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.
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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