Lime scale is a chalky, hard substance that builds up due to calcium carbonate deposits in water. Although lime scale causes numerous problems, such as reduced water flow in taps and pipes, build-up on bathtubs and sinks, and preventing heat transfer in kettles due to insulation, it may also be used beneficially. Lime scale consists of calcium carbonate, which can be compressed to make chalk, and also may be used (when treated correctly) as a calcium supplement. Ultimately, lime scale does create many problems; however, there are certain methods that may be used to get rid of it, such as the use of vinegar to break down calcium carbonate.
Approximately 70% of the water used throughout various countries is naturally hard, meaning it contains a high mineral content, including calcium as well as various other salts. It is true that these help to maintain health (for example, calcium promotes healthy bone growth); however, calcium deposits and build up can have disastrous effects on pipes, taps and other devices that use water frequently. Although Calcium carbonate is soluble in water, it becomes increasingly difficult to break down the composition when it is exposed to temperatures higher than 70 °C, thus leading to more deposits where water is heated, or warmer. This becomes problematic with certain appliances such as kettles and hot water pipes as the build-up may prevent energy efficiency due to a lack of water flow. This results in higher costs for running water, and ultimately leads to energy being wasted.
Lime scale may also be problematic in kettles. Kettles heat up water by use of an electric element located in the bottom of the device. This heats up the water, eventually bringing it to a boil. Lime scale buildup on the bottom of the kettle acts as an insulator, preventing the heating element from transferring the heat to the water. This also becomes a reducing factor in energy efficiency due to the fact that it takes longer for the heat to pass through the lime scale and to heat up the water.
An easy and effective method in getting rid of lime scale is the use of vinegar. Vinegar’s acidic composition is a powerful tool in decomposing lime scale build-up. Adding a certain measurement of vinegar to a drain, kettle or even washing machine helps to break down and even completely remove lime scale deposits from these every day mechanisms used worldwide.