How to remove the protective coating from copper pans

Written by chyrene pendleton
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How to remove the protective coating from copper pans
It takes about 15 minutes to remove the coating from copper pans. (copper casserole image by lefebvre_jonathan from

When you purchase copper pans, you may notice it has a coating or lacquer, which keeps the copper pan from tarnishing. If you plan to use the copper pan for decoration only, leave the coating intact. Dust the copper pan off from time to time, using a soft cloth. However, if you intend to cook with your copper pan, remove the coating first. If you cook with the lacquer coating, the lacquer will burn and blacken your copper pot, which you will find difficult to remove. Use baking soda to remove the coating before using the pan.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Large stockpot
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Tongs (optional)
  • Soft cloth
  • Cotton balls (optional)
  • Acetone nail polish remover (optional)

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  1. 1

    Mix 1 tbsp of baking soda for each quart of water in a large stockpot or pot large enough to contain your copper pan. Bring the baking soda-water solution to a boil.

  2. 2

    Place your copper pan in the large pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. If your copper pan cannot fit into the pot, dip half of the copper pan into the pot. Allow the copper pan to boil in the water for 15 minutes. Rotate the other half of the pan into the boiling water and baking soda for an additional 15 minutes, using tongs.

  3. 3

    Remove the copper pan from the boiling water. You will see the lacquer coating peeling off.

  4. 4

    Wash the copper pan using hot water. If you notice any lacquer coating still stuck on the pan, saturate cotton balls with acetone nail polish remover, then remove the remaining coating with the cotton.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a commercial lacquer thinner on your copper pan with a soft cloth to remove particularly stubborn coatings. You can find lacquer remover or thinner in paint and hardware stores.
  • Do not use any abrasive product or item such as steel wool on your copper pan when attempting to remove the coating, or when cleaning your pans. Steel wool leaves copper with small scratches. Wash your copper pans with a soft cloth and dishwashing liquid or non-grainy cleaners. Scrub your pans with baking soda and a soft cloth.

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