I was boiling eggs and fell asleep. I think it was boiling dry for about an hour, would the pot be unsafe to cook with now?

It was clean inside but the outside is now slightly yellow tinged. Does stainless steel have any kind of coating in it that might of burnt off? I don't really want to throw the pot away as it is 18/10 and pretty expensive, but I don't want to risk my health.


  • 1
    Tangentially related: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/719/1672 If you remove them from the heat once they come to a boil, this is less likely to happen!
    – Cascabel
    Jul 20, 2013 at 2:53
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    You only discolored the outside? I wasn't tending some stock once when I was reducing some stock (wow, that stinks when it burns ... imagine burned hair), and managed to blacken the inside ... it never did scrub clean, but I put enough hours into it and a few attempts at boiling to loosen it up that I decided just to go with it ... so it's been stained for years now.
    – Joe
    Jul 20, 2013 at 4:14
  • 18/10 composition is in the 18/8 family , primarily AISI 304 ( and 301, 302, etc). Dec 29, 2019 at 16:20

7 Answers 7


Stainless steel pots are pretty much indestructable and it should be safe to cook with. Just give it a good cleaning. Some hardwarevstores (lowes) have a ss cleaner that might get rid of the yellow tinge. Otherwise, it'll look like every other well used ss pot.

18/10 ss is 18% chromium, 10% nickel, and balance in iron and stable to higher temperatures. If you didn't drop the hot pot in cold water, or the bottom is really thick, you shouldn't have warping issues either.

An egg timer might be handy next time ;)

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    If you have hard water, a soak in vinegar can be helpful. A cooked on veneer of calcium carbonate, or similar water minerals, can make food stick to the surface of the pan very tightly. Vineger will dissolve the stuff completely. Jul 20, 2013 at 12:36
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    My GF did this with an aluminum tea pot and melted the bottom out. She did it again a week later with one of my saucepots (because her teapot was melted), and the pan was fine, but the aluminum-core base came off. Scratch one pot. That said, I have pitted a pan with salt water used for steaming, and had a grease fire in another (GF needs to stick to salads maybe). Both are fine, and I use them all the time.
    – JSM
    Jul 15, 2014 at 21:51

Stainless steel is not coated, and will not be permanently harmed by any temperatures achievable in the home. It melts at about 1500 C (2750 F).

It might be warped or discolored, but it is fine to use.


You might want to try to use Barkeepers Friend or Bon Ami. This is what allclad recommends for a task like this. I have removed many stains from my allclad with these products even on the polished side of the pans. It works great. Super cheap product as well.


I burn stainless pots regularly and pretty much don't worry about them unless they impart a burnt taste to the food and hopefully even then they are safe. I've found they best way to get the burn off is to apply a wet coat of baking soda to the inside of the pan and leave it there for a couple of days. It should then scrub clean pretty easily. If not, try boiling with baking soda and water.


I have signed up just to reply to your question . The yellow color you see is the temper color of the steel. It is used after quenching(hardening) to temper the hardness of the blade to soften it a bit up , a knife that is too hard doesent mean it is tough , apply a bit of force to it and it will snap in 2 or a million pieces, you make the blade tougher by slowly heating up and watching the "temper colors" of the steel and depending on what you are making you want a different temper on different steels and tools you make , so for example if you make a knife you want to get to that yellow or what we call straw color , for an axe you want to soften it a bit further to maybe purple color. The yellow stain can be removed with scratching(sandpaper) as this color is formed only on the surface layer you can also try using vinegar and baking soda or maybe even just with vinegar , it is rather quick...I learned this the hard way. I have made a knife and I wanted to keep the temper colors on the spine of the knife , it was a little rusty when I left it for a few days so I placed it in vinegar to remove it , this removed the temper colors as well.. Good luck I might be too late for this post. XD Oh by the way no need for special products just use plain old white vinegar and baking soda.

Forging temperature of steel is much higher yes but tempering of steel is done at the range of 250-350 °celsius Which keeping a pot on a stove can definitely achieve .. I've used an oven to temper my blades it works flawlessly.

  • 1
    This question is about a pot, not a knife. Do you know if the same thing is true for stainless steel pots?
    – Elenna123
    Sep 20, 2019 at 17:23
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    @Elenna123 Steel doesn't know if it's a pot or a knife.
    – Sneftel
    Dec 28, 2019 at 23:14

If it is a non-stick pan then you definitely run the risk of health issues.


Stainless steel is forged at a temperature far higher then what you could do in your kitchen. The issue is more with warping because it causes uneven heating. But if it's a pot filled with water it shouldn't be that much of an issue.

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    I am sure the OP would have mentioned if it was nonstick.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jul 20, 2013 at 2:03

I accidentally overheated one when it was empty and clean. It copper tinted allover on the inside. I expect the copper color is from copper melting/vaporizing out of the stainless steel alloy, and that this left some porosity in the inside surface. Other metals may also have melted out. Leaving an email message with a representative of the company that made the pan, which came in a set, resulted in no reply back. So, I assume there is a potential hazard, even more.

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    Colors like copper, blue and purple are caused by different thickness of oxides ; the same as motorcycle exhaust pipe colors. A civilian is never going to encounter a stainless containing copper ( eg Incoloy 825 ) , or porosity. Oct 18, 2017 at 19:38
  • Wouldn’t it make more sense to assume they either were too busy to respond, or that something just was forgotten, then to assume that the lack of reply was because your pan is now a safety hazard? Oct 18, 2017 at 22:14
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    Your stove is not capable of "melting/vaporizing" copper.
    – Sneftel
    Dec 28, 2019 at 23:15

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