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Old 08-17-2007, 01:31 PM   #1
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What to look for in a copper pan

Hi, Im thinking of buying a copper pan, maybe a frying pan or possibly a "paila" which doesnt translate to English as far as I know. It's like a wok with a handle on either side. The gypsies here in Chile handcraft copper pans and sell them in the street. Im not sure how much they go for, but copper makes up 30% of Chile's exports so I imagine I could get a good price for a copper pan.
What should I look for in a good copper pan? H
ow thick should the copper be? I heard if its too thin it will bend with the heat. Though the ones Ive seen look pretty substancial.
How can you tell if the pan is copper-coated or completely made out of copper? Is there a way to tell just looking at it?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 08-17-2007, 02:19 PM   #2
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In addition to the thickness of the copper, you have to consider the type of materal used to line the interior/cooking surface. Tin and stainless steel are the two common ones. If the copper is thick enough (someone will know how thick it should be) then a SS interior will give you the most worry-free and long-lasting surface. Tin linings wear off anf eventually you have to pay for re-tinning. Some say the tin has a slight advantage in cooking.
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Old 08-17-2007, 03:18 PM   #3
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thickness 2 to 2.5 mm thick copper. lining of tin nickle or stainless steel. artisinal pans would probably be tin, look for "wipe marks" meaning it has been been hand tinned and has a thick coating. TInned copper is excellent, tin in non reactive but naturally darkens with age. Never scour tin, soak food off with proper deglazing, and or soaking.

copper is the most conductive metal for heat so it heats up and cools off fast.

I have several handmade copper pots (beautifully hammered, well tinned...they cook beautifully. enjoy
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Old 08-19-2007, 02:36 AM   #4
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Does copper pans heat faster than copper pans with the tin?
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:50 AM   #5
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I would doubt that street gypsys would have a way to line with stainless steel, so, probably the lining would be tin. Looking at the edge of the pot will tell you how thick the copper and lining is. So too will simply hefting a few pots. The heaviest ones will have the most copper. I would look carefully at the construction, particularly the handles and how they are attached. Rivets should be large and well peened with no handle movement. Turn the interior to reflect the light and check for weak spots in the tin. Tin will wear eventually, thin tin will wear faster. I like cast iron handles, but brass works equally well, and the Chilean copper that I have has brass handles. Wood handles will not go in the oven. Copper cookware is heavy, so it should feel good in your hands. Paella is a spanish dish always containing saffron and rice that is traditionally cooked and served in a large low sided pan with two handles. Most likely, this is your paila pan. Looking at several of these pots and pans and comparing them will soon tell you what to look for. In a country that has an abundance of copper and tin and low cost labor that is proud of their craftsmanship, I am betting that you can find quality pots at giveaway prices. Wish I had this opportuniy.
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:59 AM   #6
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llvllagical llkook: Copper and tin have approximately the same heat coefficient. The reason for the tin lining is that copper is very reactive, which is why it turns blue. Tin is non reactive but is soft and melts at 450 degrees, so do not use it for searing. For smoking hot cooking, IMO there is only cast iron. Stainless steel linings are non reactive, but SS does not heat as well. But is easier to care for than tin-copper.
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Old 03-26-2008, 12:49 PM   #7
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huachita,
I am not sure where in Chile you live, I have been there (was born in Argentina and grew up in Brazil), Santiago and seen the pailas you are talking about.
They are tinned and most of the ones I've seen were for display than for regular use, perhaps in the North (Antofogasta) you can get heavy duty stuff.

When looking for one, bring a caliper with you and check the wall thickness at the pan rim area. It should be at least 1.8 mm if the pan walls are hand hammered or 2.0 mm if they are plain. Handles are riveted, put something heavy on the pan and lift it to see the handles don't give up or bend. The pan should feel really heavy, as Cooper has heavier density than Iron or Steel.

As Bigjim68 suggested, check the pan against the light to verify the tin coating or, if allowed, pour water on it and rub a sponge on the pan surface. If after a few minutes, the water turns darker (blueish) is a sign of cooper oxidation and that the coating is "bleeding" somewhere. This is not a safe condition to use, specially when cooking reactive or acidic food with tomatoes, wine, citrics, etc. This will not completely verify the coating and its thickness, but is a quick and dirty procedure to check it.

Relative to Robo410's comment: Silver is the best metallic heat conductor, not Cooper. Cooper is a close second, and Gold after that.
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:30 AM   #8
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Wink Mauviel

Mauviel makes what you are looking for & a few others.

I have a 3 pc set with the cuprinox (copper plus stainless interior, 2.5mm), which is their highest grade. I have the fry pan, saute and saucepan, all with cast iron handles. These theoretically don't get as hot as the brass handles - but that doesn't work out in practice as my burned hands could attest.

I've polished mine several times, but they seem hopelessly stained now.

Tuesday Morning has a good selection now that are value priced - even those are expensive, however.
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Old 03-27-2008, 11:20 AM   #9
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It is doubtful to me that your copper cookware is hopelessly stained. Try a copper cleaner, I use Wrights because the grocers here carry it and it is inexensive. Probably any of those recommended here or available in your area would work If you have caked on burn that is too thick for the copper cleaner, I have at times taken a Scotchbrite pad and carefully (with one finger) taken the burned spot down nearly to the copper, and then copper cleaner will take it off.
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:24 PM   #10
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pugger,

Echoing Bigjim68 comments, cooper cookware stains can be cleaning. You just need the proper cleaner, patience and careful when storing it.
I never tried Wrights, but I used it for silver and it is really good. Macy's sells a Belgique cooper cleaner that is also good (I used samples and works great).
I clean all my cooper cookware with a mix of lemon juice and table salt right after use, if I leave a pot without use for quite a while it will oxidize (get darker) but never stained.

I would imagine that Barkeepers friend is also good for removing stains and also Coke and salt (because of the phosphoric acid), but I never used them.

Back to the original question, huachita was looking for advise on cooper cookware so she may buy some from Chilean's street vendors. I don't think they know about Mauviel LOL
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