Everyone knows the limescale buildup in our kettle is annoying because not only is it difficult to wash and scrub off, it also causes damage, especially in electric kettles with an exposed element.
Good thing there are products like kettle descaler balls to make our lives easier. But how effective are these balls anyway?
Kettle descaler balls do work effectively in collecting most of the limescale as you boil water. But these mesh balls don’t exactly keep all of the deposits away from the kettle. Moreover, they’ll only continue to work if you regularly rinse them with cold running water to remove loose limescale.
In this article, I’ll talk about how kettle descaler balls work and how effective they really are at removing the hard and chalky mineral deposit that builds up inside our kettles when the hot water evaporates. I will also look into a few descaler ball products and other remedies you can try to eliminate limescale in your kettle.
How Kettle Descaler Balls Work: The Science Behind Them
Kettle descaler balls, also called kettle fur balls or kettle scale collectors, are balls made of stainless steel that you put inside your kettle to keep it from collecting limescale or from furring up. This rolled mesh will trap the limescale that would otherwise settle and build up in your kettle over time.
New Scientist explains that the limescale, which is primarily calcium carbonate, goes to the stainless steel mesh instead of settling on the base and the sides of your kettle because the mesh possesses more nucleation sites than the interior surface of your kettle.
Nucleation sites are points where limescale crystallization starts to occur. It also notes that the mesh ball won’t be able to trap all of the deposited limescale.
How Effective Are Kettle Descaler Balls?
As New Scientist mentions, kettle descaler balls don’t exactly capture 100 percent of the limescale. Many users share the same observation. According to them, the mesh ball collects most of the limescale while the rest of the deposits settle on their kettle’s side, base, and heating element. This is most evident for those who live in areas with hard water.
Moreover, a descaler ball works more as a kettle protector or protection against limescale buildup than as a descaler. This means that while the ball can prevent mineral deposits from building up inside your kettle, it can no longer clean or get rid of the deposit that has already settled and hardened inside your kettle.
As such, if your kettle has already accumulated a fair amount of limescale buildup, it’s best to clean it first using an organic solution before you start using a descaler ball.
How To Effectively Remove Limescale From Your Kettle
Good Housekeeping recommends a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, then leaving it in your kettle to soak overnight. Some also boil the vinegar and water solution first before letting it sit for an hour. This treatment solution is hassle-free and cheap, doesn’t involve toxic chemicals, and can be found right in your kitchen.
You can expect the limescale to break down and easily come off in the morning after soaking in mild acid. Afterward, rinse your kettle thoroughly, then boil up a pot of fresh water and throw it away. This should help get rid of any unpleasant odor from the vinegar.
Other than vinegar, you can also use lemon juice, Coke, citric acid, baking soda, or pickle water. Of course, there are also effective commercial descalers available that are specially formulated for metal, plastic, glass kettles, or coffee machines.
For example, there’s the Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler and Essential Values Coffee Machine Descaler and Cleaner (both available on Amazon).
Good Housekeeping advises routinely descaling your kettle once every four to eight weeks to make sure scale doesn’t build up because the longer you leave limescale inside your kettle, the more difficult it’ll be to remove.
For heavy deposits, you might need to do the treatment twice to break the buildup down.
Other Benefits of Using a Kettle Descaler Ball
Using a kettle descaler ball is effortless and faster to use compared to other kettle descaling methods. You just place the ball inside your kettle and forget about it as you boil your water. You don’t even have to clean it after every use. Just make sure to clean it regularly, and that’s about it.
Aside from being fuss-free, this ball is reusable. You can use it for as long as you can. So while you can still squeeze the ball while cleaning it and no limescale deposits have hardened within the mesh, it’s still good to go.
A kettle descaler ball is also rust-resistant, so you can be sure that you won’t be dealing with rust-flavored tea at any given time. It’s also chemical-free, so unlike liquid descaler solutions, you don’t need to worry about chemicals and toxic components sticking to your kettle and making their way into your coffee. This makes descaler balls environment-friendly, too.
Using a descaler ball can ultimately help you save cash. These balls are cheap, and you may only need one for a very long time. And because the ball protects your kettle’s heat element from collecting limescale, this electric component will continue to work effectively and will continue to boil water as quickly as it should.
This ensures long life for your electric kettle, and ultimately, it saves you from having to buy a new one ever so often, especially if you live in a hard water area.
How To Keep Your Descaler Ball in Good Shape
Long-time descaler users recommend that you regularly rinse your descaler ball under cold running water and squeeze it. Doing this washes off loose limescale and mineral sediments from the ball. It also helps ensure that your descaler ball continues to effectively protect your kettle by collecting most of the limescale deposits.
Failing to wash your kettle descaler ball will cause whatever limescale it has collected to eventually accumulate and harden. And once this happens, the hardened limescale cannot be removed without the aid of a chemical descaler solution.
Moreover, rinsing your kettle descaler ball under your running tap gives it a longer life and allows you to use it over and over again.
Picking the Right Kettle Descaler Balls
You might think that any rolled or balled-up metal mesh is a good-enough kettle descaler ball. This ball is one of the simplest products out there; it follows an uncomplicated design and a straightforward concept. I mean, how discerning do you have to be when looking for descaler balls?
What Not To Buy
You need to know that not all kettle descaler balls being marketed as such are good for your kettle. According to New Scientist, you have to avoid using those cheap wire wools that you can buy in hardware stores. These wire wools are prone to corrosion and rusting. And the rust will affect the color and taste of your tea or coffee.
It may also not be a good idea to use metal scouring pads or scrubs as alternate kettle scale collectors.
Kettle Descaler Balls Worth Trying
Now, this brings us to the kettle descaler ball products that got good reviews from users on Amazon.com.
The Fox Run Kettle Scale Collector coiled ball made from stainless steel wire was designed with a large surface area to ensure that all calcium deposits are collected.
Aside from keeping your kettle free of limescale, this ball is also meant to reduce water boiling time, and therefore reduces energy costs, too. It also increases the life of your kettle.
This kettle descaler ball can be used for any type of kettle. It measures around an inch (2.5 centimeters) on all sides. It’s easy to clean, too. Simply rinse under cold running water, then gently squeeze it after using.
The Chef Aid Stainless Steel Doughnut Kettle Descaler effectively prevents furring in kettles of any kind.
It attracts unwanted scales so that your water remains clear and free of any unwanted particles floating around. It also helps make your water taste better. This product can be cleaned effortlessly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Descaler Balls
People may be hesitant to use kettle descaler balls because of a few concerns. Here are some of the things people want to know about these products.
Will a Kettle Descaler Ball Give Your Water, Tea, or Coffee a Metallic Taste?
A kettle descaler ball won’t give your water, tea, or coffee a metallic taste. Just make sure to give the ball a good wash, then rinse it with hot water before using it for the first time.
There might be some oil and other chemicals left over from the manufacturing process, so using the ball without washing it first might give your water that initial unpleasant taste or smell.
Will It Leave Tiny Bits of Metal in the Water That You Could Swallow With Your Tea or Coffee?
There might be minuscule bits or flakes of metal left in the ball during the manufacturing process. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly wash and rinse it before initial use.
But generally, the stainless steel wire is pretty much solid and isn’t prone to breakage. Besides, you ought to regularly wash your descaler ball under running water, so this should assure you that no unwanted bits and pieces will go to the water you will be drinking.
How Long Can You Use a Descaler Ball?
You can use your descaler ball as long as it still works. As long as you wash it regularly and keep it clean, mineral deposits won’t harden on the mesh’s surface. Without lime buildup on the ball, it’ll still serve its purpose.
A stainless steel kettle descaler ball may not be a popular choice when it comes to descaling and protecting your kettle from limescale buildup, but it’s effective for the most part.
For one, it doesn’t eliminate buildups that have already hardened in your kettle. Also, it prevents scale deposits from settling in your kettle, but not entirely. As such, you may still need to descale your kettle regularly using other methods.