I'd like to have hot water available for making tea and the like on Shabbat. What is your preferred method for this, and why?

Do you use an electric urn? If so, what brand and features? Is it durable? Is it easy to keep clean? What Halachic issues do I need to worry about?

Do you use a kettle on a hot plate?

4 Answers 4


"For making tea and the like" -- I'm assuming you rely on R' Moshe Feinstein's opinion that you can transfer from primary cup to secondary cup to tertiary cup, then add teabag to the latter. The other nice use of a kettle/urn is adding boiling water directly to your cholent pot (taken off its element) if it looks like it will dry out. Any other uses you had in mind?

We've had a few "pump pots", and none of them seem to last more than 2--3 years at best. (The "Magic Mill" brand was made partly by Jews, and thus obviates the potential need for dunking in the mikvah [at your own electrocution risk].)

  • Tea in a tertiary cup is definitely the primary intended use, with the cholent refresh option a very distant second. I'm looking to retire our pump pot and do not intend to buy another one unless I learn that there's some Halachic reason I need one.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 15, 2010 at 13:13
  • I do not believe there is any halachik reason for a pump pot, you could as easily have a kettle and remove and replace it as needed so long as (1) it is on a blech (or other acceptable hot plate), (2) you keep your hand on it, (3) you indend to put it back when you remove it. The advantages of a pump pot are: (1) no open flames (2) less likely to burn out a pot out of water (3) is larger than most ordinary kettles The advantages of kettle: (1) you do not need to replace pump pot or tranport one when moving
    – Bas613
    Feb 16, 2010 at 0:51
  • 2
    The other alternative is an urn with a spigot at the bottom.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 16, 2010 at 15:17
  • 1
    Incidentally, I have the type with the tap at the bottom. It is Hamilton Beach brand and I don't know of any halacha issues with it, but it rapidly accumulates a large amount of white growth inside with normal use.
    – WAF
    Feb 17, 2010 at 17:43
  • the white growth should just be mineral deposits from the water, left behind when the water boils. I've never done this myself, but you should be able to remove the buildup with something like this: jelmar.com/CLRbasic.htm
    – Menachem
    Jun 3, 2011 at 5:34

The article linked below will explain all you need to know about using hot water pots on Shabbat ( Shabbos).It is from Star-K, a reputable kashrut organization in Baltimore MD. (https://rb.gy/ou56r)

From a practical standpoint, it is true that pump pots stop working after a few years, but regular Hamilton Beach type urns rust and fall apart as well.(I have the same problem) The water does a number on metal after a while. The only solution is to get ready to shell out over $150 for a commercial-type urn or keep buying new urns every few years. Good luck!


With regards to your point on electric urns:

What Halachic issues do I need to worry about?

The Federation Beis Din (here in London) provides a wonderful service called "FedTech" which explores all the halachic issues with certain and appliances and have a recommended list of model that are in accordance with halacha.

A full breakdown of the halachic issues can be found here - where it specifically explores the issue of the light going on and off on the urn due to the heating cycle it goes through. The length and frequency of the light going on is dependent on the type of urn one has - either a simmerstat or thermostat. The article explores their use on both Yom Tov and Shabbos.

As far as Shabbos guidance, some pertinent highlights are as follows:

If I take water out from a thermostatically controlled urn, for example, to make a coffee, am I affecting the way in which the urn will heat itself?

...There are two principles of physics which work in tandem and will affect the way the thermostat operates.

Surface area – the larger the surface area of the water, the faster the heat loss, as more of the body of water is exposed to the environment and its ambient temperature.

Insulation – if the body of water is insulated, its rate of heat loss will be affected. The more insulation, the less effect removing water will have on the rate of heat loss. Additionally, the water itself may provide insulation ensuring a slower rate of heat loss.

In an urn, this set of variables will work together in a complex manner to determine the rate of heat loss. Ultimately, making a scientific calculation of the effects of removing hot water from one’s urn is highly complex and effectively unpredictable – certainly not an activity to engage in whilst preparing an early Shabbos morning coffee.

Our own testing has shown that removing water from the urn can slightly speed up the onset of the heating cycle, although others who have investigated these questions have not been able to come to conclusive findings about the effects of removing hot water.

With this as a background, the next question posed is if one is one allowed to remove water from an urn if it is controlled by a thermostat? Poskim such as Dayan Weiss in Minchas Yitzchok, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Minchas Shlomo and many others wrote extensively on the topic. Unlike an oven where one should refrain from opening the oven door unless the heating element is already operating, (Opening an oven door when the oven is not heating is problematic as the introduction of cold air to the oven cavity will cause the element to cycle on earlier.) there is room to be lenient (see the article for details why).

As such, the article concludes - as far as an urn controlled by a thermostat:

The generally accepted halachic position on this matter is that one may use an urn on Shabbos even if it is thermostatically controlled.

When purchasing a new urn, it is worth noting that one which has a simmerstat control sidesteps the issues altogether.

Some recommended urns can be found here along with why they can be used and here.



There is a possible issue with using a pot or kettle on a blech, although not all are concerned about this issue:

Mishna Berura siman 318 quotes the Yerushalmi that a pot on a heat source is prohibited to use because if it becomes emptied the heat source will damage the pot and the person may add water to save the pot. This does not apply to urns with spigots or pumps, as they are set up in such a way that you cannot take out the water that covers the heating element in the normal way of emptying it.

As an aside, if you will be using it on Yom Tov and want to be able to refill it, most urns have a light that turns on to indicate that it is reboiling when cold water is added. Pots do not have this issue, and the above issue is not an issue on Yom Tov. However, they make "kosher" urns with a Yom Tov switch that disables the light.

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