Pan Rainbows

February 29th, 2008 § 4 comments

After the nerd-fest of the disintegrating windmill, I thought I’d posit this question to any and all passers by to see if they know the answer:

While doing the dishes this evening Alex noticed some discoloration on the cooking surface of her stainless-steel frying pan. The discoloration was a mottled, rainbow-colored pattern, almost as if there was some film on top of the metal that was acting as a prism. I had a quick look around Google and found that it was usually caused by overheating the pan, and can be removed with lemon juice. A quick squirt of store-bought juice did the trick.

The question is: what’s the discoloration actually caused by? Is it some sort of buildup on the surface of the metal, and if so–what? Is it the metal itself releasign some sort of chemical due to prolonged contact with excessive heat? Is it residue from food that was cooked onto it? Is it a chemical reaction from overheated food? I can’t find a good answer anywhere.

Apparently, citric acid and fructose are enough to permanently remove whatever it is.

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