I was not paid to do this gear review.
Purifying water can be critical during an emergency. The Kelly Kettle combines an efficient design for boiling water with the ability to be fueled with biomass. It seemed like a great idea, so I ordered one for testing.
by Leon Pantenburg
In the aftermath of a disaster, finding pure water can be very, very difficult. Boiling may be the only practical method of purifying large amounts of it.
This leads to another potential problem: What will you use for fuel to create the heat source? I am a huge fan of biomass-fueled emergency stoves, so I was intrigued with the Kelly Kettle concept.
According to the parent company, the Kelly Kettle is a 100-year-old design that originated in Ireland. The tradition of using the kettle to boil water at lunchtime goes back to the 1890s on the west coast of Ireland and the design has changed little. The idea was to produce an easy-to-use, compact biomass-fueled vessel for boiling water.
Lough Conn is famous for its free rising brown trout and fresh run Salmon from the River Moy system. The lake provided (and still provides) ample fuel for use in the kettle, according to the website, where washed up twigs, sticks and dried grass were easily available. On wet and stormy days, the local angling guides would keep watch for the small pillar of smoke on the lake shore which indicated that a colleague already had a “brew” on! A hot cup of tea or soup awaited anyone who landed and the Kettle would be repeatedly boiled as additional boats laden with anglers arrived.
It seemed to me that such a kettle would have a valuable place in my emergency preparedness supplies, as well as being really useful for backpacking. I ordered the Kelly Base Camp Aluminum Kettle, which holds 54 ounces of water and weighs 2.1 pounds. My reasoning was that a kettle this size, if it worked as advertised, would be ideal for base and hunting camps and could supply several people with hot water quickly during emergency situations. Most importantly, it would never run out of fuel.
My first impression upon opening the box was that the kettle design is extremely well thought out and practical: A double-walled metal container, hollow in the middle, fits on a base that allows building a fire. The design creates a chimney effect, which makes for effective fuel use and rapid heating.
The workmanship and quality is great – I filled it with water and headed outside.
As is my wont, I test survival products in whatever circumstances are outside. In this case, the weather in Central Oregon was cold and damp, it had been raining for several days, and all the twigs and sticks were wet or damp. Starting them was not a problem and once the fire got going, the water boiled after about three to five minutes.
I was surprised at how rapidly the kettle worked, and with so little fuel. I had picked up a big handful of damp sticks off the damp forest floor, and didn’t need all of them to boil the water.
There are accessories, a Pot-Support and Cook Set, that can be added to a Kelly Kettle to allow cooking over the chimney. All the components can be stored inside the kettle.
While the Base Camp might be too big for backpacking, there is another model, called the Trekker, that holds two mugs of water. Combined with the cooking rack, that seems like it would be an ideal combination of backpacking biomass stove and water purification system.
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