Cooking oil turned to glue

We have a deep fryer that we use about once a year. I guess the last time we used it, the element that goes inside the oil wasn’t completely clean before being put away. Now there is old cooking oil on the element that is gluing it to the packing material.

When I touch the element, I"m getting an incredibly sticky residue on my skin that doesn’t wash off.

Does anyone know of a way to dissolve this stuff? Soap is doing nothing.

It’s just canola oil, but it’s evil.

Try some oven cleaner, as long as the metal parts it will contact aren’t aluminum (I have no idea what you can use on aluminum; I just resorted to scraping and scrubbing). What happens is that over time, the oil reacts with the metal and polymerizes, making a plastic-like substance, and yeah, it’s a bear to scrub off.

Any idea if an element that actually goes into the oil would be likely to be aluminum, or how I can tell if it’s aluminum?

All I can think of is seeing if a magnet will stick, and that’s hardly a definitive metal identifier! :smiley:

I am pretty sure the element will not be aluminum. At any rate, I’ve never seen one. Just be sure that the fryer is not aluminum.

Canola oil is a semi-drying oil, with an iodine value of 114 to 120. It oxidizes/polymerizes in air, and turns into a semi-varnish. The stuff is not very soluble in anything. Hot water might loosen it some, but you’ll probably need to get out a scraper.

Related thread:
Why does cooking oil “dry out”?

Not the element itself, no. But, the casing for it may very well be–mine is. You can tell if it’s aluminum by taking a sharp pointed metal object, like a knife or scissors and lightly trying to scratch it. Aluminum will scratch much more easily than most other metals.

And on preview, what Squink said; hot water does help soften it up some, but you’ll still need a fair amount of elbow grease.

The way the fryer is built means that the element is lowered into the fryer rather than being attached.

It’s rather like this one:

So the only potential aluminum is the coil of the element, the wires of the element, or the brackets on the element.

If it’s a commercial unit like that, it’s probably stainless steel.

Simple Green’s probably safe for aluminum, and I’ve seen aluminum-safe barbecue grill cleaner.

Or, break out the industrial artillery and get some Grease Gobbler.](

There’s a discount offer as well. The shipping will wind up being more than the stuff itself.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) should take care of it.

Go to a hardware /paint store and get some TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) (under $4). Disolve about 1/4 cup of this per quart of volume (of deep fryer) in water, and pour it into the fryer. Turn it on, and let it heat for a few minutes (15 or so).

It should come out shiney and bright. TSP disolves oily residues like a snap, and the bonus is that if you dump this hot mixture down your sink, it will degrease your drain!


If the oil is on the element itself why not just put the unit outside and use an extension cord to turn it on and burn the residue off. It’ll smoke a bit but it should volatilize the residue. I would imagine boiling water with it might also cause the polymerized oil to release from the element as well, just due to the heat.

Do not do this. The heating element is not designed to run without a load–that is a quantity of oil to absorb the heat energy. You run the risk of burning out the element or damaging it in some way so as to render it unsafe.

Wouldn’t heating the air surrounding the element be fairly significant conductive load that would absorb the heat energy?

Maybe if it’s really windy out; otherwise, still air is a lousy heatsink. There may be safety features that protect the element from such abuse, but I wouldn’t want to count on it. I still wouldn’t risk it.