Calcium carbonate – that’s limescale to you and me – is easily dissolved in a range of mild acids
The less fastidious will not be familiar with limescale. But those who like to admire their reflection in a gleaming chrome appliance will hate the milky white deposit.
It is possible to scrub off the limescale deposits. However, the minerals involved are very hard, so abrasives that will effectively scrape them off are also likely to damage the finish of the material underneath. Luckily, calcium carbonate is easily dissolved in a range of mild acids. You can buy brand-name limescale removers, but many common household substances will also do the trick. Two of the most effective substances are lemon juice and ordinary vinegar. Lemon juice is usually the best (and will also leave a lovely smell behind). Stronger pickling vinegar and lime juice are both even more acidic and can be used for really stubborn deposits.
The problem with removing limescale is not usually finding an appropriate acid around the home, but making sure the acid stays in contact with the surface for long enough to do its job. Limescale is not so easy to remove that you can simply wipe it off with a cloth soaked in juice. Instead, you need to leave it soaking for an hour or more to really do the trick.
Your kettle is a ready-made liquid container, so the descaling process is pretty simple. Start by quarter-filling the kettle with vinegar or lemon juice and leave it overnight to give the acid enough time to do the work. In the morning, leaving in the acid, top up the kettle with water and boil it. Pour away the boiled water before it cools, then rinse out the kettle with several changes of cold water to remove any traces of vinegar or lemon juice (not a good taste with coffee).
This method can also be used to descale coffee makers. Add the acid to the water compartment as before, then top up with water and run the coffee-making process with this solution and no coffee. Repeat this twice with plain water to rinse.
The tricky part is keeping the taps in contact with your descaling liquid. For limescale build-up around the posts and other parts of a tap, soak a pad of cotton wool in vinegar and wrap this firmly around the relevant parts. Leave it there for two-three hours, giving it a squeeze now and again to make sure the acid gets into all the corners and grooves. After this time, all parts of your taps should be able to be wiped clean, though you may need to scrub with a plastic scourer to loosen the more stubborn bits of scale.
Tiles and other surfaces
Limescale deposits on flat surfaces are much easier to get rid of. In most cases, scrubbing gently with vinegar or lemon juice will get them sparkling again.
If you think all these methods are too tricky, then just buy Kilrock descaler – liquid or gel, and follow the instructions. It will do the hard workJ