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Can Electric Kettle Be Used For Boiling Milk?

By 14th March 2018Cooking Tips
can electric kettle be used for boiling milk

Can electric kettle be used for boiling milk? It may seem only logical to assume that if an electric kettle can boil water, why can’t it also boil milk?

Sure, you are risking the milk boiling over and making a mess. But what if you switch off the kettle in time before the milk starts rising?

But a messy kitchen should be the least of your worries if you boil milk in an electric kettle. The milk will leave an even worse mess inside the kettle and could even cause damage.

The short answer is no, you cannot and should not boil milk in an electric kettle.

To see why electric kettles and milk don’t mix, it’s necessary to first understand the basic workings of the kettle.

How An Electric Kettle Works: A Brief Explainer

The two most important components of an electric kettle are the heating element which is the heat source and the thermostat which switches off the kettle.

The heating element consists of a coil of metal. You can sometimes see it at the bottom of the kettle though in most brands, the coil is hidden under a plate.

As electrical current flows through the thick coil the metal heats up which in turn heats the water in contact with it. The coil draws a lot of current so as to produce a lot of heat. That’s why you can boil water in 2-3 minutes. Instant kettles draw even more current and produce a lot more heat. They can boil the same amount of water in less than a minute.

When the water boils, it produces steam. The steam is carried by a tube to a thermostat which triggers an automatic cut-off of current. The kettle switches off.

Some kettles use advanced thermostats that can heat water to a precise temperature and even hold it there for some time.

What Happens When You Boil Milk in an Electrical Kettle?

Milk boils very differently from water. It contains a mixture of water, fats and proteins. As it heats, the fat and proteins form a layer at the top. This prevents steam from escaping. Steam build-up is what causes milk to boil over.

You may already have spotted the problem with this no-steam boiling. There is no way for the thermostat to trigger a shutoff so the heating element keeps on heating the milk.

The milk will start burning. Remember a heating element heats up very quickly. The huge amount of heat burns the milk to a char which coats the heating element.

This makes things worse. The burnt milk insulates the heating element and causes it to get even hotter. This could easily damage the element and other electrical components or even cause a fire.

Thankfully, most modern electric and smart kettles have an overheating safeguard which triggers the kettle to turn off when it goes beyond a certain temperature.

So in reality if you boil milk in an electric kettle the worst you’ll deal with is a charred hard-to-clean kettle that most likely won’t heat water anymore.

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