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Bialetti Moka pots - oxidation

sobriquet Nov 7, 2008 02:54 AM

I was considering an expensive espresso machine a while back.. but I decided to go with a 3-cup Bialetti Moka Pot. I've been using it daily for a few months and I'm very pleased.

When I first got it, I would rinse it, shake out the water, and set it in the dish drainer. One day I had white aluminum oxide in the bottom water chamber. I got it out by boiling a solution of water and baking soda in it, but I've been careful to wipe the inside chamber dry with a paper towel ever since.

My question is this: is the aluminum oxide dangerous to me or is it detrimental to the taste of the coffee? If not... can I just let the inside oxidize and not worry about wasting the paper towel every time I use the pot?

On an unrelated note, I know Illy makes a Moka grind specifically for the Bialetti pots. How fine is the grind?

Thanks, all.

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  1. themis RE: sobriquet Nov 7, 2008 06:53 AM

    I doubt it was aluminum oxide -- considering ion activities, pH of boiling water, etc. Most probably it was just calcium carbonate.

    1. j
      Jim Washburn RE: sobriquet Nov 7, 2008 06:55 AM

      I don't think that corrosion is harmful to your health, but it's visually unappealing, at least. I scrub my boiler out with a Chore Boy after every use. Works great.


      1. Joe Blowe RE: sobriquet Nov 7, 2008 02:36 PM

        Everyone here realizes that the Italians never wash any component of their moka pots, right? That's "seasoning" so to speak.

        You know how worked up we get about our cast iron cookware here in the U.S.? Just ask an Italian about their seasoned moka pot!

        11 Replies
        1. re: Joe Blowe
          Jim Washburn RE: Joe Blowe Nov 7, 2008 03:25 PM

          So the boiler chamber gets seasoned with water? Coffee never touches it.


          1. re: Jim Washburn
            Joe Blowe RE: Jim Washburn Nov 7, 2008 03:56 PM

            Seasoning is in quotes! ;-)

            Most would argue that no detergent should ever touch the water chamber, let alone a harsh scrubber. I've never *washed* my Bialetti Brikka 2-cup -- just rinsed...

            1. re: Joe Blowe
              Jim Washburn RE: Joe Blowe Nov 7, 2008 04:55 PM

              There was a time when most people would have argued that the earth was flat. I really want to know why I shouldn't scrub out the boiler chamber of my moka pot.


              1. re: Jim Washburn
                Joe Blowe RE: Jim Washburn Nov 7, 2008 05:06 PM

                Ask an Italian. Or Google 'detergent' and 'brikka' or 'moka' -- there's plenty of superstition out there, but I honestly don't see any reason to mess around with cleansers of any type. It's a waste of my time, IMO, and if you use it enough there shouldn't be any worries of pathogens messing up your cuppa...

                1. re: Joe Blowe
                  joscho RE: Joe Blowe Jun 24, 2010 04:18 AM

                  BTW... the Italians moka pots are stainless steel, not aluminium.

                  1. re: joscho
                    Joe Blowe RE: joscho Jun 24, 2010 09:35 AM

                    Generalize much?

                    1. re: joscho
                      Sinicle RE: joscho Jul 5, 2010 03:07 PM

                      Bialetti original moka pots are aluminum, I believe

            2. re: Joe Blowe
              itryalot RE: Joe Blowe Jul 2, 2010 04:03 PM

              When my family saw me pick up dishwashing liquid they charged me and I got the lecture about the "seasoning".

              1. re: itryalot
                Joe Blowe RE: itryalot Jul 2, 2010 08:24 PM

                Well, there ya go!

                I'm not makin' this stuff up, people ;-)

                1. re: Joe Blowe
                  Jim Washburn RE: Joe Blowe Jul 3, 2010 09:11 AM

                  Argumentum ad populum.

                  1. re: Jim Washburn
                    Joe Blowe RE: Jim Washburn Jul 3, 2010 09:31 AM

                    I'm just a messenger.

            3. s
              sobriquet RE: sobriquet Nov 8, 2008 02:47 AM

              I understand the "seasoning" concept of the moka and I've been following that advice - only rinsing with hot water.

              My question is whether it's necessary to completely dry the inside of the water boiler to prevent whatever the white stuff was.... or do your "seasoned" moka pots have white deposits on the inside of the water chamber?

              1. RShea78 RE: sobriquet Nov 8, 2008 05:43 AM

                Why the baking soda? If your problem is related to hard water, baking soda is a poor choice IMHO. Water and Cream of Tartar solution, is a better alternative in aluminum, if you prefer not to use deliming chemicals.

                I also consider aluminum not suitable to make finished beverage from. In other words, I feel it is okay to boil the water in aluminum, but not making some hot - flavored beverage in it. Sooner or later beverages starts tasting metalic.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RShea78
                  chipman RE: RShea78 Nov 8, 2008 08:21 AM

                  If you're going to use a detergant to clean your moka pot, there really is one product that is head and shoulders above anything else. And It's perfectly food safe also.


                2. tim irvine RE: sobriquet Jul 3, 2010 08:17 AM

                  I just swipe and rinse with water not because I am superstitious but because it vastly improves the gasket life to keep it out of the D/W

                  1. cassis RE: sobriquet Jul 6, 2010 05:12 AM

                    I had a very long email conversation with a Bialetti rep last year, unsuccessfully trying to find out what was that powdery build up in the lower chamber. I had purchased the Moka Express in France. She suggested that it was because I didn't thoroughly dry it after use, whereas I had always seen them simply rinsed and air dried. In the end the company just sent me a new one, I used it until it started showing signs of build-up and then relegated it to the back of the cupboard.

                    My family in Italy and France has used these and other models daily forever, and although they all eventually show staining, none has developed this very unappetizing powdery build-up. I blame it on something that is put in the water here.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: cassis
                      poser RE: cassis Jul 6, 2010 07:59 AM

                      It's calcium deposits from hard water.

                      1. re: poser
                        Joe Blowe RE: poser Jul 6, 2010 08:30 AM

                        Exactly. It's nothing "put in the water", it's what's naturally present or not present. Europe is blessed with soft water, and the U.S. generally has hard water (high mineral content) throughout the country.

                        Install a whole house water softener (or an undersink reverse osmosis filter, and add a small amount of tap water back for flavor) and watch your troubles disappear. Literally.


                        1. re: Joe Blowe
                          cassis RE: Joe Blowe Jul 7, 2010 10:55 AM

                          Yes, except that I already use filtered water from my fridge dispenser...

                          1. re: cassis
                            Joe Blowe RE: cassis Jul 7, 2010 02:33 PM

                            An inline filter will NOT remove mineral content.

                    2. b
                      brandkb RE: sobriquet Jan 11, 2012 11:30 AM

                      Yea, so your post is ages old but the answer is: it's your water. It's hard water staining. I use bottled water when I make coffee so I don't have this problem. However, mine STINKS to high heaven so I'm trying a baking soda solution to get rid of the rancid smell.

                      Illy does make a Moka grind and it's basically a touch coarser than a typical espresso grind. Whatever grinder you're using, whether at home or wherever you buy your coffee, just turn it down a bit from the espresso setting, but not quite to the cone filter setting.

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