How to Clean Copper Pans: Most Effective Methods

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Last updatedLast updated: May 08, 2021
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Not only do copper pots and pans look great in a kitchen, but they are also perfect for making delightfully delicious dishes for you and your family. Of course, if you are going to get the full value of these pots, you are going to need to have a clear understanding of how to clean copper pans. Otherwise, they could start to break down relatively quickly.

Thankfully, cleaning a set of copper pots is not all that difficult. It does not, however, follow the same steps as cleaning regular steel or aluminum pots either. Since copper is a bit more delicate than these other materials, you need to take special care to keep them as clean as possible. There are a variety of ways that you can go about this, though, which is exactly what we are going to guide you through. After reading through this article, you are sure to hit on a method that will work for your copper pots and pans.

Why choose copper pans

Copper has long been prized in electrical applications for its conductivity. It is also quite malleable, which means that it is very easy to shape. These properties make it an exceptional material to utilize in lots of different types of cookware, from frying pans to woks. It conducts heat very evenly, making it an awesome option for delicate meals as well as regular cooking needs as well. These pans are also noted for their beautiful sheen as well. If you are someone that not only wants to make delicious food but also has a great-looking kitchen, there is nothing better to equip yourself with than a good set of copper pots and pans.

How to Clean Copper Pans: Most Effective Methods

Copper is also a naturally resistant material to bacteria and generally nonstick, which makes it an excellent option for use in cookware. Of course, even though these small microbes might not populate their surface, you will still need to clear off any, and all stuck on food pieces to make sure your copper pans last for a good long time.

Regular cleaning

When it comes to cleaning copper pans, there are two different parts. You first need to clean off the excess foods and anything left in the pan after dinner. After this, you need to polish the copper. Copper, like silver, can get tarnished over time. This can reduce its ability to conduct heat, so you need to make sure you remove this as well. There are lots of different ways to go about cleaning your copper pans inside and out. Each of the methods listed below will work well to keep your pans looking and working their best without being too corrosive or damaging any of the finishes.

Step 1: soap and water

Like we said, cleaning copper pans is a two-part process. The very first step should be completed, as you might have guessed, with soap and water. As with any other pan, this will help to loosen up any stuck-on bits of food or grease that are leftover from cooking. Simply allow the pans to soak in warm water with gentle dish soap.

From there, use a dishcloth to scrub out the pans. It is also a good idea to use a plastic food scraper to remove anything that is really stuck on the pans before scrubbing them with the cloth. You do not want to use any rough sponges or scrubbers, as this could scratch the finish and damage the pans over time. Once you have cleaned the pans and allowed them to dry, it is time to polish them.

Step 2: polishing

Copper pans will last you for a good long time as long as you take good care of them. Part of that is keeping them free of tarnish. Even if you wash them with soap and water regularly, they are bound to get a bit tarnished over time. To clean this off, you need to polish them every once in a while. This will help them to continue being as conductive as possible for years to come.

How to clean your copper pots and pans

Method 1: salt and vinegar

One of the more interesting and effective methods for removing tarnish from copper pans is to use white wine vinegar and salt. Before you get started with this process, though, you need to make sure that you have salt with larger granules than regular table salt and a sponge with a scrubbing side.

Once you have the appropriate supplies, cover the pan with salt. Next, pour vinegar over the entire pan. Allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then, pour more salt on top and, again, allow it to sit for a minute or two.

After that, put a bit of vinegar on the sponge and get scrubbing. You don’t want to be so rough that you scratch the pans, but you need to use a bit of muscle as well. If necessary, you can put more vinegar on the sponge throughout the process. Finally, rinse the pan with water and dry it using a soft cloth.

Method 2: ketchup

When it comes to cleaning off tarnish, you want to use something that is slightly acidic. Ketchup, surprisingly, fits the bill. Since it is tomato-based, it is just acidic enough that it should help to take the tarnish off of your copper pots and pans.

Using ketchup for this purpose is extremely easy. All you need to do is cover the surface of the pan with the ketchup and give it a few minutes to sit in place. This will allow the acidity of the ketchup to loosen up the tarnish so that it will come right off.

After the few minutes are up, use a rough sponge and scrub the pan all over, making sure to keep the ketchup on the pan. Finally, once you have scrubbed everywhere, take the time to rinse the pan with soap and water. This will help to remove any leftover tarnish and ketchup to reveal a beautifully polished pan.

Method 3: lemon juice and salt

As you can see from our other methods, you want to stick with something acidic. It should come as no surprise then that we have also added lemon juice to the list. This juice, when combined with salt in a bowl, makes an excellent tarnish remover.

To start with, you need to mix the salt and lemon juice together. You should use about three times as much juice as you do salt. Once you have placed the salt in the juice, you need to stir it for about a minute or so until the salt is completely dissolved.

You can then soak a cloth in the mixture and go to town scrubbing the copper. This should remove the tarnish quite quickly. Of course, if the pan is extremely tarnished, you will need to use a rough sponge. Another big bonus of this method is the fresh lemon scent that will be left behind on your pans when you are done.

Method 4: beer

How to Clean Copper Pans: Most Effective Methods

Beer is another fine option for removing the tarnish from copper pans. Since beer is naturally acidic, it will work very well at removing this staining from a pan after a bit of time. Of course, this could also be a pricier option, so you might only want to use it in a pinch.

To use beer to clean your pans, all you need to do is wipe them down with a brew that you might have at home. Then, allow it to sit for a minute or so before you apply another coating. After a few more minutes, you should be able to remove the tarnish without too much trouble since the acidity of the beer did all of the work for you already.

Method 5: buff it with a dry cloth

If you don’t want to use any mixtures and don’t mind working diligently, you can always just use a dry cloth to buff off the tarnish from your copper pans. This needs to be done regularly so that the tarnish doesn’t have a chance to really get stuck onto the pans. After you wash them with soap and water, get a lint-free cloth and buff them dry. This should help to keep them looking as though you just bought them. Of course, this needs to be done each and every time to prevent tarnish from ever getting started.

How to clean copper bottom stainless steel pans (like Revere Ware)

If you have a set of Revere Ware copper bottom pans, then you need to treat them much like you would if you had a completely copper pot. After you have washed the whole pan with soap and water, you can use any of the above methods to polish up the bottom. You can also purchase some Subrite special cleansers. This can be applied with a damp cloth and should keep the bottoms of your pans looking fantastic for years to come.

What to avoid when cleaning your copper pans?

There are some things that you need to avoid to keep your copper pans looking and working their best. For instance, you should never use the dishwasher to clean them. A dishwasher is a bit too rough and tough for a copper pot and could end up damaging them.

You also need to make sure that you never use overly abrasive cleaning products when you are washing or polishing. These products can score the surface of the pan, no matter if you are using copper or steel, which could cause it to fail.

How to prolong your copper pans’ lifespan?

How to Clean Copper Pans: Most Effective Methods

Aside from cleaning the pans correctly, there are several other tips that you need to follow to keep them looking and working their best. These include:

  • Never heat a dry copper pan – Whenever you use copper pans, you always need to be sure to add a bit of oil or food immediately. Otherwise, the pan will get overheated and could warp.
  • Use the proper utensils – Copper is a softer metal than steel, which makes it much more susceptible to scratches or dings. By using wooden or silicone utensils, you can keep your pans looking their best.
  • Use the right temperature – Since these pans are extremely conductive, you don’t want to overheat them while you are cooking since this could cause them to warp.

Final thoughts

Copper is a wonderfully conductive metal that is perfect for pans. As you can see, there are lots of different ways that you can go about cleaning your copper pots. No matter if you are trying to clean copper bottom pans or full-fledged copper pots, you need to make sure that you wash them with soap and water first.

Once that is done, there is a multitude of methods that you can employ to keep your pans looking nice and bright. Most of these involve something acidic, such as vinegar, lemon juice, beer, or a specialized cleaner. If you intend to cook with copper, you need to know how to clean copper pans so that you can keep using them for years to come.

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