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Old Stainless Steel Cookware – Still Good?


asterix2k10
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I have a set of Demeyere Apollo stainless steel cookware that is 12+ years old. It has been used a lot and I have not exactly babied it. Sometimes I have badly burned them and have used steel wool a fair number of times. The surfaces are very scratched and discolored. They still function okay, it seems, but I am concerned about contamination from the surface being worn. I am worried the aluminum core underneath could be exposed. How would I know? Also, I read about nickel contamination in food. Are there any dangers with continuing to use this cookware? Thanks!

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Yes, very dangerous. Send it my way.

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Asterix2k10, since this is your first post (welcome to eGullet!) I'll elaborate on Joe Blowe's response: they're fine. I think your major problem is likely to be continued discoloration (which clearly doesn't bother you) and the tendency of food to stick. Granted, stainless steel isn't advertised as a nonstick surface, but with a smooth interior, and the right technique and ingredients - say, deglazing the pan after sauteing something, to make a great sauce - you shouldn't have much scrubbing to do. The more scratched the surface, the more things are likely to stick.

As for exposing the aluminum core: first off, it would take a really deep, really obvious gouge or pockmark or depression to go all the way through the stainlesslayer. You'd be able to see it. Secondly, remember that aluminum pans are fairly common for cooking. You won't poison yourself by getting the food in contact with aluminum.

I haven't heard about nickel contamination from stainless steel. Unless this is a brand-new, well-researched issue, I'd say that food-grade stainless steel is a safe alloy to continue cooking. I'd add my name to the distribution list (behind Joe Blowe) but have plenty of favorite cookware already.

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Considering that it's stainless steel all around the outside, I would recommend spraying it down with a thick coating of heavy duty oven cleaner, sealing it inside a heavy duty garbage bag for 24 hours, and then rinsing it off. You will be surprised how much of that discoloration will disappear. In fact, this should be your go-to technique any time you really dirty up a piece of stainless.

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Also get yourself some fine steel wool at the hardware store and buff out the interiors.

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I'm a bit lazy when it comes to removing cooking stains from the inside and burn stains from the bottom of my cookery. Most of those stains are like a badge of honor anyway..... kinda proud of them, if you know my meaning. HOWEVER! A while back I did need to make some fry pans a little more presentable so I pulled out my Black and Decker drill -mounted the circular sanding device to it applied a couple strips of velcro to the sanding surface.....and to that, pressed on three nice fat bundles of steel wool......and went to it. The spinning action of the steel wool really caused havoc with the stains on the bottom of the pans. The final stage was to add some Comet Cleanser and a few drops of oil as a polishing agent. I was having so much fun I even did the neighbor ladies pans for her.

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after you do what

bucksnort

suggests, there are finer and finer polishing compounds available at HD or Harbor Freight. using a buffing attachment for a hand drill it key

use some eye protection. remember to clean the buffing attachment well as you go down in grit: it will buff to the largest grit on the pad. these things are very cheap now days.

work your way through these pages to get an idea:

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result?q=buffing

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=polishing+compound

this give you a start on understanding the 'color codes' for grit:

http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=68391

http://www.caswellplating.com/buffman.htm

remember to have a clean buffing attachment!

Edited by rotuts (log)
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