How to Use a Kelly Kettle

 In our previous blog post we talked about using the Kelly Kettle as an introduction to lighting fires with our Wildlings. Today we would like to show you how easy it is to use, whether it is in a educational setting, on a camping trip or on a picnic! 

1. Collecting tinder and kindling 

The great thing about the Kelly Kettle is that you do not need to carry around your fuel source. The Kettle itself is very light, and depending on the size of choice, is compact and easy to transport. So collection of the tinder. This is something that you can experiment with but can include dry grass or even newspaper. Collect more kindling than you think you will need. Especially when working with children it is imperative that you are supervising the Kettle at all times. Do NOT leave your Kettle with children around. Good fire safety means that you are prepared with all your materials from the beginning. You need a decent collection of sticks that will range in width from the thinnest branches to sticks no wider than a child’s finger.  

2. Fill the Kelly Kettle with water

The importance of this step cannot be underestimated! The key is to not overfill. Overfilling can lead to the Kettle spitting the boiled water out, something we obviously want to avoid!

Safety Tip: In a child-care setting, we recommend NOT using/plugging in the bung in any circumstance, we even recommend removing it. It is very tempting for people to want to put the bung in the kettle while it boils, however, if you have filled the Kettle too high and the water boils it may explode hot water onto bystanders. 

3. Gather all safety equipment

Fire gloves and a fire blanket should be on hand. We lit our fire right next to the creek so we stationed our fire bucket nearby in case of an emergency.  

4. Building the tinder and kindling

Start the base of your fire with your tinder in the fire bowl. We generally use a loosely bunched piece of newspaper. To increase the chances of achieving a spark we use cotton wool balls to light the fire. These are a fairly natural resource (at least far less toxic than a fire lighter), cheap and light in a gasp-inspiring ‘whoosh!’ that is much appreciated by littlies. Dry grass is also a great tinder source and great to show children how you can start a fire with nothing but natural resources. We make a tail of newspaper that fits through the hole in the bottom of the bowl to make lighting the fire easier and safer. Next comes the layering of kindling on top of the tinder. Using bunches of smaller sticks we layer them criss-cross style across each other until we nearly fill the bowl, snapping longer sticks so that they fit in the bowl. Any overhanging sticks will prevent the chimney from sitting flush on the bowl and need to be removed.  

5. Lighting the fire

Using the preferred method of lighting the fire, create a spark to light the tinder at the bottom of the bowl (the tail poking through the hole.) You can light the fire with the Kettle on or off the bowl depending on your situation. If it is a particularly windy day, you may wish to place the Kettle on the bowl before lighting to protect the flames from extinguishing. Blowing through the hole at the bottom will help to feed your fire (children love doing this). You may also wish to face the hole into the wind so that it can get the oxygen it needs. It is important to position the kettle spout at right angles to the hole at the bottom of the bowl.  

6. Feed the fire

Using the long sticks you have collected, feed the fire through the top of the chimney. Ensure that the person feeding the flames is wearing a fire glove to protect from flames, rising heat and potential burns. Continue feeding the fire until the Kettle is close to boiling. You will see bubbles forming at the top of the Kettle when it is close, and at this point it is important to start feeding the fire shorter, thinner sticks that will burn down more quickly. You want to avoid having long, thick sticks collapsing out of the bowl once the water is boiled and the kettle is removed. Smaller sticks will keep the fire going but also keep the fire within the bowl once you are finished.  

7. Removing the kettle

Using the fire glove hold the Kettle by the handles at right angles. Never remove the Kettle using the handle in the upright position! That is a sure way to cause a nasty burn! Place the Kettle on flat surface. 

8. Extinguish the fire

Using a stick spread the coals and ashes in the bowl until the flame is extinguished. Douse the bowl with water to fully extinguish the fire. The bowl will be cold to touch within a few minutes.  

9. Pouring the water

Now that the Kettle has been removed from the heat source you can use the handle from the top. With one hand on the handle and the other grabbing the chain and stopper on the end, lift the Kettle off the ground. Pouring lip to lip, tilt the Kettle using the chain into the vessel you intend to fill (i.e. cup or mug). Keep an eye on all left-over water in the kettle. We added cold water to the tea of the Wildlings so that it wasn’t too hot. 

And there you have it! Used safely the Kelly Kettle is a very manageable tool for children of all ages to use. The Kelly Kettle comes in different sizes and with additional accessories that we have yet to experiment with. But we will keep you posted! 

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