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What Is The Best Way To Descale A Kettle?
Limescale buildup in the kettle is unfortunately one of life's inevitabilities, especially if you live in a hard water area. The good news is that it's not actually that difficult to treat the problem. Let's explore some proven methods for descaling the kettle, as well as some handy tips for preventing the buildup from getting bad in the first place.
What is limescale and why is it in my kettle?
Limescale occurs naturally in our drinking water as a result of magnesium and calcium particles that build up. If you live in a hard water area, you are more likely to experience a quicker buildup of limescale. The kettle is one of the most well-used gadgets in the kitchen, which is why the buildup of limescale can be so rapid and so noticeable. It tends to build around the base and element of the kettle and will eventually find its way into your tea and coffee mug. Although digesting limescale will not do you any harm, it doesn't taste, look or feel particularly pleasant and it can affect the efficiency of your kettle.
The White Wine Vinegar Method
A truly simple, natural and low-cost method of descaling the kettle. Fill the kettle halfway with one part white wine vinegar and one part water. Boil the kettle, then simply leave the solution in place for an hour. After 60 minutes, drain and then rinse with cold water a few times.
The Lemon Method
Another natural and easy solution, simply chop a lemon into medium slices and pop them in your kettle. Then fill the kettle halfway with water and leave it to boil. You may need to repeat the process two or three more times to really get it clean. After each boil, remove the lemon slices, swish the kettle with water to empty any dislodged limescale and then fill halfway again, returning the lemons before you set it to boil. Remember that lemons aren't just a useful kettle descaling agent; you can also pop half a lemon in the microwave and turn it on for a minute to remove any unpleasant smells emanating from it.
The Chemical Method
Sometimes only a chemical method will do. You can buy kettle descaling kits from most department, houseware and hardware stores, and they may come in a liquid or powder form. Follow the instructions on the packet carefully as they may differ for each solution. Just remember to do it when nobody else in the family or the household is likely to be home for some hours to prevent them from accidentally using the kettle during the process. Chemical descaling agents typically contain hydrochloric acid and should be kept out of the reach of children. You will generally need to rinse the kettle a few times after use.
Preventing Limescale in the Short Term
It's sensible to try to prevent the buildup of limescale in the first place. You can do this by avoiding leaving water in the bottom of the kettle. In fact, for eco reasons, you should only ever boil what you need to begin with. At the end of the day, rinse the kettle out and leave it open to dry out, which will reduce the amount of limescale that builds up. You can also consider buying kettle protectors, which are small stainless steel mesh balls that attract and retain limescale.
Preventing Limescale in the Long Term
For those who live in seriously hard water areas, it's worth considering fitting a water softener into your plumbing system. The system will remove the magnesium and calcium from your drinking water before it even reaches your kitchen tap. Although the cost of a water softener is not cheap, the fact that it lengthens the life of your other appliances often makes it a more economical choice in the long term. You will also find your drinking water tastes better.
Another day-to-day solution for those in particularly hard water areas is to buy a filtered kettle. While the filter on the spout will not reduce the amount of limescale that actually builds in the kettle, it will prevent the limescale from getting in your mug. Filtered kettles are no replacement for regular descaling of a kettle, but they are a great everyday solution for preventing the digestion of limescale.
These are some of the most simple ways not only to descale your kettle, but to prevent limescale in the first place.