Why Kettles Get Limescale and How To Remove It

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If you are a tea drinker, you know how frustrating it can be when that pesky limescale starts to build up in your favorite kettle. The residue left behind by the boiling water can be an annoying by-product of your delicious warm beverages.

Why do kettles get limescale, and how can you remove it?

Kettles get limescale because minerals such as calcium and magnesium in hard water leave an unsightly residue. Fortunately, limescale is perfectly normal, safe, and can be removed with items you likely already have in your homes, such as vinegar and lemon. 

This article will discuss:

  • Everything you need to know about limescale
  • Why it builds up on your kettles
  • How to remove limescale from your kettles
  • How to prevent limescale in the future

Grab your scrub pad and let’s get started!

What Causes Limescale In Kettles?

If you use a kettle very often, you have probably noticed the notorious residue left behind, known as limescale, which happens predominantly in areas with hard water. Hard water leaves behind an unattractive residue on your faucets, sinks, and even your tea kettles. 

Limescale is white and chalky in appearance and develops over time as the result of hot water evaporating and leaving behind dissolved minerals. You might think that boiling water is the perfect way to ensure your kettle is clean, but in the case of hard water and limescale, it can be the nemesis of kettles. 

While limescale is not dangerous, it can change the taste of your water and can end up floating in your water, causing damage to your kettle or end up in your drink. It will also shorten the lifespan of your kettle, slowly eroding the inside of your kettle. 

What Is Hard Water?

The differences between hard and soft water lie in the number of minerals found in the water, specifically calcium and magnesium. While hard water has many dissolved minerals in it, soft water contains little to no dissolved minerals. 

Hard water is measured in grains per gallon or GPG. For reference, about 10GPG (2.64gr/L) is the level at which it is considered hard. If you have experienced washing your hands and felt like a film is on your hands after applying soap, that is because of hard water. 

There are many reasons why you might have hard water, but it is frequently related to the geography of the water source. For example, many midwestern states, such as Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, have extremely hard water with more than 15GPG (3.96gr/L). 

Conversely, many southern states like Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama have soft water measuring less than 3GPG (0.79gr/L). 

If you are not sure you have hard water, you can do a few things to figure it out. Grab a water bottle, fill it halfway with water, and put a droplet of soap in there. Shake the bottle as hard as you can for a few seconds. What does the water look like?

If you have hard water, it will have a cloudy and dull appearance. If you have soft water, the water will be bubbly and frothy. 

You can also buy tests to determine your water, which is a much more scientific approach than the one above. Health Metric Pro Water Hardness Test Kit is an affordable and accurate testing kit available to purchase online. Their kits are easy to use, and the results are displayed using a color chart, so even beginners can read their results. 

How To Remove Limescale From Your Kettle

Once you understand why limescale builds up in your kettle, you can start removing it properly, which will create a cleaner tasting beverage later. Cleaning or removing limescale from your kettle is known as descaling.

There are a few easy ways you can descale your kettle at home. 

Acidic Solutions 

Acidic solutions are recommended because they eat away at the calcium and magnesium that builds up over time. The more limescale you have, the stronger your solution should be. You have three acidic solution options that you can use. 

Vinegar

The first solution is a vinegar mixture. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Combine one part vinegar and one part water in your kettle until it is almost full. 
  2. Leave the mixture in your kettle overnight. Make sure it is unplugged and that others in the household know not to use it. 
  3. In the morning, clean your kettle as you normally would. The limescale should come off quickly. 

Lemon

The second option is a lemon-based solution. For this method, follow the steps below:

  1. Mix together water, the juice of one lemon, and the remaining lemon cut up into pieces in a small bowl. 
  2. Put the mixture in your kettle, boil for about 20 minutes, then let it soak for about an hour.
  3. Dump the mixture and clean it as you normally would. Use this method if you want to use your kettle on the same day. 

Citric Acid

Third, you can use citric acid. For this method, follow the steps below:

  1. Put water in your kettle and boil it. 
  2. Once it has reached a boil, turn off the kettle and put 1-2tbsp (14.79-29.57ml) of citric acid in the water. 
  3. Leave it in the kettle for about twenty minutes, and then clean as you usually would. 

You might have noticed a trend of using more solutions on the acidic end of the pH scale. This is because acidic reacts with the calcium carbonate, ultimately producing a soluble compound.

Other Limescale Removing Solutions

You can use other solutions besides acidic solutions to remove limescale. Baking soda, Coca-Cola, and commercial limescale solutions can also get rid of limescale. Let’s take a look.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can remove many minerals from things, such as kettles, and should be used as an additional cleaning step after one of the other methods above. To use this method, follow the steps below:

  1. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the bottom of your kettle until it is just covered.
  2. Allow it to sit for about five minutes. 
  3. Take a cloth and wipe out any additional residue, which should come off of the bottom of your kettle. 

Coca-Cola

Believe it or not, Coca-Cola will also work to descale your kettle, as it contains a chemical called carbonic acid, which is exceptionally effective when removing limescale. 

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Fill your kettle with Coca-Cola.
  2. Boil it and let it soak in the kettle for about half an hour. 
  3. Dump out the contents and wipe out your kettle, ensuring the limescale residue is gone. 

Commercial Cleaning Solution

Alternatively, you can try using chemicals designed for descaling products that boil water. However, when using these chemicals, it is crucial to ensure that they are safe for use with kettles. 

Because limescale can be found in other places, like pipes or faucets, many cleaning solutions are not safe for use with your kettle. A trusted descaler is Durgol Universal Descaler, as it is safe, versatile, affordable, and easy to use. 

How To Prevent Limescale

You’ve learned why your kettle gets limescale residue and how to remove it, so now let’s talk about how to prevent it. Prevention is the key to a more pleasant and attractive-looking kettle without that white residue leftover. 

Here are a few ways you can prevent limescale build-up in the future: 

Use a Water Softener

The reason your kettle gets limescale build-up is because of the minerals in your water, making it “hard.”
So, the most effective suggestion for preventing limescale is to soften your water.
Aquasana Water Filter System has a highly effective water softener system, which will remove harmful minerals from your water before it comes out of the faucet. 

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

If you want a more affordable option, try cleaning and drying your kettle after each use to prevent build-up.
The problem occurs when you allow water to dry in your kettle, leaving behind the excess minerals.
If you rinse out your kettle and dry it each time you boil water, limescale residue is much less likely. 

Install a Filter on Your Water Source

Consider a Brita Mount Faucet Filter to prevent limescale residue, which is an easy way to minimize limescale that requires very little maintenance.
Attach it to your faucet and swap the filter as needed.
It will reduce the number of minerals that get into your kettle water, and is a more affordable option compared to the water softener, though not as effective. 

You can Use a Kettle Descaler

For example, the Tredoni Steel Mesh. This is a perfect product for preventing limescale build-up because it is safe, easy, and affordable. The steel mesh rings attract the minerals to themselves instead of the sides of your kettle.
They are also simple to use. Just drop them in your kettle of boiling water and let it do all the work for you. 

Preventing limescale is not too difficult after all. Some of these methods may not work for all kettles or water types, so you should try different ways until you find one that works for you. If your limescale build-up is particularly bad, it might take multiple cleanings or more heavy-duty chemicals to get it off. If you use your kettle regularly, you should rinse it well after each use and clean it weekly. 

Best Kettle Product Recommendations 

If your kettle is beyond repair thanks to years of limescale build-up, this section is for you if you want to ditch your old kettle for a fresh new one. We will look at a few of the best kettles for people who have a hard water supply. 

You might want to look for a few things in a new kettle, including temperature presets, covered heating elements, and a filter.

Here are the recommendations:

Dezin Electric Kettle

At 1.5 liters capacity, this kettle is the perfect size for casual tea drinkers.
It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, such as temperature presets, but its price tag is very attractive.
While it doesn’t have a limescale filter, the kettle is almost entirely glass, making limescale build-up much less likely, while giving it a sleek look.
Further, the heating element is covered, which will make cleaning it a breeze. 

T-Fal Stainless Steel Stovetop Kettle

This kettle has a massive water capacity of nearly three liters, ideal for avid tea drinkers or hosting events, but it is not electric, which means you boil the water on top of your stove.

While it does not have a limescale filter, the lack of a heating element makes it super easy to wash in your dishwasher, keeping limescale issues at arm’s length.
It is also affordable with a vintage feel. 

Cuisinart Cordless Electric Kettle

This kettle from Cuisinart has all of the bells and whistles you might want in a kettle and more.
With multiple temperature settings, a covered heating element, and a keep-warm function, this kettle is the best of the best.

It has a removable and washable filter to keep limescale out of your warm beverages. 

Bodum Electric Water Kettle

Bodum, a trusted kettle manufacturer, creates almost everything you might want in a kettle.
It has an aesthetically pleasing design, as well as tons of exciting features.

While this kettle lacks temperature control settings, it includes a removable filter to keep limescale out of your drinks and boil dry protection.