Cleaning a pan with a torch?

About 12 years ago, we were given a silicone baking mat (a “silpat” brand) as a gift. It came with an expanded aluminum tray to set it on when using it for baking.

Years have come and gone, and the silpat has seen better days. It’s brown and grungy now, as years of accumulated grease have finally gotten the better of it. I am going to replace the mat, but finding a replacement tray is proving harder. The only thing really wrong with the tray is the browning that happens over time as it takes on oils and they polymerize on the surface. I have tried scrubbing it but it is a lot of very slow work and it’s frustrating.

So I got to thinking about how ovens use a self-cleaning cycle by basically heating up to very high temps and turning all contaminants to ash. Would it be possible to do the same thing to this pan, using a propane torch? Or am I going to end up making this thing look even uglier than it does now?

You can put the pan into your oven and put it on self clean. Two birds, one self cleaning cycle.

I’ve cleaned burned on gunk with a wire wheel / drill combination when scrubbing didn’t work. Still hard work, but it got the stuff off.

My new oven has a low-temp self cleaning cycle that uses water and heat to make the gunk come off easier. It dies not have a blast furnace one, unfortunately.

I’ve found a number of sites that say aluminum will discolor and/or warp when run through a self cleaning cycle. Most are just blogs and stuff. The most authoritative I’ve found is this one from GE:

Also, how would you set the pan in oven? Oven racks are not supposed to be run through self-clean because the shiny coating will be ruined.

Back when my scout troop did pancake breakfasts, the sausage-and-gravy pan got so gunked up that the only way to clean it was to burn it out.

Or maybe there were other ways that would have worked, too, but we were just looking for an excuse to burn stuff.

The point is, it worked.

The Final word.

I’ve been using a propane torch to sear meat after sous vide cooking. Since I put the meat on my grill (turned off) for searing, I first need to clean the grates and the torch does a very nice job of that.

Are the grates aluminum?

You used a torch? Or just put it in the fire? Or?

Poured in some accelerant and lit a match, IIRC. But there were lots of bigger pyromaniacs in my troop than I, so it wasn’t me doing it.


Dishwashers hate this one simple trick: Leave the pan outside in direct sun for a day or so. Then bring it in and scrub it.

Seriously, I laughed at my wife when she suggested it, but I was eating my words later (off the cleaned pan). There was a lot of burnt-on carbon stuff that came right off.

Hmmm…it’s October in Michigan. “Direct Sunlight” is something I won’t likely see for about 10 more months unless I take a trip somewhere. And that pan won’t easily fit in my carry-on :wink:

Leave it ugly-but-well-scrubbed, and call it a day.

Brillo pads, dude, Brillo pads. If that doesn’t relieve your pan of gunk, nothing will.

And Brillo pads (or their equivalent) can be attached to an orbital sander, to reduce your scrubbing effort.

Hey, Tim, that’s a good idea. I am gonna try that.

What a great idea, Tim, thanks! I have a palm sander, but it should work better as its contact surface is vlos6e to Brillo pad size.

Aluminum melts at 1221 degrees F, an air-only propane torch has a peak temperature above 3500 degrees F. I used to melt aluminum with a Bunsen burner just for the fun of pouring molten metal.