Please. Help me save my kettles.
I'd like to refinish the insides of a couple of old water kettles. Both have chipped enamel, one has a leak because of it and the other one has this brown paint-like mystery stuff stuck to the bottom. I was thinking about putting a coat of paint or something on the insides, but I can't fathom what might work. I would, you know, like to be able to boil water in these puppies once I fix these problems. I can't throw them away, they're just too freaking beautiful... I don't know what to do, any suggestions?
You can try to clean up the bottom of the crudded one with oven cleaner. Most hardware stores stock enamel patch near the glues. It only comes in white and gets painted on like nail polish.
I am assuming you are referring to thin steel or iron kettles coated with a colored enamel coating. If so, sorry to say, they are a lost cause if you actually want to use it on a stove.
1) in theory, you could have the bare metal re-coated with a non-matching color of high heat enamel coating and have it cured in a pottery kiln. Not only does no one do this, if they did, it is hard to imagine it costing less than 3 figures. Your one chance would be to contact an antique restoration firm in England, since these things are popular in the UK, but I am doubtful.
2) kettles that leak are a different story. They are made from 2 pieces of metal: a round one for the bottom and a curvey, scultped one for the dome. When you heat one of these on the stove and it goes dry, the metals heat differentially and the seam between the two open up and leak. There is nothing to be done but throw it away.
3) As for the brown stain, you will have to a little experimentation to find out what it really is. Take a knife and try scrape it away; if this works, you might be able to sand it off.