I've noticed this discoloration on or near the bottom of my saucepan, which stays even after cleaning. When dry, parts of the pan will appear slightly pinkish or greenish. Furthermore, there is often some white staining.

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Is this a cleaning issue (given that I haven't entirely been good with cleaning the pan out promptly)? Or is this perhaps related to something lile my water supply? The saucepan appears to be made of stainless steel.

  • I think we have even more questions regarding stains, if somebody finds more (old) duplicates, please vote to close so we can concentrate the information in one place
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 9:17

1 Answer 1


If Your Sauce Pan is Stainless Steel All grades of stainless steels are iron-based alloys with significant percentages of chromium. Typically, stainless steels contain less than 30% chromium and more than 50% iron. Their stainless characteristics stem from the formation of an invisible, adherent, protective and self-healing chromium-rich oxide (Cr2O3) surface film. While stainless steels are resistant to rusting at room temperatures, they're prone to discoloration by oxidation at elevated temperatures due to the presence of chromium and other alloying elements such as titanium and molybdenum.

Factors that contribute to increased oxidation include high dew points, high oxygen and oxides of lead, boron and nitrides on the surface. For bright stainless steels, process them in a highly reducing atmosphere with a dew point lower than –40oF and a minimum of 25% hydrogen.

How to treat Heat Stains A quick dip in an HCl solution followed by a thorough rinse should remove the oxide "stain", providing it only has a slight "heat" discoloration.

Hard Water Stains Hard water stains. These result on metal surfaces like sinks and faucets and come about when those areas have been exposed to a large amount of affected water. Read on for some tips on removing hard water stains from metal surfaces in your home.

  • What I'd love to know that I don't think you've covered is whether the heat stains matter... other than wanting your pan to remain pretty, does it matter if you don't clean it off?
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 7:28
  • @Catija I think over time the pan will develop hot spots (places in your pan where food is more likely burn or over caramelize if your an...), but I'm not completely sure. I will look into that.
    – Chef_Code
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 18:14

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