# The outside of a steel teapot is hot to touch. Does this mean that the water inside is necessarily at least as hot?

Some teapots, like this one

Are made from thin steel which conducts the heat of the teapot quite well, meaning that you can't comfortable hold the sides while they're full of hot water.

Tonight I was having a pot of tea, and I'd left it for a while, so I touched to the sides of the pot to feel how hot it was, discovered that it still felt quite hot, and so poured myself another tea from it.

Now my question is, is my assessment that 'because the teapot is hot, the water inside is still hot' correct, or is it possible that the water inside would be cooler the the metal?

• I don't have the time (or these days the knowledge) to do the calculations necessary to post an actual answer, but my educated guess is the metal, having very high thermal conductivity and much lower SHC than the water, would have a temperature extremely close to (but less than) that of the water. (If there was a nonzero temperature gradient in the water, I think the metal would take the temperature of the hottest bit of water in contact with it, and assist with equalising temperature throughout the water.) Jun 9, 2015 at 11:06
• I'll first note that steel isn't a great conductor of heat, particularly compared to copper or silver. Now, if the heating element is inside the pot, the water heats up, the steel heats up, and the steel loses heat to the outside world. Given that heat from the water has to be lost to the outside world through the steel (OK, a simplifying assumption), the steel will always be at a lower temperature than the water. Actual design of the tea pot may impact this (e.g. where the heating element is). Jun 9, 2015 at 14:27
• Just to make sure I understand (I don't drink tea): You're pouring the water into the teapot after heating it somewhere else, right? Jun 11, 2015 at 1:55
• @Javier some tea pots you set on a burner, others if you do that it'll tin the metal. Others have electric heating elements.. Jun 11, 2015 at 2:23