Store-bought descaler products, whether they are tablets, powder or liquid, contain an acidic ingredient that dissolves the scale away.
Limescale consists mostly of calcium carbonate, which is insoluble in water (which is why you cannot wash away scale with just water) but dissolves easily in acid to produce carbon dioxide and a soluble metal salt.
So if you are looking for an easy way to descale your kettle without buying a descaler, look for something that’s high in acidity. Two things come to mind: malt vinegar and coke. You probably already have one or both of them in your kitchen.
Descaling Your Kettle With Malt Vinegar
Although malt vinegar is not as acidic as other types of vinegar, it still contains enough acid to easily dissolve limescale in your kettle.
Note that malt vinegar has a more noticeable taste than white vinegar, so you need to rinse your kettle well afterwards to avoid giving your tea an unwanted malt flavour.
- Add enough malt vinegar in the kettle to cover the affected area. Leave the kettle to rest for about an hour.
- After an hour, add the same amount of water as the vinegar and set the kettle to boil.
- Pour out the malt vinegar solution and check that all the scale is gone. If you still have some stubborn scale left, repeat the process.
- Rinse the kettle thoroughly to get rid of any malt flavours. You can also boil water in the kettle 2-3 times until no malty flavour is noticeable in the water.
If you live in a hard water area, it’s a good idea to repeat this process often, usually once a month. This ensures that limescale doesn’t build up and damage the kettle, especially if it is an electric kettle.
Keep in mind that limescale can also alter the taste of your tea or coffee. Keeping the kettle scale-free will ensure you enjoy the best quality beverages.
Descaling Your Kettle With Coke
Coke is an acidic product with a pH of around 2.5. It’s a terrible idea if you are trying to beat acid reflux, but a brilliant solution for a kettle caked in limescale.
In a pinch, you can use the coke in your refrigerator to get rid of limescale in a kettle. Here’s how.
- Fill your kettle with enough coke to cover the affected area.
- Set the kettle to boil.
- Let the coke-filled kettle rest or 30 minutes to an hour. If the limescale is really bad, leave it for an hour.
- Pour out the coke, scrub the kettle to remove any remaining scale and rinse with water. If there’s still some limescale left, repeat the process.
Other Ways To Descale A Kettle
For regular descaling, we recommend buying a pack of kettle descaler. They are available in tablet or powder form. Follow the instructions on the package to descale your kettle.
Alternatively, look for any acidic product that’s safe to use.
A good example is citric acid. If you don’t like the smell and flavour of malt vinegar, citric acid works just as well. Add a tablespoon of citric acid into the kettle and add water up to the fill mark. Boil the solution and let it rest for an hour then rinse.
If you have lemons in your kitchen, they can provide a natural source of citric acid to descale a kettle. Slice the lemon into small discs and add to the kettle. Add cold water, then set the kettle to boil. Leave the lemon and water mixture to rest for an hour. Pour out the water and lemon and scrub any remaining scale.
Malt vinegar is not the only vinegar you can use to descale a kettle. Any kind of vinegar, including distilled white vinegar, will do the job just fine. Follow the same process as the one we outlined with malt vinegar.
The only thing you need to worry about is a vinegar flavour in the kettle. To get rid of it, boil water in the kettle 2-3 times and rinse it thoroughly before making a cup of tea.
- Tip: If you notice limescale in your kettle, it’s likely also forming in other appliances. Frequently descale your dishwasher, washing machine, coffee maker and other appliances to keep them in good condition.