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A couple of times I ruin good non-sticking (teflon) pans in the same way - I fry or roast a bell pepper with too little fat, the pepper juices stick to the non-stick surface and I have to use really hard steel wool to scrub them off.

One problem is that no-matter how hard I scrub, small spots remain on the pan's surface and after that almost everything I fry tends to stick there (even with enough oil). The other problem is that at least in a few cases, I've managed to dent the non-stick coating so deeply that metal showed through.

This time, it is my favorite Bialetti pot (water boiled out while I forgot to turn off steamed peppers) and I want to make everything possible to save it.

Any suggestions are welcome...

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Are you sure you were scrubbing off the pepper juices and not the non-stick surface? The surface could be already damaged – deformed and partially separated because heated too much. –  Jacek Konieczny Feb 8 '12 at 14:12
    
After the first time I am avoiding scrubbing too hard/using metal scrubber, but then the problem is that small spots remain. I have no problem with heat-damaged coating - in the case where the metal showed through it was just deeply scratched (I was using metal scrubber and a wooden piece to press hard against the pan). –  ddimitrov Feb 8 '12 at 14:23
    
Have you tried simply soaking it overnight in soapy water to loosen the burnt bits? –  ElendilTheTall Feb 8 '12 at 14:42
    
That was the first thing I tried - it helps for almost everything but bell-pepper juice. –  ddimitrov Feb 8 '12 at 14:44
    
How about a mild acid like vinegar or lemon juice? Or you could try mixing vinegar with cream of tartar which reacts together to make a quite effective cleaning paste. –  ElendilTheTall Feb 8 '12 at 19:01

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I don't want to disappoint you, but I have never been able to remove burnt-on pepepr juices - and in my case, they are on stainless steel, which can be cleaned with much harsher methods than non-stick. Most of the stuff went away, but small spots remained on my pot too.

I would advise to leave out all scrubbing. It is not very efficient even on steel, and it can easily damage a non-stick surface. Non-stick happens to be a chemically inert molecule, but it is very susceptible to physical damage.

The nice side of "chemically inert molecule" is that it can withstand a lot of chemical solvents - and these are better for burnt-on stuff anyway. I would go in there with concentrated acid first (citric acid solution at around 2 pH - try it in the same way as decalcifying a kettle, but use a higher concentration than written on the sachet), then, after a really good washing, switch to a base (for example a very concentrated baking soda solution, I would be afraid to use lye on a non-stick pan because it could seep through scratches to the interface between alu and non-stick surface and start corrosion spots). If that doesn't help, probably nothing will.

And I would strongly recommend to not roast peppers in a non-stick pot. Roasted peppers need very high temperatures. Non-stick coatings start changing their properties at around 250°C, this is a low-to-middle hot setting on most stoves (my resistive stove goes from 1 to 9 and 4 is already too hot for non-stick). The best method is a broiler in the oven, but if you don't have that, you can consider using a steel or iron pan which you don't mind accumulating some discoloration and spots (they are not too problematic on steel), or putting alu foil directly on the (resistive) hob and discarding it after the roasting.

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Soak it with a solution of water and biological washing detergent. The enzymatic action loosens most things.

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