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Old 11-05-2014, 11:34 PM   #21
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Progress report: I've tried many of the suggestions, with limited success -- see attached photo.

I decided to shortcut the ammonia idea and just put some liquid ammonia in a Pyrex dish and set the pan in it each night. I attribute the cleaning of the copper to the ammonia.

I've been scrubbing it with Barkeeper's Friend which appears to be no different from Comet or Ajax to me: common powdered cleanser. If it has any magic qualities I haven't noticed them. I haven't noticed much change as a result of this scrubbing.

I've hit the pan with a propane torch, my nearest equivalent of setting it in the coals. (My only grill is propane fueled.) It appears that at times the thick black stuff crackles a bit. I think the ammonia loosens it some more and the BKF rubs it off.

So my progress is limited. It looks better but it will take many weeks at this rate to get the pan looking nice.
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Old 11-05-2014, 11:38 PM   #22
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Greg, try the ammonia as I suggested. Don't immerse the pan in the ammonia. Let the fumes come in contact with the pan surface. Do it outdoors, it stinks. Overnight should make a big difference.
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Old 11-06-2014, 12:11 PM   #23
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I agree with Andy. Just after getting married (37 years back now) DW told me about the ammonia in a garbage bag trick for cleaning oven grates. It worked far better than oven cleaner. I've also used it to clean my Weber grill grates. It took the carbon right off. It's also removed the gunky coating from the outside of well used cast iron frying pans.

O don't know why the ammonia vapors soften the old carbon better that ammonia liquid, but it does. I have literally wiped away the grim with paper towels after letting them sit in a closed, plastic garbage bag overnight, with a bowl of ammonia. It just works.

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Old 11-06-2014, 01:00 PM   #24
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Okay, thank you for the advice. I'll do it. I can't very well ask for advice and expect it to work if I don't keep an open mind. In fact I'll go do it right now, set it in my garage, and just forget about it until tomorrow.

It seems illogical that the fumes would work better but I hope they do. It looks like ultimately I can expect to completely restore this pan except for a few scratches, but it's going to require an onerous amount of work if I can't accelerate my progress.

As I said in the OP the brand is obvious, they were very popular in the '50s and my mom could have had it before that. It will be great to see the company logo come out from under that crud, although I'm not certain there is a logo. It will be a thrill if the logo pops out!


ETA: It's done, sitting in a corner of my garage. I propped up one end of the bag with a vase, set the pan bottom side up in the middle with the handle holding down a folded under corner of the bag and the dish of ammonia doing same on the other side of the bag, so that the bag doesn't touch the cruddy bottom of the pan. If I forget to look tomorrow then two days will probably be even better. I'll let y'all know how it works out. :)
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:24 PM   #25
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I'm just updating the topic. It's night and not a good time to take photos. Things are progressing slowly.

I've been vaporizing it at night with ammonia in a tent, and Easy Off-ing it in the daytime. I'm measuring my success by what comes off in the water (how dark it is) when I scrub it after a session.

My results:

It doesn't appear the ammonia is doing much since I see little black when I scrub the pot down after an ammonia session. However it appears the ammonia has good results with exposed copper.

The Easy-Off works the best, and I've been seeing big black runoff after several hours of my pan sitting outdoors after a spray job. I'm beginning to wonder, stupid of me to have not thought of this before. I haven't made a big deal but I have mentioned once or twice, I make soap, and I probably have more lye on hand than anybody in the forum (except the few other soapers here). I'm thinking, I should just brew up a batch of maybe 20% lye and soak it in that. I've worked with lye up to 50% but I don't want to end up with just a handle! :laugh:

Anyway I can now see the printing on the bottom: [indistinguishable - probably an emblem] Revere Ware 1/2 Qt. - 92b, Clinton Ill., U.S.A.

Really, it's been my favorite sauce pan for decades, and my mom (bless her soul, she's gone) gave it to me, and I'd be happy enough to keep using it crud and all. But I really think that after maybe $50 worth of Easy Off I might get it back to almost pristine condition!

What do you think of using lye? And if so, what percent concentration? I'm thinking maybe somewhere 20% to 33%, the latter only if I watch it every 20-30 minutes. Heck, maybe 20 minutes at 33% is all it needs!
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:28 PM   #26
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Sorry the ammonia didn't work for you. Keep us posted. You have to save the pan.
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:34 PM   #27
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Greg, do you have a Dremel with a wire brush attachment? That might do it. Use a light touch and don't forget the goggles.
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Old 11-10-2014, 10:26 AM   #28
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No problem about the ammonia. As I said it does to appear to make the copper very bright, so it's good for that. This pan has an extremely thick coating of black stuff -- it's been that way for years -- and it is quite possible that it is just too thick for ammonia to work.

Yes DL I do have a Dremel and I've been a bit crazy buying all kinds of attachments. I give your suggestion some thought, but copper is a pretty soft metal and I don't want to take any chances of unnecessarily scratching it.

At the end of each Easy Off session I've noticed the wash water is coming off with a brown color, so the lye in that product is working. It spent the night absorbing Easy Off after spraying it outside. I think I'll set it in a pan of 20% lye today and see how that goes. I'm pretty sure enough lye will eventually dissolve all the black crust. I should have thought of using lye before -- Easy Off is just aerosol lye, and lye crystals are far, far cheaper.

I'll try remember to add a picture later today. It has come a long ways since the OP. Enough so that I think eventual success is assured. Even crudded up this pan has worked nicely for decades, my favorite 1/2 Qt. sauce pan, but it will be even more pleasure if I get it looking like new, and with its long history in my use and being used by my mother before me.

It's funny, I think I can restore it to like new condition. That's amazing since it must be 50+ years old. I hope they had manufacture dates stamped in, I'd like to date this old pan.
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Old 11-10-2014, 10:47 AM   #29
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I thought this crud was a recent occurrence. I didn't realize you've been using it like this for years. What prompted your "come to jesus moment"?
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Old 11-10-2014, 10:52 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks View Post
I'm just updating the topic. It's night and not a good time to take photos. Things are progressing slowly.

I've been vaporizing it at night with ammonia in a tent, and Easy Off-ing it in the daytime. I'm measuring my success by what comes off in the water (how dark it is) when I scrub it after a session.

My results:

It doesn't appear the ammonia is doing much since I see little black when I scrub the pot down after an ammonia session. However it appears the ammonia has good results with exposed copper.

The Easy-Off works the best, and I've been seeing big black runoff after several hours of my pan sitting outdoors after a spray job. I'm beginning to wonder, stupid of me to have not thought of this before. I haven't made a big deal but I have mentioned once or twice, I make soap, and I probably have more lye on hand than anybody in the forum (except the few other soapers here). I'm thinking, I should just brew up a batch of maybe 20% lye and soak it in that. I've worked with lye up to 50% but I don't want to end up with just a handle! :laugh:

Anyway I can now see the printing on the bottom: [indistinguishable - probably an emblem] Revere Ware 1/2 Qt. - 92b, Clinton Ill., U.S.A.

Really, it's been my favorite sauce pan for decades, and my mom (bless her soul, she's gone) gave it to me, and I'd be happy enough to keep using it crud and all. But I really think that after maybe $50 worth of Easy Off I might get it back to almost pristine condition!

What do you think of using lye? And if so, what percent concentration? I'm thinking maybe somewhere 20% to 33%, the latter only if I watch it every 20-30 minutes. Heck, maybe 20 minutes at 33% is all it needs!
Lye will work. I use a box of drain cleaner in 5 gallons of water. It will probably destroy the handle, although it doesn't destroy food safe buckets. For your pan I would soak the bottom only in a couple of inches of liquid. It will take a couple of days. It is not going to hurt the metal parts of the pan. In general, lye only attacks organic matter.

Used incorrectly, lye is nasty stuff. Keep it away from the animals, and read the directions.
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