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Apr 18, 2009 06:08 AM

Sheet pan concern

Hello all,

I am new to the forum and had a question about sheet pans. I have been using two different sheet pans to make Pizza Bianca (Cooks Illustrated), the recipe involves a wet dough poured onto a well oiled baking sheet and cooked on a baking stone at 400 degrees. It is very good; however, when I wash the pans it is like the pan is dissolving into the dishwater leaving the water a charcoal color. The more I scrub the more charcoal colored material is removed from the pan. I don’t know what the pans are made of, but they are not stainless, perhaps aluminum. Anyone have any idea what the material is and if it’s harmful? I am making this pizza a lot and I don’t want my family ingesting something that s not good for them.


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  1. sounds like they are aluminum which should never, never, never go into the dishwasher - some kind of chemical reaction occurs between the metal and the dishwasher detergent. Just handwash the pans, aluminum sheet pans usually clean very easily.

    4 Replies
    1. re: janniecooks

      The OP did not say they were washing the sheet pans in the dishwasher:

      "The more *I scrub* the more charcoal colored material is removed from the pan."

      You're scrubbing off oxidized aluminum, which is harmless. Or, these pans are nearly brand new and they weren't thoroughly scrubbed down before their initial use. Either way, they're safe to continue using -- just give them a good rinse after cleaning.

      1. re: Joe Blowe

        Right, the pans have not been washed in the dishwasher, but I have had to scub pretty well with an abrassive sponge to get gooey oil residue off the pan. Usually I wipe several times with a dry paper towel after washing until the towel no longer has the graphite colored smudging.

        Thanks for the input

        1. re: smalljaws

          Forget the the abrasive sponge. Attack it with an aggressive stainless steel pad. A thick coarse one, not some SOS pad. Aluminium is an extremely reactive metal. The aluminium which is bared will very soon become an inert layer as it reacts with oxygen.

          When you say the gooey residue I assume you mean like a layer of glue which is a dirty yellow-orange-brown. That is oil. An abrasive sponge will take forever and you will never get the stains out of the corner. But are you sure is is aluminium and not some coating. If it is aluminum then you can take the edge of a sharp knife and scratch a patch away that will be quite bright. The following day you should be able to see the scratches but the colour should be the same as the rest of the pan.

          My problem with the original post is the use of the word charcoal to describe the resulting colour. For this the oil residue would have had to be 'burnt'. This depends on the oil being used. Does your oil have a high enough smoke point for the temperature you are using? Should not get a dark brown residue at 400 with most oils.

        2. re: Joe Blowe

          joe, you're so right - on rereading the post I see that I read "dishwasher" where the OP wrote dishwater!

      2. Are these pans shiny/dull colored, probably aluminum or are they dark colored, coated with something like a non-stick or anodized surface?

        If something continues to come off when you are cleaning them, it is likely the remains of the oil from the pizza preparation. It's possible that you used too much oil for your "well oiled" baking sheet, and the oil darkened and thickened while the pizza was cooking on the baking stone at 400 degrees.
        The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is 375 degrees. Beyond that, it begins to break down and it would darken and get gunky. It also becomes bitter and can affect flavor.
        Depending on what oil you are using, this could be the problem.

        I regularly use aluminum half sheet pans from the restaurant supply house at high temperatures but am careful about the oils that I use or am prepared to scrub.
        I also put them into the dishwasher with no ill effects, other than that the finish becomes dull. Big deal.

        1. Buy stainless sheet pans = problem solved.

          1. "but I have had to scub pretty well with an abrassive sponge to get gooey oil residue off the pan"

            Then don't do that. You can season an aluminum sheet pan just like you can season a cast iron pan. Leave the gooey residue on and toss it back in the oven at 400 degrees (F) for another 20 minutes.

            1. I wonder if the sticky goo comes from a cooking spray. Those sprays turn to sticky goo in non-stick pans.