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I was boiling water in two pots, presumably stainless steel. I got distracted and the pots completed overheated and dried. After cooling down the pots, I find them both have brownish grey residual inside (I don't care about the outside), and one of the smells strange. Are they still safe to use? Thank you!

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  • Could you post a picture of the pots? The residue could just be minerals that was in the water, but it's hard to tell without a picture.
    – user141592
    Jan 16, 2015 at 22:15
  • A vinegar scrub'll usually take care of that crud. Jan 17, 2015 at 0:20
  • Thank you guys for your help! Sorry I did try to download pix but not able.
    – Amma
    Jan 17, 2015 at 1:32

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Yes, they are still safe to use. You aren't going to be able to heat them to the point where the metal starts breaking down — at least, not without starting a fire.

Your only concern might be if your pots have a nonstick coating, which can be damaged above temperatures of 500 F and begin emitting noxious fumes. According to DuPont:

The fumes that are released by overheated [Teflon coatings] can produce symptoms referred to as "polymer fume fever" — flu-like symptoms that are relatively quickly reversed in humans.

The residue you're seeing is likely just some mineral deposits that, as mentioned, can be removed with vinegar or other food-safe solvent.

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