Why do kettles get limescale?
In this post we will try to explain why kettles get limescale. Before we do that we will define hard water and soft water. Hard water
is water containing a relatively high level of dissolved minerals and soft water
is water containing a relatively low level of dissolved minerals. Simple enough. Now we can answer some important questions.
What is limescale?
Limescale is a hard off-white substance which consists mostly of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.
Why does limescale form in kettles?
Limescale is caused by hard water. When it rains the water falling is soft water. When this soft water soaks into the ground it absorbs various minerals and becomes hard water. Water treatment plants do not filter these minerals as they are harmless so the water coming out of your tap is hard water. Most of England has what is regarded as very
hard water. (Apparently places such as Birmingham have soft drinking water because it is pumped from the Elan Valley Reservoirs in Wales.)
: Limescale forms in kettles because of minerals in tap water.
Why is limescale a problem?
Limescale is a problem for two main reasons. Firstly it tastes horrible. Expecting to have a nice drink but ending up with a mouth full of limescale is not a particularly pleasurable experience. Secondly, limescale in large enough quantities can slow down, damage or even break the machines and equipment that it forms in.
Where else does limescale form?
Limescale is almost always found in kettles, but there are plenty of other places it likes to form. Pipes, particularly old ones, can get coated on the inside with limescale. Washing machines and hot water boilers gather limescale. Surfaces of any kind can also acquire limescale.