Oxidation on aluminum pans will cause discoloration and be unsightly. If aluminum oxidizes, you will see a dull gray coating on the pan. It is possible to prevent this from occurring and prolong the life and the appearance of your pans. Here are some tips that will help you keep your aluminum pans nice and shiny.
1. Season Your Pans
Before you begin to use your aluminum pans for the first time, it is important to season them as this will protect them. Seasoning pans doesn't mean using salt and pepper to make them taste better. Instead, you should wash the pan in hot soapy water, rinse, and thoroughly dry them with a soft cloth. You will then need to use a little vegetable oil in the pan and heat it at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for around 2 hours. Wash the seasoned pans by hand afterward. If you put them in the dishwasher, the cleaning action of the machine will remove the seasoning.
2. Cook Select Foods
Certain foods will cause aluminum to oxidize more quickly than others. Baking foods that contain eggs such as omelets and quiches will cause the aluminum to oxidize. Fruits and vegetables with a high acidity level such as asparagus, rhubarb, gooseberries, tomatoes, and apples will also have this effect. Avoid cooking these foods if you want to prolong the life of your pan.
3. Cook Carefully
When you are cooking make sure you are careful with your aluminum pans as they heat up very quickly. If a recipe suggests that you use cast iron or Pyrex cookware, do not use aluminum. Try and avoid burning food in your aluminum pans. If you do have burnt on food on your pans, however, make sure that you clean it off quickly. You may have to use a spatula to scrape off anything that is really stuck.
Another good method to remove burnt on food is to bring to a boil some water mixed with lemon juice and vinegar in the pan. This will help break down the food particles making them easier to remove.
4. Clean Properly
Every time you use the pan, make sure you clean it thoroughly using warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Avoid using scourers, Brillo pads, or steel wool as this will scratch the aluminum. This could also scratch any Teflon surface your pan may have. Do not put your pans in the dishwasher as this can damage them leading them to oxidize quicker.
Once a month, or more if your pans are used frequently, soak them in some oven cleaner such as Easy Off or Cillit Bang. Many of these specialized products come in spray-on containers for convenience. Make sure you wear gloves when you are using oven cleaner as the chemicals can damage your skin. Once you have soaked the pans, wash them well in soapy water and rinse them to make sure there is no residue left on them. Most of all, do not use strong chemicals when cleaning your aluminum pans. Some products such as bleach will damage the aluminum if they are used and are also dangerous to you if any residue is left. Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines.