Limescale - scourge of kettles, nemesis of the washing machine and bane of taps in hard-water areas everywhere.
I live in SE London and have very hard water - limescale seems build up before your very eyes sometimes, particularly in the kettle and there is *nothing* worse than having your last gulp of tea filled with shards of gritty limescale - yuck!
I've bought a couple of supermarket limescale removing solutions in the past, as well as using white vinegar (on the recommendation of Kim and Aggie!). This weekend, having run out of both solutions and vinegar, I had a quick look around the supermarket for a quick fix limescale-removing solution for my kettle.
~*~* So what is limescale? *~*~
Limescale manifests itself as a pretty horrid-looking, white, solid chalky mineral deposit build up. Limescale tends to build up significantly in appliances with a heating element (being calcium carbonate limescale) or in containers or pipes exposed to hardwater (calcium bicarbonate largely).
Limescale can cause appliances to become less efficient (covering the elements of kettles or boilers to insulate them, stopping them from dispersing heat effectively) or causing it to overheat and break.
~*~* Where to buy, packaging and price *~*~
Scale Away is a shop-bought appliance descaler, found in the cleaning products aisle. It is sold in a 75g blue cardboard box with quite a retro 'Scale Away' design emblazed on the fornt of the box, together with an image of a kettle and iron. Scale Away varies in price, between £1 - £1.70 in Asda and Sainsburys, however I have also seen this on sale in Homebase for around £1.
On the reverse of the box, there are comprehensive instructions on how to use the product. Scale Away can be used on kettles (including plastic ones), coffee machines, steam irons(except Tefal ones) and to clean shower heads to clear blocked jets. Instructions for each appliance are given and are very easy to follow.
The box contains a sealed, white paper packet which contains the crystals. This repeats the instructions in more details for use on each appliance and more safety instructions. The packet can be ripped open with ease to allow the crystals to be poured out.
~*~* Safety *~*~
The makers of Scale Away have considered safety instructions in their product, with the back of the outer packaging box showing a clear irritant warning and with instruction to keep the product out of reach of children and that it may be irritating to eyes and skin. These warnings are repeated on the inside packet containing the crystals, as well as instructions to avoid spilling the crystals (which look like harmless white sugar grains!) and to wipe up as soon as possible.
~*~* Scale Away crystals *~*~
Scale Away powder is composed of 100% citric acid in crystallised form. This acts as a chelating agent (meaning that the citric acid grabs onto metal ions, inactivating them to soften the water and dispersing the limescale). Citric acid is occurs naturally as an organic acid and does not harm the environment when used for cleaning.
~*~* The use test *~*~
Each packet contains one use 'portion' for cleaning a kettle or shower head, while half the packet is required to clean coffee machines or irons. The inner packet is easy to open and the white crystals can be poured out easily.
I used the Scale Away to clean my limescale-encrusted kettle. I followed the instructions, half-filling and boiling the kettle before unplugging it and adding the Scale Away powder bit-by-bit. The crystals are white and quite fine and pour easily with no clogging or solidifying.
On contact with the boiled water, the scale away causes the water to fizz and bubble quite violently, so adding the powder incrementally is recommended. This fizzing is pretty exciting actually (if you like that kind of thing!) as you can see the crystals getting to work on the limescale immediately, clinging to the build-up and eroding it.
The instructions suggest leaving the product to work for 30 minutes however, even after 10 minutes or so, I noted that the base of my kettle was completely clear - just like new! - with not a speck of limescale. I was really pleased, particularly as there was no nasty chemical smell permeating the kitchen and the kettle (unlike other descaling solutions).
After pouring away the water after 30minutes, I then refilled the kettle and boiled a couple of times to ensure no residue was left. My kettle looks as good as new and the boiled water was completely clean and free of limescale, with no chemical smell or taste.
~*~* Overall *~*~
Overall, I have been really impressed with Scale Away. The price is very reasonable, even for a one-use sachet, and the results are great - complete eradication of limescale and no chemical smell or taste to the kettle or boiled water. I would recommend Scale Away over other chemical descalers (such as Limelite) as it's a much 'cleaner' and quicker solution or if you've no vinegar to hand for a 'homemade' option!
Enjoy the descaling action DooYooers!
We live in a very hard water area, so our shower heads and kettles are constantly furring up with limescale. In case you live in a soft water area and have no idea what I'm talking about, limescale is created when your water supply contains calcium bicarbonate - a water-soluable mineral. Unfortunately, when it reaches temperatures over 70 degrees celcius, calcium bicarbonate changes to insoluable calcium carbonate which sticks to pipes and heating elements and causes a build-up of very hard, off-white limescale. Limescale reduces the efficiency of your kettle or iron and blocks the holes in your shower head, so it's neccessary to remove it every couple of months or so.
Enter Scale Away. This nifty product promises to remove limescale, leaving your appliances shiny and efficient. For about £1.20, you get a box with three sachets of clear liquid, each weighing about 25g. To descale a kettle, half-fill it, bring to the boil, switch off and pour in the sachet of Scale Away. Leave for ten minutes and bingo, your kettle is free of limescale. It really does leave it looking as good as new. To treat a shower head, unscrew it from the pipe and soak for ten minutes in a bowl of containing hot water and a sachet of Scale Away. For irons, make up a solution of Scale Away and hot water (about half and half) and pour into the water container of your iron. Leave for a few minutes and pour out.
Scale Away is incredibly easy to use and gets the job done. It works because the active ingredient (in fact, the only ingredient) is citric acid, which eats away at the alkaline limescale. Citric acid is also found in citrus fruits, but this is a much higher concentration, which means you need to be careful handling it and wash your hands thoroughly if you spill it.
I would definitely recommend Scale Away to anyone in a hard water area, based on its performance. However, I recently discovered that you can get the same results by using neat white vinegar and the result is just as good. And the real benefit is that white vinegar is about 50p a litre, so a bottle lasts for months.