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Mar 4, 2010 06:05 PM

Copper cookware - upkeep?

I've been eyeing a Mauviel copper gratin for quite a while now. I have copper mixing bowls, and some odd tin-lined pcs for show. They're a real pain to keep that certain French kitchen look. You know what I mean - dark coppery glow without any pits, etc. I can't get my stuff to keep that glow. It gets brown spots on it, and discolored smears.

Before I think of buying that gratin, I would like to know how to keep it coppery without it being stripped down to that original light "rosy" color which screams "new pan!"

Does keeping it under cover help? Is there a way to just remove ordinary kitchen grunge without taking it down to "rosyville"?

I have an old Revere copper tea kettle that I got when I was married - it's over 35 years old. It gets those brown specks all over it and I don't know what causes it. Again, a pain to clean.

Help, I need copper help...

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  1. Hmm, I think you do the forced patina approach like many knife people do it to their carbon steel knife.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Chem, can you expound on the "forced patina" approach? I used to clean my carbon knives with salt and vinegar or cleanser (like Ajax) but I haven't had that type of knife in years.
      I also have copper cookware that needs a good cleaning, not for the patina but for the brown spots and stains on them. I don't want to scrub and copper cleaners don't remove the stains. This is what I get for neglecting my copper.
      For patina, I use salt and vinegar or Barkeeper's Friend, but the spots and stains just won't go away without intense scrubbing.
      What'd ya say?

      1. re: bushwickgirl

        I were thinking about intentionally heating and cooling to speed up the process. Of course, you don't need the hydrogen part in the following link:

        The chemcial oxidation process probably works as well. In the case of knives, only the chemical oxidation process is viable.

        By the way. I have no idea what kind of French look you are referring to, so maybe this is useless.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          breadchick...Actually, the brown spots are probably baked on grease from splatters. Is elbow grease the only way? Seems like it. Copper cleaners don't nomally remove thoese spots, although salt (abrasive) and vinegar does a reasonably decent job, but your patina will be gone for a week or so.

          I have a copper bowl on my cabinet top, cleaned 1 1/2 years ago and never used, it has a lovely dark coppery patina now, but like I said, it's never been used. Copper takes on the glow after being cleaned in a rather short period of time; there's no way to keep this glow unless the copper is hidden away from an oxygenated environment; it will need to be cleaned periodically back to "new pan" but it's the nature of the metal.

    2. Umm.. have you ever been in a "certain French kitchen" to see what they look like? The dark copper glow is most likely done for say that picturesque photo you see, and it's sort of a stage in the process. When I polish my copper, it's a brushed bright copper. After hanging for a week or so (unless I use it over highish heat) it'll get that rufus looking glow, not polished, but not that dark brown. If you're getting pits in your copper you're doing something wrong. Either keeping them in contact with acid or moisture for an extended length of time.

      As far as I know, the only way to get a pan to look the way you want it to (like a "used" pan, that doesn't... uhh... get used...) is to let it oxidize to a certain point and then keep it in an oxygen free environment, which means you wouldn't be looking at it anyways, thus defeating the purpose of keeping the color.

      RE: Chemical -- I don't think the forced patina state works for copper. The end stable patina state of copper looks like a penny, nice dark brown. Unless it's exposed to moisture then it turns green! Which is neat looking too, but not really what you're looking for copper. And I don't think the OP is looking for the dark-penny look.