"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Zen and the Art of Kettle Maintenance

by Julie on January 28, 2011

in Chew on This

le creuset red kettle


Next to my grandmother’s silver teapot, the item above is the kitchen workhorse.

We drink a lot of tea at my house. I had always been a fairly consistent tea drinker (especially if I couldn’t get to coffee), but then I married a Brit and my intake trebled. It’s a lovely part of English culture; if there are 20 minutes to sit down there is time enough to put the kettle on. It really does warm both body and soul, especially when living with English weather. We never have, of course, (San Francisco came close sometimes), but at this point both kids have been so conditioned that the mere  threat of rain has them running to the stove, and that’s above and beyond the two or three cups they each drink daily.

So about four years or so ago I’d been going through cheap Ikea kettles like a 9-year-old boy goes through sneakers. The tin would dent, the handles would break, the bottoms would burn, and every six months or so I’d have to toss my kettle and buy another. That’s when the flamenco guitarist, the then-boyfriend — got annoyed at the waste and popped for a Le Creuset — almost $100 and not something I’d ever buy for myself. He drank a lot of tea himself, and frankly, I think he wanted his water boiled in something fancier than Chinese tin.

We did have a lot of lively discussions about which color to get. Red won out because as long as I was going over the top, I might as well be brazen about it. And at the time they weren’t making kettles in my kitchen’s particular shade of puce anyway.

Four years on and I still use the red kettle relentlessly. And it’s held up like a miracle. You really do get what you pay for.

At the time of purchase, the girl at the counter told me that at some point there would be a mineral deposit build-up, and that I would have to perform a simple procedure to remove it. She wrote the steps down on the back of a receipt and handed it to me. Somehow it made it home, crumpled in my pocket, and I pinned it up on the corkboard and promptly forgot about it.

And there it was tonight, when I went to make the evening tea and noticed, hey, mineral deposits on the inside of my kettle. Every now and then my inattention and inertia pay off.

Here, according to the young woman four years ago at Sur La Table in Santa Barbara, is how you remove mineral deposits on the inside of your iron kettle:

mix with water:

2 tablespoons baking soda
3 tablespoons lemon juice
boil for 30 minutes.

Rinse thoroughly.

Because I love my kettle and need it to last me for a very long time, I did a quick Google search about removing mineral deposits and found that yes, this is indeed one way to do it.

I’ll do this tomorrow, after the breakfast tea.

Three cups of tea

It's a magic number...

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

alice February 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

i actually gave this a whirl after reading about it here because i’ve had my kettle for 6+ years and figured it must be crusty inside by now. have no idea if it actually worked bc i can’t see inside it very well, but mentally i feel better about it…


Sarah February 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Oh my gosh. So many thousands of consecutive cups of tea…you’d think I’d just rinse the darn thing out once in a while. I freaked out when I noticed the build up only after it was thick enough to start cracking apart…wondered what was in my cherished tea pot that was making noise. At first i thought my fancy ass teapot was actually falling apart after ten years. Much to my relief, no! Thanks for this advice! Just gotta give it some love!


Julie February 21, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Yeah, who knew? Thanks for reading, sarah!


Patty January 28, 2016 at 5:54 am

Thank you for this posting. My silver Le Creuset is only 4 years old and I noticed floating deposits in the water. I’ve scrubbed and scrubbed to no avail. I look forward to trying your recipe in lieu of replacing such a nice piece of cookware.


Ruth November 6, 2016 at 5:57 am

My question is: How to you clean the exterior of the tea kettle without damaging the finish and is there a way to restore the shine? Mine looks like its been through a war. Thanks!


Gina January 22, 2018 at 11:36 am

You’ve seriously saved me! I was shopping on the Le Creuset website and panning the reviews on products…considering a stock pot, looking at this and that, and then decided to head on over to the tea kettle reviews, since I already have one. Low and behold, everyone was complaining about this soot. I was dumbfounded because I had just bought mine and, gasp, it had soot! I was SO disappointed. The way they were telling it in the reviews was that it was ruined. I’m so glad I spent a little extra time and found your page! You might want to consider chiming in on those reviews. I bet it would make someone else’s day!


an August 28, 2018 at 11:58 pm

this also works with baking soda and Vinegar boil.

Also – if the kettle is really gone, you can send it back for ~20$ and get a new kettle from Le Creuset as part of the lifetime warranty on the product, fyi.


ELSIE STORMONT January 28, 2019 at 2:17 am

I laughed at your blog title – “fancy-ass Le Creuset kettle” Ha ha! Thirty years ago, I bought a Revereware kettle for 20 bucks at The Broadway in Bakersfield, CA . Soon after that purchase, I spotted a royal blue Le Creuset kettle with a two-tone Hoener whistle. It was $100 back then too. I couldn’t justify the cost as I had already bought the Reverware one but I determined that as soon as my kettle “broke”, I would buy the last kettle I would EVER buy, the Le Creuset. Well, I take good care of my stuff so it was a ten year wait to fulfill my plan. One morning, the little tab that pulls back the spout cover on the old kettle broke off. I immediately drove 25 miles to the only kitchen shop in Fairbanks and put my Le Creuset on layaway. LOL. it was still $100 and still too dear for my income but where there is a will… So I’ve had my beloved kettle for 20 years and except for needing the scale removed again, it looks great! Living in Bakersfield and now in Fairbanks, I know the hard water happens so a periodic cleaning is necessary. For the person who asked about how to clean the out side enamel, I use Bon Ami powder with dish rag or sponge – “it hasn’t scratched yet!: for tough buildup, spray some vinegar on there as well. I enjoyed your blog!


Debra Hickman December 22, 2021 at 11:37 am

Hi this method didn’t clean all the mineral deposit I had to scrub until I was tired using more soda and lemon…


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