I’m the official pot-scrubber in our household. I have a question on how clean one should scrub the outside of stainless and copper pots and pans and whether this is merely an aesthetic choice.

I note that cast iron cookware shouldn’t be scrubbed at all.

Does keeping the outsides of stainless and copper pots and pans serve any purpose other than aesthetics? For example: might heat transfer be better if the bottoms were shiny instead of blackened?

  • Unless you cook over wood, the bottoms of pans shouldn't turn black except from burnt-on residue. If they do on a gas hob something is wrong with the burning and you should get the stove checked.
    – Chris H
    Jan 6, 2018 at 10:29
  • 1
    I think the black is from grease and food that spills over the side of the pans and then gets roasted by the burners.
    – RoboKaren
    Jan 6, 2018 at 10:30
  • Heat transfer is actually improved by being blackened, rather than shiny.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 6, 2018 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


I think this is purely aesthetic. The outside of my stainless cookware looks terrible. The oils polymerize and are really difficult to clean after that point. I don't worry about it too much, though I have a friend who takes great care to keep his stainless shiny. I doubt the buildup is enough to impact heat transfer.

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