Some nights, you nail that new recipe and feel like the next top chef. Other nights, there's more food burned onto the bottom of the pan than on the plate. Using stainless steel cookware can be challenging — you have to get just the right temperature and use the right type of food to keep it from sticking and burning. When you end up with burn marks, here are several tricks you can use to remove them from stainless steel.
1. Deglaze Your Stainless Steel Pan
If your stainless steel pan has food burned onto it, deglazing it first can help remove some of the remnants. Start by removing as much of the food as possible. Then, heat the pan and pour in a cup of water (or more for a larger pan) or equal parts water and vinegar. Let it boil and then reduce to a simmer while you scrape the remaining food with a spatula or turner. You'll likely need to follow up with additional cleaning methods, but deglazing helps remove a lot of the food.
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2. Use Baking Soda
Baking soda is an effective cleaner that won't scratch your stainless steel pan. The baking soda cleaning method is a good follow-up to deglazing — you want as much of the food out of the pan as possible before using baking soda. Follow these steps to use baking soda:
- Add just enough warm water to the pan to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Pour in baking soda and stir it with the water to create a thick paste. A general guideline is to use 1 part water to 3 parts baking soda.
- Spread the baking soda paste over all the burned areas.
- Wait for several hours or overnight.
- Use a cleaning brush to scrub the pan.
- Rinse to inspect the pan. Repeat if necessary to remove the rest of the burn marks.
You can also thin out the paste with a little extra water and put the pan on the stove just until it boils. Don't leave it on the heat for too long. After it cools a little, scrub the pan with the brush.
3. Add Vinegar With Baking Soda
If baking soda alone isn't enough, you can pair it with vinegar. Bring about 1/2 inch of vinegar in the pan to a boil and then simmer for about five minutes. Move the pan off the heat and add 1 cup of baking soda — you might need to add less if it's a smaller pan. This creates the classic bubbling effect that you used to make volcano models as a kid. You can dump the mixture and scrub the pan once it stops to get rid of the marks.
4. Remove Burns With Salt
Salt can also be an effective treatment for burn marks on stainless steel. Here's how to use salt:
- Fill the bottom of the pan with water so all the burned areas are covered and bring it to a boil.
- Add a few tablespoons of salt and turn off the heat.
- Let the water cool for several hours, leaving it in the pan.
- Dump the water and scrub the pan with a brush or sponge.
- Repeat this process as many times as necessary to remove all of the burn marks.
You can also put salt directly onto the burned spots. Scrub the salt using a scouring pad or sponge to work as an abrasive without scratching the pan. Wash the pan as normal once you get all of the burn marks off it.