesedays that are NOT made in CHINA?

Nurain says:
16 August 2015

Interesting discussion & comments. I moved to Switzerland about three years ago, and noticed almost immediately this problem ceased for me. Now, the only problem we have is sediment if the water is boiled for too long, as it’s so hard here (surprisingly).

Enterprise says:
16 August 2015

Hi Nurian – did the problem cease with a “Swiss Kettle” – or was the “problematic kettle” in the UK OK in Switzerland? – Thanks

Peter says:
18 August 2015

I believe the culprit is the heating element in the base. I’ve noticed that the taste is particularly bad when the seal fails and water leaks through the base (I’m sure you’ve all noticed a puddle under the kettle from time to time) and this is when the chemicals seep upwards. Of course an improvement would be a kettle comprising a single-piece stainless steel cauldron with a heating element below in a separate unit. Kickstarter anyone?

Jenns says:
24 August 2015

Exactly! There was never any problem with the old corded kettles-the problem is with the heating bases that come with all the cordless kettles.

It’s all about the base, ’bout the base…

I asked the British Stainless Steel Association (BSSA) whether they could shed any light on this. They replied:
“I have never heard of such a problem with regard to stainless steel kettles. It is known that new stainless steel material initially leaches a tiny amount of iron from the passive layer, but the amount leached into water is typically <20ppb (parts per billion or 20μg/Litre), which cannot affect the taste of the water.

Consequently, the source of the complaint is a mystery to me. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that this is connected with the processing, but I would think any change in taste would be a result of some other material contaminating the stainless steel surface – consistent with your lubrication idea ?"

They attached an interesting document StSt_in_FoodandBeverage_EN.pdf which explains the grades and applications, but this does not explain any taste problems. Stainless steel has to be 10.5% Chromium minimum, with much being 17% and including nickel to give better formability. The protection high chromium oxide film forms spontaneously when oxygen is present even when damaged.

We've a Kenwood st st kettle made in China with a concealed element, some plastic (window and level tube) and never noticed a taste issue.

If water heated in a stainless steel kettle has a metallic taste there is no doubt that it is due to the metal.

It is true that a protective layer of chromium oxide forms on the surface of stainless steel, but a wide range of treatments are used to enhance the protection of stainless steels from corrosion, the choice depending on the both the stainless steel and the application. The engineer who machined and welded ss components for me used nitric acid for passivation. The same applies with aluminium, where a surface layer of oxide is formed but anodisation can be used to enhance corrosion resistance.

Complaints generally seem to be of a plastic taste, not metallic. When you weld stainless steel you lose a lot of corrosion protection in the heat-affected weld area; this is restored by passivating in a mix of nitric and hydrofluoric acid which simply restores the oxide film. This is standard practice including on food equipment.

It might be useful to a sample of an offending kettles to a metallurgical laboratory (the British Stainless Steel Association may be able to help) to check the constituents of the steel and see if it complies with normal standards. However I would have thought the suppliers would be investigating the source of the unpleasant taste if there is substantial criticism of one of their products. Or perhaps Which? could send samples to a lab to see if the boiled water contains substances leached out of plastics which is perhaps more likely to be the cause?

Sue B says:
19 August 2015

Success!!
I sent my smelly kettle back to Moulinex via the shop where I bought it.
They have replaced it with a new one, no questions asked (but no explanation either…).
Exactly the same brand and model. Doesn’t look like anything special has been done to it, seems to be fresh out of the box.
No smell whatsoever.
Have been using it for a few days now, just to check before posting this message.
More evidence that this is a manufacturing process/materials problem, surely?
Don’t give up – keep sending them back!

If more people return problem kettles there is little doubt that a solution will be found. The retailers cannot afford to keep giving replacements.

I expect it’s a solution that’s at the bottom of this problem.

We have 2 Russell Hobbs kettles both with the same model number. We bought the second one when the lid broke on the first one and neither have had a smell problem.

When we tried to replace the filter on the second kettle, it was not the size specified for that kettle model and the filter area looks very different. The kettles seem almost identical otherwise. Russell Hobbs also confirmed which filter should fit that model.

So is the kettle a fake? We did buy it from Amazon at half the cost of the first one?

I think the smelly kettles need tracing to their source. It would not surprise me if they were all made in the same factory in China.

Enterprise says:
19 August 2015

It would be good if these could be traced – problem is I guess no one has any “commercial interest” in tracing these.

There seem to be a willingness to refund monies – which means that the offending kettles are not in the public domain. (Perhaps a commercial decision has been taken that the refunds are far outweighed by the lower cost of China manufacturing – the common element (excuse the pun) seems to be China).

I was amazed to have the problem on a £70 Dualit kettle bought from John Lewis (the reviews are good) – as soon as I experienced this taste I looked on-line to see if others had had the same proble (answer-yes) and when I also told people I was made aware of another person who had had the same problem and returned the kettle for a refund – my kettle was returned and also refunded.

Will Dualit trace the issue with these two kettles? I doubt it – but they should.

I am now happy with my £20 Prestige kettle (bought quickly withour any research as I wanted a drinkable cuppa) – it does not look so nice – but at least I can drink the tea made from the boiled water……..

“I guess no one has any “commercial interest” in tracing these.” I don’t believe we need a commercial interest when we have a consumers organisation. They can request offending kettles from purchasers – or source their own – and pay for testing.

Enterprise says:
19 August 2015

Very true – I guess the issue would be collecting the relatively small sample – whilst the kettle manufacturers are taking these back perhaps they could liaise with our consumers organisation for them to be both examined (to determine any commonality) and tested.

Can you please post a review on John Lewis’s website of the Dualit kettle, and include stuff about the bad taste?

Enterprise says:
20 August 2015

Posted a review on the JL site for the kettle this morning – just seems to be a long time for them to “approve” it – hopefully it will be up soon – under the same name Enterprise

Enterprise says:
29 August 2015

The review has now been psoted on the JL website – it says:-

Nice looking kettle which works well – however caution is needed touching the hot surfaces.
The biggest drawback was it gave a metallic taste to the water – this was the same after several boils and rinse outs and the same if tap water, filtered water or bottled water was used. This seems to be an issue affecting a small number of these (and other makes of) kettles and, at the same time, I came across an unrelated person with the same issue for this kettle.
Full marks to John Lewis for a no quibble refund – my replacement kettle (different make) does not have this problem.
Which readers will know that Which is looking into this problem and hopefully a solution will be found.

If enough people return problem kettles, as you have done, the manufacturers will eventually address the problem. I see there is a recent review on the JL website about rust spots on the base of the same model of kettle, providing some evidence of a problem with the stainless steel, as you suggested.

If you pull up the lowest score reviews on the JL website you may wonder why you bought the kettle in the first place. 🙁

Enterprise says:
31 August 2015

Thanks wavechange – I had not noticed the “rust spots” comment – on a stainless kettle! – A strong indication of a low grade of stainless is being used on at least some of the batches, indicative of poor Quality Control during manufacture.

Not sure we will ever get to the bottom of this – but hopefully we will at some stage…………

The solution to metallic tastes would be a titanium kettle, but beware that some manufacturers use ‘Titanium’ in a name for products that contain no titanium.

KayJay says:
19 August 2015

Just to follow up on my contact with Russell Hobbs. They suggest this problem is due to varying chlorine levels in the water, both regionally and also locally, throughout the day. The following is an extract from their response to me:

“When water is introduced to a kettle, the water itself forms a barrier around the seals and weld and this stops the water from becoming tainted, however if the water has a high content of Chlorine present, then it reacts with the seals and weld tainting the water when boiled. We found that sometimes, if the consumer used Bi-Carbonate of Soda in the kettle after detecting a taste, the Bi-carb would strip away the barrier formed by the tainted water and leave the kettle reaction free. This would then give the kettle the opportunity to be used with untainted water which would give an untainted barrier so that when the chlorine was particularly high again, it did not taint the kettles water.”

So, I understand that by boiling a batch of high-chlorine water I inadvertently created a ‘tainted’ barrier which subsequently caused a reaction, even when I used water with less chlorine. I don’t have the necessary subject knowledge to challenge this so I accept it as an explanation.

Interestingly, the horrible taste is not so bad today so I’m just going to monitor the situation closely and see what happens over the next few days. They did say I was welcome to return the kettle to the retailer and if I remain dissatisfied and I shall do just that! …AS IF WE DON’T ALL HAVE ENOUGH TO DO IN OUR LIVES!!!

KayJay says:
19 August 2015

Ooops! Sorry for the use of capitals. Didn’t mean to shout but I must admit this is all so frustrating. Life just isn’t pleasant without a nice cup of tea.

KayJay – The information is not clear but at least you have the blessing of Russell Hobbs to the retailer if you are not happy. That might encourage others to return problem kettles too.

There is no doubt that the amount of chlorine varies in our water supply. It gets used up in ensuring that our water remains safe to drink and it is not possible to maintain a consistent amount in the water that arrives at our taps.

I will have a look at Russell Hobbs’ website and see if I can find any information about this problem. If not, I will contact them and suggest that it would be helpful to post advice about this. I have a recent Russell Hobbs stainless steel kettle and find no strange taste or smell despite the chlorine smell and hardness of the water varying significantly from time to time.

Sue B says:
19 August 2015

KayJay, I’m starting to think we should all start shouting a lot more! 🙂

Honestly, when all of the experiences just on this one forum are taken into account, I don’t think any of the “explanations” from their side hold any water at all (pun intended).
I would much prefer they admit they don’t know, rather than trying to shift the blame to the customer or the water supply.

Having had a look at the Russell Hobbs website, there is some advice that may be relevant to anyone having problems with strange tastes:

“The water boiled in this kettle tastes metallic. How can I improve the taste?
Try descaling the kettle according to the descale procedure. Rinse carefully afterwards.
If this does not help, please contact the Russell Hobbs Consumer Service Department on 0845 658 9700.”

“The kettle smells weird, how can I remove the smell?
Try descaling the kettle according the descale procedure, as this removes most smells. Rinse carefully afterwards.
If this does not help, please contact the Russell Hobbs Customer Service Department on 0845 658 9700.”

So whether the water has a metallic taste or weird smell, the recommendation is to descale the kettle and phone Customer Service if the problem remains.

Incidentally, Russell Hobbs should have stopped using an 0845 number for customer service calls. 🙁

Enterprise says:
19 August 2015

Hi Wavechange – Thanks for the info….

To descale may be good advice for a used kettle in a hard water area – but it is nonsense for a brand new kettle. Unless they knowingly send out contaminated kettles).

I have looked on the Dualit site and cannot find any reference to this issue at all – at least Russell Hobbs reers to it…….

Here is an extract from the Russell Hobbs instructions relevant to the stainless steel kettle I own:

“DESCALE – EVEN IN SOFT WATER AREAS
7 Limescale may be white, coloured, even rusty-looking, but it’s normally visible.
8 Phosphate scale isn’t generally visible, but it’s there, even in soft water areas.
9 All scale causes overheating, reduces the kettle’s life, and may trigger the boil-dry cut-out.
10 So, even with soft water, descale at least monthly, to help keep your kettle in working order.
11 Use a descaler suitable for plastic products (all kettles have plastic parts).
12 Follow the instructions provided with the descaler, rinse several times, then fill, boil and discard the water, to ensure no residues are left.
, Products returned under guarantee with faults due to scale will be subject to a repair charge.”

I remember being perplexed by the reference to phosphate scale but since I live in a hard water area, I do descale my kettle regularly. It’s good that they have recommended descaler suitable for plastic products and given the reason.

I will let you know what Russell Hobbs have to say.

I contacted Russell Hobbs and received a prompt reply, no different to the one KayJay posted. I wonder how many of us have been sent this email.

I have pointed out that their website recommends descaling whereas the email recommends using sodium bicarbonate.

Perhaps the way forward would be to produce stainless steel kettles without plastic/rubber components and with a non-stick interior so to prevent contact between the metal and the water.