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A Kelly Kettle - in capitals, since it is a registered trademark of the Kelly Kettle Co. Ltd. - is a simple, safe and useful device for boiling water, either for hot drinks, or just for sterilising unclean water. It is about the size of a large thermos, and can quickly boil 2.5 pints (around 1.4 litres) of water, in any weather, using any kind of combustible fuel.


The origins of the kettle are obscure, but it was in use by Irish fishermen from the early 1900s. It was originally made of tin, then copper, and is now spun from aluminium. A group of English fishermen visiting Ireland were told that the art of Kelly Kettle making had died out. The fishermen, along with an Irishman - Mr. Kelly himself - formed a manufacturing company in England to keep the art alive.


The kettle is formed in two parts. A dish-shaped base, with a hole in the side, and the kettle part. A fire is lit in the base using twigs, scraps of paper, dry grass or whatever can be found, and the kettle is placed on top. The kettle part consists of a chimney for the fire's smoke to escape, and a water jacket all around the chimney to transfer heat from the fire to the water. There is a filling hole near the top of the water jacket.

The fire can be controlled by turning the base so the opening faces into the wind for more draught, or a stone can be placed up against the hole to cut the air supply. The fire is fed by dropping small twigs down the chimney.

A handle and chain are provided for pouring. The handle is held as you would expect, and the chain - which is attached near the bottom of the kettle - is pulled upwards gently to tip the water out.


The Kelly Kettle Company now make a smaller 1-pint kettle which is more convenient for fitting in a backpack. Also, cooking utensils are available such as a grill pan and saucepan.


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