Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cornflower is the New Green - Renewing a P-10-B (10 inch) Skillet

I have touched on this before with a French White Ramekin and the Percolators that I have found.  But at the suggestion of daeira over at Chow, I have decided to hunt down a dirty piece of Corningware and document a more involved cleaning process. I see pieces that have been horribly abused all the time at the Thrift Stores.   Of course, since Murphy (as in Murphy's Law) follows me around everywhere I go, because I was looking for a filthy, overly abused, and never cleaned properly piece of Corningware, I could not find one.  (3 days, 4 Goodwill stores and 3 Salvation Army stores

This was the best I could do.  Though in all honesty, it's has most of the common problems present.

It looks pretty good in the picture, but let's take a closer look..... Baked on grime under both handles.

Cooked on black spots.

Scorched bottom from too high of a flame setting... (tsk tsk.... Medium heat at the most)

Scratches and resulting stains from previous forays with a steel scrubber or some such horrendously wrong method of past cleaning.

Eeeeeew, and what the heck is THAT?!?!

and THIS?!?!


But before I get into the whole cleaning thing, I want to dispel some of the myths out there on the internet.  There are a lot of Questions that have been posed over the years... and most of the answers given are wrong.

1.  NEVER EVER EVER use a Steel Scrubber, SOS pad, Brillo or, heaven forbid, actual Steel Wool to remove baked on food from Vintage Corningware.  OYE!    All these products contain steel, and if you rub down vintage Corningware with steel you will simply leave massive amounts of gray metal deposits on the piece. (and they are harder to remove than the baked on food)

2. Grey marks on Corningware means that the lead is exposed and you should throw the piece away.   WRONG!!!   Vintage Corningware is made from Ceramic Glass, not stoneware.  It's not some form of "enameled" metal either.  Borosilicate glass is fired at and extremely high temperature to force crystals to form.  It actually starts out as a pale amber yellow glass and becomes white after the crystals form.  While it shares it's firing step with glazed stoneware, the actual construction of the piece is COMPLETELY different.  The grey marks are from metal deposits left from using metal utensils during cooking, or from improper cleaning methods. (i.e. Steel Wool, SOS pads, Brillo and such)  Vintage Corningware is harder than the stainless steel and wears these utensils down, thus they leave metal deposits.

3.  Unlike the modern AWK (After World Kitchen) Stoneware, Vintage Corningware may be soaked in the sink to loosen baked on foods.  You cannot do this with the Stoneware, because the glaze will crack and craze.

4. Bleach Corningware....  Well, I suppose you can, but unless you are removing coffee stains from inside a pot, I doubt you will be happy with the results.  Sure, it will remove some things, but it's smelly work for very little return on time invested.

5.  Oven Cleaner......  I see this frequently, reproduced or regurgitated by many.  Well, I tried it, back in 2007 on one of my first Wheat pieces (a W-34-B, 4 quart Dutch Oven with the rim all the way around) that had the black ring underneath where baked on food had built up over Lord knows how long.  Aside from the horrendous odor, the burning eyes, the disgusting mess and the need for newspaper, garbage bags, rubber gloves, a gas mask and sending the pets to the neighbors house for 3 days... it's all a lot of bunk.  After a 48 hour soak in that poison, absolutely NOTHING came off.  Easy-Off my butt.  That's all I gotta say 'bout that.

Truth be told, restoring am abused piece of Corningware to it's former glory is a bit of commitment.  But it's well worth the effort for several reasons.

1. It's the best thing to come along in cookware since Copper.

2 You are purchasing an American product albeit one manufactured awhile ago, but it's still an American Product.

3. It's Green....  Green by way of the fact that you are re-purposing something what may otherwise end up in the landfill.  Green, in that you don't need anything higher than Medium flame, thus saving energy.  Green in the fact that it has no poisonous coatings and is naturally non-reactive with food.  All that green-ness in a blue and white package.  It never ceases to amaze me, this Pyroceram wonder of the "Modern" Age.

But, this 10 inch skillet isn't going to clean itself, so I better get to rehabilitating it so it can continue cooking delicious wholesome meals for another 50 years!

First, I recommend an O-Cel-O sponge...  THIS one in particular.

Using the above sponge (though of a different printed design) wash the whole thing in REALLY hot water and soap.


Surprisingly, just using soap removed the scorch marks off the bottom.

It also removed the goobery looking stuff from the outside as well as the weird reddish stain on the inside.

It still didn't get the grey wear marks off the bottom. nor did it remove the brown stains from the inside.
This is when I go over the whole thing with Weiman Glass Cook top Cleaner. (and the same type of sponge)

 Usually, Weiman and a little elbow grease will remove the wear marks on the bottom of most pieces...

But sometimes, on older pieces, the marks are too much for Weiman.  Such is the case on this piece. Weiman got most of it, but there is some deep seated wearing and it didn't completely remove the brown stain/scratching on the inside either. This didn't surprise me too much.  I mean, this isn't one of my 20 year old French White Piece, it's a 50 year old Cornflower piece, so it needs some extra attention.

This when I turn to Bar Keeper's Friend.... (thanks to a suggestion from a reader) I was using Baking Soda before, but Bar Keeper's works SO much better.  It's been around since 1882 so it must be doing something right. (I have not tried Bon Ami, but it is not suppose to scratch either)


Unlike Bon Ami, which is a feldspar/limestone/citric acid polishing cleanser, Barkeeper's friend uses oxalic acid as a cleaning agent, the same acid that is in Rhubarb leaves.  So please do not eat Barkeepers Friend.  I'm just sayin'  Because of the high oxalic acid content, you really should wear gloves, since prolonged contact with your skin can cause peeling and dermatitis.  (ask my thumb - oops)  Simply sprinkle liberally, and add a little water to form a paste, then begin scrubbing in a circular motion with the same O-Cell-O sponge.  (think Karate Kid....  Bar Keeper's Friend ON, Bar Keeper's Friend OFF)

If the Barkeepers Friend cannot remove all the "grey" marks left by previous metal utensils, I use Pfaltzgraff Stoneware & Porcelain Cleaner. (It removes the grey marks, left by eating utensils, from the glaze on their stoneware)  My assumption is that this product is similar to what some of the Use and Care instructions referred to as "Delete".  This time, it was not necessary as the Barkeeper's Friend seems to have done the trick.  Barkeeper's Friend seems to polish out some of the lighter scratching as well, shining up the piece beautifully while it does it's cleaning magic on brown staining and grey marks.

If you still have baked on black bits in the little nooks and crannies, by this time it is usually a little bit on the softer side due to all the scrubbing and water.  I usually take a toothpick and run it back and forth over the stains and eventually they kind of melt away and can be washed off.

And there you have it...  One refreshed, renewed and revitalized piece of Vintage Corningware, ready for re-purposing for another 50 years of service in my kitchen.

Where is your Corningware??
~~

41 comments:

  1. Those are exactly the products I use to clean glassware and my stainless steel cooking pots, almost forgot and on my porcelain sink.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great instructive tutorial Shane! Thanks so much for taking me up on my suggestion. There's something really soothing about seeing something that looks beyond redemption transformed into something gloriously clean. It might inspire others to rejuvenate their own Corning Ware from the cupboards and/or purchase some from the thrift shops.

    I can't believe how great the finished piece looks.

    It was your original "how to clean French White" entry that taught me how to clean my own Corning Ware. Though, I had to travel to the US to find the O-Cel-O sponges. Apparently, I haven't seen them in Canada yet.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Patti - I am pretty sure that it was your suggestion that I give up the baking soda and switch to Bar Keepers Friend. It was love at first scrubbing.

    daeira - It was my pleasure. I appreciate the suggestion. It is good for me to know what readers are interested in seeing. You are right, there is something soothing and extremely rewarding about cleaning a piece and bringing it back from the brink.

    I am actually surprised at how well it came out. Usually, once there are tiny scratches, and then brown stains, it's REALLY hard to get them completely out and bring it back to a pristine white... Sometimes they have a permanent "yellow" tinge to them.

    I am sorry to hear that you had a hard time hunting down those O-Cel-O sponges.... I have tried many other scrubber sponges, including the all natural fiber brown ones made by Scotch, I think, and these seem to be the best that I have found.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your post really inspired me to look for more corning ware at my thrift store. I found three pieces in worse shape and in need of restoration. But I did find an interesting piece. MW 11. A rectangle shaped platter? with the heating coating on bottom. Thought it might do to cook my gardenburgers in the microwave.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations! The MW 11 is a hard piece to come by. The skillets seem to be much more common than the platters are. Sounds like an excellent platform for Gardenburger microwavage.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Shane, a quick question regarding Bar Keeper's Friend. From your pictures, it appears that BKF has actually restored the shine back to the original piece by buffing out the scratches(at least on the inside of the casserole). Is this a correct interpretation of the photo?

    I ask because the piece I was telling you about on chow with "Pyroceram" is quite dull on the inside. I'm wondering if BKF would restore the shine or whether it's a lost cause.

    And I hadn't realized that the MW11 is hard to come by. The other day I saw 3 of them in the thrift store sitting in the corner waiting to be purchased, all for the low low price of $1.

    ReplyDelete
  7. BKF does seem to restore some of the shine and buff out the more shallow scratches. It may take several applications and a significant amount of elbow grease, another product that may be excellent for restoring the shine is Bon Ami. I would still "clean" with the BKF, but Bon Ami contains feldspar and limestone, so it acts as a sort of buffing compound.

    I seem to see a lot more skillets than I do the 12x7 inch MW 11 tray. I saw a couple of them several years ago and have kicked myself ever since for not grabbing one, but I had a basket FULL of Corningware already (one of which was my F-3-B Classic Black 10 inch Quiche dish). I haven't seen any since. Maybe it's just the part of the country that I live in. It's always possible that is was a more popular piece on the East Coast or the Midwest. It's also possible that more people on the west coast are still using them and don't want to give them up... hmmmmmmm

    ReplyDelete
  8. Shane,

    I just went to look at the thrift shop and I was mistaken. I thought what I saw was the MW11 tray. Instead, it was the MR1 ridge rectangular tray along with the MW2. I've yet to see the MW11 tray.

    I'm going to go out and buy some BKF tomorrow and give it a try. Hopefully I can find some at my local hardware store.

    Funny you should mention the black Corning Ware. I'm seeing it all over the place, including an F5B, and an F2B

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, OK, I have the MR-1 grill rack... Though I have never used it in the microwave... It was my roasting rack for my French White Roaster before I got my P-19 roaster tray.

    I am jealous over the Classic Black... I have one piece and one piece only, cause that is all I have ever found. :( It's all over eBay, but they are asking WAY too much for it after you figure in the shipping. The best thing about it, is that it doesn't get grey marks... LOL

    ReplyDelete
  10. Maybe I should have purchased the black pieces. I see quite a few of them from time to time. They come in waves. You see them frequently for a few weeks and then nothing for months.

    I failed in my attempt to really clean up the marks from the P-10 10 inch casserole (that matches the pyroceram lid). BKF did take out some of the more mild marks, but wasn't able to remove some of the other ones. Also, I now know that BKF doesn't restore the polish inside a casserole container that has already lost its sheen. It remains dull.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Try making a paste with it, and doing the scrubbing part, then let the BKF sit on the piece for 30 minutes, then scrub again... Sometimes, the Oxalic acid needs some time to pull out the stains.

    I would try the Bon Ami if it really is "dull" on the inside. It may work better as a polishing compound than the BKF

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ya know, I just got to thinking... Is it possible that the dullness is from hard water staining? If that is the case, a warm vinegar solution or a good soak in CLR will remove the calcium and lime from the piece.

    It is also possible that the dish has been run through the dishwasher a few too many times.... Detergents are much less harsh than they use to be, since most of the phosphates have been removed. it is possible that the previous owner used it so much and washed it in the dishwasher so often, that it is permanently "etched" by the old harsh dishwasher detergent. Which would be a real bummer...

    I hope it's just hard water staining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the removal of the phosphates that started causing the darkening and spotting (I call it "rust") of my aluminum trays and cake pans - they NEVER did that before when I put them through the dishwasher. It happened sometime in the early 90s.
      Also

      Delete
  13. I've used bleach only as a last resort - it dulls the gloss.

    I have one of the 10 inch square ones with the pyroceram lid. It's been beat up by its previous owner. The entire interior is matte. Anyway on the interior there are dark gray marks that are not metal marks and they seem to be where a gas flame would be on the underside. Have you ever seen this before? I can't get rid of it, and what's odd is that the underside is not burned at all, just the interior.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try making a paste and letting it sit. Hopefully that'll remove the stains

    As for the dullness, I'm not sure it's hard water. I think it's permanently etched. But it might be worth trying to find Bon Ami and before that, give it a soak in CLR.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just rescued a pre-1972 Cornflower Dutch Oven and it's matching lid. The lid is perfect and the Dutch Oven is clean except for circular scorch marks inside on the bottom. Just as Green Finch described - the outside looks fine and the inside has a circular scorch mark exactly in the shape of a burner. I've tried peroxide, baking soda, and Sal Suds which usually removes burned on stains, 8 hours of soaking with a Barkeeper's Friend and water paste, and an overnight soaking with a Tide and Oxyclean paste. The Tide / Oxyclean paste may have lightened the stains a bit but they are not gone. A friend suggested boiling the pan with water and dishwasher powder. I'm not feeling great about that suggestion. I've also thought about using my hand steamer. Does anybody have any other thoughts on how to remove scorch marks? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Katy and Green, I have never seen that sort of marking before, the only thing I can suggest is to get a product like "Delete" (which is what all the literature says) But I am not sure if the product is still being made.

    I have a bottle of Pfaltzgraff cleaner that I bought for emergency treatment of tough markings and stains because I could not find this mysterious "Delete" product that all the literature kept mentioning. The Pfaltzgraff cleaner is designed to remove grey marks from the glaze on their stoneware, so I figured that it should work on ceramic glass as well. The thing is, I have not had to use it yet, cause the Barkeeper's Friend usually does the trick. Thus, I really don't have any experience using it nor can I tell you, for sure, if it will actually work, and if it does, how well it will work.

    The stuff is made with Phosphoric Acid and Ferric Chloride, so it's significantly stronger than the Oxalic acid in the Barkeepers Friend. You will have to use the product outside cause it can damage drain pipes and is detrimental to septic systems, and most definitely wear gloves. You let it soak on the stain/markings for 15 minutes and then scrub with a soft sponge, rinse and wash with soap and water.

    I am really wishing that I would have needed to use it in the past, so I could tell you whether it actually works or not. :(

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for your suggestions. I just saw your post on restoring the percolator where you boiled Oxyclean and water. Yesterday I soaked my Dutch Oven in Oxyclean and water for several hours and the scorch stains are still there but they look lighter. I'm going to take the risk and use a very low burner and simmer dishwasher detergent and water and, if necessary, Oxyclean and water to see what happens. I make gluten-free refrigerator bread and this Dutch Oven is an excellent shape and size for mixing and storing the dough. I just need to get it clean to feel comfortable using it for my dough. I'll report on my results.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Scorched Dutch Oven - Progress Report

    1. Boiled dishwasher detergent and water for 30 minutes. Scrubbed with non-abrasive Scotch-Brite blue scrubber. Stains a little lighter.

    2. Boiled Oxyclean and water for 30 minutes. Scrubbed with non-abrasive Scotch-Brite blue scrubber, Dobie Scrubber, and Tuffy plasic scrubber. The stains are still visible but are definitely smaller and lighter in color. This proves that the scorch marks are a stain that can be removed.

    3. My husband thinks I should wash the pan and then boil vinegar and then scrub it. I'll try that just to see what happens. If that doesn't do much, I may try Oxyclean again.

    Question: Will Mr. Clean Magic Erasers scratch Corningware? My Dutch Oven seems to have been donated before anybody damaged the inside with an abrasive cleaning tool. The inside has stains but is not scratched. My goal is to remove the stains without destroying the surface.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Katy - That was a stroke of luck that no one had taken an abrasive to the inside. I actually see that a lot and it saddens me, cause there is no hope for repurposing at that point. I found one piece that looked like someone had taken steel wool to the inside.. It was just dull and grey and scratched and miserable looking.

    Mr. Clean Magic Erasure doesn't scratch Corningware, at least not that I have noticed. I tried that on my Wheat Dutch oven a while back. It removes some stuff, but didn't work as well as I had hoped it would. I was trying to remove the baked on gunk from underneath the rim. I even resorted to Oven Cleaner and a large garbage bag. That gave less than stellar results as well. (and stunk really bad)

    I wish you luck with your cleaning project. The Oxyclean worked really well on the Electromatic coffee pot after a ran it threw a cycle and actually "brewed" it. Then I let it sit overnight.

    My mother uses it on old tea stains in antique teacups that she find at the thrift store. (That was where I got the idea to use it on the coffee maker) But since she doesn't heat it up, it takes 48 hours of soaking to pull out the stains.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks so much for all of the tips! BKF took care of the grey lines I couldn't seem to get off of the external sides of my pieces (likely from rubbing up against pots in my cupboard)... as well as a light residue I didn't even see until I got to cleaning with BKF!

    Love my wonderful Corningware treasures even more now! :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. YAY!!! I'm always happy to hear good news like that. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Does the green scrubber from a cellulose sponge scratch the surface?

    ReplyDelete
  23. It shouldn't. Those green fiber scrubbers like "scrunge" should be OK.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I followed these steps up to and including the barkeeper's friend (even going so far as to leave the barkeeper's on overnight for some of the pieces to the point where it had dried on). I then washed once and rinsed several times before using them to cook. I noticed recently, however that several of them have what look like water spots in different places that I can't wash out, and that eating food I've cooked on the dishes can sometimes leave me with a strange feeling in my mouth and throat (although it's worse when I think about it, so I dunno). What did I do wrong? I'm kind of wondering if it's dangerous for me to continue to prepare food on them and eat the food. I noticed lining it with aluminum foil didn't seem to make a difference in not imparting a weird feeling to my mouth and throat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Archaeo..... I have never run across a "water spotting" problem before so I really have no idea how to correct the issue.

      CorningWare, being a glass product, is non-reactive with food, and it sounds like you have thoroughly cleaned the dish, ruling out soap residue. The fact that the strange food feeling persists even when the dishes are lined with foil and the food is no longer in contact with the actual CorningWare piece, gives me pause. It almost sounds like you might be developing some form of food intolerance. Honestly, I would check with your physician... I know that when the body is low on Zinc, things can begin to taste like metal... This may be something similar. Maybe? I am really perplexed... Sorry I was not of more help.

      Delete
  25. No, you were really helpful. It sounds like it's at least safe to keep using the dishes, so that's good to know (and what I was primarily concerned about). If the mouth feeling persists, I think I will talk to a doctor about it when I'm able to. Maybe I scrubbed off a couple of layers or something in certain spots, and that's giving it the appearance of water spots? I noticed they go away when the dish is wet, and come back when I dry it (along with a brief rainbow sheen that appears when I'm drying with a towel and then eventually goes away). As long as I can use the dishes I'm happy, because I noticed my food tastes better when I use those dishes.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Barbara? I don't know where your comments went, but I saw the email... Corning Ware is made of Glass, so it is safe for use, even if the shiny finish has been worn away... The pieces will just be harder to clean and food will stick more.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Shane, thank you for all the great info! You are a plethora of knowledge! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Shaklee makes a natural, non-toxic cleaning paste that does wonders for restoring Corningware, even black marks on the bottom from stovetop use. All you do is rub some on with a wet sponge or paper towel and it does most of the work without the need to scrub too hard. https://www.shaklee.com/us/en/shop/healthyhome/kitchen/product-_p_scour-off-pastep?g=surfacecleaning

    ReplyDelete
  29. I use Corningware cleaner and conditioner, made by Corning for their products.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Shane,
    I tried to post a question earlier but not sure if it posted...so, here it is again..
    I have just recently began collecting CorningWare so I'm still learning but I just purchased a Cornflower Blue casserole and while cleaning it, I noticed the bottom is rippled. I saw you're comment about glass pour ripples and am wondering if that's what it is. My concern is that because you can actually FEEL the ripples, does that mean the surface is uneven and will not cook food evenly? Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you in advance,
    ~Heather

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glass ripples are fairly common. Because the cookware (versus a roaster) had such a thick bottom, the ripples really do not effect the heat distribution. They may make cleaning a bit more difficult, though. :)

      Delete
  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I found a 9 cup coffee pot that has a lot of staining on the inside. I would say it is rust from hard water. I have tried soaking it overnight in CLR and I have tried Bar Keepers Friend. Nothing is working. Do you have any suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes simmering 1/4 cup of bleach mixed with water for 15 minutes, then letting it cool to room temperature will help.

      Delete
  33. Thank you sooo much for putting together this site and sharing with us how to take care of these lovely Pyroceram cookware. I'm so happy to learn how to take care of them. I have a few that I purchased in thrift stores years ago and stored in my shed because I had no clue how to clean them. Also I didn't know you could cook with them. I thought they were to store food but I felt they were delicate. Little did I know! :) So again thank you for sharing your knowledge. It helps me bring back to life the ones I had stored away.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I found a P-332 at a thrift store today. Cleaned it up. But it has 2 very minute dings/chips in the interior. My concern is leeching. I wonder if I can place an MR-1 and bake a small roast/fowl that way? I hate to let the P-332 go for two Pinhead sized dings....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should be able to do that... But I am not sure what you mean by "leeching". Do you mean roasting juices leeching into the Corning Ware interior, or something from the Corning Ware leeching into your food?

      Corning Ware is a glass, even though it's a crystallized ceramic, so juices will not leech into the interior through the chips and degrade the dish. It might be harder to clean because the matte interior is exposed and not the shiny outer.

      There is no free lead in Corning Ware, so nothing will leech into your food from it. It's completely inert. But yes, you should be able to fit an MR-1 grill into it and still roast a chicken or duck, just fine. :)

      Delete
  35. Shane,
    Thanks for all the great tips on how to get the corningware to come clean. My question is, I have read so many articles that say BKF breaks down the Corningware and can discolor it. Have you had this issue or know of anyone that has? By breakdown, I mean makes it weaker and easier to break, not as durable. Thanks for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never heard, not experienced that. I do know that it can produce microscratches if excessive scrubbing occurres. Other than that, Corning Ware is pretty indestructible.

      Delete