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topic 46503

How to remove silica scale from faucets, etc.

A discussion started in 2007 but continuing through 2019


Q. I am looking for a non-abrasive method to remove silica build up on faucets, shower heads, etc.?

The white buildup I am talking about is on the plastic shower nozzle and the interior glass surfaces of the shower stall. Our water analysis shows high concentrations of silica. Is there a chemical approach to remove this type of scale?

Mark Schanfein [returning]
- Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA


A. Just because the water has a high silica content, does that necessarily mean the deposits are silica? Maybe it's just soap scum that will come off with an alkaline cleaner?

Bill Reynolds
Bill Reynolds [dec.]
   consultant metallurgist - Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
We sadly relate the news that Bill passed away on Jan. 29, 2010.


A. You might try cleaning it with a solution of 2-4 tablespoons of bicarb of soda in hot water, followed by a rinse followed by straight white vinegar. Repeat two or three cycles and see if anything happens. Scotch brite, even fine ones will probably scratch the plating.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


Q. Actually, my public works department said to try Lime Away and CLR and if that did not take it off, it confirmed it is silica. Definitely not soap scum, especially on the shower head. It is also building up on the glass shower door. I can scrape it off with a razor blade. That is not a practical approach for a showerhead that is made out of plastic with the water slots filling up with the deposits and so the desire for a chemical approach. It looks like there is not one from the responses so far.

Mark Schanfein [returning]
- Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA

A-maz Glass Cleaner /
Water Stain Remover


A. I have the same issue and I found this one. It is called A-maz =>

from and it comes with a scrubby. You must work the product very hard but it will remove everything. Then I use a glass product made for car windows to repel water and apply two coats (Aquapel). Even with this protectant my water has so much silica that I clean over this 1x per week with kaboom. Reapply repellant 1x per month. When I first used A-maz I did not think it worked. Then my contractor brought some over and really worked it in and it did most of the trick. Good luck!

lois cole
- salem oregon usa


A. We've had the same problem and found a product called Spot X [link is to product info & reviews at Amazon] that works beautifully. Also, as far as the showerhead, CLR [affiliate link to product info at Amazon] will do the trick but you must soak the part in full strength CLR for 24 hours or so. Hope this helps.

Eddie Cruey
- Davidson, North Carolina

Mouse Sander

November 27, 2008

A. Mark from Los Alamos is right about the high silica content in our water. I live nearby and have the same problem with these white-ish spots on my shower door. I had the water tested and confirmed my water had unusually high silica levels. I have tried all the usual remedies but the one that did work and removed over 8 years of silica deposits is A-maz.

I used a Black & Decker mouse =>

with a non-abrasive polishing pad [a surface similar to a 3M "scrubby] and applied the A-maz to the shower door, let it dry over a few minutes and then applied the mouse to the area. I would wet the polishing pad with liquid spray A-maz every so often to loosen up the dried Amaz paste on the pad and this would continue to remove the silica from the glass. The glass shower door is as clear and bright as the day it was installed!

Chrys Fisher
- Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

April 30, 2016

A. The white spots on the bathroom fixtures, sinks, shower doors, shower heads are indeed silica! CLR (Calcium-Lime-Rust) will not remove them! Razor blades or steel wool, or Scotch Brite pads (mechanical operations) will remove the silica -but scratch them in the process. About 30 years ago, we were able to buy a glass cleaner at our local hardware store (I think it was called 'Sparkle' at the time - not the stuff called Sparkle now) that was dilute hydrofluoric acid (on the label) and would remove the subject spots. I've tried to buy hydrofluoric acid via internet vendors - but the ones that I have tried will not sell to a residential address, even though I run a technical business out of my house/garage/lab.

Louis Rosocha, PhD
Applied Physics Consulting, LLC - Los Alamos, New Mexico

September 14, 2016

A. Source for 3% hydrofluoric acid:

Crystal Clear 550

Mike Strevell
- Los Alamos, New Mexico US

January 10, 2017

A. A source of weak hydrofluoric acid was available under the trade name "Iron Out". It was a small brown plastic bottle found in the laundry department of many stores and was used to remove iron stains from fabrics. There are two types of Ironout and I don't recall what the new one contains. The brown bottle contents will certainly remove silica stains but be wary of using it on glass. Wear polyethylene gloves and avoid skin contact. Hydrofluoric acid is extremely bad news for you.

The second product is "Cerama Bryte" that is used to polish glass stove tops. It contains a fine abrasive and citric acid. Excellent for removing silica stains from glass shower doors.

Make sure to get rid of the soap scum first before using either product. Soap scum will block the chemistry from happening.

Kurtis Kelley
Materials Engineer - Saint George, Maine, USA

Calcium Gluconate
for HF acid burns

January 2017

A. Hi. Hydrofluoric acid is very dangerous, so people should not use it unless they are familiar with it and trained regarding it, are following directions to the letter, and have calcium gluconate gel =>
on hand. But, yes, there are some products available to consumers which contain it, including Whink [affiliate link to product info at Amazon] (this comes in a brown plastic bottle). Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

March 26, 2017

A. Read the feedback.

Silicates are tenacious and difficult to remove. Those suggesting "greenie" solutions of Vinegar and Bicarb soda then scrub it have fallen into the trap that the Vinegar and bicarb do SFA and it's the physical agitation that eventually removes the scale. Vinegar (acetic acid 5%) works on carbonate scale but NOT on silicate; full stop, end of story.
Mild solutions containing hydrofluoric acid (HF) are the only solution to silicates scale. WHY? Because it's the same acid that's used to etch glass (Silica). Agree with previous comments; please be exceedingly careful with any solution that contains HF. I would advise:
1. Please read up as much as you can prior to use.
2. Don't get it on glass; it will etch the glass very quickly and permanently.
3. Only use where you can control the run off drips & splashes 100.00% to ensure that the acid is completely washed away at the end of the treatment.
4. Calcium Gluconate gel is the antidote for skin contact after immediate washing with water.
5. Serious contact WILL REQUIRE hospital treatment.

Now if you still want to do this you can find many HF containing cleaning solutions in aluminium mag wheel cleaners as manufacturers use SULPHURIC ACID mixed with SODIUM HEXAFLUORIDE to make HF in the mixture but don't have to declare it on the label as they never added it into the product.

OK, last bit of advice : consider very carefully the potential of this to go wrong and the cost of a new shower head.


Anthony Symons
Integrated Hygiene Management - Lawson Blue Mountains Australia

June 29, 2017

A. It is looking like Australia is way ahead of good old USA.
Forget the CLR, the bicarb and lemon juice and contact Gell Enterprises Inc., Fresno California. They sell, AMAZ, a product that will solve your hard lime scale problems. I have been using this professionally for several years now.
AMAZ is produced in the USA so you should not have a problem in locating.

Paul Mitchell
Alpine Carpet & Tile Cleaning - Banksia Grove Perth, Western Australia

Ed. note: We tone down commercial testimonials for a number of reasons, including the fact that we don't know the vested interests of the responders. But even still, since we never hear from company lawyers when their product is praised, but have heard from them quite a number of times when their product is dissed, it should be recognized that reviews you read on websites like this tend to be unrealistically favorable rather than properly balanced :-)

Removing lime scale from plugged nozzles

November 10, 2017

Q. My client uses hard water in the 7-stage washer for cleaning 2-piece tin-plate steel
food cans. Stages 1 and 2 run at temperatures at 130 - 150 °F. They get lime scale buildup on the nozzles and in the risers. Any suggestions to easily remove the scale from the steel nozzles and steel risers in the washers?

Frank McDonough
scientist - Collegeville, Pennsylvania

November 2017

A. Hi Frank. Commercial products like CLR and Lime-Away are basically for this purpose; I don't think we'll come up with a home-brew which is better. But if the problem is too severe to deal with, it may be necessary to start with softened or DI water and/or to make up the cleaning solutions from potassium-based chemicals or at least sodium-based and avoid calcium. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

August 21, 2019

Q. A mild hydrofluoric acid solution has been mentioned for removal of silica deposits on ceramic/porcelain toilets and sinks. Is it safe for use on:
1) chrome fixtures
2) satin nickel fixtures
3) stainless steel kitchen sinks
4) fiberglass tubs and showers?

Shirley Tyler
- Underwood, Washington, USA

August 2019

A. Hi Shirley. It's not safe for people, that's for sure.
It's not safe on 1) or 2). It's not 'good' for 3) but may not harm it if rinsed well. HF eats glass, so it's not quite 'safe' on fiberglass. But as long as it's not old and wicking, or has a gel coat on it, it's probably okay.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

August 24, 2019

thumbs up sign Thank you for responding to my questions. That was very helpful.

Shirley Tyler [returning]
- Underwood, Washington, USA

November 13, 2019

Electronic Descaler

Q. Hello.

I would like to know if the electronic descalers on the market (like ScaleBlaster, Eddy, etc.) work on silica.

A product called ScalePro says that their descaler does work on silica.


John Benton
- Richmond, Virginia USA

December 2019

Electronic Descaler

A. Hi John. Sorry, we can print general responses about electronic descalers but not responses about ScalePro's claim. This is a "no-registration required" website where we have no proof that anyone is who they say they are and is without vested interests. We've had several suppliers pose as 'satisfied customers' (we knew because the poster's IP address was the same as the vendor's website). Similarly we might be sued if we printed a response that says it doesn't work because we have no guarantee the posting wasn't brand assassination by a competitor :-)

In short it's best to use this site for technical issues; we'll leave reviews to "registration required" sites like Amazon


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha is possible thanks to our supporting advertisers, including this shop:none


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