plastics and hot water?


Completely off the Topic of Tea

plastics and hot water?

Postby AbcTea » Apr 7th, '12, 02:06

i know they sometimes use plastics in teaware / kettles /infusers ... are these products 'safe' , i understand that it wont kill you( immediately )

just curious if anyone knows a little more about this. im sure everyone has heard about waterbottles leaching bpa and whatnot and apparently hot/boiling water makes any leaching process a lot faster; and considering ive heard about issues like electric kettles with plastic parts making the water taste bad. also inserted infusers for kettles/teapots/travel mugs often have plastic housing for the steel mesh.

figured this might be a relevant topic in a tea forum
any discussion/input welcome maybe theres a chemist here :mrgreen:
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby beecrofter » Apr 7th, '12, 10:23

Endocrine disruptors are what each from many plastics, why use them?
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby SlientSipper » Apr 7th, '12, 10:40

that's one of the reasons I use pottery in my tea brewing.
I try to remain traditional as possible.
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby gingkoseto » Apr 7th, '12, 11:21

First of all, there could be a lot of unknown detrimental effects of some plastic components. So staying away from plastic is the safest way. But completely staying away from plastic is very hard, if possible at all. So I take a lot of compromises.

I would prefer the product bears some sort of safety certificate. I don't think manufacturer's claim is as good as certificate, because fake claims can more easily escape from legal consequences than fake certificates. In food and other things, I rarely see fake certificates, but I suspect a lot of claims are fake or intentionally misleading (I hold the same view for organic claims/certificates).

For example, this bottle that I like very much is a gift from Taiwan:
Image
I liked it very much and noticed that it's inspected for food safety by both some Taiwan agency and US FDA. So I feel more comfortable about it and bought a few more later. I like it much better than a steel bottle I have. The steel one is not as convenient to use and it has some plastic parts anyway.

I also notice Kamjove gongfu glasses pass the inspection of both Chinese and Japanese relevant agencies. So I feel more comfortable about them. All Kamjove glasses of recent years bear a mini image of the inspection certificates. Earlier year products didn't have it but I don't think there is any change of ingredient.

Sometimes I just take a bet. The water boiler I use in office was bought from Target for $5-10. I wasn't sure if it would taste plastic-y. But with time being, I sniff it from time to time and never smell plastic odor from it. So I've been using it for about 5 years.
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby gingkoseto » Apr 7th, '12, 11:23

I would also like to ask for any information about the bamboo fiber type of plastic. In recent years I've seen some bamboo fiber bowls/plates/cups in our local store. They look sturdy and often of very nice design and color. But they look like hard plastic for me. How are they different from other plastic in terms of users' experience?
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby Poohblah » Apr 7th, '12, 11:53

I have never heard of plastic made from bamboo fibers, sorry.

However, I tend to stay away from plastic and hot water because plastic alters the taste of the water, especially as the plastic product becomes older.

Those kamjove gongfu glasses are pretty cool though. I wouldn't mind using those from time to time.
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby entropyembrace » Apr 7th, '12, 14:34

Well...first off BPA is a favourite boogeyman lately...but there are so many toxic compounds in plastics besides BPA that "BPA free" really does not mean a plasic is safe to use with food.

But also many plasics are very stable and not likely to leach very much or anything into your water or food...they might get more dangerous as they get older and suffer mechanical wear.

Despite all that it´s really hard to study if specific plastics are dangerous or not and under what conditions they are dangerous. Any damage plastics might do to your body will be spread over a very long time leading potentially to problems like cancer after many years of exposure. These kind of toxins are very difficult to identify and study.

My organic chemistry professor said there are increasing rates of cancer since plastics have come into common usage, which doesn´t make a cause-and-effect link but does indicate that there might be. She also said most plastics if they do get into your body will "attempt" to polymerize with compounds in your body. She personally goes to great lengths to avoid contact of plastics with anything she eats or drinks.

Unfortunately great lengths are required to avoid plastic/food contact...like ginko said it´s extremely difficult to avoid plastic completely it´s in such common usage.

Personally I only avoid plastic contact if I have an easy alternative...I´m not worried enough about maybes to goto great lengths to cut plastic out of my life.

Tea kettles are a fairly easy area you can cut plastic out of your life if you want to reduce your exposure a bit.
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby Chip » Apr 7th, '12, 15:08

My first kettle was all plastic except for coils and wires. I once calculated how many steeps I used it for ... something like 30,000. Too bad it did not die much sooner! It actually never did stop working.

TBH, to do this was so unlike me ... I still cannot believe I used it non stop for all those years. I guess I would have to blame my love of tea for justifying its use.

Amazingly the plastic never showed any signs of "wear" from the heat.

Anyway ... never again! I still do not completely avoid plastics, but I try to use some level of common sense.

Are my days numbered? I do believe some people are genetically more likely to develope cancer. Still ... :arrow:
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby AbcTea » Apr 7th, '12, 21:53

/staying away from plastic

:o oh no... my keyboards plastic T.T

not too into the culture or i'd go with the ceramics, might just find me a steel electric kettle/ with little/no plastic parts

kind of shocking they use plastic on things ment for boiling water !
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby Stentor » Apr 8th, '12, 13:05

There's a documentary on the safety of plastics called "Plastic Planet" you might want to check out.
Though movies like this always seem a bit like they want to "brain wash" the viewers, this one definitely had interesting information and made me more aware of the entire issue of the safety of things we use and how much we pollute the planet by using some of them (and the consequences of these actions).
You definitely won't want to use a plastic kettle ever again after watching that, that's for sure :)
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby SlientSipper » Apr 8th, '12, 14:59

I can't remember the link or much of the article but,
Recently, they found a mummy in China (or was it Egypt?)
that had mouth cancer.

Thus providing evidence that cancer is not entirely environmentally based. Also for some people it can be a slippery slope into living in a bubble.

just saying is all.
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby entropyembrace » Apr 8th, '12, 15:10

I didn´t mean to freak people out...I thought I made it clear that there is only a potential for health risks from some plastics...as in nothing is known for sure.

Besides...why is plastic such a huge pollution problem?

Because it doesn´t break down easily...

meaning...plastic is very stable

meaning...it´s extremely difficult for plastics to actually get into your body.
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby gingkoseto » Apr 8th, '12, 15:27

I don't try very hard to avoid plastics. But plastic for hot water is indeed quite unpleasant. To me, the problem of most non-plastic electronic kettles is, they have more or less plastic parts anyway.
I use a stove top kettle most of the time. Then I store the hot water in my MEC thermos. I love MEC thermos and they don't seem to add odor to the water. But they have plastic lids too, and the water would gain a hint of plastic odor if sitting in the thermos over night - but it's not necessary to let water sit in it over night to begin with.
I miss the thermos I had in my childhood with wood lid and a metal cover! They are still very common in China. MEC thermos are the second best that I've enjoyed :D
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby gingkoseto » Apr 8th, '12, 15:31

Some off-topic comments -
I don't think plastic pollution is a problem of using plastics. I believe it's more of a problem of improper use of plastics and proper plastic degradation techniques not catching up with the extent of plastic use.
If there were no plastic, I can't imagine what modern life would look like, and probably we would have already exhausted fossil fuels some time ago, considering plastic is a lot lighter than many other materials.
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Re: plastics and hot water?

Postby Stentor » Apr 8th, '12, 15:52

entropyembrace wrote:Besides...why is plastic such a huge pollution problem?

Because it doesn´t break down easily...

meaning...plastic is very stable

meaning...it´s extremely difficult for plastics to actually get into your body.


That logic is unfortunately very flawed. (And please, I don't mean to offend!)
This is a huge topic, I'm not really sure if we want to get into it :)
Suffice it to say, plastic is convenient for civilization and civilization as we know it wouldn't exist without it.
However, we, as consumers, as human beings, can try to avoid potentially (most likely) harmful (for us and other life forms on this planet) materials where there are alternatives that do not inconvenience us to the point where it puts us at a significant (for instance, competitive) disadvantage.

An easy thing to do is to stop drinking out of plastic bottles (for your health's, the planet's and the animal's sakes) or stop using plastic grocery bags, especially the ones that are just used in the store and on the way home and get thrown away (off to eventually kill some fish in the sea...) after being used for a whopping total of 20 minutes of use. Use a) reuseable non-plastic things, b) compostable things.

entropyembrace wrote:risks from some plastics...[..] nothing is known for sure.

That is what should make us more, not less wary in my opinion.
I stopped using plastic for food or drink a while ago. Glass and stainless steel are not that much less convenient and even have their advantages over plastic in some areas.
Asbestos was a standard material used in countless buildings around the world, now everybody knows it's hazardous to your health.
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