Old Svea CookSet

7:10 p.m. on November 23, 2006 (EST)
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My oldie Svea set has some kind of corrosion on the inside of the pots. I havn't used them for even car camping for a few years. Are they safe to use? How are they cleaned, if possible.

12:50 p.m. on November 24, 2006 (EST)
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I assume you mean one of the aluminum Svea cooksets, or maybe the Sigg cooker that was made to fit the Svea 123 (also aluminum). If so, the corrosion is probably aluminum oxide (usually a whitish color). All you need to do is scour the pot with an abrasive cleaner (for example Comet or Ajax or the store-brand equivalent) or steel wool or the steel wool pads with soap in them (SOS pads, for example). When you get the aluminum looking relatively shiney, rinse several times with hot water (really HOT water). Aluminum (and cast iron for that matter) is somewhat porous and can trap the soap in the pores. The hot water rinse opens the pores and gets the soap out. If you don't do this, when you cook, the soap will come out (often characterized by a soapy foam showing up on top of the boiling water), and can upset your digestive system. That's why it is a bad idea to wash aluminum pots in the backcountry with soap or detergent (as well as the environmental considerations). Be sure to thoroughly dry the pot after the final rinse.

This is not applicable to anodized or non-stick aluminum pots.

As to whether the corrosion is potentially harmful to health, there has been a debate for years whether aluminum is a contributor to Alzheimer's. Removing the corrosion by scouring and polishing should reduce that risk, if it exists. But the risk appears low, according to what has been published in recent years.

Since I mentioned cast iron, it is not a good idea to wash cast iron (skillets, griddles, dutch ovens, etc) with soap in any case, aside from the soap getting into the porous cast iron surface. As you use cast iron utensils, they build up what is referred to as "seasoning". This is a crust that comes from the oils in the cooking process, either added oils or in the food itself. This crust protects the surface from corroding. If you scour a cast iron pot, skillet, griddle, or dutch oven down to the metal, you will find it rusts in short order. Best cleaning method after cooking is to rinse in very hot water, or for pots, skillets, and dutch ovens, put water in them and raise to boiling. You can scour with a plastic scraper (or even a metal scraper). After you dump the water, heat the pot until all the water is evaporated off (it will be HOT, so be careful). It also helps to wipe with oil (olive or canola preferably), then heat for a while, especially if the pot was rusty and you had to scour it to get the rust off (aluminum pots should not be "seasoned" like cast iron).

1:22 p.m. on February 3, 2007 (EST)
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scrub your pots out w/ soap and water
I used my pots until the corrosion made them leak

jb

July 28, 2014
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