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Dec 20, 2009 10:21 AM

Polishing tin lining of copper pan?

Just obtained a lovely heavy 9 inch used Ruffoni skillet. The outside is beautifully poished. It appears little used but ...who knows. The tin lining is not shiny but seems a bit dull, and I am a newbie to copper. That being said I have scoured (;)) the boards here for directions and care of copper. No copper shows through the tin. The tin appears rather dull and perhaps lightly scratched. In fact, I have tried to cook in this skillet twice now at low heat, using butter before putting on heat for simple egg/toast, and the dang thing has stuck (not burnt) both times!! Is there a way to condition/polish the tin kining? It seems quite sticky.

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  1. I'd give it a good wash in hot water and soap with a rag, not a brush, and keep on going. I know there are people who post here who can tell you in a whole lot more detailed and scientific terms, but based on nothing other than years of experience, tin never benefits from anything that would be involved in polishing. I'd try something easier to cook (less of an issue if there is a little sticking) like chicken. (Oooooh. The chicken before the egg!) Then if there is a little sticking you can add a little wine and deglaze the pan anyway. If an egg sticks, the options are fewer and all involve settling for something less than you had in mind at the outset. Another idea is if you are using only butter, try adding half as much butter and adding a like amount of oil, something neutral like peanut. Butter by itself is not usually a good way to cook anything likely to stick unless you have clarified it. I have seen Ruffoni pans, and they are indeed beautiful, but they feel a little light. So don't judge copper and tin solely based on the one pan. Keep poking through those garage sales and online bargains until you find a heavy Mauviel or Bourgeat. They will cook quite differently than the Ruffoni or Mauviel's own lighter lines. Last nattering piece of advice: invest a dollar or two (even at places like Sur La Table) in a wooden French spatula. They are wonderful tools and will not harm the tin. They are typically angled at the tip and although wooden have enough of an edge that they can pop most things off of the cooking surface without tear them.

    3 Replies
    1. re: tim irvine

      Yes yes, thanks!!! all very good points and I appreciate very much!! ya know what i did...frustrated...I got out a good quality metal polish and went after the totally gleams rough spots, looks like it should!!! go figure, I think it had oxidized quite a bit. Not to take away the tin, I stopped before that (!). Now it looks like it should, and I did clean it well after that with Dawn etc. and I will let you know when I cook on it again. Funny...Julia....butter, ...copper....but add a little additional oil, like maybe canola (to cancel out the butter, lol) and that may be the thing! Any additional comments most welcome. I see ultra-many posts on care of copper, but what about the tin lining, the surface we cook with????!!!!

      1. re: mobius981

        Just so you all know....I polished the tin....and cooked two eggs in butter...and at very low heat, and it was perfectly nonstick!!! In fact, flipped the eggs! Very happy. I guess sometimes we need to polish the tin lining too....any comments are appreciated cause I am new at this!! (Now I know what that song means "Look for....the silver lining...", c'mon, sing it along with me, you copper fans!!!

        1. re: mobius981

          Sounds Great ! So what brand of polish did you use? Twinkle Copper , Twinkle Siver or somthing else? I use some old iron handle lids and the tin is oxidised on them , would be nice to see them shinny.

      2. I'd suggest not making a habit of polishing or scrubbing the tin. It isn't there to prevent sticking, though it can help do that, but to prevent chemical interaction between the copper and your food, which can discolor the food or even do some harm. So you don't want to wear it away; then you'd have to get the pan retinned, sending it away and paying more $$$ than you might expect. So it's good to make the tinning last as long as you can.

        This web page is full of useful information about copper cookware:

        And this from a company in Denver, CO that retins copper cookware:

        1. I don't polish the tin. Just keep it clean. Keeping food from sticking is mainly about using enough butter or oil and managing the heat properly. With a thinner copper pan like Ruffoni, you need to keep it moving a bit more to prevent hotspots that can cause sticking or burning. In general tin is slicker than stainless.