A common scene that happens in many households in winter is the nightmare of waking up, turning on the kettle to make a hot cup of tea and finding out the kettle is covered in limescale.
This issue, which primarily affects hard water areas in the UK is known as scaling, and can also affect taps, showerheads and other water appliances in the home.
Hard water contains a higher level of calcium, which forms calcium carbonate and can stick to heating elements and other metallic parts of appliances, and can build up surprisingly quickly, making for a rather unpleasant cuppa if you are caught unawares.
One of the best solutions is prevention, often by using a block salt softener in your water system to artificially reduce the water hardness and prevent the negative aspects associated with it, however, if your kettle has already been claimed, here are some methods to reduce the build-up.
The Lemon Juice Method
Juice from a fresh lemon is very useful for cleaning all sorts of areas of your house, providing an antibacterial and antiseptic effect without resorting to harsher chemicals. Lemon juice has become so useful, in fact, that gadgets exist that stick into a lemon to act as an atomiser.
To fix your kettle, fill it with lemon juice mixed in equal parts with water and bring it to a boil, before letting it sit for around half an hour. Empty the water down the sink once the kettle has cooled down and rinse it out before making your next drink.
The Vinegar Method
Limescale is an alkaline substance, and so it can be broken down using a mild acid, such as white vinegar, which much like the lemon juice is mixed in equal parts with water and filled to around three-quarters the capacity of the kettle.
Bring it to the boil again, wait for it to cool down and repeatedly rinse it out, using a scrubbing brush if required to get rid of the nastier patches.
After this, be sure to fill up the kettle with clean water, boil it, and empty it a few times to get rid of the vinegar taste and smell.