Should I do something to my new kama (kettle) before using it for the first time?
Yes, it’s very important to temper a new kama before use to remove impurities from the metal and any inside coating that has been applied.
It’s a long process, but simple:
- Use well water as the preferred option. Go and harvest some nice mountain water for your new kama. If you can’t do this you’ll have to use tap water. Rust seems to be more aggressive when using tap water. (This is evident when using some kama at Iemoto. Some have been used for 400 years only with well water and the rust is minimal compared to kama used regularly with tap water.)
- Fill the kama 80% full with cold water.
- Start boiling the kama over strong heat (already strong burning sumi or 500w element).
- Make sure there is no direct flame on the kama (no direct flame from the sumi or no direct contact from the element). This damages the kama. You can put a grill (like the ones used for grilling fish) over the sumi to protect the kama from direct flame.
- Also, it is a good idea not to use the lid that came with the kama during this process as the colour of lids change. You can save the new lid for the kama’s use in a chaseki. Use a ceramic lid from a mizusashi or a lid from another already broken-in kama.
- When the water comes to the boil, leave it boiling for 15 minutes.
- Tip out the water and repeat.
- Repeat this process around 8 times for a ro kama and around 6 times for a smaller furo kama. This is enough to remove impurities.
- After you’ve finished the above process completely (8 or 6 times), empty the kama and dry over a medium heat. Remove some of the the sumi or drop to 200 or 300w. It is best to leave it drying over night as the sumi goes from medium, to low heat, to finally extinguishing. Then leave to dry without a lid on for 2 to 3 days.
- Do not wrap the kama in cloth and put in its wooden box until at least 2 days have passed after use.
I also wrote this under the question ‘kama maintenance’:
To clean a kama before first use:
If a kama is not rusty, fill it with cold water, bring to a boil and pour out the water. Then fill it again and bring to a boil, this time with a bag of bancha tea leaves and/or some ginger in the water. This removes any smells or strange tastes. Repeat several times if necessary. End by boiling water only in the kama once more (or several times if necessary).
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