I love copper cookware and I think you’ll agree with me that clean copper cookware sparkles when new or old, is beautiful to look at, and, if you’re like me, it will captivate your mind for a few seconds. It most certainly adds a touch of class to any kitchen. When I’m out and about shopping and happen by a full rack of shiny copperware it always catches my eye even though it’s quite expensive when compared to other types of cookware.
Just gaze for a moment at the photo above and you’ll get my drift. Hanging a few copper pots or pans in your kitchen will instantly change the mood and decor. There’s just something magical, at least for me, about copper cookware that other types of cookware don’t do.
However, being realistic about the matter, there’s one pitfall of having copper cookware. The the fact is that it gets dirty and tarnished rather easily as you use it for cooking. Not to be easily discouraged, I researched this dilemma for some time and I’ve discovered a few interesting facts about cleaning copper. There’s no need to despair because in short order we’re going to share 5 brilliant, quick and easy ways to clean copper cookware to a mirror-like shine and keep it looking its best all without resorted to expensive store-bought copper cleaning products.
What’s The Real Story?
Even though you might shy away from home cleaning solutions thinking that the way to go is to buy expensive store-bought products that will do the best job, you might be shocked to learn as I did that the main ingredient in most products is 1 type of acid or another. The acid found in a lemon and vinegar are different forms but are 2 of the types that are found in most store-bought products. So why not make your own homemade solutions that will perform just as well as the store bought versions and save you a hefty sum of money along the way?
Revealing pH Values Tell All
Let’s discuss acid for a minute. The strength of an acid is measured using a scale that is known as the pH value. The pH scale is a way to measure how acidic or how basic a solution is.
The scale begins at a pH value of zero which is the most acidic and ends at a value of 14 which is the least acidic but the most basic or alkaline. A pH value of 7 is non-acidic and non-alkaline and it is at the point at which a solution isn’t acidic or alkaline so it would be considered neutral.
Don’t be overly concerned or mistaken about the numbers. One number lower means the acid in question is 10 times more powerful than the number just above it. To sum up the reading of the pH scale in the context of our discussion about acid: the closer to zero an acid is the more powerful it is.
There are several types of acid including acetic, citric, tartaric, and hydrochloric which are the most common to use to clean copper.
For the record, the debate of which is stronger lemon or vinegar can be put to bed for good once you put science to use and understand the pH value scale. Lemon is the stronger of the 2 in general. Lemon contains citric acid and vinegar contains acetic acid, both of which are considered weak acids but the lemon with citric acid is slightly stronger coming in at a ph of 2 while white vinegar with its acetic acid comes in at slightly weaker with a ph value of 2.4.
Back to our main discussion about cleaning copper cookware, even though copper cookware is expensive, we promise that our ideas for cleaning copper are inexpensive, quick and easy to do. More specifically, we’ll be examining ways to clean copper cookware using simple everyday ingredients such as salt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, cream of tartar, baking soda, and our old standby, vinegar.
It Gets Better:
We’re even going to rate the different methods for you in terms of how aggressive they are ranging from the least aggressive to the most powerful and practical aggressive method we know of.
So without further ado let’s get started right now with copper cookware cleaning tip number 1.
1. Least Aggressive Copper Cleaning
Worcestershire Sauce – I’m not a huge fan of the taste Worcestershire sauce provides but it does have one redeeming quality. It makes an excellent cleaning product for copper cookware.
Simply soak a sponge with Worcestershire sauce and rub the sponge over the surface of your dirty copper pots and pans and let the sauce dwell (I love the word dwell because it means less work for me) on the copper for a measly 1 or 2 minutes. Then wipe it off and rinse your cookware.
You’ll be amazed at the results when using this simple process to restore your copper cookware to a new-like condition!
2. Slightly Aggressive Copper Cleaning
Salt and Vinegar – Since acid is the main chemical used in cleaning copper it makes perfect sense to use vinegar to clean copper cookware. Combine the vinegar with table salt and you have a combination that rocks when it comes to cleaning copper. We give this combination a rating of slightly aggressive because we are going to force the salt to dissolve which reduces the abrasiveness and hence, the cleaning power of this technique.
Begin by pouring into a spray bottle 3 tablespoons of common table salt. Then fill the bottle with vinegar. If you desire, you can make the mixture stronger by using white vinegar instead of other vinegar because the white vinegar has a higher acidic value than all other vinegar.
Next, shake the solution until the salt dissolves completely. Spray your copper cookware liberally with the solution and let it dwell for ten to twelve minutes. Finally, you can give the surface a good scrub using a sponge before you rinse and dry the copperware.
3. Moderately Aggressive Copper Cleaning
Lemon Juice and Cream of Tartar – I know that cream of tartar isn’t high on my list of spices that one uses every day but it’s interesting to note that it comes to us as a by-product of making wine. Bet you didn’t know that.
In any case, cream of tartar can be combined with lemon juice to make a great paste used to clean copper that works quickly. Mix both of them together making a paste that’s just thin enough to easily spread onto your copper pots and pans but still remains thick enough to cling to your cookware.
Apply the paste to your dirty copper pots and pans using a soft clean cloth and let this one dwell (there’s that word again) for 5 minutes. Finally, wash your pots and pans with warm soapy water, rinse and dry and you’ll discover a shiny like-new piece of cookware.
4. Mildly Aggressive Copper Cleaning
Lemon Juice and Baking Soda – We’ve written about cleaning with baking soda before. In fact, we’ve dubbed baking soda as a super product because it has so many uses and so we should expect it to make it entrance here and it doesn’t disappoint.
For this mixture, you’ll want to combine several teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 or 2 tablespoons of baking soda together. You can use a soft cloth to apply and scrub the mixture onto your copperware. In short order, you’ll notice the grime will start to disappear.
For the final step, you can polish your copper cookware using a clean soft microfiber cloth.
5. Powerful Aggressive Copper Cleaning
We’ve saved the best and most powerful cleaning combo for last.
And the best part:
You don’t need cream of tartar or Worcestershire sauce.
Fresh Lemon and Table Salt – If you don’t have any cream of tartar or Worcestershire sauce lying around your home then you’ll love this next copper cleaning tip. For this to work, you’ll need half of a lemon and some ordinary table salt. You’ll need a bit of elbow grease, as well, with this cleaning technique but this solution will work on stubborn copperware stains much better than any other technique will.
Simply pour some salt onto a plate, coarse salt is best but ordinary fine table salt will do. Next cut a fresh lemon in half. Dip the lemon into the salt and begin scrubbing the dirt and stains off your pots and pans using the salted side of the lemon half.
The salt provides abrasive action to scrub off and remove the stains while the lemon juice has a mild acidic content which aids in cleaning most surfaces of any type. The 2 of them together make for a killer combination that’s hard to beat.
Lastly, rinse your copperware with warm soapy water, then rinse with clean water and dry completely. Your copper cookware with gleam and you’ll be delighted with the outcome!
That’s it for our tips on how to clean your copper cookware. We sincerely hope you’ve learned a method or two that you can use to keep your copperware looking like new.
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Thank you for reading and we’ll look forward to seeing you again.
Thanks very much, this saved my Dad’s copper based pot that I inherited and I love to use!