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Thread: Descaling

  1. #1
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    Descaling

    Hi how often should I descale my coffee machine ?
    I've got a Breville BES920 that prompts me to descale, but I suspect it does it too often
    Thanks
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  2. #2
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Short answer: That really depends.

    Long answer: Descaling will be a function of how often you use your machine, age/type of the machine, and the quality of water you put in it.
    Here in Adelaide where we have quite hard water (comparatively) I would typically descale my machine about every 2-3 ish weeks and i use it every day with 2-4 coffees per day. I have recently switched to using bottled water which means i can extend that to about every 4 weeks ish.
    With my old breville BES800 in Brisbane was about every 2 months, with 1-2 coffees per day. Adelaide it was probably closer to 1 - 1.5 months.

    It will also depend on how you descale. With my old breville I would use a 50/50 vinegar water mix, let the boiler heat up and run through 50/50 through the steaming iron and through the group head. Every second or third descale i would also use a mix of bicarb soda and water and do the same but do it first. Followed by a VERY VERY VERY thorough rinse of water and then vinegar.

    I would say the descale on your machine is a good guide. If you feel it is too often then give it a little extra on the descale. The other alternative is that your machine is beginning to age and the boiler/heating unit is no longer as effective. Someone may know the inner workings of the unit, but I suspect the descale is prompted by a temperature differential between the heating element or water and the incoming water vs outgoing (or some variation of).

    As a final note, a machine that does need a descale you should taste a fairly significant difference in the before and after in the quality of the shot. Let that be your number 1 guide to how often. If you notice a leap in quality of the shot taste wise, it was overdue. If you notice no difference then maybe it could have gone a little longer. Many of us however prefer to descale more frequently well before you would notice a reduction in shot quality.

  3. #3
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    How does bicarb descale anything?
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  4. #4
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    as far as I know it does not, try Citric Acid from Woolies, it does the trick.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Better yet use a proper descaling agent which is designed for the job and machine as recommended by the manufacturer.


    Java "Sometimes it's not worth trying to go the cheap way" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by WhatEverBeansNecessary View Post
    I would say the descale on your machine is a good guide. If you feel it is too often then give it a little extra on the descale. The other alternative is that your machine is beginning to age and the boiler/heating unit is no longer as effective. Someone may know the inner workings of the unit, but I suspect the descale is prompted by a temperature differential between the heating element or water and the incoming water vs outgoing (or some variation of).
    Brecilles really aren't that fancy. They ask you to test your water hardness with a strip they provide and then enter a number. Based on that number the descale reminder pops up after a set period of time.

    Timkeys if you've set it based on strip results I'd do as it says.

  7. #7
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Bicarb doesn't descale anything. But it is used to scrub the inner workings of the machine and will get off some matter that acid won't, particularly oils that get back flushed into the group head.
    FYI caustic soda (same active ingredient) is used in beverage manufacturing to clean and acid to sanitise. The caustic has a scrubbing action which helps clean.

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    I live in adelaide too
    ive been using filtered water (just from my britta filter, nothing fancy). So I should be descaling every few weeks?
    machine is used daily for about the same usage as you
    im using a Lelit Combi I got from Jetblack

  9. #9
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mathiar View Post
    I live in adelaide too
    ive been using filtered water (just from my britta filter, nothing fancy). So I should be descaling every few weeks?
    machine is used daily for about the same usage as you
    im using a Lelit Combi I got from Jetblack
    I would be, yes.

    Brita water filters aren't designed to remove all the hardness in the water - so it will buy you some more time between cleans. Adelaide water is particularly hard for the most part and some descaling will be needed here and there without a full water filtration setup.

    Edit: I would also recommend reading the manual and seeing what that says on how to descale and at what frequency before trying anything else.
    Last edited by WhatEverBeansNecessary; 3 Weeks Ago at 02:55 PM.

  10. #10
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    In Sydney, the water is relatively soft, and my La Pavoni Pro Lever (post 2008 model) shows a little scale on the syphon tube, none on the element. Has had limited use for last 5 years or so that I have had it (mainly used the Portaspresso grinder and maker, but now due to hand arthritis, I must abandon manual process) and before that I am not sure how much use, I doubt was ever descaled. Will descale with citric acid, (I have large quantity used to de-rust tools) shortly, doubt will make much/any difference.

    I question the benefit of water filtering in Sydney (I am on Prospect reservoir) , a bit of chlorine will keep mould away. I have no problem with Sydney water taste and refuse to consume bottled water on principle (in Sydney - I do in the Pilbara where the town water damages car paint work). Does anyone have a serous problem with scale in Sydney?

    The usual reason for using weak Baking soda solution after acid dipping is to neutralise any residual acid, did not know of its metal cleaning properties.

    Cheers
    Peter

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhatEverBeansNecessary View Post
    Bicarb doesn't descale anything. But it is used to scrub the inner workings of the machine and will get off some matter that acid won't, particularly oils that get back flushed into the group head.
    FYI caustic soda (same active ingredient) is used in beverage manufacturing to clean and acid to sanitise. The caustic has a scrubbing action which helps clean.
    While a solution of sodium bicarbonate is basic, I wouldn't call, even a strong solution, caustic. Whether is is strong enough to scrub the inner workings of the machine and will get off some matter that acid won't, I don't know. Caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) on the other hand ..., but don't know I'd use that in my machine.

    I'm with Java "Sometimes it's not worth trying to go the cheap way" phile, just use a proper descaling agent which is designed for the job and machine as recommended by the manufacturer.
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  12. #12
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    Descaling

    I always understood that descaling agents had to be acidic (eg citric acid).

    Carb soda is alkaline (ie: opposite to acidic) is it not?

  13. #13
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    Caustic eats aluminum quite quick, but it is a excellent degreaser.
    Id keep it away from a coffee machine

  14. #14
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Herzog, caustic is a scrubbing agent. Different from descaling but cna be grouped into the 'descaling/cleaning' bracket. As others have mentioned, unless you know what you are doing I would recommend using what your machines manual recommends.

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