How to Get Calcium Deposits Off of an Ice Dispenser

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There are several ways to get calcium deposits off your refrigerator's ice dispenser.
Image Credit: Mireya Acierto/DigitalVision/GettyImages

The ice machine is a modern invention that's truly life-changing. Having a seemingly never-ending supply of fresh ice can feel like a little luxury in your everyday life. But, over time, an ice dispenser can become dirty. Calcium buildup in an ice machine is not only unsightly, but it can negatively impact the taste, quality and supply line for your ice. Cleaning calcium buildup on your refrigerator and ice dispenser can help restore order to your machine.

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Calcium Buildup in Ice Machines

All water is filled with dissolved minerals and deposits — and, depending on your location and water supply, this could be quite an intense problem. While ingesting these mineral deposits is usually perfectly healthy, areas where water is collected and stored can be harmed by the buildup over time.

Easy Ice notes that ice machines are particularly prone to this buildup and mineral scale. As water passes through the machine, the calcium and magnesium deposits can collect in certain areas, similar to the scale on the inside of a kettle. A small amount of buildup is fine, but too much can adversely affect your machine and the ice it produces.

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Noticing Calcium Buildup in Refrigerators

Sometimes mineral buildup can be visible to the naked eye. If you can see a white or green flaky substance on any part of your ice machine, calcium buildup is likely a problem you need to tackle.

Sometimes, though, the mineral buildup will be happening inside the mechanism. As HVAC School explains, if mineral deposits are trapped inside a small tube, they can end up blocking it, causing a lessened water flow. Over time, if the buildup goes untreated, the pipes can be clogged entirely.

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If you're noticing smaller or misshapen ice cubes, a smaller amount of ice or a total lack of ice coming from your dispenser, a buildup of scale within your machine could be the cause. ScaleBlaster also claims that a mineral buildup can lead to cloudy ice cubes. Luckily, this is an ice machine issue that you can tackle fairly easily at home.

Removing Calcium From Ice Dispensers

You can purchase commercial descalers to treat the problem of mineral buildup. However, these products can be harsh and could possibly cause damage to an ice machine. You may also worry about using harsh chemicals like these in an area where ice is produced, as the cleaner may not be food-safe if accidentally ingested.

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If you'd rather use something that poses fewer risks, Cooking Light claims a great option is a simple white vinegar and water solution. First, unplug your refrigerator. Then mix a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water and apply it to the ice machine with a wash cloth.

Next, Thor Kitchen recommends you dip an old toothbrush in baking soda and scrub the visible areas of scale. The baking soda will help remove any leftover buildup. Rinse the machine thoroughly with water to prevent any strange lingering flavors. Wipe dry, reassemble the machine and plug your refrigerator in again.

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Preventing Scale in Ice Dispensers

Once you've removed the buildup, it's important to maintain your ice machine to prevent scale. Coast Distributors recommends changing your water filter at least every 12 months and closer to every six if possible. This should help keep minerals from getting into your ice machine and causing scale buildup.

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references & resources

Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.