Image displaying limescale in a boiler.

Descaler for espresso coffee machines

Coffee machine descaler is a friend of ours.

Thinking about coffee machine descaler is the first and foremost step you need to take for your espresso machine maintenance strategy.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Which descaler is right for your type of espresso machine?

In this post I will take you through the best products. When to use them and what to combine them with.

Avoid common mistakes espresso machine owners make. Take advantage of my 15+ years of experience as a full time professional in this field.

Vroom vroom 🙂

Running a coffee machine is the same as running a car in some respects. There’s a lot of heat and pressure milling around the internals.

Espresso machines internal parts need looking after.  Protection from damage caused by the introduction of Calcium and consequently lime scale is the owners responsibility.

Puly baby the best domestic home espresso machine descaler.

Coffee machine descaler – the doubters and shouters

There are many who think that because they live in a soft water area and their kettle does not show much sign of scaling, they will be ok to ignore the threat of scale.

However Coffee machines are more prone to collecting and storing scale than kettles. Primarily due to the pressure and intensity of heat. Heat  which is produced inside what is a relatively small space. Especially when pressure is taken into consideration.

There are also those who believe citric acid alone will do the job. Bear in mind when you have a curry, it contains citric acid. It’s one up from vinegar. Something else which should also should not be used.

Citric acid alone no, used with other chemicals yes. Vinegar never.

Leaves of lime scale inside a coffee machine boiler.

Calcium is your enemy

First of all Water companies add Calcium to your water supply for health reasons.  Calcium is very helpful in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It is therefore a shame we go to such lengths to kill it !

It is well worth noting that nearly all filtered or pure spring water such as Evian, also contains Calcium. At the time of writing (07/05/2018) a bottle of Highland Spring still water, drawn from organic land, contains 40.5 milligrams per litre.

The subject of water is massive and complex. I cover this in some detail here article on water for use with coffee machines.

Most espresso machine failures are directly linked to the build up of scale. That is a fact.

What can happen when you do not descale a coffee machine?

These pictures show what typically happens. We opened up a machine that had been operated without a water filter. As you can see the inside of the boiler is completely clogged with scale. This is moderate. I have seen sights far worse than this one below.

Failure to use coffee machine descaler gives you this shown above.

When a machine is used without a filter scale grows on the inside.  In the boiler and the copper pipes which connect to it. In the pictures you can see that the scale has peeled, the pieces of scale resemble leaves from a tree.

The use of a Brita water filter combined with an annual cartridge change would combat this.

Owners of domestic coffee machines should use a Descaler and a water tank DomFilter, where possible.

What happened next?

The machine still worked. The only reason the boiler end plate was taken off was because it had sprung a leak.  It needed a new gasket. The boiler was removed from the machine. As were all connecting pipes.  Everything was de-scaled with Calcinet.

It was then re-assembled and worked well for a number of months.  However the ancillaries had been worked so much harder because of the general state of everything. Consequently they began to fail one by one in a very short period of time.

Parts were no longer available for it. The machine was then scrapped. The owner now has a new machine. Which is run on a water filter and is now changed every year without fail.

Descaler and water filters
What to use for a descale on your coffee machine.

Use Puly Cleaner AKA Puly Baby powder sachets for domestic coffee machines.  Use Calcinet for heavier duty commercial machines where applicable.

There are many other products on the market. Few of them work as well as these ones do, These are the fastest dissolving products of their kind on earth.  Formulated  specifically for use on coffee machines. Calcinet is also tested and designed for dishwashers.

Calcinet coffee machine descaler. Strong stuff

For a domestic appliance run some Puly Baby coffee machine descaler through every 4 weeks. Following the instructions on the packet, this would work well for a Gaggia Classic or a Rancilio Silvia for instance.

A Domfilter should also be used in the water tank of the machine and changed after every 100 litres of use.

Brita filter jug is also a good idea for using to fill the machine with and the use of mineral water instead of tap water as a source. If the budget allows.

Commercial espresso machine descaler

Commercial machines should really be descaled according to  engineer advice. It all depends on whether the machine has a currently effective water filter plumbed in.  How old it is and the machines maintenance history.

As a rule of thumb it is not recommended that a commercial machine is de-scaled whilst in situ. That is the boiler should be removed for it to be worked on effectively.

This is because scale on a machine can find itself moved on around the system. Only to clog another part of the machine up like the solenoid valve or the group head injector gauze.

Some machines, like the Iberital commercial machines have a boiler drain out tap. Some owners will feed solution into the boiler, leave it for a while and cool the machine right down, then release the descaler from the drain out tap.

Another way to remove scale from a boiler on a commercial boiler is to take the end plate off. Back it out by hand, in cases shown similar to those in the images on this pages, it can help a lot and is often worth doing.

Notes of caution and where to buy

If you decide to do this, be sure to check that the boiler end plate gasket is still available as a spare before you start, as you will need to replace it without doubt.

Please remember to take safety precautions when using coffee machine descaler. Using gloves and safety googles is recommended.

Thank you for reading this article, we hope you found the information helpful.

Customer can buy products mentioned in this article in the Happy Donkey online shop