How to Descale a Tea Kettle





Introduction: How to Descale a Tea Kettle

Have you ever opened your tea kettle to fill it and noticed a brownish or greyish film in the bottom? That film is called limescale and is made up of minerals left behind during the evaporation process. If you live in an area with hard water like I do, limescale is something you'll encounter quite often!

It's not dangerous to use a kettle with limescale, but it can affect the taste of your water and it impairs the heat conduction of your kettle. So you may as well clean it quickly before it gets to be a limescale mess. :D

Thankfully, descaling a kettle is insanely easy with the help of a little white vinegar!

You can use this method with both standard and electric tea kettles.

Step 1: What You'll Need

A 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar! That's it. (I've found white vinegar is the most effective - apple cider and other vinegars required extra boils to clean away the scale.)

I normally do 12 ounces each water and vinegar, but scale that up or down depending on the size of your kettle. If you have a large metal kettle, you may have scaling further up the sides and require more liquid!

If you're not crazy about the idea of using vinegar, you can also use citric acid. I have not noticed a flavor of vinegar when using the kettle afterwards, but I've seen complaints online from others about it!

Sometimes the smell of vinegar sticks around after cleaning the kettle, but I have not noticed it in the taste of my tea.

Step 2: Removing the Limescale

Above: before and after.

I don't recommend letting the vinegar and water sit in the kettle forever before boiling, or boiling it for an insanely long amount of time. This only seems to increase the odds that your kettle will taste and smell of vinegar after. :P

Instead, bring the mix to a boil and turn the kettle off.

Take off the lid and look inside. I've never had any limescale left behind after one boil in my electric kettle, but you may. If you do, boil again!

If your kettle has a filter in the spout, pour the hot water and vinegar mixture out through it to clean it as well.

Rinse with cool water and smell the kettle. If you can still smell vinegar, you can boil plain water in the kettle and pour it out - that typically removes the smell for me.

And there you go - repeat as needed for a scale-free kettle! :D



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    I have used both citric acid and vinegar and I noticed that the vinegar would sting my eyes and nose more than the citric acid even when only in the same room and not actively working on descaling.
    I know that my hot water dispenser's manufacturer recommends citric acid. it was by weight (grams) and I forgot how much it was but it ended up being about 1.75 tablespoons for 4 Liters. (I used a coffee scoop that happened to measure the exact weight I needed.)

    Also citric acid (powder) is easier to store than vinegar and gallon for gallon of the same pH, citric acid is much cheaper.

    A word of warning to those with concrete septic tanks. the lime scale from your water (calcium carbonate) is the same stuff that makes concrete concrete instead of a pile of sand, gravel and rebar. so don't put the waste down the drain without neutralizing it with a base such as baking soda. (I still need to do some testing, but I believe calcium carbonate is preferred but I am still working on a household source of it in sufficient quanties. tums works but it uses nearly the entire bottle which defeats the point)

    I have heard of lemon and onions vinegar too. I prefer to buy Andes cakes

    I agree using white vinegar is the best method for keeping one's kettle clean. Personally I would add a third step to the process of boiling a pot of water mixed with a little baking soda to remove any traces of vinegar from the kettle.

    A 'Tea' kettle? What's so special about it compared to my kettle?

    Nothing - using that term because that is how most folks search for this information. :)

    A covered pot boils faster than an uncovered one, due to less heat loss from the open top of a pot. A pot needs a second accessory (the cover) to accomplish this. A kettle doesn't because, save for the spout, the rest is covered. For a tea drinker, it is a faster way to get the hot water they need, sometimes even with a low-tech whistle indicator to let them know that the water is as hot as it's going to get. This way, unlike a microwave,you don't need to pretend that you can set a precise time for a multi-variable process (water temperature, cup temperature, ambient air temperature, amount of water) to go on and then still have to check and see if the water is as hot as you want. It is a low-tech way to accomplish quick water heating. Although not as fast as a microwave, you can still save time by multitasking (making the rest of the meal, or reading through mail) and using the whistle as an indicator that it is time to get back to the water to make the tea.

    I was only mocking the fact that it was dubbed a 'tea kettle' as if it was some bizzare alien technology.
    In Britain you have your kettle. Just a kettle. And it makes any hot edible drink/food you want.

    From this day on..... I will never jibe again.

    Sorry, I keep forgetting about what us Yanks refer to as abstract British humor.

    Some common salt (sodium chloride), say 1 teaspoon full, can help the vinegar. Citric acid is another good way, also used for large boilers.

    I just use straight vinegar, or pickling vinegar without watering it down. I find the higher percentage of acetic acid in the pickling vinegar does the trick quickly, and with a rinse, there's no lingering odor of vinegar.

    I've been cleaning the kettle at work this way for a few years now, and usually clean it every few months. I find if you just boil some water, and dump it out, you remove a lot of the scale that loosens up, and it can prolong the time between cleanings.

    Thanks for the Instructable.