How to remove burnt oil from a stainless steel pan/wok

the results

Close up. It was much more yellow/brown before

I found that using a ton of baking soda + dish detergent in a small pool of water was really useful for removing burnt oil from my stainless steel wok. It was a lot worse and I tried a bunch of other methods that didn’t work as well.

I learned about this technique from this video

what worked for me

  1. Set the stove to medium heat

  2. Fill the pot with an amount of water that covers the burnt oil stain

  3. Put a generous amount of baking soda and dish detergent on the affected area

  4. Keep the heat on medium until the solution starts steaming. I placed a lid to make the wok hotter and keep the solution from evaporating.

  5. Switch the heat to a low/simmer

  6. Let the solution sit on the stove at a low/simmer heat until the liquid is clear enough for you to check the affected area

  7. Periodically check on the solution and see if the affected area is more clear

  8. Once burnt oil area is clear, turn off the stove, let the solution cool, then dump it into the sink

  9. Scrub the area with ditergent and a sponge

  10. Check if the wok/pan is a desired cleanliness, if not repeat the above steps

what didn’t work

scrubbing with a detergent and sponge

Great for sanitizing my wok, but not helpful for removing the burnt oil

following the video

The video suggested using a table spoon of baking soda, which worked in the video, but it couldn’t tackle the burnt oil on the bottom of the wok

boiling water in the wok and scrubbing the oil with a spatula

This method works better if food is stuck on the surface. I found that using a metal spatula scratches the wok and doesn’t take all the oil off




Made chicken stir fry, so the residue is a mix of chicken juice, starch and cooking wine.

I tried again with but with 1L of water and 1L of distilled vinger. It doesn’t leave a residue like baking soda, so I might use it instead.

You might be wondering why does you clean the wok? Isn’t oil good? The answer is that I want a relatively clean surface to work with so that I practice experimenting with the spot seasoning technique.
For reference,

Tonight I modified the technique for heat. I sprayed 2-4 times of oil from a spray bottle and as soon as it started to smoke, I turned it off the heat and moved the wok to a different burner.
Either the heat is too high or I’m not moving fast enough because I still got a burn stain. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as the past 2 times, and the stain was smaller.

Moving the wok to another burner was the right move. Now I just need to move it earlier and use a little bit more oil

For reference this was the last time.

I cleaned this using the backing soda technique. I forgot to take pics before the treatment, so these are after letting the solution dissolve and before my scrubbing


I gave it a second pass with vinegar + water after seeing a stain on the side wall. This time I used 1.7 L and 1.7+ L of water. I started with 1.7 then filled water up as high as possible.

The only modification I made to the technique was to have the heat at 7.5-8 until I started to get mist, in which I would switch to low and let it sit on the burner. This took me about 20+ minutes.

It looks factory new outside of the scratches

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gonna add my own tips :slight_smile:

if im cleaning the inside of a pan thats burnt on… i just steep it in hot water and washing liquid.
10 mins or so and it should come up clean. with light scrubbing.

that being said my pans are seasoned.
so they never seem to need anything other than washing liquid and a pan scrub as the burnt on doesn’t seem to bond as well to the seasoned surface.

for them that dont know, to season a pan.
heat it up till its hot. once up to heat add a little oil (butter works best imo) that should start smoking… quickly wipe the oil around the pan with a clean lint free cloth or kitchen towel), stick back on the heat again and as soon as it starts smoking again. wipe it again. now stick it under a cold tap…
if you did it right when you stick it under the tap the water should instantly boil for a second.
now wash as normal and your done.

for the ones that still dont come up clean.

i put water in the pan to cover the burn, stick it on the heat and add washing powder.
let it boil for the next 10 mins topping up the water.
take off the heat and put it under a running tap and scrub what’s left off.

for the hob spills that burn on.
i use mostly table salt.
i lightly spritz the hob with water (not so much it puddles), with a mix of lemon juice and white vinigar.
then cover the whole thing in a layer of salt.
leave for 30 mins. spritz the salt again… give it another 10 mins.
then use a dry pan scrub to remove the grime the salt pulls off the enamel. and gather the pile for disposal (i use a vacuum cleaner for this bit to be honest :slight_smile: )

yeah its mancave shit, but. its a clean mancave. :wink:

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I use this as needed on my metal cookware (uncoated) for scorches.


Oh yeah I saw that. I didn’t have it handy. From other youtube guides, I heard it’s a mild abrasive

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It is abrasive. I find it works best if the pan is just damp w water but not standing water.

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