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How to keep pots clean


How do you keep pots from your mess kit from turning black when using them over a fire?

— Seared Sandi in Hamburg, N.Y.

A: Don’t cook over a fire! Just kidding — sort of. Actually, cooking over a camp stove is the best way to avoid blackened pots. Plus it’s more efficient and better for the environment. That said, we asked Mike Glavin of GSI Outdoors Inc., which makes some of the best camp pots, for tips on keeping your pots clean when cooking over campfires: “Rub bar soap on the pots before use, and try to keep your pots on a coal-bed, away from open flames. They will still get sooty, but the soap helps keep the soot from sticking — allowing for easier cleanup.

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13 Comments on How to keep pots clean

  1. You could always apply toothpaste at the underside of the pots too! It’s convenient cause you’ll definitely need to bring toothpaste along. Besides, it makes scrubbing easier when you have a ball of foil to scrub off the blacken parts!

  2. Here’s a backwoods trick; let it get black. Simply soap and water off the loose stuff. The darker it gets, the more evenly it heats. Also, the darker it gets, the more outdoor expert you look. The “tenderfoot / greenhorn” has shiny everything (shoes, pack, tools, etc). I keep my black bottomed cookware in a pull string pouch.

  3. Anonymous // May 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm // Reply

    what gets it off if you havent done the soap trick?

  4. Soap your good pots: Dawn works best, Camp Suds works so-so. To avoid all of this, I have our boys use food-service cans with bail wire handles. That way once the campout is over, simply toss the can; no washing.

  5. what I need to know is what to do if a coating of liquid dish soap did not work well & tha pan is borrowed. we would like to return as it came to us & so that is not possible. have used soap & water, baking soda, SOS pads, green scrubbers &

    Scotchbrite erasing pads. any ideas?

    • eagle7-25-10 // December 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm // Reply

      my troop does coat the bottom and the sides of our pots with dishsoap before cooking to prevent the pot itself from turning black. it does char the soap, but it is a lot easier to remove the soap from the pot rather than the char from the pot itself

  6. When hubby & I were first dating he went to the BWCA and brought back the blackened pots for me to clean (gee thanks hon) and the soap trick did wonders! Only they didn’t put it up the sides far enough and there was still some scorching, but the soap did wonders. They used liquid soap and put on a good thick coat.

    Its just too bad that cast iron is so heavy .. there’s nothing quite like cast iron cooking! But if you have to pack it to your campsite, it gets too heavy too quickly

  7. young scouter // March 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm // Reply

    i agree with prez down there leave them be

  8. Anakin – the black soot from a campfire tends to stick on whatever it touches. If you coat the outside of your pot with soap (we always used liquid soap when I was a kid) the campfire soot will stick to the soap. The pot will still look a mess, but when it comes to clean-up time the soap washes right off the pot and the soot goes away with the soap.

  9. why does soap help

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