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Cleaning the inside of your Revere Ware tea kettle

Customer Carol asks:

I have been using a Paul Revere tea kettle every day for over 25 years. Is it still safe to use or does the inside corrode?
The Revere Ware tea kettles are made from stainless steel and copper.
Stainless steel is stainless because the chromium that is added to the steel oxidizes to form a protective layer that prevents the iron in the steel from rusting.  This is a self repairing coating; if you scratch stainless steel, the new chromium that is exposed will quickly oxidize to repair the protective layer.
Note that the chromium used is not the same as the type popularized by the movie Erin Brockvich.  The type of chromium in stainless steel is the same as is typically include in a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, which supports healthy metabolism.
The copper inside a copper bottom tea kettle will naturally oxidize from exposure to oxygen, which will turn the metal a turquoise blue.  Additionally, hard water deposits will build up on the bottom and sides of a kettle from normal use.  Both of these phenomena are totally safe.
Copper is a naturally occurring metal and is an essential element for all living things, and hard water deposits are just minerals in drinking water, which also can be beneficial to the body.
To keep your kettle in good working order, it is important to clean the inside occasionally.
To clean a kettle, just fill it with vinegar (such as white vinegar) heat it, and pour it out.  You can do this repeatedly to get all the hard water out.  The vinegar will be very blue when it comes out, from the copper oxidation.  Some agitation with a bottle brush can help speed up the process.

36 Responses to Cleaning the inside of your Revere Ware tea kettle

  1. H20kettle January 6, 2018 at 12:10 pm #

    I followed this process and bit of black flakes came out in the water from the tea pot. Is this normal? We have very hard water. Is this safe to keep using? The kettle is 32 years old.

    • RevereWareParts January 6, 2018 at 7:46 pm #

      I would expect that if you had very heavy hard water deposits, which can definitely come off in flakes. I suspect the reason they are black is that the hard water deposits are getting charred from the high heat.

      • Mary February 10, 2018 at 11:16 pm #

        Do I use undiluted vinegar? Some people say to use equal parts water and vinegar.

        • RevereWareParts February 11, 2018 at 6:12 am #

          All vinegar will have some water in it, as it is made from the juice of a fruit, of which quite a large percentage is water. For example, Heinz White vinegar has 5% acidity, which means that quite a lot of it is plain old H-2-O.

          In our experience with hard water deposits, the stronger the vinegar you use, the better and faster it works at dissolving hard water deposits. We aren’t aware of any reason not to use full strength white vinegar (the type we typically use), meaning, there don’t appear to be any issues of damage to worry about. The only reason we sometimes dilute vinegar for this purpose is to make it stretch longer, for example, when descaling a large pot it would take far too much vinegar to fill it to the top; using a smaller amount of vinegar in water works slower, but is less expensive.

          In this fashion, we do indeed typically use about 50% vinegar and 50% water for the purpose of descaling our tea kettle, and sometimes pure vinegar if the scale is really bad.

          • Mary February 11, 2018 at 11:05 am #

            Thank you! 🙂

  2. Beth Wright January 16, 2019 at 2:30 pm #

    My teakettle has very heavy deposits of limescale. I didn’t realize for a couple years what the small flat pieces of hard whitish stuff speckled with tiny black dots I would find in my sink occasionally were. But recently there was a slightly larger piece and I could review “Revere” on it!

    After looking at various references including this website, I have boiled it with vinegar multiple times and certainly some of the limescale has been removed, but I can still see some in there when I look through the spout using a flashlight. The last time I did it the water turned blue, and in fact I could see some of the copper bottom when I looked through the spout.

    I would really like to remove the rest of the limescale, but I question how many times I would have to do the vinegar treatment. I am thinking of trying C-L-R, the calcium-lime-rust removal product, but I would like your professional opinion about whether that might damage the teakettle and/or advice about things like how long I should leave it in there.

    I will also be consulting the website of the company that makes this product, and possibly calling their customer service. But I wanted an opinion from Revere Ware for what I consider to be a family heirloom which I grew up with. The bottom of the kettle says “Korea” followed by the code “G95-C.”

    Thank you.

    • RevereWareParts January 16, 2019 at 3:26 pm #

      CLR appears to be safe for stainless steel according to their website. Here is what they say about copper:

      CLR will take the finish off of aluminum and copper.

      I’m not sure what exactly that means. The copper on kettles has no finish that I am aware of.

      I think perhaps what is missing is just some agitation. It sounds like your deposits are so heavy, that just vinegar along won’t do it. I would purchase a bottle brush brush that can fit through the opening, and reach down inside and agitate the bottom and sides as much as possible intermittently to help the process along. Are you using straight vinegar? If not, try using vinegar without diluting it. You can also let the vinegar soak in the kettle when hit longer, like 30 minutes, and then try and scrub some of the hard water deposits off.

      Yes, that vinegar / water will turn blue. That is the color of the copper oxidation that is coming off.

      • Darci Donnahie October 22, 2022 at 8:32 pm #

        Thanks! Very helpful!😁😉👍

  3. Sharon Hiltz January 17, 2020 at 4:04 pm #

    I recently purchased a vintage Revere copper whistling tea kettle. I didn’t see any significant buildup, but cleaned it with the vinegar method anyway. It does not appear to be lined, though, so is it safe to use?

    • RevereWareParts January 17, 2020 at 5:10 pm #

      No, the kettles aren’t lined, as evidenced by the bluish oxidation that occurs on the copper at the bottom. See the article above … you are getting a little copper mostly which we understand to be safe, and the rest of the inside is just stainless steel and we aren’t aware of any findings that stainless steel is bad for you.

      • Sharon Hiltz November 21, 2022 at 5:09 pm #

        Thanks for the reply! I should clarify that both the bottom and the body of my kettle are copper. It is not made from stainless steel. Is the vinegar method of cleaning still safe?

  4. Kathy July 8, 2020 at 10:34 pm #

    I boiled the tea kettle dry. When I rinsed it after it had cooled, black flecks came out and the outside bottom was black but that all just wiped off. Is the kettle still safe to use (made in China) and can I clean it using vinegar? Can I put the vinegar in and let set overnight or just put it in a bring to a boil

    • RevereWareParts July 9, 2020 at 5:22 am #

      Most likely the black stuff was charred hard water deposits. It is still safe to use. The best way to clean the inside of your kettle is to fill it with vinegar or a watered down vinegar solution, heat it up, reach in with a bottle brush and scrub the bottom. Let it soak while a cools down and then repeat the heating and scrubbing several times to get all the deposits off.

  5. Jennifer December 19, 2020 at 8:19 am #

    I also boiled my tea kettle dry. The whole bottom turned black and a significant layer or layers of copper peeled off. The house smelled terrible for hours. Because of the kettle design (no top) I cannot see in to tell if the inside was charred as well. Is this kettle safe to use again?

    • RevereWareParts December 21, 2020 at 1:09 pm #

      I’d give it a good cleaning both inside and out. On the outside, scrub the bottom well and then polish with a copper polish. For the inside, give it repeated long soaks with straight vinegar, heat, and agitate with a skinny brush if you have one. Do this until the vinegar comes out mostly clear.

      There is nothing dangerous about your cookware if it is overheated like this. But you’ll want to clean it as per above so you don’t get flakes in your water.

      • Jennifer December 26, 2020 at 1:28 am #

        Terrific! Thank you for the reply. 🙂

  6. Denise Howell April 6, 2021 at 1:47 pm #

    I purchased the replacement whistle cap and trigger for my revereware tea kettle problem is it dosnt seat properly hence the steam blows past the lid and barely whistles if your interested I can send a picture showing where the problem is.

    • RevereWareParts April 6, 2021 at 2:34 pm #

      Please contact us via our contact form if you have an issue with the cap and we will help troubleshoot.

  7. Will June 18, 2021 at 11:23 am #

    Copper Looking Particles Coming out?
    I haven’t used kettle in 20+ years (old family item). I soaked it in soapy water, rinsed it out, boiled it out w/ vinegar, soaked it again in soapy water, rinsed it again, then boiled it out with distilled water. When I poured it into white sink, i saw what looked like copper particles (goldish brown). I boiled it out again with water & poured into a white pyrex bowl. Same thing happened. Could that be copper particles coming off somehow? Should I boil with water a few more times to see if it goes away? Bottom looks nice & clean on inside. Safe to use? Thoughts?
    Thanks!! 🙂

    • RevereWareParts June 21, 2021 at 12:48 pm #

      It’s possible they are copper particles. When I’ve done overheating tests on Revere Ware I have seen the copper flake off in little particles on the bottom when it was severely overheated. Your copper kettle might have been abused that way. But if that is the case, at some point the flaking should stop. I’d try to agitate the bottom with a bottle type brush to loosen as much as you can and give it a good rinse. If it keeps flaking after that, I’m scratching my head.

      • Will Liddell June 26, 2021 at 7:21 am #

        Thanks for the reply! I’ll give it a few more scrubs & a few more rinses & see what happens. As per usual, most “problems” I encounter seem to always have the experts scratching their heads. Haha! 😀

  8. Lexi August 6, 2021 at 10:55 am #

    Why oh why do you no longer make this kettle? I have used multiple Revere kettles and would love to replace with a nice new one, but I had to purchase some other junk. I still have the kettle…maybe I will just try to keep cleaning it….very hard water here.

    • RevereWareParts August 6, 2021 at 1:41 pm #

      We aren’t the cookware company, just a helpful business that sells replacement parts that Revere Ware stopped selling long ago, and provides useful Revere Ware information.

  9. bob March 8, 2022 at 4:18 pm #

    I tried to remove the handle/whistler on an old one-quart RW steam kettle. Both screws are free but won’t come out. They also won’t catch the threads again and the unit placed back in service. Please advise.

    • RevereWareParts March 21, 2022 at 6:47 pm #

      I’m afraid I’ve never come across that particular problem before. With normal 2-screw handles, if the screws are rusted and just spin, I usually break the Bakelite
      to be able to get to the screws with pliers to remove them. You may need to do the same if you are trying to get the handle off to replace it.

  10. Lisa April 4, 2022 at 8:15 pm #

    Hi, I have a Revere kettle I love and use all the time. Recently it got left on a burner and the water evaporated. The bottom outside was all black, and I assume inside it’s the same. I used steel wool to clean the bottom and now it looks fine – copper came right through. Can I use the vinegar advice above to clean the inside from being burned? Thank you!

    • RevereWareParts April 5, 2022 at 4:54 am #

      What probably happened in your case is any hard water deposits on the inside became charred black. You can use vinegar, but you will likely also need to agitate the bottom of the kettle to remove stuff. Sometimes using the skinny end of a long wooden spoon can help, as well as a thin enough bottle brush, a stiff one.

      • Lisa April 5, 2022 at 8:43 pm #

        I put the vinegar into my kettle and heated it to a boil. Then I poured the vinegar out and looked into the kettle with a flashlight. The bottom inside was still black. I scrubbed with a brush but it didn’t help. So I put more vinegar in and boiled it again and let it sit a long time. When I looked with the flashlight, it was almost all copper-colored again!! There were a couple of spots that were still black so I scrubbed and got them out. Then I made a cup of tea. 🙂 Thank you!!!!.

  11. Lisa April 5, 2022 at 10:16 am #

    Yes, if I point a light inside, I can see that there is a layer of black. I will try the vinegar, the spoon, and the bottle brush!! Thanks very much. I wish Revereware still made these whistling kettles!!!

  12. Cheryl August 24, 2022 at 3:00 pm #

    I’ve been using a revere ware tea kettle for a long time and love it. However the inside of the kettle is red almost like rust. Is that just the copper or do I have an issue. I tried the vinegar method of cleaning and it didn’t make a difference. Thank you!

    • RevereWareParts August 24, 2022 at 3:05 pm #

      Not seeing it I can’t know for sure, but you will see the copper bottom on the inside of the kettle and copper can sometimes look reddish. Copper is sometimes called the red metal.

  13. Laura Cooskey October 1, 2022 at 9:10 pm #

    The bottom of my kettle was red, too, like rust; then it struck me that the bottom might be copper both on the outside and the inside! My daughter is visiting and said she didn’t want to use it for tea water, because she couldn’t see what was in it and when she used a flashlight it looked rusty inside.
    Well, after two rounds of the vinegar-water boiling, then boiling plain water to remove the vinegar smell, as well as scrubbing it out, i checked with the flashlight again and realized indeed i was looking at copper! So my question is answered, and i hope that Cheryl (Aug. 24, 2022 comment) is also relieved.
    PRO TIP: To scrub out the kettle, you can put pebbles, gravel, or coarse salt and ice in it and swish it around. One time at a restaurant job i learned to scrub out coffeepots by the ice cubes and salt method; my update on that today was to walk to the creekbed with the teakettle, and drop several handsful of gravelly pebbles in it. I let them sit in it overnight after adding more vinegar solution. I swished it around before, during, and after having the vinegar in it, then dumped the pebbles out on the ground, rinsed well, and am sure i have every bit of grit out– and every bit of loose scale, too!

    • Vanessa June 20, 2023 at 10:09 am #

      That idea is genius. I have been trying to figure out how I was going to scrub the inside without a bottle brush…. I think my problem is solved, now I’m off to gather pebbles. Thanks for the idea

  14. GW December 21, 2022 at 6:18 am #

    I will make this VERY easy. Use citric acid, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup diluted in 1 qt water for heavy black staining. Bring to boil for about ten minutes. Pour out and rinse thoroughly. No need to scrub, but that’s up to you. For copper bottoms, Barkeepers Friend, some detergent and elbow grease will take care of any tarnish, straining

    Citric acid is the magic answer. You’re welcome

  15. Rita December 2, 2023 at 1:56 am #

    I have read all of the questions and answers here as well as answers from Google concerning the copper bottom on my 26 year old Revereware tea kettle. I have found conflicting information so now I am leery. I cleaned the inside of my pot as recommended. This morning using a flashlight I have a pretty copper bottom inside. However, many Google answers are telling me that copper is toxic and can build up in your body. I love my tea kettle and it has sentimental value to me so I am torn on what I should do. Should I not be fearful in using my tea kettle? Please address this concern and thank you!

    • RevereWareParts December 2, 2023 at 3:04 pm #

      Let me preface my comment by saying I am not an expert on copper toxicity. Having said that, many if not most homes in the US use copper pipes, which will leach a little bit of copper into the household water, likely providing some or all of our typically allowance / intake. Copper is listed by the NIH as a nutrient and there is a recommended daily allowance (here). It doesn’t seem plausible that the amount of copper exposure from the bottom of your tea kettle could exceed or even come close to what typically comes from household plumbing, unless something is seriously off with your water like very low or very high PH (in which case I’d worry a lot more about your plumbing copper exposure). This website says that doses up to 10mg daily are okay but 1 gram or more per day could be toxic. It would take a lot of degradation of your copper kettle bottom (or plumving) to leach enough to get 1 gram of copper per day. Given how the bottom of kettles likes to collect hard water deposits anyways, I suspect after a moderate amount of use, the copper on the inside bottom will be safely locked away behind minerals anyways.

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