It’s inevitable that limescale will gradually build up in a kettle and unfortunately, sometimes it can be unsightly. Don’t be fooled by its underwhelming appearance; limescale build-up can actually damage your kettle or even cause your stove element to burn out!
But wait a minute- if it’s bad for our kitchen appliances, does that mean it is also bad for our health?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a couple steps back and find out exactly what limescale is, how it forms if it is at all dangerous and how to remove it from your kettle? Plus if you stick around ‘til the end, we might even spill some secrets about its dirty cousin; soap scum.
What is Limescale?
Stainless Steel Electric Kettle in hand on the background of the kitchen. focus on the lid of the kettle
Limescale is a stubborn, crusty and off-white chalky substance that is found in kettles or other water-operated machinery or equipment that involves heat transfer elements.
Over time, the build-up of limescale acts like an insulator and slows down the amount of heat that is produced, therefore the kettle takes longer to boil. This impairment can cause damage to your kettle or even to the heating element inside the kettle or on which it rests.
How does Limescale Build-Up Occur?
Also known as calcium scale, limescale occurs in kettles when hard water (water containing a high concentration of naturally occurring minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium) is heated or boiled. When the water evaporates, it leaves behind calcium carbonate deposits that form a layer of scale across the surface, creating that chalky substance you may have seen on the metallic insides of your kettle.
Kettles aside, hard water also manifests itself as a crusty white film around your faucets, shower head or bathtub. In these cases, it may leave behind a soap scum build-up, create a lacklustre appearance or even cause peeling around these bathroom fittings.
Is Limescale Harmful?
While the thought of consuming a chalky substance that’s been stuck to the bottom of your kettle is anything but appetising, there is no actual evidence that doing so is harmful to your health. In fact, some even argue that it’s high concentrations of calcium and magnesium can even contribute to our dietary needs, particularly if we are consuming it on a regular basis, although this too is unproven.
The real harm lies in what it can do to your kettle, your stove and your electricity bill! The more that limescale builds up, the more of a risk you run impairing your kettle and the longer you’ll have to wait for that cup of tea.
So to keep your water boiling quickly, try this method for removing limescale as soon as you start to notice a build-up.
How to Remove Limescale from a Kettle
Before you begin, you will need:
White vinegar (you may substitute this with lemon juice if necessary)
Microfiber cloth or soft towel
Olive oil or baby oil
Fill your kettle to just below the maximum level with 50/50 white vinegar (or lemon juice) and water
Boil the kettle
Let this stand for one hour
Rinse the kettle thoroughly
Wash the kettle with water and detergent
Dry off with microfiber or soft towel
If your kettle is stainless steel, buff with a light coating of either olive oil or baby oil afterwards.
Consistency is Key
It’s important to repeat this method every couple of months to prevent limescale from damaging your kettle over time. The more often you do it, the less time it will require to remove the limescale. On the other hand, if the limescale is severe or if it happens to be particularly stubborn, try increasing the amount of vinegar and leaving the mixture in your kettle overnight. Alternatively, you can just repeat the method a couple of times until all of the limescale is gone.
Now we may have you wondering, what about those faucets and shower heads? Sure enough, the same method should work for those as well with a slight twist:
Try soaking a towel in the mixture of vinegar and water and wrap it around the affected area. Secure it tightly with a clasp or rubber band and leave it for an hour. You’ll be back to having a shiny, soap scum free bathroom in no time!
Do you have any suggestions or questions about removing limescale? Let us know or visit our website for more cleaning information.
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