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If I need to melt margarine on the stove and have no pots or pans available, can I melt it in a thin disposable aluminum pan directly on the burner (on a low flame), or will the pan burn/melt?

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2 Answers 2

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Butter melts at such a low temp that this would work. You would want as low a flame as you can.

I would not recommend it, however. If you forget it the metal is thin enough to burn through and at least make a mess- worst case it will ignite the butter, atomize the aluminum which will unverifiably hasten the onset of Alzheimer's, and burn your house to the ground.

Butter melts at 90-95F. You can just leave the butter in the sun for a few minutes.

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Or melt it in the oven. –  rumtscho Jun 6 '12 at 18:22
    
Or put it in a zip-loc bag in your pocket. –  Sobachatina Jun 6 '12 at 18:51
    
Aluminium and Alzheimer's is just myth –  TFD Jun 6 '12 at 21:09
    
@TFD- yep. I totally agree. It is the worst case after all. What could be worse than finding a myth proven true on your brain? –  Sobachatina Jun 6 '12 at 21:28
    
Or put it in your arm pit for a minute or so :) –  Jay Jun 7 '12 at 8:41

I wouldn't risk it. Aluminum melts at 660°C and a gas flame is much hotter than that. Of course, the heat dissipates rapidly when you go away from a small flame, but these disposable pans are awfully thin and can quickly heat a lot. They are meant for the oven, which practically never exceeds 300°C.

If you really have no pan to melt in (can't you wash one? Or do you have a small kitchen) think of some other alternative vessel. You probably don't need much melted margarine at once. Consider using a cezve, or a ladle (you will have to hold the ladle over the flame). Or you can try an oven-safe porcelain mug, but you risk discoloring the mug's bottom. It is less likely that a porcelain mug will be damaged than a thin alu disposable pan, but I still wouldn't risk an expensive mug.

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Or if OP has a microwave, put the mug in the microwave. –  derobert Jun 6 '12 at 18:33
    
@derobert I don't have enough experience with microwaves - doesn't he risk frying the butter in there? But then, somebody with a kitchen small enough to not have enough pans for melting might not have a microwave either. –  rumtscho Jun 6 '12 at 18:33
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Well, in a microwave you use a low power and/or go a few seconds at a time. Its much quicker, definitely. That said, you'll need to boil it for a while before you actually drive out all the water, and you won't get the scorching you would in a saucepan (Also, I'd cover the cup in the microwave) –  derobert Jun 6 '12 at 18:38
    
@rumtscho, I've melted butter in the microwave plenty of times. You just microwave for a couple seconds at a time and usually when there is only a tiny bit of solid butter, you can swirl the container around and the heat from the melted butter and the vessel is enough to finish melting the rest of the butter. –  Jay Jun 7 '12 at 8:40

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