Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Taming the Wild Beast Part 2 - Abused Wildflower 8 1/2 inch Rangetopper Rehabilitation Program

So I found a solution to my cleaning issues with the Corningware 8 1/2 inch Rangetopper Skillet I posted about a while back.  A slightly expensive one ($10.00), but one that worked amazingly well.

The main problem with this Rangetopper is that the black coating on the Aluminum is oil that has actually carbonized.  The oily coating on the underside has been caked on and cooked on for so long that it has literally become Coal.  Thus, no amount of Baking Soda, Hydrogen Peroxide, Barkeepers Friend, Vinegar, Bleach, Oxyclean, Awesome, Simple Green or any sort of Grease remover worked.  It's just too far gone for any sort of "grease" remover to work; cause it isn't grease anymore.  It's charcoal.

So, I broke my cardinal rule and purchased chemicals (sometimes ya just do what ya gotta do);
Carbon-Off is used in professional kitchens to remove carbon from the bottoms of pans.  But the best part is that it is safe to use on Aluminum.  Not on anodized aluminum, and definitely not on a pan with any non-stick coating (it will dissolve it), but it doesn't harm glass either, which is a bonus.

Wear gloves!  You don't want this stuff on your hands.  Be SURE to work in a well ventilated area, (like outside) and not near any painted surfaces.  This is some serious stuff.

The directions say to spray the piece liberally from 8-10 inches away and let it sit for 15 minutes, then wash off with cold water.

Honestly, this did not work for me.  I had to reapply and let it sit, and sit and sit.... for about 5 hours.  Then I scraped a section with a stick (you can use a Pampered Chef scraper too) to see if it had loosened.  A lot of the carbon had been turned into goo, but not all of it.

I went ahead and washed off the loose, gooey carbon by giving it a quick scrub with one of those green scrubby things and some cold water.... (Outside faucet, in a area away from where children & pets will be playing... This stuff will kill a septic tank too, so not inside.)  It really DID succeed in removing most of the carbon.

But I applied some more spray and let it sit over night.

Now we are getting somewhere.

Enough of the Carbon had been dissolved so I could finish the piece off with some Barkeepers Friend this morning.....

Voila!!! Shiny clean, just like a brand new penny.

OK, not really like a brand new penny; there are little itty bitty pits in the Aluminum, left from the carbonizing.  But I believe those will eventually dissolve over time, with proper usage AND proper cleaning.
Another piece of Corningware saved!!  My work here is done.

Where is your Corningware??


  1. You must have the patience of a saint! If I ever find one like that I will try the self cleaning oven suggestion of the man in the Cornflower group. Really though I am hoping I NEVER find one this abused! I am with you on the chemical thing, only as a last resort.
    If I did not insist on doing the dishes at our house all of my cookware would look like this. This oil build up you mentioned has a lot to do with poor dish washing technique, of which my husband ( bless his heart, and at least he does make an attempt ) is guilty. Hence, the really nasty cookie sheet I have. Dishes just will not be clean without good old-fashioned hot not luke-warm water and some elbow grease. And doing the greasiest dishes last. And sometimes even running a fresh sink of sudsy water. Makes sense to me and to you I am sure. Try explaining that to Himself! That is why I am so ocd about my good cookie sheets and dishes in general. I like everything squeaky clean, not pre-greased for the next meal! Gross! It is just far easier for me to do them myself, I refuse to be a nag. And I actually kind of enjoy doing dishes, I know I am weird. ;-P

  2. Thank you for the update, Shane! I was wondering how the process was going. It looks great! I appreciated your description of the carbonization process. Sheryl, I agree with your cleaning attitude! Look forward to reading about more CW adventures.

  3. Amazing! You did a great job with that pan.

    Isn't it a great feeling when you accomplish the seemingly impossible? Wear your 'I'm Not A Quitter!" badge with pride.

  4. love this blog! While my CW is in good shape, it is nice to know how to keep it that way or rescue a gem from the thrift store. I didn't know CW wasn't in stores anymore because I haven't been in one in twenty-some years (Chemical sensitivity) and do all my shopping in thrift stores.

  5. There are two methods to de-carbonize pyroceram that don't require much labor.

    The lazy way is to load your Corning Ware in a self cleaning oven and fire up the cleaning cycle.

    In the case of your aluminized pan, though, you might want to first verify that the maximum temperature of your particular oven doesn't melt an aluminum soda can or aluminum foil before you run the rangetopper through, same for any of the microwave browning pans that have metalized bottoms. Some self cleaning ovens can reportedly get within range of the melting point of aluminum. Straight Corning Ware will take the heat and come out clean.

    If you lack a self-cleaning oven then your other choice is a propane torch (NOT an oxygen or MAPP gas torch which get much hotter than straight propane). Heat around the area of the pan that you want to decarbonize using a rotary wafting motion to generalize the heat distribution and gradually focus the heat on the dirty work.

    The hottest part of the flame is the tip of the bright blue inner cone so that's where you want the flame to be touching the pan but don't hold it stationary over a single spot. A regular propane pencil torch can theoretically (but barely) melt pyroceram(!) so just heat the pan enough to get the carbon smoking really well but not so much that you see the pan glowing. Also, take it easy when applying the torch near the pattern decals which have lower melting points than the pyroceram base layer.


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