I got an awesome set of copper pots as a wedding gift. They are amazing, but the direct flame has created aggressive burn marks and discoloring. I'm aware that this is always going to occur. Is there a way to restore the original color?

  • If you are going to use them, shining them all the time will be very tedious - and might eventually make you less prone to reach for one .vs. a pan you won't have to polish after each use. I say let the polish go unless you're going to use them as wallhangers.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 1:37
  • I love using them. High quality, but I figured I could clean them every couple months just for appearance purposes. A pride thing I guess. Thanks for the recommendation though, more than likely what I will do! Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 20:41

3 Answers 3


First you need salt, then you need an acid. Some methods use flour because the paste with the flour is easier to control. For acid you can use vinegar or lemon juice; citric acid would probably work beautifully (from Ecnerwal in comments). One of the videos I'm posting here uses white wine vinegar. Their salt is probably Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, which would be even more ridiculous. Lemon juice or plain vinegar along with salt (coarser is probably somewhat better) are all you need to make your pans gorgeous.

Here's a video where he uses 1 TBS flour, 1 tsp salt, and enough vinegar to make a paste.

Dab it on and let it sit for 30 minutes.


Then wipe and rinse off the paste. Voilà!


This is another video where he uses white wine vinegar {rolls eyes} and coarse salt. He doesn't use the flour, and the technique is a bit clumsier without it. It's pretty much the same concept as the first video. He goes a bit further and uses a wee bit of elbow grease with a vinegar soaked scrubby sponge on the burn mark on the base of the pan.



Many other sources on the Internet, including The Kitchn use lemon juice or cut lemons instead of vinegar. It doesn't seem to make much difference, all of the related methods work.

  • Straight citric acid (if you can find it - I finally tracked it down at my "local" Asian grocery store, 45 miles away...) is probably the most cost efficient acid source - far cheaper than lemon juice, (or lemons - what a waste) and cheaper per "amount of acidity" than vinegar. The untreated part of the top pan looks just like mom's always did, and it's stable that way. Probably also just a hair better at heating, too, come to think of it (not shiny, heat is not reflected)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 17:41
  • @Ecnerwal, I have no doubt that citric acid would work beautifully. They sell citric acid at my grocery store in the bulk aisle. White vinegar from a jug and ordinary salt is pretty trivial, though. And the last time I bought citric acid, I was surprised how expensive it was. Of course that was in the bulk aisle of my regular grocery store. Answer edited to include citric acid as a possibility.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 17:49

Buy a few pounds/kilos of barley malt extract, dissolve it in a LARGE pot of water, boil, immerse your pans, take them out shiny.

Now, what we actually do when making beer is to try and remove any corrosion on the copper bits with an acid (vinegar, a citric acid solution, or "star-san" which is a phosphoric acid based sanitizer) before we plunge the copper (cooling coil, usually) into the pot, since whatever comes off the coil ends up in the beer. But if you are not making beer, that's not a problem. The coil comes out shiny-clean every time. Odds are excellent it would work on your pots/pans as well. Of course, the other food-grade acids we pre-clean with might also work, and be a hair cheaper.

Evidently a common adjunct to the acid cleaning which I was unaware of from the brewing perspective is to mix the acid with salt (not dissolve the salt in it) to use the salt as a mild abrasive in rubbing the copper - it may also contribute chemically but I'm a bit fuzzy on the details.)


Using a bit of tamarind pulp and scrub, I used to clean the copper vessels. It makes it clean and shiny. Hope this helps. Wiki

In homes and temples, especially in Buddhist Asian countries, the fruit pulp is used to polish brass shrine statues and lamps, and copper, brass, and bronze utensils. The copper alone or in brass reacts with moist carbon dioxide to gain a green coat of copper carbonate. Tamarind contains tartaric acid, a weak acid that can remove the coat of copper carbonate. Hence, tarnished copper utensils are cleaned with tamarind or lime, another acidic fruit.

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