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Removing Grease from Copper Cookware

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GibsonGirl55 Dec 4, 2010 09:14 AM

I am trying to remove built-up grease on the exterior and interior of my copper stockpot. All this morning, I have been scrubbing away with various cleaners -- Ka-Boom (which cuts through grease), salt and Comet Cleanser. I have been making some progress, albeit slow, in removing this grease. I am wondering if anyone here might have any suggestions to help me restore my pot. Incidentally, the back story is an idiot of a former friend used this pot as a deep fryer...hence the greasy buildup.

 
 
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    RGC1982 RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 4, 2010 09:20 AM

    Try using a copper cleaner. They come in a can similar to Comet, and if you shake that powder on and scrub with a scrubber sponge like Comet, it should start to come off. It is probably adhering to a layer of oxidized copper anyway, so this may dislodge the surface that the grease is stuck to. You can use it on the interior as well if it is tin.

    If this doesn't work, an oil based grease solvent that is non-reactive with copper may be worth a try. Something like Goof-off, which is a petroleum based product, may just dissolve it. You will have to wash it thoroughly with hot soap and water afterward to be sure to remove the Goof-off residue because it is highly flammable, but this may be worth it because you don't have too many other optioons with copper. Unlike stainless steel, you can't try oven cleaner.

    4 Replies
    1. re: RGC1982
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      GibsonGirl55 RE: RGC1982 Dec 4, 2010 11:55 AM

      I will give it a try. I had thought that copper cleaner would just give me a shiny pot with grease on it. Plan B would be the solvent. Thanks!

      1. re: RGC1982
        BluPlateSpec RE: RGC1982 Dec 4, 2010 02:41 PM

        I've used "Bar Keepers Friend" on all my Revere pots and Corning Ware baking dishes with great success. You can scrub on the copper and steel but be gentle with Corning Ware and glass. You may need repeated applications on copper since it seems to use a chemical reaction rather than abrasion so additional applications boost results.

        1. re: BluPlateSpec
          Will Owen RE: BluPlateSpec Dec 4, 2010 06:21 PM

          Barkeeper's Friend works very well to remove grease stains from copper, and the tin lining as well. Just be warned that it is abrasive, and if your tinned interior has gotten thin you can wear through, so if you use it apply a wet paste and let it sit, so that the bleaching agent in there can do as much as possible. Mrs. O also gave me hell for using BKF on the copper, as it gives a matte sheen instead of a high luster. I personally prefer it that way, actually …

          1. re: Will Owen
            lifespan RE: Will Owen Dec 9, 2010 05:21 AM

            Yes, the it's-a-functioning-pot look...

      2. cannibal RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 4, 2010 09:52 AM

        For electrical copper contacts especially on cars which are subject to high heat and grease i use a product called deox-it. I have never tried it on cookware, but it takes burnt on grease off of contcts that i have tried everything else on. I dont know if it will react with the lining though. Just something to keep in mind as a last ditch effort

        1 Reply
        1. re: cannibal
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          GibsonGirl55 RE: cannibal Dec 4, 2010 11:55 AM

          De-ox? I will make a note of this. Thanks.

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          LiviaLunch RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 4, 2010 03:07 PM

          What you actually have on the pot is carbon buildup; "grease" alone would be a lot easier to clean!

          In pro kitchens we remove carbon on SS and copper with a product called Sokoff, available from most kitchen supply stores. Careful, it's very nasty, and requires rubber gloves. Some of our staff even use eye protection with it. No abrasive powder really works.

          7 Replies
          1. re: LiviaLunch
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            ThreeGigs RE: LiviaLunch Dec 4, 2010 03:16 PM

            Yeah, oven cleaner to take off the carbon. Test in a small area first.

            1. re: ThreeGigs
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              GibsonGirl55 RE: ThreeGigs Dec 4, 2010 06:04 PM

              I really don't want to take chances on that. The Easy-Off cleaner I have adamantly says to not use on copper. :-)

              1. re: GibsonGirl55
                Chemicalkinetics RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 5, 2010 11:12 AM

                Easy-Off (and most oven cleaner) is very effective in removing grease and burned on grease. The problem is that it is too aggressive and can/will react many metals.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  Zeldog RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 8, 2010 08:16 PM

                  Ditto on the oven cleaner. As for reacting with "many" metals, plain aluminum is the only one you need to worry about (and cast iron, but why would you want to deliberately ruin the seasoning of your cast iron pans?). Perfectly fine for tin or steel lined copper, anodized aluminum, and stainless steel.

                  I just checked the can of Easy Off I have in the cupboard and it does not say not to use on copper. In any case, I've used it on copper many times with no ill effects. Warm the pan on the stove for a few seconds, spray on, wait 30 seconds or so, and scrub with scotchbrite. Rinse well. You might want to use gloves as the stuff is rough on the hands, and stand back when you spray, as you'll get a lot of nasty fumes when the spray hits the warm pan. I tried to find out what's in Sokoff with no success, but I suspect it is just another strong alkaline solution similar to Easy Off.

                  Note: this will get rid of grease and lacquer, but not the hard core baked-on carbon. You need to use some kind of abrasive for that.

            2. re: LiviaLunch
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              GibsonGirl55 RE: LiviaLunch Dec 4, 2010 06:06 PM

              Thanks. After scrubbing this pot all day, Sokoff sounds like a plan.

              1. re: GibsonGirl55
                cannibal RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 4, 2010 07:05 PM

                Let us known how it turns out with "after" pictures :)

                1. re: cannibal
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                  GibsonGirl55 RE: cannibal Dec 6, 2010 04:29 AM

                  I will. :-)

            3. kaleokahu RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 5, 2010 10:39 AM

              If you haven't already, try this: Bon Ami, moistened with Goo-Gone, and scrub with 0000 brass wool.

              5 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu
                kaleokahu RE: kaleokahu Dec 7, 2010 09:39 PM

                Polished some copper saucepans today and discovered some glossy black carbon on the bottom of one. As I suggested above, BonAmi+GooGone+0000 STEEL wool does the trick. Not fast, but works. After a closer look at your photos, I have no earthly idea what to do with the INTERIOR, except to have it stripped out and retinned. Sorry.

                BTW, the ingredients for Sokoff include:

                CHEMICAL NAME CAS NO. % WT
                Methylene Chloride 75-09-2 60-65
                Isopropyl Alcohol 67-63-0 15
                Triethanolamine 102-71-6 1-3
                Sodium Dodecyl Benzene Sulphonate 25155-50-9 3-6
                Potassium Dichromate 7778-50-9 < 0.5

                Which look suspiciously like paint stripper.

                1. re: kaleokahu
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                  GibsonGirl55 RE: kaleokahu Dec 7, 2010 10:47 PM

                  @kaleokahu,

                  You're right about the retinnng. I looked at the interior and there is a "scratch" that clearly shows the underlying copper. I've been reading some of the threads here about retinning services and they have been helpful. While I am contemplating that, my cleaning project for this and my other pans will continue.

                  1. re: GibsonGirl55
                    kaleokahu RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 8, 2010 08:58 AM

                    GG: Well, if you're going to retin, why not let the pros clean up your pot? That's included in the price (usually Diameter+Height X $5), and has to be done anyway. The pan comes back looking better than new, buffed to mirror finish on a large saddle buffer. Make your friend who damaged it pay to fix it.

                    That being said, you don't NEED to retin if you just have a scratch through the tin. The rule of thumb is that only when there is bare copper showing that totals a 25-cent piece in area do you need retinning. Just transfer acidic foods from the pan when you finish cooking--like you probably do already. The burnt-on grease inside is probably just an aesthetic issue if you can stand it.

                    1. re: kaleokahu
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                      GibsonGirl55 RE: kaleokahu Dec 8, 2010 08:59 PM

                      Kaleokahu, I think I will go that route. I've been visiting several tinning service websites and Rocky Mountain is very reasonable. And this service has gotten accolades from posters here at Chowhound.

                      In the meantime, I am just going to get just get some copper cleaner and/or Bon-Ami for my saucepan that's just tarnished. And giving it some thought, I think I will leave Sokoff and stuff like Carbon-Off to the pros as BluPlateSpec advised. I don't think I want to use something someone described as "really nasty." :-)

                  2. re: kaleokahu
                    BluPlateSpec RE: kaleokahu Dec 8, 2010 07:34 AM

                    Re: "ingredients" I'd rather put up with some cosmetic appearances issues than have and use something with that many toxic ingredients in my home. Stuff like that should only be used in an industrial setting by professionals.

                2. lifespan RE: GibsonGirl55 Dec 9, 2010 05:25 AM

                  Perhaps I'm naive, but I think it's impossible to maintain the high luster finish of copper pots, unless one doesn't use the pots. Cleaning copper cookware, with any substance not just Barkeeper's Friend, results in a matte sheen, such as described above by WillO. Over the years, I tried a number of products to clean copper cookware. The cleaning itself is a messy undertaking that can burn the eyes and tax the arm and hand. The results are only okay. So be reminded: the reason for USING copper cookware has nothing to do with the appearance of the pots and everything to do with heat conduction. It is my experience that the pots must be cleaned frequently (after every hard-use) to keep them looking good... My 2 cents.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lifespan
                    kaleokahu RE: lifespan Dec 9, 2010 02:48 PM

                    lifespan: You are not naive. Unless one has a powerful buffer and jewelers' rouge, it is unlikely anyone at home can keep the look that comes when the mirror-finish pan is new or retinned.

                    Still, you can get that "Eye Candy" glow to approximate it, as long as you don't succumb to using too abrasive cleansers. For me Bar Keeper's Friend is too abrasive. I like Bon Ami, or even 0000 brass or steel wool better.

                    As to cleaning every hard use, this is wrong. You MAY want to polish pieces that are subjected to "at-the-limit" (400F-425) heat, but that is more about heat DISCOLORATION than it is ordinary tarnish. Actually, all but my skillets can go 3 months or more between polishes.

                    But you're right about not needing to polish at all. Some might even say the emissivity of a mirror-polished bottom would not be the best performer on radiant hobs, too.

                    1. re: kaleokahu
                      lifespan RE: kaleokahu Dec 9, 2010 04:45 PM

                      many thanks for the good information. wish i'd figured out a solution a long time ago...

                  2. d
                    djkipfer RE: GibsonGirl55 Apr 8, 2012 06:11 PM

                    I just finished cleaning an old Chambers copper oven and surrounding copper tile back-splash. I found a product called 'Carbon-Off' made by Discovery Products Corp. at a local kitchen/restaurant supply house. It is a gel very similar to paint stripper but it is formulated specifically for food prep surfaces. It worked well, was easy to use, and left the oven with a 'new penny' look. (It's recommended by the American Culinary Institute)

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