Environmentally Friendly Cleaning: How to Clean a Burnt Pot
Pots do eventually burnt
By Mirna Santana
I have eaten smoky beans or rice a couple of times. I even like to make rice crust, which sometimes results in a burned pan or pot. What to do after you have burned that pot or pan..hmm. How to clean that pot? Here are some environmentally friendly solutions.
I don't like using chemicals so if you give me ''a penny for my thoughts", ..I would tell you my secret. The best thing I have found is to cook apples or mangoes in the burnt pot! The enzymes and acid help to soften the crust. Yes, they soften the crust and you can eat apple or mango sauce, before cleaning the pot or as a treat for doing the task. Two points for that.
Option two: is to boil vinegar and salt in the burn pot. Water and salt alone can do the trick too. The portions don't need to be exact: 3/4 cups of salt; 1/4 cup of water; and 3/4 cup of vinegar are recommended by Karyn Siegel-Maier "The Natural Clean Home'--for oven cleaning. The Green Clean Book offers other alternatives. Siegel-Maier did not provide a solution for this particular problem but the basic ingredients are the same. I usually just add enough salt to make the water saturated. Saturation is reached when the salt does not dissolve. At that point, I add the vinegar and stir the mix with a wood spoon or a spatula, scratching the burned areas. If the stuff resist that method, I use a knife, but some people don't like that.
Using the previous method, the bigger stuff will be removed easily by the contact with the spoon. I use a scrub or spoon to scratch the things that dare to stay on the bottom of the pot but I do not scratch the metal. If the carbonized material doesn't comes out the first time don't desperate. Let it be or repeat the same procedure with another batch of the ingredients. You have no time--then proceed to option three.
Option three: add 1/4 cup washing borax or baking soda and enough water to form a paste and let it sit over the burnt area. Let it sit overnight and clean it in the morning. This advice works for steel products. If you are using an aluminum container let the mix sit only 30-40 minutes or less to avoid interactions of the material and staining 'bleach like spots'.
Scrubbing to expose the metal on the inside of a pot or pan is not a good idea. The reason is that the lose particles will end up in the food. So ultimately, if you have tons of patience, just let the pot sit overnight in soap and water and wash it each morning (3-5 days). Good luck!
If you have a coated pan such as teflon,this may be a good time to get rid of it. Researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found that erfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical compound used to make Teflon, is a "likely carcinogen." "Likely" means more than 90% probability so consider that seriously. These non-sticky pots and pans are cautionary tales or examples of technology going wrong.
As a scientists and as a concerned citizen, I cannot tell you to get rid of your favorite pan or pot, that is your personal choice. I can however advice or advocate for people to know what chemicals are present in their cooking utensils-- including plastic materials, and teflon base products--and what are the consequences of those chemicals for their health. Yes, knowledge is power! Our health may also depend on the cleaning products such as dishwasher, soaps and all type of cleaning products. Products such as vinegar, baking soda and salt are naturally occurring and thus safe if used appropriately. With patience and some trial errors, the containers will get back to their 'good looks.' Living with a burnt pot for a while is better that coming up with a fast not-so- healthy solution.
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