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Dangers of burning a stainless-steel pot dry

Updated February 21, 2017

Every cook has burnt or boiled a pot dry at one time or another. If the burnt pot or pan is stainless-steel, however, you are in luck. Stainless-steel pots and pans are among the safest forms of cookware, as long as they receive proper care and usage. If you burn a stainless-steel pot or pan dry, it will still be safe to cook with as long as you clean it well.

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The Facts

Stainless steel remains one of the safest forms of cookware because it does not require a high heat level during cooking. Because stainless steel heats more efficiently than other varieties of cookware, you do not need to turn the heat higher than required. Also safe for broiling, stainless-steel pans can be used in ovens up to 260 degrees C. Stainless-steel cookware does not get treated by chemicals, so it is considered a healthy choice for cooking meals in.


Never allow any type of cooking pot to overheat and/or burn dry. If this occurs, it may smoke and cause a kitchen fire, handles may melt and the bottoms of non-stainless-steel pans may melt. Kitchen safety must always be followed while cooking to prevent fires that may be caused from burning a pan dry.


When purchasing electrical stainless-steel cookware, look for pots and pans that have a boil-dry safety switch. Additionally, the best way to prevent boiling dry your stainless-steel pots and pans is to never leave a cooking or boiling pot unattended.


If you accidentally burn a stainless-steel cooking pot dry, do not throw it away. Your pot will come clean with an old-fashioned remedy using vinegar and water. Fill your burnt pot with equal parts vinegar and water. Place the lid on the pot and bring the solution to a boil. Reduce heat and let the solution simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool, leaving the solution to set in the pan overnight. Your pot should come clean with some gentle scrubbing the next morning.


Some non-stainless-steel varieties of cookware can cause hazardous fumes while others cannot be used after burning dry. Stainless-steel cookware is a good choice for cooks concerned with the health and overall safety of cookware associated with pots boiling dry.

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About the Author

Bobbie Brewer has been writing since 1990, with work appearing in print and online. She covers topics related to international travel, outdoor recreation, parenting and gardening. Brewer holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University, Sacramento.

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