I bought a kelly kettle at a boot sale in Uachtar ard (Galway) for the silly sum of 2.50. It had a small hole in the side which I repaired with a small blob of porrige. Later I did a much more professional job with aluminium tape. The base was rusted away so I made a new one from the bottom of a fire extinguisher. The water container fits inside the kettle to save space..
You can see from the picture how it works. The large surface area of the kettle interior transfers the heat from the fire to the water very efficiently. Of course this means that the kettle holds much less water than it looks like it does. The container holds 2 3/4 pints which is one fill. There is a cork in the fill hole of the kettle so I can carry 2 fills. Don't forget to remove the cork before firing or it will remove itself with a bang.
One match started the fire. The draw up the chimney is so good it roars like a rocket stove. It was at this point when I first used the kettle that I thought of the idea of cooking an egg or a bit of bacon on the top of the chimney. Little did I know how quickly the job would be over and done.
Steam mixed with the smoke in less than 5 mins. I knew I had put on too much wood. The trick is to build a small furious fire of little bits and maintain it for the few minutes it takes to boil. Wood shavings would do well but they might be a bit tricky to shove down the chimney. Lollypop sticks would be perfect. There is probably some silly place on the planet where bags of lollypop sticks are sold just for this purpose. Perhaps a campsite in Beverly Hills!
The whole thing has a tendency to put itself out. Boiling water rolls down the side and into the fire base. If I hadn't been trying to make the photograph and pour at the same time I would have managed to get more of the water into the pot. So there you are, a full pot of Earl Grey in 5 mins. Just because it is simple doesn't mean that it is uncivilised. These kettles have a long history. They appear in some form in every culture. In Russia it is the Samovar and The Thermette in Australia. There are many more variants but they all work on the same principal and with the same aim - get a hot cup of something organised with the least hassle.
The amount of smoke decreases as the fire gets hotter, but ultimately it depends on the fuel and how dry it is. I hunted about on the net to find a good price. Greenman Bushcraft were the best valve by far. They also have seconds of many items.
thank-you so much! I got mine on ebay just before I read your post, and have just used it for the first time. The amount of fuel it's best to use would not have been enough for kindling in the rocket stove I was using, and there was no soot on my hands or on the outside of the kettle and it didn't need to be given time to warm up before boiling water faster than the gas stove. Incredible. Now I've seen the demonstration on how to use a rocket stove properly it will be used for slow baking with a dutch oven on top with the fallen-through-the-mesh charcoal burning very slowly in the bottom chamber with not much air. I have a Fresnel lens as well so will be attempting a solar box cooker again tomorrow, if the weather forecast is right. This Kelly Kettle is life changing, I don't know why I haven't come across them before. Thanks so much for the pictures. The kettles have attachments for holding pans over the top too so I guess there is a possibility of more soot later on.
I am glad you got a kelly kettle. They really are the business. By the way if you put your kettle on a gas stove you will get impressive results there also. If you can would you post some pics of your solar box cooker and also how to use a rocket/dutch oven?