When nerds cook.

Found this while searching for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for work. This is an excerpt only. It’s worth going to the site and skimming the comments and suggestions.

“Physics Help and Math Help – Physics Forums > PF Lounge > General Discussion > Need help, from chemists or maybe nuclear engineers


01-14-2007, 09:12 PM

Burnt olive oil has resulted in some sort of weird carbon deposits on a steel pan, which resists most usual surfacant attacks and other mainstream methods. (Actually I have a whole spectrum of similar problems, due to low water pressure in my new dishwasher). I’m not going to waste any time with any manual, mechanical methods – what’s a quick and easy chemical way to solve these problems in general (without damaging stainless steel or borosilicate glass)? Already tried 91% isopropanol.


01-14-2007, 09:13 PM

Oh yeah, and I don’t got no fume hood or NRC license, so that limits the options…


01-14-2007, 09:16 PM

Hmm. On a related note, how does one know the correct temperature for sauteing, and how not to exceed it? Infrared thermometer? Is an inert gas (N2) fire extinguisher appropriate for fixing errors?


01-14-2007, 09:20 PM

As a cook, I say usually you don’t want to use olive oil when you need to cook at high temperatures.

As a chemist, I say try something like nail polish remover. ethyl acetate/acetone are excellent choices for cleaning glass wear a lot of times.

Also try soaking the pan with baking soda and letting it sit over night. Sometimes this nifty trick works magic at cleaning some of the toughest dirty pan problems.


01-14-2007, 09:32 PM

Interesting suggestions. Hopping over right now to CVS for some nail polish remover and baking soda. I’d actually been thinking about both, but waiting for a real chemist to chime in.


01-14-2007, 09:35 PM

Is the action of the baking soda simply due to the basicity? Would it work faster with a strong base like NaOH/KOH?


01-14-2007, 09:37 PM

Actually, these things probably need formal consideration. Why are there no products marketed for this purpose (other than liquid detergent and steel wool, which are suboptimal)? I think I’ll need to do some thorough, controlled, documented experimentation here.


01-14-2007, 09:41 PM

On second thought, there’s a polycarbonate container involved also (blender), so acetone/ethyl acetate is ruled out. Other reasonable solvents – methanol? Pentane?

What about strong oxidizers, like bleach and “oxygen bleach” (peroxide)? I saw a cleaning product marketed for laundry in CVS, contains percarbonates, what about those?


01-14-2007, 09:41 PM

My wife suggests (from experience) to soak the pan in hot water and dishsoap overnight and then scrub with baking soda (which is non-abrasive).

Chemically, carbon disulphide (CS2) might work – but it reeks like rotten eggs.

Or use Citrusol – http://citrusol.com/index.html – or see their industrial page –

Or use Goop, which I used to use on heavy duty grease and carbon deposits on my hands and arms. http://www.goophandcleaner.com/orange_v2.htm
http://www.goophandcleaner.com/original_v2.htm – probably available at a hardware store – one of these fine retailers ( :biggrin: ) – http://www.goophandcleaner.com/get_goop_v2.html”


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