Decalcifying the water system with citric acid

Five Senses was built in 2004 and we sailed her since 2016. Since then, we uprgraded our water pump to a higher flow device, we installed an additional water outlet at the front of the deck, a land-water connection has been build at the stern and of course we try to keep the tanks and the entire water system clean through annual cleaning and ongoing maintainance.

Part of these efforts is regular descaling and desinfection. There are numerous industrial products available for such purposes. For 3 tanks of 240 litres, the cost for all of this can be considerable. And with some of the available products success has been modest and not worth the spend. So I thought I would share this year's experience of a new approach to decalcify our water system with lime acid.

I had read about the usage of lime acid for such a purpose, so I gave it a try this spring. Some words about price difference: Industrial descalist for tanks are about 15 euros per 100 litres of tank volume (0.5 kg of granules); Lemon citric comes at approx 6 Euros per 1 kg. Vinegar acid should not be used because it attacks too much the various rubber seals. That's why I got 2 kg of food quality citric acid per tank this year. Saving me about 50% of what I have spent so far for descaling.

Filling in is quite hassle-free. However, the crystallized acid must be flooded into the tanks under constant water flow, otherwise thick lumps can quickly build clots. After filling all the water containers, I let the "broth" act 24 hours before I started disposing of the tank contents again. I was pretty suprised about the result at the end:  Especially after a short cruise with some swell it seems not only the the lime had been solved, but also vigorously shaken so that a milky soup came from all the taps. Per tank I had to clean the filters at least 4-5 times and also the finer filter directly on the pump had to be flushed several times.


I ensured that all containers, screens and pipes were also thoroughly rinsed with clear water. I had never achieved such a result before. I had no idea how much lime we had carried around with our ship. Whether these deposits came mainly from the tanks, or whether the hot water boiler in particular has given up its contents, I cannot say, of course. But in the fall, I repeat the procedure for sure. Can you share your experiences here? I would be very interested in reactions and experiences. Thank you!

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