How to clean a copper pan: 6 ways you never thought of

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  December 1, 2020
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The eye wants something too!

Rustic or store-new, that’s how you clean copper pans naturally

Would you like to keep that beautiful appearance of a new pan without artificial means? Or do you like the natural aging process of your copper pan but just want to keep it clean in the right way?

How to clean a copper pan 6 ways you never thought of

This is perfectly possible, but a copper pan certainly needs a little more love than an aluminum or steel pan.

In this article, you can learn the best methods for maintaining copper pans and how to apply them even without purchasing new products!

Also read: the benefits of using copper pans

In short, these are the best ways to clean your copper pans:

Below I will further discuss all the methods and show you how to keep your copper pans clean and beautiful.

Do I have to brush my copper pan?

No, in principle you shouldn’t. The beautiful shine of a pan is not a requirement for the product to function.

With use, the pan will show discoloration, among other things due to the action of heat and the rapid oxidation process of copper, which creates a rather rustic appearance. Do you personally like this very much or does it not bother you? Then it is no problem to keep your pots and pans with this look.

But we all know the image of a long line of copper pans decorating the set of cooking shows.

You often see them even before the chef catches your eye, arranged from small to large above the kitchen island, while the intense light reflects the beautiful shine. The atmosphere created by these pots and pans did as much for our enjoyment as the cooking itself. In fact, for many people, a copper pan is an heirloom that will remain within the same family for generations and so they want to take care of it as best they can.

For this aesthetic importance of your copper pan, we can propose different methods.

Some of the consumables might surprise you and most of them don’t even require you to go to the store specifically.

How do I shine my copper pan?

The short answer? Pure nature.

Forget expensive copper polish. Avoid using dishwashers and aggressive agents, especially those containing bleach.

This can seriously deteriorate both the quality and appearance of your pan. Do you just want to brush the pan without shining?

Then a soft sponge with a less aggressive soap variant and warm water is more than sufficient.

Also read: the first use of copper and, what to do and what not to

But to make your pan shine, all you have to do is open the cupboards and collect some everyday cooking supplies.

Salt and white wine vinegar / vinegar

This method is known as the most effective with one of the fastest actions.

This is how you clean a pan with salt and white wine vinegar:

  1. Place the pan in the sink and cover the pan with salt
  2. Pour a small amount of vinegar over the pan and then add a little more salt
  3. Leave on for 15 seconds. It’s already starting to look cleaner!
  4. Take a cloth or sponge and cover it with vinegar. Start brushing
  5. Add some salt on the sides and scrub it too
  6. Rinse with warm water

Lemon juice and baking soda

How do you clean your copper pan with lemon juice and baking soda? This is how:

  1. Mix the juice and soda together until it forms a nice whole
  2. Apply the mixture to the pan and brush until the pan shines again
  3. Rinse with warm water

Lemon and salt

You can also clean your pan with a mixture of lemon and salt. To do this follow these steps:

  1. Cut the lemon in half and add salt to the cut side
  2. Rub the lemon over the pan and add more salt if necessary
  3. Rinse with warm water

Maybe unexpected, but it works too!

Cleaning your copper pan with Ketchup

This may come as a surprise, but ketchup is very effective at removing the oxidation layer.

This method is best to use when dealing with a few oxidation spots. This way you can avoid a whole ketchup junk! This is how you clean your pan with ketchup:

  1. Apply a layer of ketchup in the necessary places
  2. Let the ketchup sit for a few minutes
  3. Polish with a sponge or cloth
  4. Rinse with warm water

Use toothpaste to clean your pan

Toothpaste not only works for you, but can also breathe new life into a copper pan. This works best if you first make sure that any caked on residue is removed.

Here’s how you can clean your pan with toothpaste:

  1. Make sure that caked-on residue is removed
  2. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to the pan
  3. Scrub the pan while you keep it under running
  4. Rinse with warm water

Cola and similar soft drinks

Even Coca Cola can help you polish your pans!

The fact that, like various polishes and the above cooking products, contain a certain degree of acidity, Cola can dissolve the oxidation layer on the copper. To clean the pan with cola you need quite a bit of cola:

  1. Submerge the pan in enough liquid to cover the copper edges
  2. Leave it on for 3-4 hours
  3. Rinse with warm water

What about the inside of my copper pan?

Here too you can opt for a natural method. Most copper pans now have a stainless steel interior.

Just like the copper exterior, a dishwasher can damage this layer. But sometimes you have very stubborn food residues or discolorations that you cannot get away, even if you soak the pan overnight. You can do this in a similar way as before with the use of vinegar and baking soda. Below you can find three different ways to proceed.

Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of vinegar and baking soda. Let this rest for 2-3 minutes and wash it out.

Now fill the pan with a mix of vinegar and water (1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water) and bring it to a boil. Let it rest until it cools and wash the pan.

For the more stubborn stains or self-burnt areas:

mix water and baking soda until it forms a paste.
Apply this on the affected areas and leave it on for 15 minutes.
Scrub with a sponge or cloth.
Wash out the pan and add some vinegar and water with a small amount of baking soda.
Heat this for about 15 minutes before draining the mix and scrubbing the pan.

To remember…

Whichever method you choose to use, it is important that you know that you can work in a completely natural way and that you can perfectly avoid the products that can harm both your pan and your health.

Whether you want to cultivate the rustic look or keep the shine, the right tools are important to ensure a longer life for your cookware. So feel free to experiment with all the means we have proposed and choose your favorite method!

Also read: Food is sticking to my copper pan, this is what you can do

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.