Saving a Burned Pan

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Saving a Burned Pan

My kids have been grown and out of the nest for a very long time now but if you think the "I can’t believe they did that!" moments no longer happen, think again! I was laughing so hard, I had to wait a bit to collect myself before I could write this.

My son in law (Mike) just called and said, "How do you react when you ask your wife (Tawra), "What is this burned on gook that I can’t get off of this pan?" and she just ever so casually answers, "Oh, that is just carpet burned on in that spot". At this point, my son in law and I are having a good belly laugh. How many people do you know who have gotten burned carpet stuck on a pan lately? …only Tawra.

What’s even funnier is that Mike and Tawra had been out of town and hadn’t seen the blog post I wrote recently about cleaning burned pans. I know you all thought I might be stretching it when I said my daughter has burned almost everything in her pans. Now you can see that I wasn’t. That’s why I gave you guys those homemade pan cleaner formulas.

It was for those of you who, with great tenacity, keep facing the challenges of cooking each day and often failing. I admire your resolve not to give up! Someday, you might actually succeed and be able to finally use normal cleaning products like scouring powder, vinegar or detergent to clean your pans. : ) My hat goes off to you who are "fighting the good fight" each day! : ) (Thanks Mom! Tawra)

Now I know you are all wondering "How did she get burned carpet on her pan?" She was pulling the pan out of the oven and burned her hand, so she dropped the pan on the rug in front of her stove. The pan was so hot the carpet just melted to it.

I write most of the tips on cooking and organizing but Tawra did come up with one really good one – keep the burn medicine in a cabinet by the stove. Hmmm… I wonder how she figured that one out??

In spite of how it sounds, I do sympathize with and love my daughter. I even pray daily that someone will invent a stove that doesn’t use heat especially for her and invent special foam cleaner that will instantly dissolve thick, thick burned on gook for my son in law to use. (He’s the one who usually does the dishes.) : )



Here are some bonus tips from readers you might try:

From: Charley

Here’s how to clean the outside under part of a cooking pot or pan. Use WD-40. Let it soak for 10 minutes and then remove the burned on grease. Be sure to wash it with soap and water before using! It works really well. It’s also very good on the backyard grill grates that are always really dirty with burnt on grease and food! They really come clean!!!

I haven’t tried this yet but since I’m the Queen of Burned Pans, I will give it a try soon I’m sure! Tawra


From Andrea

Recently, someone wanted to know how to remove scorched-on nonstick spray from her oven pans. Tawra suggested an SOS pad or spraying with oven cleaner while her oven does a cleaning cycle.

My tip is one I have used for years: I use oven cleaner on my (not teflon coated) ovenware and broiler pans, but I spray the items thoroughly, place them in a plastic garbage bag, tie, and leave them outside overnight. In the morning, the caked on, burned on residues rinse right off- And without stinky oven cleaner fumes.

I do this same thing with the racks from my oven when I clean it. I put them inside a plastic bag with oven cleaner overnight and it works great!




  1. LC says

    Her CFS must be really,really bad! It’s OK Tawra! You are dealing with a lot right now! My husband used our kitchen towel as a pot holder and lit it on fire!!!! Lord I am lucky my house didn’t catch!

  2. Darlene says

    There is a product from fuller brush called Fulsol or something like that. I saw it on QVC and it looked really good. I have never used it though. Hope this helps.

  3. Stefanie says

    How do you clean the INSIDE of a pan that has had all the water boiled out of it and it turned the inside of the pan? I am afraid to cook in it because the discoloration might come off in the food. I have tired baking soda. The pans I have done this in are copper bottom and stainless Rival is the brand. I hate to toss them but may have to.

    • says

      You might try a razor blade. The safety kind you can get at the store. I can scrape off a lot with that and then scrub the rest off with an SOS pad.

    • says

      Stefanie try soaking a little of vinegar in it over night first. If you are worried only about the white discoloration it is only the minerals that are left from the water boiling dry and sometimes just soaking in the vinegar will clear it up. It is like the mineral build up on faucets. If that doesn’t help and you are thinking of throw the pan anyway you can try an SOS pad on it.

      One thing once it has a good scrub if the pan is just discolored I wouldn’t worry too much about the effect on the food. There really isn’t any way it can effect it. The most you will have a problem with is sometimes when pans have been burnt quite often they will stick a little more but that is all.

  4. says

    Stefanie try making a bit of applesauce. that takes out the discolouration. My grandmother did it for years. She also served the applesauce since it was perfectly fine to eat.

  5. Donna Y says

    I burnt hotdogs once. Yes, hotdogs! The fire dept. came and got the smoke out. But the pot was a disaster. It was a Wolfgang Puck stainless steel pot, so I wasn’t going to throw it away. I used (per manufacturer directions) Barkeepers Friend. It worked wonderfully. It does take some reuses to get all the burnt on food off. But, this pot looks brand new. I use it on the whole set when they start to get that spotted look. Brings them back to new. I love this stuff and it only costs a few dollars. And now it comes in a liquid too.

    • says

      Yes Bar Keeper’s friend is a good cleaning product especially for things you don’t want to scratch. My mom has used that and Bon Ami for years and loves them.

  6. Jane says

    you know what I’d do… the same I did w/ all casting iron pan that I do not know what came from before got to goodwill, took as much as possible w/a scraper or spoon and than I placed inside of my wood stove when was very hot overnight… in the morning my pan was clean and I washed w/ cameo ( I guess you can use borax too) dried and re-seasoned! let me know if it works for you!

    • says

      This method that Jane mentioned works great for cast iron pans I’m not sure if it will work the same for other types of pans though. For those of you who don’t know what seasoning a cast iron skillet means – you rub the skillet with any kind of cooking oil (vegetable, Crisco shortening etc) then turn the pan upside down in the oven placing a piece of aluminum foil on the rack below low it just in case it drips and bake at about 350-400 degrees for an hour or so. Let cool.Sometimes they smoke so don’t panic.This done properly will give you an non stick surface.

      Don’t let cast iron pans soak in water.
      You can wash with soapy water but be sure to dry well.
      I usually set mine on a hot burner for just a couple of seconds to complete it’s drying.
      Never plunge a hot pan into cold water. It will crack.
      If you have rust on it use an SOS to scrub then re-season.

  7. Melody in Georgia says

    I’m not sure if you have suggested this one. But I’ve used it on all kinds of burned on items – including discolored pans that had the water boiled out of them. Take your dishwasher liquid detergent- Cascade liquid and squirt it in the pan, and then just put in enough water to cover the bottom of the burned area and enough water to let the Cascade dissolve. Sometimes you need to use a bit more Cascade liquid. OR you may need to soak it a second time over night. But I’ve been able to get all my pans clean using this method. It works because it is dissolving the burned on particles- PLUS I also just use a plastic scraper and a dish towel to scrub the rest out that did not dissolve by the Cascade.

  8. Lorri says

    Last year my father-in-law was boiling squash and forgot about it. The pan was very scorched. I had heard about using a dryer sheet. I put water and a dryer sheet in the pan and let it soak. It looks brand new.

  9. mitch meyer says

    have boiled water in a ceramic pan and forgot about it. all the water was gone the burner still on high(electric)bottom of pan has some grey squiggle lines in it. is it still safe to use. Brand-AETERNUM
    Please help the wife wasn’t too happy

    • says

      Mitch I wish I could help you get out of the “dog house” :). The pan is probably safe but it may not cook quite the same. It seems like once you burn even the best or most expensive pans it does something to them and they are never the same. Sorry. But maybe some of our readers can help you out.

  10. sherry says

    Hello Jill,

    what did you suggest for your daughter in law with the burned carpet on the outside of the pan? i have a similar story where i put the hot pan on a cushioned drying mat and now its stuck to it. what do you suggest???
    thank you

    • says

      Sherry there are some things that you just can’t fix. I think that pan she ended up tossing. Maybe someone else has an idea. One thing I have always done is not buy the top of the line super expensive pans. If I use a pan for 2-5 years and something like this happens then I don’t stress over just getting rid of it. Even though I usually reuse and try to make things last in most areas, this is one place where I try to make my life easier and not worry about it.

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