What to do if your kettle makes water taste badBaffled by a bad taste in your kettle? We can help

22 July 2015

Russell Hobbs Ebony 15076 kettle

Our testers found that the Russell Hobbs Ebony 15076 kettle caused water to smell and taste bad

Does your kettle cause water that's boiled in it to smell and taste awful? We can explain why, and help you to fix the problem.

This smelly kettle problem is commonly caused by combinations of chemicals in tap water and in your kettle, say scientists at major UK water companies.

The chlorine in tap water reacts with phenol-based compounds sometimes found in plastic and rubber parts of the kettle, according to Luke Montgomery of Yorkshire Water and Dr Robin Price of Anglian Water. There aren’t any health risks associated with this, but it does result in a bad TCP-like smell and taste.

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How to fix bad-tasting kettle water

The scientists recommend that you compare the water boiled in a saucepan with that boiled in a kettle to see if it’s the kettle which is causing the problem. 

If it is the kettle, then in future you should keep your tap water in a clean, covered jug in the fridge for a couple of hours. As this will get rid of the chlorine. However, you shouldn’t leave it any longer than this, as it’s chlorine which keeps water clean and safe to drink. 

It’s also important that you don’t re-boil water which has been left in the kettle, as this will add more phenolic compounds to the water.

Avoid buying a dodgy kettle

Not everyone will experience this problem, as chlorine levels in water vary and people have different sensitivities to taste and smell, Dr Price told us.

We’re looking into whether we can test every kettle we review in the future for this problem, so that you can avoid buying kettles which are likely to produce smelly, foul-tasting water in the future.

However, this combination of chemicals isn’t the only cause of every instance of smelly kettle water. We found smell and taste problems with water boiled in the Russell Hobbs Ebony 15076 kettle, even though we used filtered water that didn’t contain any chlorine.

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