What is Limescale?

As our drinking water completes its journey to our taps, it can pick up some impurities that may not be dangerous but can affect the quality and taste of your water and can even affect your appliances. One of these effects is limescale deposition.

What is Limescale? 

Limescale is a chalky deposit that’s mostly made of calcium carbonate. It can build up in kettles and other hot water appliances.

kitchen appliances

How does limescale occur?

Limescale can occur when you boil water containing calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate exists in our drinking water, but it remains dissolved until the water is heated up. As the water in a kettle boils, some compounds like carbon dioxide boil off and evaporate. This process changes the solubility of calcium carbonate, which precipitates into a thin, white deposit within the kettle jug.

Because the calcium precipitate only emerges when you boil water, limescale doesn’t appear in your kitchen tap or water bottles, where the water stays at room temperature. It only occurs in water-heating appliances.

Is limescale harmful?

Limescale is not bad for your health. The minerals that cause limescale naturally occur in your drinking water, and all drinking water goes through government-regulated monitoring to ensure it is safe to drink. Additionally, limescale is made of calcium and carbon, two elements that we already contain in our bodies and are not harmful to us. However shocking limescale deposits may look, limescale is not harmful to your body.


Is limescale in kettles bad?

Limescale is not going to cause you any harm. However, limescale can be harmful to your kitchen appliances. One of the most common problems that limescale can cause is effectively clogging up your devices. Kettles or coffee machines with limescale have to work much harder to heat water for a hot drink than those without limescale. Limescale can also cause your dishwasher to be less effective as limescale build-up gets in the way.

Another critical reason that people dislike and want to remove limescale is the look of it. While limescale isn’t dangerous, it can make a kitchen or bathroom look unclean, especially if you have glass appliances or an electric kettle with a see-through bowl. Just a look at limescale might leave a bad taste in your mouth. If you've never noticed limescale in your home, it might be because your water supply contains soft water. Limescale is a lot more likely to occur if your water supply contains hard water.

What is hard water and soft water?

Water hardness is a scale that measures the concentration of the alkaline earth minerals (primarily calcium and magnesium) in water. Hard water has a higher concentration of these minerals than soft water. Water can pick up minerals if it happens to flow through mineral deposits like limestone. Which means your tap water might contain trace amounts of elements like calcium.

Because all drinking water must meet government standards, you won’t find any danger in your tap water, even if your local water supply contains especially hard water. However, those with a refined palate will note that hard water and soft water have different tastes. For example, hard water can have a chalky taste or can sometimes lead to a drying mouthfeel. Water hardness can vary based on your location, so see our map of water hardness throughout Australia to check your local water conditions.

Lemon spray picutre

Removing limescale

You can remove limescale easily with any mild acid. Household items like vinegar or lemon juice work well. White vinegar is the most common vinegar choice, but any should work. The vinegar or citric acid from your citrus fruit will cause the limescale to dissolve. After cleaning and rinsing the now-clean area, you're sure to notice a difference.

For products like kettles or coffee machines, use the manufacturers recommended amount of eco-friendly descaling liquid into the jug of the appliance and follow the cleaning instructions, which often involve letting the liquid sit for at least an hour. Then your instructions will likely tell you to fill the kettle or coffee machine jug with water and set it to boil. Pour away the boiled water and give the jug a good rinse. Repeating the cleaning process may be necessary dependent on the level or scale deposit in the appliance

For other limescale surface deposits, you can use a spray bottle that you fill with lemon juice or vinegar so that you can spray at any unsightly stains. This technique is especially useful when addressing stubborn limescale on your shower screen or shower head. Consider wearing rubber gloves if you want to avoid getting white vinegar or lemon juice on your hands. Use a soft cloth and gently rub at the limescale to get rid of the limescale stains. If you notice leftover limescale, repeat the process until you're happy with the look.

Filtering water to prevent limescale

While removing limescale build-up is relatively hassle-free, it can still be another chore in the kitchen, and who needs that? BRITA water filters are specifically designed to filter water to help reduce hardness while leaving in the important minerals that are healthy for you. This is the work of the Ion Exchange Pearls, that bind metal cations like lead and copper. BRITA filters do not filter out all calcium or magnesium. Instead, they work by reducing the carbonate hardness of the water, so that calcium carbonate is less likely to develop. So you can still enjoy healthy minerals.

BRITA water filters catch other impurities like chlorine and chlorine compounds, which can drastically affect the taste of your water. The BRITA MAXTRA+ Limescale Expert filter cartridges reduce chlorine, lead and copper, and up to 50% more limescale compared to the MAXTRA+ Pure Performance filter. It utilises unique MicroFlow technology with a mixture of Ion Exchange Pearls and Micro Carbon Pearls. You can use a BRITA MAXTRA+ Limescale Expert filter in a water filter jug or cask so that you have great tasting water to keep you happy and hydrated, and it can also be used to help reduce limescale formation and prolong the life of your appliances.

If you prefer filtered water straight from the tap, an on-tap water system delivers great tasting water from the source. Of course, you can still keep a water jug in the fridge so you have great tasting water if you like to have cool water ready to go.

Discover more about BRITA MAXTRA+ Limescale Expert filtration here.