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We all have that one friend who is a total Martha Stewart in the kitchen. They know all the best kitchen hacks to make a delicious meal in seconds, and they never seem to burn anything. In fact, all their pasta magically becomes al dente and they even manage to make a turkey that's not dry for Thanksgiving. If you didn't know any better, you'd think they run one of the best cooking shows out there.
If you're reading this, that friend is not you.
Chances are that you have used the fire alarm as a sign that dinner's done. Or, if you're like me, you drank too much and forgot that there was ramen cooking on the stovetop. You burned your pan, pot, or kettle.
Never fear. You do not have to toss that pan quite yet. These hacks to revive a burnt pan will help you avoid replacing your cooking supplies every day and might also help you heal your battered ego from one too many cooking failures.
Protip: Before you try any hacks to revive a burnt pan, scrape all the food off it first.
Activated charcoal may be great for your stomach in small quantities, but it's not going to make saving a burnt pan easy. Just grab a spatula and scrape that gunk off.
Burned food that you could scrape off should be scraped off. If you don't try to scrape it off, you'll end up with some foul smelling slop that will be even grosser than it already is now.
We strongly suggest throwing out burned Teflon pans.
Before we start talking about hacks to save a burnt pan, let's talk about your health. Sometimes, it's not worth saving a burnt pan simply because it's dangerous to do so.
If you have a nonstick pan, chances are that it's coated with Teflon. Teflon, if heated past a certain point, can break down into toxic elements. You do not want bad stuff in your system, so just toss it out.
Teflon pans are cheap enough to replace.
Use the water and cream of tartar method to save slightly burned pans.
One of the easiest hacks to save a burnt pan is to use the water and cream of tartar method. To do this, pour a cup of water into the burned pan, and turn up the heat on the stove. Get the water to a simmer.
Once the water is simmering, add a tablespoon of cream of tartar. Stir it, then take the off the stove and use a coarse sponge to scrape off whatever food you couldn't initially remove before. Chances are that most of the goods will get removed.
Toss out the water and the gunk you scraped off, then add a little bit of extra cream of tartar to the pan. Scrub it, and you'll see the discoloration wipe away.
You can also try the vinegar and baking soda method.
Don't have cream of tartar? Not a problem. If you have a cup of vinegar, two tablespoons of baking soda, and a scourer, you can still get that pan looking great.
To do this trick, fill the bottom of the pan with water and add the vinegar. Bring the pan to a boil. Some of the gunk should already start to lift. After a minute or so, remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda. Scour the pan, and it'll be good as new.
This is one of the better hacks to save a burnt pan made out of stainless steel. Other types of pans may not take as well, but you can always give it a try.
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can also work wonders on stainless steel.
If you don't have vinegar either, you might be a bit panicked. Don't be. There are other hacks to save a burnt pan you can try. Grab the hydrogen peroxide in your home, and use this process to help...
Start by sprinkling baking soda on the burnt pan. Then, pour a layer of hydrogen peroxide on top of the pan. Finish it off by adding another layer of baking soda on your pan. Then, let the pan sit for a couple of hours.
After you've let the pan sit, try scrubbing it. The pan will look shiny as the day you bought it, and the grit will be gone.
If you have rust on your stainless steel pan, you might need to get a bit more involved.
Not many hacks to save a burnt pan will cover rust issues, but this one will. If you want to give this a whirl, you'll need a pumice cleaner, a very abrasive pad, some plastic wrap, and oven cleaner solution.
To kick this off, put a thin layer of pumice cleaner on your pan and scrub the rust away using an abrasive pad. Most of the rust will come off. If there's any left, spray the rusty spots with oven cleaner, wrap it with plastic wrap, and leave it on your counter overnight.
In the morning, remove the wrapping from the pan and stick it in your oven. "Cook" it at 150 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove it, leaving it to cool. Soak it in soapy water, and scrub off the rest of the rust.
Or, you can try Carbon Off.
If you're not down for doing crazy hacks to save a burnt pan and it happens on a regular basis, you might want to consider getting a spray can of Carbon Off. As the name suggests, it's a spray that's designed to get rid of all the burnt ashes from your cooking attempt from the pan.
This stuff is pretty caustic, and will probably require a little elbow grease alongside assistance from SOS pads. However, it'll probably get the job done with minimal work compared to other options on this list.
Vinegar and water is good for aluminum pans.
If you don't have stainless steel, you might want to go a little gentler. A lot of the hacks to save a burnt pan require some pretty sturdy materials. If you want to try to save an aluminum pan, a better option would be to stick to vinegar and water.
To do this, mix equal parts water and vinegar in the burnt pan and bring it to a boil. Let it cool, then add a scrubbing sponge into the pan. Let the sponge soak up some of the material in the sponge.
After that's done, the carbon should be loosened up enough to be scrubbed off fairly easily. Then, rinse off the pan with some soapy water, and you'll be good to go.
This hack makes sense, since vinegar is one of the best natural cleaning products for your kitchen ever made.
Or, you could use Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola is an incredibly acidic drink that we all know is bad for us, but that doesn't mean it can't be great for our pots and pans. To use this hack, pour an inch of non-diet Coke into your pan and heat it up. Let it cook until the water part starts to disappear.
The cola ends up loosening the carbon, which makes scrubbing the stains away a breeze. This is one of the sketchier hacks to save a burnt pan out there, since it's had mixed results in the past.
Finally, for mild burns, adding a little baking soda to your dish soap seems to do wonders.
One of the more versatile hacks to save a burnt pan is to add baking soda to regular dish soap. Baking soda is very versatile in the kitchen, and it seems to be a great way to boost the power of regular dish soap. So, if your stains are relatively low-key, this might be all you need to make your pan look spotless again.