Tetsubin cleaning tutorial

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Bok
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Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:52 pm

I bought an old tetsubin on my Tokyo trip and it needed some cleaning. Lots of tutorials in the Taiwanese interweb, picked out one and it did work well for me, so here is a step by step recap of the procedure.

1. Soak in water for half an hour.
Completely submerge the whole kettle.


2. Scrub with magic Japanese sponge.
This is a special kind of white sponge found in certain Japanese 1 dollar-shops, called Daiso(will add pictures of it later). ATTENTION, this sponge can only be used with cold water, otherwise it will release undesirable things. Scrub und rinse the sponge until it does not get stained any longer.

I did not do this until completely white, only until the stains on the sponge become lighter.


3. Boil with lemon water
I cut and squeezed a whole bunch of lemons for this step. Boil 3 hours. I cut it short to about an hour, which worked for me, depends on the level of dirtiness/rustiness. Rinse afterwards.


4. Boil with tea leaves
Again, the whole kettle submerged in water, add some tea inside and boil again for at least 30min. I then let it sit for a couple of hours.


5. Boil water
over and over until the water comes out clean.

Done!

Will post before/after images at a later stage. My kettle was brownish before cleaning, afterwards the black grey-metallic came out again!

Maybe this tutorial is of use for some, feel free to add your own input/comments!
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Bok
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Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:15 pm

plamarca000
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Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:46 am

Nice tutorial.

That’s a melamine sponge.

https://www.mrclean.com/en-us/shop-prod ... r-original

You can find them in most stores in the states
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pedant
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Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:55 pm

maybe lemon is an accepted traditional restoration method (?), but might it be better and less work to use citric acid or even vinegar instead? unsure of the advantage of introducing citrus oils, sugar, etc
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Bok
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Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:40 pm

pedant wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:55 pm
maybe lemon is an accepted traditional restoration method (?), but might it be better and less work to use citric acid or even vinegar instead? unsure of the advantage of introducing citrus oils, sugar, etc
That might well be! Another tutorial indeed used vinegar.

Residue of the lemons does not worry me, with the following steps any trace of citrus oil and sugar is being boiled off anyways. Or are they that persistent?

Now I still rubbing the outside with tea after each boil and it seems to do wonders with the rust on the outside. To be observed and continued...
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Victoria
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Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:57 pm

I would be concerned about placing the entire Tetsubin in water as the outside is treated differently than the inside. After a Tetsubin is cast and cleaned up, it is placed inside a +-1000℃ oven and reheated until glowing red with little oxygen inside the oven. This process heat seals the inside of the kettle discouraging rust when it comes in contact with water. It is similar to gun bluing (oxidizing process) done with guns and knives protecting against corrosion because it changes iron into Fe3O4. Some people refer to this process inside the Tetsubin as producing an ‘oxide film’.
The outside of the kettle was traditionally burnished and treated with Urushi and not intended to be submerged in water. The process of making a Tetsubin is nicely described at Artistic Nippon.

No heavy brushing or breaking up of the interior kettle should occur, this will beak the original seal. Simply boiling water to remove loose rust, followed by boiling tea leaves a few times inside the kettle is enough to blacken the interior and remove/blacken rust. For exterior rust, just brush tea being boiled on the surface as many times as needed.

In another thread I shared this process, which was recommended to me by another member of TC. I have used it with success;
Victoria wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:12 pm
For rust inside your tetsubin, I recommend slow simmering cheap or crappy tea leaves for an 30 minutes or so. I have read it is the tannins found in tea leaves that will remove rust and produce a blackened seal over the area. Turn off heat source, and let the tea sit inside for a few hours, as tetsubin cools reheat briefly to keep tea warm, at end reheat for +-10 minutes, discard tea leaves and liquid. Rinse with filtered water a few times, then boil with clean water a few times. Test water to see if it is clear in a cup. If the water still tastes rusty, repeat process as needed.

For the outside of the tetsubin, you can heat up the tetsubin, and apply cooked tea using a muslin cloth or tea bags. Do this as many times as needed to remove rust and coat with a blackened seal.

When you are finished using the tetsubin, always make sure to remove all liquid from the pot while it is still hot, this will allow the remaining liquid to steam off, drying the pot completely.
With this Tetsubin I had to boil tea 3 times, followed by 2-3 times boiling filtered water to get clean tasty water.
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Bok
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Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:13 am

@Victoria thanks for that! Treatment does not seem to have done any harm to my kettle though. I doubt a bit of boiling water can undo what 1000 degrees have done ;)

Below before and after images:
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Bok
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Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:14 am

Afterwards:
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Bok
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Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:17 am

Interesting also the interior marks of the mould, quite different from what I’ve seen from other handmade Tetsubin.

Rusty again actually, still needs more tea treatment, water is coming out almost 100% clean already.
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Bok
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Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:31 am

Also worth mentioning that this kettle has a near perfect spout design, boiling water can be poured in a thin controlled stream, or more powerful when tilted.

A common issue with Tetsubin, the water being spritzed everywhere when flowing out of the hot spout, is a non-issue with this one. Also does not hiss and make a mess when you forget about it and the water is boiling hot.

A gentle steam stream indicates subtly that the water is boiling. Not the most fancy Tetsubin ever, but a highly functional one!
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Bok
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Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:47 am

Update:
I can highly recommend following Hojos advice of wiping the Tetsubin with tea on a regular basis! Does wonders in keeping up the black patina and emerging rust! Do so with a hot kettle so it evaporates immediately.
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