Dear Home Ec 101,
I have a stainless steel pan that has acquired a brownish/bronzish color all over the bottom of the inside of the pan. What is this, is it bad, and can it be gotten rid of? I like shiny things.
I love my stainless steel, the only downside is they occasionally need a little more love than a nonstick pan. The brownish stain you are seeing is really just a thin layer of cooked oils or the propellant from a cooking spray such as Pam. Once heated to high temperatures oils can become quite sticky, in fact plastic can be made from vegetable oils. The properties that will give us this greener alternative to petroleum are the same ones that make it a bear to clean off your cookware.
Some will recommend baking powder applied as a paste. This technique may require some elbow grease.
As usual I am recommending Bar Keepers Friend, the active ingredient is oxalic acid which is commonly found in foods. The acidic properties helps loosen the crud (yes, my technical term of the day). Wet the pan, sprinkle the powder, and use a damp rag to scrub. Follow up by washing as usual. This product can be found in most big box stores near the abrasive cleaners, it isn’t quite as flashy as the well known brands so look carefully to be sure it isn’t hiding on the top or bottom shelf.
If you don’t have Bar Keepers Friend on hand, try heating a solution of soapy water over medium heat and then using a nylon scraper or a scouring pad to remove the residue. Salt also makes a great abrasive in a pinch.
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