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Hydrogen Peroxide cleaned burnt sugar from my pan!

  1. Jun 1, 2018 #1
    I did something really stupid, and walked away from a sugar solution I was heating on the stove (4 parts water, 1 part table sugar for humming bird feeders). I got distracted, and the sugar was burnt onto the pan, carbonized, really bad.

    Some came off in chunks, but a thick layer adhered to the stainless steel pan. I had a cover on the pot at the time, I assume the lack of oxygen kept it from flaming?

    The web had many recommendations for baking soda and water at a simmer. I was skeptical, but figured I had little to lose, baking soda is cheap and pretty safe. Almost no effect, even though I gave it a couple tries and left it simmer for 20 minutes or more.

    Then I see recommendations for Hydrogen Peroxide. OK, that sounds a little riskier, but not too dangerous. I was skeptical at this point, but I added ~ 1/4" of the generic 3% stuff to the pot, and as it reached a simmer, about half of it lifted right off. Alright! Another 5 minutes of simmering and swirling and ~ 99% was off, and little wiping removed the rest. Looked like new.

    I assume the people reporting success with the baking soda merely had a thick, cooked, hard syrup that would still react with water? What I had was carbon, charcoal like stuff (yes, there was a lot of smoke, and two alarms were beeping - it was bad).

    I'm not well versed in chemistry, any simple explanation of what happened with Hydrogen Peroxide, heat and carbonized sugar?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 1, 2018 #2


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    A catalyst for decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, making your request for a "simple explanation" a bit more complex.
  4. Jun 1, 2018 #3
    So you are saying the stainless steel acted as a catalyst between the hydrogen peroxide and the carbonized sugar? And people may have had different results in, say an enamel (or other) lined pan?

    If so, and a simple explanation isn't possible, that's OK, I would not understand a complex explanation! That would be good enough - thanks.
  5. Jun 10, 2018 #4


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    I wonder if this would work on anything else burned in a pan, not just sugar...
  6. Jun 10, 2018 #5
    Or in a non-stainless steel vessel (seems the SS acts as a catalyst?)? Fortunately, I haven't had a badly burnt pan since then, but if/when I do I will try it, and try to remember to post back here.
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