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“Descaling my kettle killed it!” – Or did it?

Why you need to descale your home kitchen appliances regularly

Have you ever heard someone, or even said it yourself, "I descaled my kettle and it burnt out!". Although this MAY have happened, it's not really the fault of the descaler. Here are the facts:

If you have water hardness, then every time you use an appliance like a kettle or iron, then limescale will be deposited as the element heats up. Not only does this make the heating element less efficient (as energy is expended heating up the mineral deposits), but it causes corrosion of the metal.

Cleaning a kettle with citric acid
Iron and white vinegar

If you've never descaled your kettle, iron or coffee machine before and there are heavy limescale deposits then there's a possibility that the heating element beneath could be severely corroded. Once you've descaled it, then you may find that it was largely the limescale that was holding the element together.

A similar phenomenon could be taking place in your washing machine, but probably not to the same extent as the use of detergent softens the water. But you can improve the protection and save money on detergent by softening the water with Soda Crystals or Borax Substitute.

So what can you do?

As with many cleaning tasks, regular 'preventative' steps can help prevent costly remedial action down the line. Citric acid is best for descaling, although you can also use white vinegar. The acid dissolves limescale, which is alkali. The process is enhanced if the water is hot. Therefore the easiest kitchen appliance to descale is a kettle. Simply make sure there's enough cold water to cover the element (or base) and add some citric acid. A couple of tablespoons should do it. Switch on the kettle and as the water heats, you'll see the limescale fizzing (dissolving). Ordinarily, the kettle won't even get to the boil and the limescale will be gone. If it hasn't and the fizzing reaction has stopped, repeat the process. Remember to rinse out the kettle after use.

A similar approach can be taken with irons and coffee machines, but you'll need to dissolve the crystals in warm water first. If your coffee machine has a descale setting, simply run that, or just run some empty cups through. You can also use white vinegar, or even better, Extra Strength White Vinegar which has 50% more acetic acid. Remember to flush through with clean water afterwards.

 

 

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