Saturday, February 11, 2017

that was cool

Well, in addition to working on the Too Much Work I have, I did a couple house tasks today.

First up: bought a gallon of "cider"* vinegar at the mart of wall

(* no idea if it actually is; some so-called cider vinegar in the big jugs is flavored/colored distilled vinegar. I only use the big-jug stuff for cleaning, so it doesn't really matter - I buy smaller jars, and try to buy the kind "with mother" for cooking)

Dumped it ALL in a big plastic bowl, unscrewed my shower head, and submerged and weighted it. Because the thing was so caked up with limescale that it was barely spitting. (I have one of those "rainshower" shower heads. Or rather, a cheaper version of one....) Our water is really hard and so you get what I assume is calcium carbonate laid down on a regular basis in anything that holds the water. Left the shower head and went and worked on the manuscript.

Came home at lunch, took it out, rinsed, reinstalled. I may be in the market for a new shower head soon as not all the "nipples" on it work - and after 3+ hours in vinegar, they should be clear of lime scale. Argh.

But the cool thing? My teakettle was so scaly that it was slow to boil - it takes a long time and then all of a sudden, it does that "big bubbles really fast" thing. And I knew I had to clean it. But I was out of cleaning vinegar and didn't feel like using my expensive Bragg vinegar on it. Then I remembered the packet of citric acid I bought to try to clean my dishwasher with (it didn't do as much as I thought it would: the inside is still stained with tomato stuff).

Anyway. After boiling the water for my lunch tea, I pulled the kettle off the "eye**" and threw in a handful of the crystals.

Whoa. Either the hot water really sped up the reaction, citric acid works up into a lower pH than vinegar has, or citric acid REALLY "hates" limescale - it bubbled up like mad and almost instantly the lime scale was gone - no sitting and waiting for vinegar to do its job, I could just dump the hot citricky water down the drain, rinse, and the kettle was good. It was pretty satisfying.

(Yeah: citric acid has a pH of just above 2, vinegar is closer to 5. No wonder citric acid worked so fast; it's 1000 times as acid - pH being, of course, a logarithmic scale)

(**People around here call the burners of the electric stove "eyes," I suppose because of the shape)

Even though citric acid is more expensive than vinegar, I think I'm gonna keep some on hand from now on. Amazon sells it but I see Lehman's also has it in their catalog (for soapmaking: you can adjust the pH of the soap with it so it's not so hard on your skin - your skin is naturally closer to acid than it is to alkaline).

I may have to see what it does to the limescale in the toilet, which I've battled off and on for a long time....

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