I’m not entirely sure why, but when the days start getting a little sunnier and the new growth pokes through the earth, I start thinking about descaling.
Yes, descaling. As in removing limescale from household objects. I am literally that exciting.
Psychologically, I have decided that the onset of Spring triggers my ‘cleaning the nest’ gene – and all this newness we see in the natural world means that, well, I want a shiny new kettle/iron/tap. It’s honestly nothing to do with the grot lurking in the bottom of my kettle.
So, off I trot to the supermarket to find a well-known brand of ‘All Purpose Descaler‘ (Its name is very similar to a Medieval tournament where two blokes on horseback charge towards each other with silly poles; but there’s no ‘J’.)
I can put a packet in my kettle for 10 minutes, and I’m done. However, on closer inspection the packet seems to contain one of those charming diagrams where some nasty chemicals are carving a hole in a black line and some poor fools’ hand.
It also helpfully tells me that this stuff can cause skin irritation and eye damage, and I must wear protective gloves/eyewear. Damn, I did not buy goggles.
Well, I can’t wait to see what my cuppa tastes like after this.
I’m still unsure to what is actually in this, as the packaging only states that it contains lactic acid. However, I’m fairly sure that the main part of this product is something natural that we can use on it’s own to carry out the same job.
Enter citric acid! This is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in sweets (think sherbets), and c-i-t-r-u-s fruits such as lemons and limes. These are things that you don’t really have to wear protective goggles for. You could, but people may talk if you are spotted eating a sherbet fountain whilst wearing swimming goggles.
There’s another natural alternative too. Enter white vinegar! Remember, this is the white stuff that you can often buy in bulk at Chinese supermarkets; not the stuff you put on your chips.
Descaling a Kettle with White Vinegar:
- Fill the kettle with enough water to cover the scaley areas & boil.
- After this is done, add white vinegar to the water in the kettle (in approx. 1 part vinegar to 4 part water ratio)
- Leave this solution in the kettle for an hour. It will fizz away the limescale – when emptying simply use a cloth to wipe away any extra stubborn deposits (if there’s anything left after this, try using a small amount of bicarbonate of soda on the dampened cloth)
- Rinse the kettle out well several times before using again.
Descaling a Kettle with Citric Acid:
- If using powdered citric acid, you can use the same process as the White Vinegar method above.
- If you’re using citric acid in the form of a lemon or lime (best for mild limescale/’maintenance’ treatments), fill the kettle, add a 1/4 of fruit, and boil once or twice. Leave until the water has cooled and then rinse out several times.