Aluminum pans often get damaged from day to day use and being stacked with other pans. Scratches can make the pans look dull and they will lose their reflective quality. You may wish to remove the scratches to help prolong the life of the pan and also to improve its appearance. There are several methods you can use to remove scratches from aluminum pans. When you are deciding how to treat the scratches, however, check if the pan is made from any other materials. If your pan has a Teflon coating over it, don't soak it for too long in water as this can cause the Teflon to flake off.
Cream of Tartar Paste
Cream of tartar is a mild acidic abrasive that is perfect for removing scratches from your aluminum pans. It is also easily available in most supermarkets. First, soak your pans for around an hour in hot water mixed with 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. If your pans are severely scratched, add a little extra cream of tartar.
Once you have soaked your pans you should remove them from the water and focus on the scratched areas. Make a paste using a little cream of tartar and some water. Rub a little of the paste into these areas with a soft cloth. Buff these areas until all the scratches have been removed.
Toothpaste will have a similar effect to the cream of tartar paste, although it will be a more expensive product to use. Toothpaste contains aluminum dioxide which is a very mild abrasive.
Using a Metal Polish, a Polishing Cloth, and Sandpaper
For this you will need some very fine sandpaper of around 1000 grit. You will use a technique known as wet sanding. This will not damage the aluminum, but simply remove any small scratches you may have. Dip the sandpaper in water before using it and carefully sand the areas of the pan that are scratched. Make sure that you sand in small strokes.
When you have been over the surface with the sandpaper the next stage is to put a little metal polish onto a soft rag. You can purchase metal polish at most hardware stores. Work the polish into the scratched areas in a circular motion. Once you have finished, thoroughly wash the pan to remove any polish residue left. Finally, use a polishing cloth on the dry pan to increase the shine and give it a reflective finish.
You can purchase specialist pastes and polishes to remove the scratches from aluminum from hardware stores. Many of these will contain copper salts which are a weak acid that react to the aluminum. Other specialist products will contain aluminum oxides which will gently take off the top layer of the aluminum. These specialist pastes should be used with care as they often contain chemicals that can harm the skin. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's guidelines and always wear gloves.