I bought this Zojirushi Airpot in 2014. At first, I was very happy with it. Water was still very hot even after two days!
It was such a convenience to have hot water available all the time. Making tea or coffee anytime I wanted became so easy.
After a few months of using the airpot, I noticed that the hot water had ants! At first, I thought that maybe some of the sweet coffee was splashing on to the airpot spout and attracting ants. So I became extra careful and always checked the airpot for any beverage splashes.
But things stayed the same, I would still always get ants in the water. I noticed that it was only the first few pumps of water that had ants, the water that was pumped later didn’t have ants anymore. That led me to suspect that the ants were only staying in the spout area. Also, when we were cleaning out the actual pump contraption (by actually disassembling the top part of the airpot), I found that ants were also present in the pump area 🙁 The water inside the airpot was actually ant-free.
Anyway, always cleaning out the airpot because of ants was starting to become a hassle. I eventually cleaned it, dried it, and then put it in storage (wrapped in cling film to keep ants from entering).
Then last Christmas, we had guests so I thought it would be nice to have a beverage station and use this airpot to provide hot water. So we took it out, cleaned it, put hot water in it. I noticed that it wasn’t pumping out as much water as it should. I inspected it more and noticed that parts of the plastic straw contraption was powdery. There was a tiny hole. The more I touched it, the more it disintegrated, until eventually it became this big hole:
I didn’t expect it to last forever, but the thing cost P2,700 in 2014. It’s the VRKE-30S 3.0-liter airpot. I expected to get more use out of it. That’s the reason I went for a Zojirushi – it’s a brand that I am familiar with, together with Tiger, that we used for our school baon stuff. I expected the materials to be better quality and to last longer. Also, isn’t plastic disintegrating into powder like that and getting into the water bad??? But okay, everything else seemed to be working – it’s just the straw contraption that needs to be replaced. The glass bottle inside and everything else seemed to still be in good condition.
So when I had time today, I called the Zojirushi service center (main office) to ask about this issue and also to ask how much a replacement straw thing was. I told the guy about the plastic disintegrating and he wasn’t shocked or anything. Okay, so maybe it’s a normal thing they encounter? He just asked me for the model number so he could do a search in their system. But unfortunately, this model airpot was already out of stock and they don’t have parts anymore 🙁 The repair guy said he would try to look for something similar in their warehouse but it was highly doubtful that they still had any. He also said that they could order the part from Japan. I’m like, what? How much is that going to cost? Nobody could give me any cost estimate at all, but I suspect that the cost might be too high and make it not worth repairing. Also, I was worried about the same thing happening again and the plastic disintegrating into the drinking water! I didn’t know what I was expecting, but maybe some empathy about plastic leaching into our hot water? But I was just calm, no use venting at him because he’s not in any position to do anything about it.
What am I going to do with this airpot now? Is there anything else I can do with it aside from throwing it away? I’m sad that I wasted P2,700 on this. I’m more worried about the health issues from possibly drinking hot water with plastic 🙁 I don’t even know if the plastic was already disintegrating before it was stored, but just wasn’t as obvious. If you notice, the plastic parts that are in most contact with the hot water are the ones that are affected the most.
Tip: Whenever I buy anything that has instructions that I want to throw away (for example, the instructions / descriptions are on the box or a leaflet that I don’t want to keep), I take photos of all the information I need and then save them on Evernote. I just use the free version of Evernote for this. So, no matter if I change phones or anything, I just download the app on the new phone, log in, and all the information is still there on Evernote, easily searchable if you label your notes properly.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from this experience:
- An expensive brand is not a guarantee that the item will last you a long time. The actual vacuum flask itself might still be in good working condition, but it’s unusable without the straw contraption. So before buying anything like this again, I will always check for which part is most likely to fail first and see if it is easy to replace / fix.
- Do not buy the vacuum flasks with spouts – they are not suited for our home environment, they attract ants. I’m not the only one who experienced this. Apparently, the sales people are well aware of this issue. We live in a regular house on the ground, we have trees and plants around us, so no matter how we keep things clean, ants still come in from outside.
- Do not buy things with difficult-to-clean parts. I’ve been looking for our next vacuum pot and I’m liking some new models without spout and with easier to clean tops. The vacuum flasks with the press-button tops are a NO-NO. Most of these cannot be disassembled for proper cleaning. No more pump models for me, too, because it’s a hassle to disassemble them for cleaning. Less complicated parts = easier cleaning.
- Only use filtered water when filling the pot. I noticed a build up of cloudy residue sticking to the pot and to the bottom of the glass bottle after a while when the maid was using faucet water for boiling. It was a lot of scrubbing with a bottle brush and soaking with vinegar and baking soda to remove them. So from then on, the rule in our household is to always use filtered water for boiling to fill up the pot. But now I’m wondering if maybe some of the cloudy residue is from the plastic…
- I am considering getting a cheaper brand next time. I mean, if it’s going to break the same time anyway, why pay more? Also, maybe this time I’ll just get the 1-Liter size. I don’t really need the hot water to last until the next day. As long as it stays hot until evening, hot enough to make tea.
- Do I still want an airpot with plastic parts that are constantly in contact with hot water? All the salespeople keep saying it’s safe, it’s safe. The plastic can withstand temperatures of up to xxx degrees. Well, obviously not! But we have other thermal pots with plastic lids where this kind of thing did not happen. Anyway, plastic and high heat together is not a good idea. We still have an old, old, lola-era vacuum pot with a cork stopper. It literally uses a cork to plug the glass bottle! That’s what we’re using right now for my dad’s tea, and I think that’s definitely healthier! I used to laugh at it, because, omg, so old-fashioned! But now I realize it’s actually better! Even after years in storage, it’s still good as new even if it does not look anywhere near chic! I really hope these cork stoppers become a thing again! Are you aware of any brand that still uses cork? Please share in the comments!
After all this, why am I still thinking about getting a new vacuum pot? I don’t know. It just seems like the kind of thing every household should have, you know? Also, I have visions of making a tea/coffee station when I expect guests 😀
I have set up a coffee/tea station for us in the kitchen, what we’ve been doing right now is anybody who needs hot water boils their own water using the electric kettle, and it’s usually just one coffee mug’s worth. Not everybody drinks coffee / tea, so on average the electric kettle boils a cup of water about 3-5 times a day.
Thinking about it, we probably don’t need to buy a vacuum pot. Except for those who drink tea or instant coffee, the rest of us don’t even need to boil water. We have single-serve coffee machines that conveniently produce coffee at the drop of a capsule and the press of a button. I guess we really don’t need vacuum pots anymore. The desire for one is apparently more nostalgic for me than it is practical. Also, I want to be able to refill my tea with hot water. Anyway, I have many other personal-sized metal vacuum flasks to use if I need to keep something hot. And if I am going to buy another vacuum pot in the future, I’m going to do my best and look for one with a cork stopper…
I am not trying to sensationalize this, and I’m trying to be objective while writing this post, but I am extremely worried about the plastic…
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you think a vacuum pot is still worth getting? Have you encountered similar problems with airpots?
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!