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Jan 17, 2014 01:16 PM

an inheritance

i inherited some copper several years ago and haven't given it much thought (i can hear you copper geeks gasping!). Reason being, I have some bitter memories of my mother and I trying to remove the plastic coating from a bunch of those pans. They were from the 1970's, and they came with this thick, clear coating that mom and I spent many hours fighting to remove. She never even ended up cooking on them because we could never fully remove the "sealer". So, she hung them up for show.. and enjoyed them as kitchen decor.

I've got one nice size (10") french sauce pan that I would like to try to use, but the handle is so thin and sharp it cuts into my hand, and I can't tell if the thing needs to be retinned. It looks really scratched and possibly rusty on the inside - or is it just old gunk?? I'm just not sure, and nervous about scrubbing it to death. This one is marked "waldow, brooklyn NY" on the bottom (only found that after I got the BKF and a bunch of elbow grease. The BKF did nothing for the inside of this particular pan.)

I'm now asking for good sites and picture galleries of copper pots - vintage, new, old, befores and afters. i need to be doing some deep research here to figure out what I've got, from many different manufacturers. I found one site, but it specializes in antique copper, and this is all 20th century stuff. I just need to figure out what needs to be repaired (and where) and what I have.

and, any more ideas for getting off those last little bits of plastic...i'd love to hear them!

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  1. Fill the pot with vinegar and add some salt. Put it on the stove and bring it up to a boil and let it boil away for a while. Let it cool and the scrub the pot.

    Repeat until clean.

    1. The owner of the tooling of the old Waldow works is a little artisan metal shop in Brooklyn who sells new copper pots based on the old designs here:

      They're not taking orders now on account of they're backlogged, but they may be able to tell you what that plastic was and how best to remove it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: nokitchen

        thanks! that looks like my pan - the "Hammersmith sauté pan" with a MUCH nicer handle! i could take a photo and contact them. never would have found them! brilliant!

        pretty sure this particular pan was not in the group i sweated over.. seems too old! but, you're right, they might know what that nasty stuff was, and how to finally rid my pans of it..

        1. re: rmarisco

          Hi, rmarisco:

          Nokitchen is correct about Hammersmith/BCC owning all the old Waldo machine tools and chucks. I encourage you to contact BCC, and speak with Mac Kohler if you want to date your pans. I am somewhat familiar with Waldow pans (I have a double-boiler of theirs) and can say--as with most things--that the later production was not as heavy as the earlier.

          Many new pans were shipped lacquer-coated to keep them shiny. Your mom apparently didn't get the memo on removing the lacquer before cooking in such a pan. Ordinarily, acetone removes the lacquer, but if it's baked/burned on, it can be a bitch to remove. If you've fused it to the copper, it may need either very harsh chemical stripping (which would be done anyway by a retinner), or careful mechanical abrasion--essentially a buffing wheel charged with cutting rouge.

          Likewise with the interiors, but if you've burnt on the lacquer there, you're prolly looking at a retin.

          Please post photos of your bequests if you want. Also, dimensions and weight might help with ID and valuation.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            thanks kaleo! yes! it had to have been lacquer coating! the pans never were cooked in. on the other hand, they either came w/o instruction to remove the lac or it was in another language (can't remember - so long ago). i know it was a struggle!!! we never tried acetone - she used something called red bear copper cleaner, hot water, and elbow grease. don't remember there being any in the interior... now i'm a bit nervous! i'll have to check those particular pans carefully.

            i've already shot off a note to mr. kohler. i went through his site - liked what i saw. a lot. hopeful he can help, but he sounds a busy man!

            ps spellcheck tried to shorten your name to kale. how rude of it.

            1. re: rmarisco

              Hi, marisco:

              That's good news they weren't cooked in!

              The thing about lacquer is that it's clear, and the acetone can sometimes just *smear* the dissolved lacquer, and it's difficult to tell if any is still there. So I would carefully go over all the pans 2-4 times with the acetone, just working a few square inches at a time. The last time just wipe all over and buff with a paper towel. Then I'd hit the exteriors with a mild scouring powder like Bon Ami, wash and let them dry before cooking in then.

              You could also Google Baumalu's instructions for removing lacquer...


      2. i agree with the below.
        First; clean the pot. Especially remove any and all plastic (ick!-- toxic) bits.

        Secondly, COOK with the darn thing.

        See if it works for YOU. Can you remember to use a pot-holder if needed?

        That will be the real test.
        Otherwise,if the pieces are physically pretty, polish them to a high copper sheen and hang on a pot rack. Dust often.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pedalfaster

          pretty much describes mom's solution ;))