Getty / Yulia Reznikov
Have you ever noticed unsightly brown burn marks creeping up from the underside of your tea kettle? You aren't alone—and there are a few reasons why this happens. Specific substances, like anything containing sugar, can stick to the inside of your kettle even after a cleanse; when water bubbles over, it doesn't just make a mess of your stovetop—it sticks to the underside of your pot. Add flame, and there you have it: burn marks. Other times, exposure to rapidly increasing temperatures (you crank the heat too fast!) or burned fats or oils (they can splatter onto your kettle if you leave it out while cooking) cause stubborn streaks. Thankfully, your pot isn't ruined; you can get rid of most burn marks easily with the correct tools. Here's how.
Why Pots, Pans, and Kettles Burn
Burns and scorch marks on the bottom of any piece of cookware are usually caused by oil, grease, or other fats that have burned and then adhered to the pan, notes Jenna Arkin, the Vice President of Innovation at ECOS. "Most cookware is made to resist heat and burning, but when oil is added, it can burn and stain surfaces," she explains. Metal ions from hard water build-up might also be to blame. "If your home has hard water, this means that there are more hard metals, such as calcium and magnesium, in the water," she adds. "Once water boils off, these metals can remain on the surface of cookware and cause staining." This is especially true for the exterior of pots, pans, and kettles, when water bubbles over or is left on the surface before it is heated up.
To clean burned, scorched, or stained pots, pans, and tea kettles, James Conner, the Vide President of Operations at Molly Maid, a Neighborly company, says you'll need some gloves, vinegar, dishwasher detergent, dish soap, a towel or rag, a scrubbing brush or coarse sponge, and baking soda. "Safety first—put on some rubber gloves to keep your hands safe from grease and oil," he says. Next, you'll soak the dish in hot water with a few drops of detergent—and the hotter the water, the better ("Just be careful not to make the water so hot that you burn yourself," he says). Soak your kettle for anywhere between 20 minutes and two hours, depending on the degree of the burn. Once you've soaked your pot, sprinkle it with baking soda and, using a wet, slightly abrasive sponge or brush with a few drops of dish soap, begin to scrub.
If residue remains, you can repeat those steps until it comes off—or try covering the surface area with baking soda and pouring vinegar onto it. Conner says you'll need to wait while this stain-fighting chemical reaction occurs, then wipe the concoction away with a soapy sponge to reveal the spot-free surface below.
The best way to prevent staining? Control the heat of your stove, explains Arkin. Don't allow liquids to burn over while cooking—and be sure to quickly clean spills and messes that your kettle might come into contact with when it is on the stove. Better yet? Remove the kettle from the area entirely when frying or sautéing to reduce the amount of stain-causing substances your pot comes in contact with.