I have an electric kettle. The only times the inside has ever been washed, were before I used it the first time, and after I had gotten it out of storage, where it had been for 2 years. The reason for this is simple: the only thing that ever goes into it is water. The electric kettle has a metal heating element, which must be some sort of ferrous metal, inside the bottom of it, which allows it to heat water to a boil very quickly. If I want boiled water within a minute, I use my wonderful electric kettle. It gets used most mornings to heat water for tea, hot chocolate and oatmeal. I even use it for the cup of boiled water in the recipe for the Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever when I make it for parties. It’s quite a convenient little appliance. I don’t know how environmentally friendly it is though, compared to the microwave. Probably not much. Just putting that out there.
Anyway, I had noticed that a decent amount of lime had built up on the heating element, which is made of some ferrous metal. Not quite sure it’s exact composition, but I know it has iron in it. Want to know how? It had rusted on two of the joints. So there is lime and rust built up on the heating element in my electric kettle. I was fine with this, since no one sees the heating element, but once in awhile when I added water to it, I noticed chunks of the lime breaking off into the water, which I would then have to dump down the drain and fill the kettle again. Also not environmentally friendly.
So here comes the point to the title of this post. Today, while I was getting aggravated at the lime chunks breaking away, I thought about the lime buildup that had been on my shower door and how easily scrubbing it with distilled white vinegar had washed it away. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I was also remembering that if you need more basic soil in a garden, you add lime to it, where if you need more acidic soil, you add fertilizer. Therefore, lime is a base of some sort. You know, I’ll just bet that vinegar, being strongly acidic, would make a great lime remover.
So, I poured all of the water out of the kettle, and filled it just over the heating element with white distilled vinegar. I watched as the lime fizzled in the vinegar and released a gas of some sort (probably carbon dioxide.) Then because I’m impatient, I turned the kettle on to heat the vinegar, betting the additional heat would be a powerful catalyst in the reaction. Lo and behold, I was right! As the vinegar came to a boil (and my sinuses drained completely from holding my face in vinegar steam so I could watch,) every bit of lime on the heating element either broke off of the element and reacted with the vinegar or just reacted with the vinegar leaving the element shiny behind it. What’s even better, the rust on the element also broke free between the heat and the cleansing action. I dumped the vinegar out of the kettle and rinsed it well before filling it with water again. My next few cups of tea will probably have a faint vinegar taste, but the element is clean. I am happy.