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May 22, 2012 08:28 AM

Burnt plastic in a stainless steel pot [moved from Not about Food board]

Fool that I am, one evening recently, I found some honey that had hardened into crystals in a plastic jar and I put it on the stove in a (beautiful) stainless pot on a trivet almost full of water. I turned the heat on low and promptly forgot about it..

What a mess I found the next morning! I have managed to extract all the burnt honey, and some of the burnt plastic, but by no means all. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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  1. I'd heat it gently and scrape it up as it softens. No guarantees, but it might get you close enough to figure out if you can salvage the pan or not.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      I'm back! Life got in the way for a while.

      I have tried a grinding wheel on an electric drill. I have also tried the oven cleaner, saturating the stuff in the pot, closing it up with lid and wrapping the whole securely in a plastic bag for more than 24 hours. I regret to report that I've had little success. The pot was not damaged by the wheel but the burnt plastic is still securely stuck there. I'll try some of the other advice offered. I really do appreciate all your contributions. I'll attach a photo next time.

      1. re: Ompahbill

        You can always heat the pan up and soften the plastic and then scap it off.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          It's a real pain to remove plastic that was burnt on to SS or glass. The stuff is like superglue that has already set and hardened. I wonder if this is how they make nonstick cookware?

          Let us know what worked in the end.

    2. i have used a product that is sold to clean the bottom of an iron - it stinks when you use it, and the pot has to be hot - maybe you could boil some water in it, quickly pour it out - and start working - this will take several tries i would think.

      if you have an outdoor burner (on your bbq?) - that would be best as it is smelly.

      look in a good quilting shop - etc.

      you'll also need a good supply of old cotton rags (old cotton towels) that you can dispose --

      1. I'd think along the lines of removing wax. I'd put the pan in the freezer (or put it in an ice water bath) hoping to get the plastic as rigid as possible, and then try to pop off as much as I could while the plastic was cold. As with candle wax, very gentle heating could also help...the idea being not to turn the mess to liquid, but to soften it up. If the pan is wet and cold, though, the plastic bits you pop off won't be so prone to re-adhere or smear around as they would be if the pan were warm and dry, so I'd go with cold first. Try to find a rigid tool that won't gouge the pan as you work...maybe disposable chop sticks or bamboo skewers. (Don't skewer yourself.)

        After that, I'd try a solvent-based metal cleaner on the remainder. Brasso might do it. Let a solvent-dampened cloth sit on it for 10 minutes or so, and try not to wipe the plastic around the bottom of the pan when you clean it up. If that didn't move it, then maybe acetone (nail polish remover) or a general-purpose solvent. Then a stainless steel cleaner (Brasso, maybe?) to finish the little smears left.

        The nice thing is that stainless steel, unlike absorbent materials, won't absorb the plastic or the solvents. Once the plastic looks like it is all gone, it will be all gone.

        1. For thinned plastic, a single edge razor blade works to remove the gunk when a plastic bag meets a hot surface.

          I agree with 'do it outdoors' I'd heat it, have some really coarse scrubbing pads to swish through the goo with either paired spatulas or tongs to lift out a series of things you'll use to get most of the goo out while its' liquid.

          1. I appreciate all your help, I really do, but I don't yet think you're hitting the problem. It was a plastic bottle's remains that got burnt onto the interior of the pot, not a film of plastic, and the residue is well stuck to that interior surface despite my best efforts. I have given thought to heavy duty acid, or alkaline solutions but they are hard to come by, and truthfully, I'd prefer something less caustic. I know. Caustic. Alkaline. Whatever. Something to soften the little chunks that are still well stuck to the pot. Again, thanks, and please keep posting.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Ompahbill

              If you have tried gently heating the pan and it doesn't soften the stuck-on pieces, then you have pretty much exhausted your options, short of acid or a grinding wheel (which will remove the bottom of your pan along with the plastic.)

              This one sounds like a painful lesson.

              1. re: Ompahbill

                Have you tried acetone? Many commercial solvents and "goo" removers contain acetone and 100% pure acetone is available at any major retailer. You can find it in the nail polish area , it is the main ingredient in nail polish remover. It is cheap.

                It will soften/disolve acrylic and fiberglass so it might work on plastic.

                1. re: cleobeach

                  Yes, I'd go for acetone (nail polish remover) or a general-purpose solvent. I've just found that physically removing as much as you can before you bring in the chemicals will greatly remove the amount of chemical needed. Whittling it down carefully with a razor (as suggested above), if nothing else, then the chemicals. Use a solvent-based stainless cleaner to get the last film off.