How to get rid of calcium build up.
October 27, 2005 10:51 AM   Subscribe

How would you go about cleaning calcium build up off a metal bucket?

There are some limitations. First of all, the bucket is full of calcium build up in hard to reach places. I can fill it full of something, but most of the volume I can't reach so I probably can't scrub too well. Secondly, the only way I can drain the bucket is by washing it out with water so it fills up to the top and drains out of the "spill over" hose. I can also use a shop-vac to suck out anything.

I remember getting this stuff off the top of aquariums with paper towels soaked with vinegar. I've thought about filling this bucket with vinegar and letting it sit over night. Any other recommendations?
posted by nickerbocker to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
There is an awsome calcium/mineral removal substance available at home Depot in the same isle as bulk tile.

I forget the brand name, but it comes in a yellow and blue plastic spray bottle.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:57 AM on October 27, 2005

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:08 AM on October 27, 2005

CLR (Calcium, Lime and Rust).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:09 AM on October 27, 2005

Siphon the water level down. Once it is empty put vinegar or some other such low grade acid.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:12 AM on October 27, 2005

I second (fourth) the CLR.
You can also use Ice machine cleaner (de-scaler) from your local restaurant supply, i have used it to clean encrusted heat exchangers. Be sure to start small as some removers will foam and you could have a nasty foam volcano event. Don't forget your goggles and baking soda for those spills and splashes.
posted by blink_left at 12:11 PM on October 27, 2005

It's probably not as strong as CLR, but white vinegar has worked for me on mineral deposits, too.
posted by walla at 12:36 PM on October 27, 2005

I believe CLR is sulfamic acid; what Pollomacho said. Get the strongest acid you can find (distilled vinegar in a pinch) and use that.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:49 PM on October 27, 2005

The buildup is probably calcium carbonate or something to that effect, so any acidic treatment should dissolve it nicely (and maybe liberate a little carbon dioxide gas). CLR is stronger, but not as safe to handle and more hazardous in trace amounts (what are you using the bucket for?). Vinegar is probably the cheapest and safest way to do this.
posted by jenovus at 1:20 PM on October 27, 2005

There are other products that do this including some toilet-bowl cleaners and humidifier treatments. Another brand name is "Lime-Away". Fill the bucket with water, add a cup or so of the lime treatment, and leave it sitting overnight. You may need to add some elbow grease and multiple treatments. If you've got plenty of time, multiple treatments with vinegar is probably the cheapest solution.

Add the acid to the water, doing the opposite can create nasty splashes and reactions.
posted by dhartung at 3:40 PM on October 27, 2005

I lived in central Texas for a long time, and all my dishes and pots got covered with calcium carbonate. I knew people who would add vinegar just before their dishwasher's rinse cycle, but no way was I gonna hang around waiting for that. After I moved to a place without so much calcium in the water, the deposits were gone after a couple of runs through the washer. So, my answer to your question is (1) calcium-free water or (2) vinegar.
posted by neuron at 7:34 PM on October 27, 2005

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