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Any tips for cleaning a burned up pot?

Ever leave your pot on and forget it, so it burns up and turns black... and perhaps other shades as well? I put it on to boil and forgot about it, now I have what seems to be a ruined pot. Is it salvageable? If so, I was wondering how. I don't know if industrial steel wool would do the job, but if so, what grade should I use?

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  1. You do not mention the type metal the pot is made out of. e.g., non-stick, stainless steel, aluminum and etc.

    A trick of many older commercial kitchens is to boil the pots with baking soda......and give a good scrub with a pot scouring pad made of stainless steel.

    1. My bad, thanks for the reminder. It's just a stainless steel pot, no coatings or anything.

      1. Hard to say if its salvageable without seeing it and knowing what it was made of in the first place. I start with a soak in baking soda and vinegar. and lots of elbow grease. But only if it was a durable quality pan to begin with.
        Sometimes filling with liquid and reheating helps too - depends so much - what was the substance burned in the pot??What kind of metal is it???

        1. You might also try oven cleaner if nothing else works. We used to try that on coffee pots that had been left on the burner for too long, and it always did the trick.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Clarkafella

            I use salt and ice for my bad coffee pots

          2. After you soak it and do the baking soda thing, scrub it with Barkeepers Friend, the best ever stuff for cleaning pots, pans -- and even rusty bathtubs! The stuff is magic.

            6 Replies
            1. re: roxlet

              I bet barkeepers friend is like Bon AMI - was just coming back to add that is great and works well in this situation

              1. re: roxlet

                I'm in a small town, can't find that product here whatsoever...

                1. re: roxlet

                  I'd use Comet over Bar Keeper's Friend or Bon Ami. It is less abrasive and does a great job. I use it instead of steel wool with some Scotch Brite

                  1. re: Jack_

                    Comet is less abrasive? I never would have thought that... You should have seen my brothers '65 Barracuda after I used Comet to wash it!

                    I still say for burned on stuff, use Easy-Off!

                    1. re: Jack_

                      ""I'd use Comet over Bar Keeper's Friend or Bon Ami.""

                      Old or modern formulated Comet? The older comet has a high content of fine silica like of that of hourglass sand. Too much pressure will scratch just about anything. Over time the silica content has been reduced to the point it has been removed from the household grade.

                      Comet with bleach? NOT IN MY KITCHEN! I run a bleach free household.

                  2. I've used a dishwasher "tab" with hot water and let soak. It seems to remove the worst of it and then you can see what's left :(

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: c oliver

                      That's my go-to for burned messes. I fill the container with hot water and a good dollop of dishwasher detergent (for the dishwasher, not the hand washing dish soap) and let it soak overnight.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Don't do this with Le Creuset, it will remove the shiny finish. Been there, done that to my sorrow.

                      2. There was nothing in the pot but water and it boiled away. It's blackened on the inside, not the outside... however, I do have another pot from the same set from years before that the same happened to. That one isn't so lucky, it's blackened on the inside and out...

                        1. Try ZUD. It's a cleanser with oxalic acid in it. Be sure to read the instructions on the can first, and wear gloves for safety.

                          I found out about ZUD from the Corningware people after I tried a recipe for roasting a turkey at 500 degrees. It came out very tastey and very quickly and very brown.. The Corningware pan was uncleanably blackened, and all of the methods listed in this post failed. ZUD cleaned it perfectly. The package says it works for stainless steel also.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: therealdoctorlew

                            ""Try ZUD. It's a cleanser with oxalic acid in it.""

                            Bar Keepers Friend does too. For me it would be a price/availability issue beyond that point.

                            FYI- I make it a point to read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) to see what is in household or commercial chemicals (wet/dry) before it goes into my cart.

                          2. I'm trying to resort to elbow grease and simple ideas rather than products... I don't have access to any of the ones everyone is mentioning... Also, how do I boil with baking soda, what ratio?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: palsh

                              Baking Soda is cheap, so fill the pot up at least three quarters full and put at least half the small box in...unless it is a stock pot, where I would suggest you put the entire box in.

                              BTW....you can use the old box if you have one in the fridge.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                Ok, I'm going to try that now, haha! I'll see how it turns out!

                                1. re: palsh

                                  I tried it out, it turned out quite well, thanx for the baking soda tip, I would rather elbow grease over a product if I can... although I didn't think this would be the case this time around, ahaha!

                            2. For burnt on food in my all clad stainless pots, I fill them with enough white vinegar to cover the blackened food and put the pot on the stove at a simmer. After 10-15 minutes, most of the burnt food will just flake right off. A soft bristled pot brush will coax most of the rest off with a lengthy simmer.

                              1. try boiling a scoop of Oxyclean in a couple of inches of water....much faster than either baking soda and/or vinegar. BUT don't let it boil a rolling boil - the Oxyclean will foam up and over the top of the pot!

                                1. p.s. re Oxyclean boil - do it for 30 minutes at a low boil.

                                  1. If you have a pot with an aluminum or tri ply type bottom, the heat might have ruined the bond between the bottom and the rest of the pan. If not, then it is probably worth your while to try to clean it.

                                    If the pot is a solid stainless pot, then it possible that the bottom of the pan has warped. If the bottom is badly warped, then it might not be worth you while to rescue the pot.

                                    I've had good luck boiling a bit of dishwasher detergent in water in the pot. Run the vent on high while you do, because the odor is bad, and possibly toxic. After the pot boils a bit, pour off the water, scrape what you can off. Then finish with a scouring pad.. The detergent does seem to help with the cleaning of the inside of a burnt up pan.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                      Another tip I'd forgotten about until reminded recently is to bring water to a simmer, turn off and add a fabric softener dryer sheet and let that soak overnight. For Le Creuset, don't soak with dishwasher detergent, it damages the finish. Coffee pots also respond well to a baking soda soak. I use Polident for gold jewelry and coffee pots and thermoses.

                                    2. Just a general fyi but it fits here: The plastic scrubbies come in different coarsenesses. If you can only find green in your supermarket, try wood working/Home Cheapo type stores. While in that aisle, steel wool also comes in various abrasive "grades." 0000 (called "four-0") is the finest and can really bring a scratched/scoured pan back to a smooth shine which really helps keep stuff from sticking to it.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: hambone

                                        Or just buy SOS pads. Or Brillo.

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          Once or twice a year I use 000 then 0000 on my everyday aluminum pans. It makes the inside as glassy as a new SS pan and it is like a non-stick pan for a few weeks. Brillo/SOS is fine for normal use but the 0000 treatment is a real treat.

                                      2. Once cooked a non-stick skillet DRY... over very low heat... just forgot it?? Whatever I was cookiing was hard, black crust on bottom of pan. Although pan was not terribly new, didn't wanna go scraping at it too hard. Got this suggestion from somebody. Rinsed out as much as I could. Filled pan to the brim with water and brought to a very slow boil. Added hefty amount of bakiing soda... it did bubble up and over a bit. Then just let it sit till cool-ish. EVERYTHING came off and non-stick was still pretty much non-stick... not a total loss.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: kseiverd

                                          I love reading the baking soda tips! I hope I remember if I ever have to to clean a burnt pan again. Thanks for sharing.