“ Brand: Russell Hobbs „
Being a resident of a flat, which has a cold kitchen, has recently resulted in a discovery that plastic jug kettles fail to auto-stop when it reaches it boiling temperature. Faced with either going cheap again and buying either a student line up of budget priced jug kettles from Argos or going the premium route at John Lewis or Comet, what I have been looking for is something which isn't going to be affected by cold temperatures, proves to be reliable and isn't likely to need much maintenance. After all how difficult is it to find a kettle that just does what it promises?
I've owned a fair share of jug kettles over the years as a result of poor mechanisms literally going up the spout. I treat them carefully, clean them often and only boil a small amount of water unless I have guests or friends visiting, and often at 1.5 litres full capacity I seem to find myself re-filling again for more hot water. Initially as a consumer I did begin to worry that 3kw kettles known for their rapid boiling elements can burn up more electricity than standard 2.2kw elements even though the latter can take longer to boil. As such this isn't my first experience of a traditional kettle by Russell Hobbs; my cousin is currently using my first model which was bought seven years ago and is still going.
So I went to high street shops and electrical appliances places but couldn't find this traditional kettle. It seems that hardly anyone is interested in what went before the age of the Jug kettle. Tesco however came up trumps with this newer version of my old Russell Hobbs kettle, and even if it does look slightly old fashioned, it has a few new surprises up its sleeve designed to be fuss free and easy to use.
Costing £24-97 (or 24 club card points), the Russell Hobbs kettle comes with a more powerful 2.4 kw element, bare to the naked eye which can be a downside for consumers who live in hard water areas. For the purpose of water in Scotland generally however a bare element in a kettle isn't any hardship and requires the same amount of cleaning, in my experience as concealed kettles I've owned in the past.
It also has a handy lip to show where the line of maximum water level should get to which wasn't always the case with electric traditional electric kettles. This is set into the mouth of the kettle after the lightweight lid has been taken off. A larger water scale (previously in the base of the plug socket at the rear on my older kettle) located at the front of the kettle on the A pillar shows the main water gauge which goes to show that Russell Hobbs have moved with the times, even if there is no additional removable washable filter available. The water gauge has been improved however and it is easier to see from a distance how much water is filled up in its 1.7 litre tank.
One of the aspects which I guess, most consumers won't miss is the fact that the Russell Hobbs is made with a stainless steel body which is not heat insulated. Common sense dictates that the only time you should ever put your hand on the body is when the kettle is extremely cold and you need to clean the tarnish on the metal when it becomes discoloured. Even the largest of hands will never touch the body because of the large angled handle sweeping down to the rear.
The good news however is that the 2.4kw can boil a full tank in around a minute. Clearly it is slower to boil when filled to its fullest capacity, but with enough water for just one person, I find that the kettle is quick enough with smaller capacities - and an immediate advantage of its metal body ensures hot water stays hot for longer against my cheaper Kenwood plastic jug kettle - which is one main reason to why I wanted this type of kettle. I also find that smaller quantities of water boil faster and depending on the temperature too - cold, icy tap water takes longer whereas lukewarm filtered water seems to take a shorter time.
In hindsight however, I know that not many people will like the idea of using traditional kettles, as they are deemed unsafe when the steam is rising and touching the middle of the handle. Russell Hobbs however has re-designed the kettle lid so that its handy air vent directs the steam from boiling water away. This of course depends on how you angle the lid as you can turn it whichever way around the rim of the kettle you wish so that the "fin" where you would put your hand to take the lid off to fill the kettle can be handled. The lid also locks into place like a teapot - there is a lip on the underside of the lid that allows it to sit in place and stay there as if it is locked. You can turn the lid anyway preferred to which angle the fin is sticking out. As soon as the lid is down, it stays down until it is unlocked and taken off again. Filling the kettle is very easy, either with the lid taken off or down the large easy to pour spout; filling hot water bottles with a more traditional kettle has proved to be a lot safer for me and on this kettle, it is no exception; no splashes or worries about leaking spouts even when it is filled to maximum capacity. Naturally like most traditional kettles of the age, the Russell Hobbs kettle has a basic white on switch that is simple to operate and clearly labelled.
I don't find this kettle to be particularly noisy compared to my jug kettle but that could well be down to the fact that its a metal bodied kettle compared to a plastic jug. The switch has a very audible click once the kettle has reached its auto stop point and after a few seconds the Russell Hobbs will re-boil after it has cooled down.
The electric cord that is supplied with the kettle is of the normal flat head type that means that there isn't much length to it - just over 100cm, but if you have a close socket nearby this is handy if the kettle is to have one place only in the kitchen. The weight of the kettle however is heavier than my old Kenwood jug kettle but at least it doesn't shake when it reaches boiling point. A series of three rubber pellets stuck on the base ensure rigidity as well as the promise of minimal marking on surfaces. People who are either left or right handed will find this kettle is easy to use since the gauge is in the middle of the handle.
If however it is be used by families I would strongly recommend cautioning young children regardless on this kettle's un-insulated body and the dangers of hot boiling water in general.
** Cleaning the Kettle **
After the first three months my Russell Hobbs still gleamed and sparkled but then began to get tarnished due to the oils from general cooking. To clean stainless steel here is a little tip; take a dry cloth, something like a J Cloth and apply a smidge of toothpaste. Go over the body of the kettle and completely scrub in the toothpaste. Then with a damp clean cloth, wash off the body making sure that no toothpaste is left. Result? Clean, sparkling stainless steel! I did this and the kettle came up looking brand, spanking new! As for inside where fur collects I use a chemical based lime scale and fur powder remover although there are other ways of home made measures to clean a kettle inside.
So if you are the type of consumer who seems to be having problems with kettles that start to fail on their auto-stop function or looking for a kettle as a back up, in my opinion the Russell Hobbs makes the grade. The company have been producing kettles for what may feel like centuries although they first started in 1950 (the first electric kettle dates back to 1845 by the Compton company) and it is good to see that they have not lost this design perhaps due to slow sales and bowing out in favour of more light weight plastic jug type kettles. After all, where are the other rivals from Swan now?
The Russell Hobbs kettle is highly efficient but obviously heavier to use, but for most people who are looking for something that lasts, and puts in the maintenance time to keep it running smoothly the Russell Hobbs traditional kettle shouldn't let you down. What a pity that at its initial cost price, it does appear to be slightly expensive. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008.
Short name: Russell Hobbs 4101