Lime-scale is the hard, off-white, chalky deposit found in kettles, hot-water boilers and the inside of inadequately maintained hot-water central heating systems. It is also often found as a similar deposit on the inner surface of old pipes and other surfaces where "hard water" has evaporated. Other than being unsightly and harder to clean, limescale seriously impairs the operation of affected equipment. The type found deposited on the heating elements of water heaters and kettles is mainly calcium carbonate.
Commercial kettle descaling liquids and powders are available, however, normal cheap vinegar or citric acid (lemon juice) will do the job just as well and will not leave the device tainted providing it is rinsed out thoroughly with fresh water a few times before use. Unlike the stronger commercial descalers, you may need to leave vinegar for a few hours or even overnight for it to remove the limescale completely.
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