Coffee machines are a vital household appliance we often neglect to clean. Cleaning your coffee machine will extend its lifespan and ensure you always get a delicious cup of coffee. Here, you can learn all about descaling solutions for cleaning coffee pots and coffee machines.
What Is a Descaling Solution (Soln)?
Descaling solutions are liquid cleaning solutions. Their purpose is to remove calcium and other mineral build-ups on the interior of your coffee maker. A descaling soln is a staple product for the maintenance of any water-related home or commercial appliance.
Descaling soln consists of a cleaning acid and water. For appliances like boilers, the use of stronger acids like hydrochloric (Hcl) and sulfuric acid is common. For coffee pots, kettles, and machines, citric or acetic acid found in vinegar is enough to remove limescale or hard water buildup.
Fancier home coffee makers like espresso machines have their own brands of descaling solns. These solns remove hard water buildup without jeopardizing the machine’s metal components. However, they can cost a large amount of money over time, even though they’re mainly common ingredients.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on prepackaged descaling solns. It’s easy enough to make your own soln with cheap household goods.
Why Is Descaling Important?
While hard water doesn’t present any health risks, it does damage machinery with mineral buildup. In the case of coffee makers, calcium and magnesium buildup can block the holes that water filters through. This buildup affects the machine’s functionality and efficiency.
Hard water also affects the flavor and aroma of your coffee. Calcium and magnesium buildup results in the over-extraction of coffee grounds. This causes coffee to have a bitter taste and unpleasant aroma.
Hard water buildup is easy to spot as it manifests in a white or light brown layer of chalk that lines surfaces. Simply washing the pot with water does nothing to rid you of the calcium; it only adds more minerals to the pot.
Carrying out the descaling process on your coffee pot or machine on a regular basis (once a month or once in two months) will ensure the machine functions properly. It will ensure that you receive a delicious tasting and aromatic coffee every time you use it.
How To Make Your Own Descaling Solution?
There are pre-made descaling solutions specifically for the components of certain machines, marketed by the machine’s manufacturer, like the keurig descaling solution for Keurig coffee makers. However, such a cleaning solution is always pricey.
Notable descaling agents used to remove limescale deposits from metal surfaces include
- Acetic Acid or Ethanoic Acid.
- Citric Acid
- Formic Acid
- Glycolic Acid
- Lactic Acid
- Sulfamic acid
- Phosphoric Acid, and
- Hydrochloric Acid
You can easily make your own descaling soln using vinegar or citric acid. These are two things that most people will have easy access to, and they work just as well. In addition, these are weaker acids and cause the least damage to the metal parts. The use of a stronger acid will necessitate the use of a corrosion inhibitor as well.
The descaling agent in vinegar is acetic acid. The best type of vinegar for a homemade descaling soln is distilled white vinegar. Whether you’re descaling a Keurig or a percolator, a simple water and vinegar solution is the most cost-effective way to do it.
For the solution, you need equal parts vinegar and water. If you’re using a Keurig, ensure that no pods are in the machine and the water reservoir is empty. If you’re using a percolator, ensure no coffee grounds are in the filter.
Pour equal parts water and vinegar solution into the pot or water tank and turn the machine on as if you are making a coffee. Some more modern Keurig and Nespresso machines have a descaling function with a selection menu item to start descaling. This function automatically runs the solution through several cycles.
If your machine has no such function, you must repeat this procedure with a fresh vinegar and water solution. You should do this at least once more, often up to four or five times.
After you’ve run the vinegar and water solution through the machine various times, you’ll need to run a cycle of only water.
Once the final water cycle ends, take apart the machine and rub each piece down with a soapy warm-water sponge. Then, set each piece to air dry. This step is vital. You don’t want any vinegar residue to stink up the machine or infuse your cup of coffee with unpleasant flavors.
You will also want to use soap and water to eliminate any other residue that might lead to bacteria or mold growth. If your coffee maker has a removable filter, you should remove the filter and clean it with hot water and detergent. Otherwise, the filter might trap vinegar residue.
With Citric Acid
Most professionals and prepackaged descaling solns feature citric acid. Citric acid, as the name implies, comes from citrus fruits. Instead of simply squeezing a few lemons, citric acid is a solid powder sold commercially online. You’ll also see it as a key ingredient in many citrus-flavored products.
For descaling with citric acid, you can start by dissolving two tablespoons of citric acid in one liter of warm water. You then place the solution in your coffee machine’s pot or reservoir, turning the machine one to run one cycle.
After you run a citric acid solution cycle through the machine’s brewer, run a cycle of pure water through the brewer. It only takes one citric acid solution cycle to descale any machine. If you have a copper machine, you might see the water filtering into the pot turning green.
The green tint is due to the citric acid leaching copper ions. It’s a sign that your machine didn’t have much buildup. This residue is harmless if you only descale once a month or less.
After you’ve run the water cycle, take the machine apart and wipe down all surfaces. Pay special attention to the water reservoir and water spout.
Most baristas and coffee specialists prefer citric acid over acetic acid. Acetic acid tends to linger in the machine, affecting coffee’s flavor for weeks after descaling. Citric acid does not disinfect your machine quite as well as acetic acid, however. You should still use soap and water to clean all the coffee residue left in the filter, pot, and any other surfaces.
Descaling with citric acid is a cheap option, and a little bit goes a long way! It’s a milder disinfectant and cleaner than other solutions, making it ideal for your expensive coffee maker.
Advantages of Making Your Own Descaling Solution
You may notice your coffee machine feeling sluggish. You could also start to see a chalk-like substance on the pot, reservoir, and spout of your coffee maker. If this is the case, you’re overdue for a descaling. Calcium and magnesium buildup is an inevitable occurrence for all water machines. The buildup will affect your machine and the taste of your coffee.
Making your own descaling soln extends your coffee machine’s lifespan. It also benefits your wallet. Both vinegar and citric acid are cheap and widely available household products. Plus, they both double as staple ingredients for many foods and drink recipes.
Citric and acetic acid isn’t the only descaling solution ingredients out there. You can also descale with baking powder, lemon juice, or water-softening pellets.
No matter which descaling solution recipe you choose, making your own descaling soln takes little to no effort. It simply requires you to add an acidic ingredient to water. Homemade descaling solns are as effective as premade solutions and cost a fraction of the price.
Furthermore, using food ingredients make homemade descaling solns non-toxic and safe to handle. If you happen to spill the solution on surfaces or exposed skin, you have little to no risk of acid burns or any other injury. If you ingest the solution, it also poses no risk to digestion or internal organs.
Making your own solution is beneficial to your budget. The ingredients are low-cost and will also save you from buying a new coffee machine.
Is Homemade Formula Good for Your Machine?
The homemade descaling formula is good for your coffee maker. Descaling is a vital component in the upkeep of any appliance that comes in contact with water. It would be almost impossible to destroy or harm a coffee machine with homemade formula. The whole point of the homemade descaling formula is to give you a cheaper option for descaling your coffee machine.
Homemade descaling solns mimic commercial descaling solns. For the most part, they have the same effects. Descaling is a preventative practice that will prolong the life of your coffee machine. It will also optimize the taste and aroma of your coffee.
It’s simple to make your own descaling soln. It’s also simple to descale your machine. Try the formulas and procedures outlined in this article, and tell us how your descaling solution worked in the comments. If you have other suggestions for descaling your coffee machine, let us know!