limescale in a coffee machineWhat is "scale" or "limescale"?

Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium salts.

 

When water is heated in your coffee machine, calcium and magnesium break down and precipitate to form solid limescale (or scale). This affects the boilers, pumps and any other parts that carry water. Areas where the water sits still for a while, such as the boiler, are worst affected.

 

 

coffee cup limescale

What effect does descaling have on my coffee machine?

Build up lime scale will reduce the water flow in the machine and can cause heating problems. This means that the amount of coffee coming out of the machine will slowly reduce and the temperature of the coffee might be lower than it has to be. You can easily avoid this by descaling!

 

A machine without limescale will work better! The machine will last longer and you will avoid expensive repairs.

 

Even more important: the taste of coffee will be better and the crema on top of the coffee will look better! With a perfect espresso the crema should be thick and smooth. Because the build-up of limescale will reduce water flow and pressure, the crema layer of a coffee machine that hasn’t been descaled for a while might look more like a thin foam. 

 

 

which descaler should i useWhich descaler should I use for my coffee machine?

Most of the coffee / espresso machines use a descaler based on a citric-acid or a lactic-acid. Besides that there are a few other acids to descale.

 

Always use the same brand descaler as the machine or use the Eccellente descalers.

 

Descalers come in many forms (liquid, powder, tablets) but they all have to be dissolved in water to be used. Therefore the easiest is a descaler which is liquid but in the end it does not really matter in which form they come.

 

 

 

descale with vinegarWhy can't I use vinegar for descaling the coffee machine?


Vinegar consists mainly of acetic-acid and water. It is a misconception that vinegar is a good way to descale a coffee machine.

 

At Descaler UK we recommend to use a descaler based on citric-acid or lactic-acid. Descaling with vinegar will leave a very strong odor which cannot easily be washed out of the machine. Besides that vinegar is too aggressive and will cause problems.

 

More on this in this related article: Can I descale my coffee machine with Vinegar?

 

 

coffee machine descalingHow often should I descale my coffee machine?

The interval of descaling depends on how much the machine is used and on the water hardness in your area. Most modern coffee / espresso machines have an indicator which will show when to descale.

 

If your machine does not have an indicator then we advise to descale it at least once every two months. Besides that by using a water filter the machine has to be descaled less.

 

If you are not sure when or how to descale: check the manual of the machine!