HOW TO CLEAN A BURNT POT

You have a scorched pot full of burnt on food that can no long be considered food.  I get it. The bottom of your pan is a burnt on mess; it seems possible that the pot is just uncleanable or even unsavable.  You’ve scrubbed, but to no avail. Unless you figure out how to clean that pot, your next plan of action is a trip to the curb-side trash can and then to the store to buy a new pot.  

We’ve been there.  Sadly, we’ve been there quite a few times.

 

For the last 15 years, we’ve made our living preparing healthy, home-cooked meals in our local Meal Solutions Business and have delivered those meals to clients in our local community.  Before that, we were personal chefs, cooking in our clients’ homes. We now have a state-licensed kitchen in our house and there we cook about 40 weeks each year. We prepare roughly 200 meals per week.  Doing the math, we’ve cooked roughly 96,000 meals in the last 15 years. Now, while we are really good cooks, sometimes life happens (screaming baby, barking dog, chickens eating the tomatoes in the garden, escaped rabbit, the list goes on!) and when I finally return to the stove I discover a smoking pot.  I’ve stood in front of a ‘ruined’ burnt pot more times than I really care to admit.

It’s fun to tell people about our food experience; how we have prepared meals for every imaginable diet or how we have helped people address nearly every problem under the sun with with a food solution.  It is not as much fun to to brag about how much experience we have when it comes to saving a ruined pot. I know I’ve cleaned dozens of burnt pots and pans, and today I’m go to share my DIY pot cleaning methods.

What you need

White Vinegar

Dish Soap

Peroxide

Baking Soda (optional)

Scrubbing Tool (see below)

How to clean that scorched stainless steel pot or pan.  

Do not use this method for a non-stick or copper pan that can easily be scratched.  

  1. Use a tool to knock off the big nasty burnt chunks.   Over the years, we’ve used many things during this initial step.  Steel wool kind of works, but after one use on such disgusting burnt stuff, that steel wool is ruined and ready for the trash.  A wire cup brush on an electric drill with an extension works great…but once again it’s a nasty mess after one use.  A few years ago we found the best tool to scrub a burnt pot, this Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber.  This baby is a problem solved.   This pot scrubber is tough enough to loosen the remains from my worst cooking disasters, and it’s easy to clean and, as far as I can tell, it will last forever.  While we purchased it for a burnt pot debacle, we find that we use it daily to knock the thick stuff off of a pot or pan before we move to a more gentle and detailed scrubbing pad.
  2. Next, cover the remaining burnt stuff with a mixture of 70% white vinegar, 20% dish soap, and a 10% hydrogen peroxide.   You need just enough liquid to cover all of the burnt stuff with a little extra for evaporation during Step 3.
  3. Finally, put the scorched pot back on the stove, and simmer the burnt stuff in the vinegar  mixture for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Let the pot cool.
  5. When it’s good and cool, scrub that nasty pot again.  This time you’ll find that the stuff comes off easier.
  6. Repeat until clean which usually takes a couple of simmers based upon how nasty your burning of the pot was.

Since we started using this method, we’ve not thrown away a single pot because it was burnt beyond salvage.  It takes elbow grease but costs less than a whole new pan!

What if you have a scorched non-stick pan?

Dealing with a burnt pan that can be easily scratched requires the same basic method but takes a little more time.  You will also need a softer nylon pot scraper instead of the more aggressive Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber.

  1. Start with covering the burnt stuff in the pot or pan with a mixture of 70% white vinegar, 20% dish soap, and a 10% peroxide.   You need just enough liquid to cover all of the burnt stuff with a little extra for evaporation during Step 2.
  2. Finally, put the scorched pot back on the stove, and simmer the burnt stuff in the vinegar mixture for at least 20 minutes.  
  3. Let the pot cool.
  4. When it’s good and cool, use that nice, soft nylon pot scraper to get underneath the now softer burnt food and scrape it off and into the trash.
  5. As before, repeat until clean, which usually takes a couple of simmers based upon how nasty your burning of the pot was.

What if the pot still looks burnt after all the scorched on food has been removed?

Sometimes a pot still looks burnt or discolored even after the hard burnt on food has been removed.  When this happens, we turn to the baking soda.

  1. Add just enough water to barely cover the bottom of the pan.
  2. Then add a roughly equal amount of white vinegar.  
  3. Finally, very slowly sprinkle on a little baking soda.  Expect it to fizz up and take your time so you don’t make a mess (these are also the basic instructions for a kid’s volcano science project).  Keep slowly adding baking soda until the bottom of the pan has a coating of paste.
  4. Let the pan sit overnight and in the morning wash the pan with a wet scrubbing pad.

Please, let us know in the comments below how well this works for you and let us know if you tweaked the process to make it work better.  We’d love to share your ideas with our readers.

And if you have an entirely different method for cleaning badly burnt pots, please tell us about that, too!  We are always looking for better ways.

Stacey Davis

15 years of real experience helping people change they way the eat to meet their goals.  Stacey has actually prepared every speciality diet we discuss through the Meal Delivery Business that he co-founded with Angela.  He is an Engineer, Entrepreneur, Home Brewer, Beekeeper and a Darn Good Cook.

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