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Beer as a Natural Cleaner for Copper Pots and Pans

Some people, like chef David Chang, love copper cookware for its beauty and style. Others go for this expensive metal because of its functionality. Copper is a great conductor of heat which means when you place it on a lit stove, it heats up quickly and evenly. Likewise, as soon as you turn off the stove or remove the pot from the fire, the copper pan will cool down just as fast. This high responsiveness to heat is one of the reasons legendary chef Julia Child always used copper pots and pans. They’re especially ideal for preparing foods that require extra precision, e.g., delicate proteins, sauces, and chocolates.

However, to maintain the beauty and functionality of your copper pans and pots, you need to give them some extra TLC. Copper is a highly reactive metal and for that reason, it can easily get tarnished and lose its luster. To restore that bright sheen, regular polishing is the way to go, and one unconventional yet effective method to do this is by using beer.

Either spot treat by pouring beer directly into the pot or pan, or for bigger jobs, pour the beer into a tub into which your cookware can fit. Let the tarnished pot or pan soak in the beer for a few minutes. After some time, you’ll notice the tarnish has cleared and the original shine reappeared. You can then rinse it under running water, and dry it thoroughly using a soft towel.

Why beer polishing works

Beer poured from bottle into glass

The secret behind beer polishing is the acidity. Thanks to the brewing process, beer contains a weak acid which, when it comes into contact with copper during soaking, helps dissolve the compounds on the surface of the cookware that are causing the tarnish. This reaction strips away the discoloration while preserving the copper itself, hence restoring the beautiful luster. Using beer is ideal since it’s a natural substance and, therefore, allows you to avoid the harsh effects of commercial alternatives.

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Keep in mind, though, that polishing your copper cookware is not a one-time fix for the tarnish. To maintain the beauty of your pots and pans, wash them by hand with regular dish soap and a soft sponge every time after use. Additionally, how you store your copper pots and pans is vital. Humidity is one of the causes of tarnish by oxidation. Therefore, always dry your copper pieces thoroughly after washing them before storage (this will also prevent ugly water spots from forming). Next, keep the cookware in a cool, clean, and dry place. With these steps in place, your copper will last longer before tarnishing and whenever there’s a build-up, you can go ahead and repeat the beer polishing.

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