Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Joy of Baking Soda, Miracle Degreaser

Just had a lovely experience. I was washing some greasy fluorescent light covers. They are big, long and hard to clean.

More frustrating was the grease that was sticking to the nylon brush I was using. Rather than removing grease, I was spreading it around. Plus I was temporarily ruining my nylon brush. What to do?

On the vague hope that baking soda can be used as a degreaser, I googled baking soda degreaser. The following web page showed up:

How to Make a Natural Degreaser

Now I had a little more hope. The above web page claims that baking soda is one of 6 natural degreasers. Furthermore, it suggested that baking soda has at least some value as a degreaser even with no other ingredients mixed in. I had to give it a try!

I was already using Palmolive Ultra Dish Liquid, Concentrated, Original Formula dish soap. My sink was full of warm water and Palmolive dish soap. To this I added approximately 1 cup of baking soda.

Voila! The dark stains on my nylon brush cleared almost instantly! And the grease started coming off the long fluorescent light cover rather than just being pushed around. Wow! This mixture really works!

I really didn't expect baking soda to be so effective! I thought it might work a little bit, but I didn't think it would work almost instantly!

It makes me wonder what other secrets I've been missing out on. Why have I not been doing this for years?

You're probably wondering how the light covers became greasy. Well, we have an extended family member who is from the fast school of cooking. Faster is always better.

I simply cannot believe the distance that grease travels when this person cranks up the heat on the stove top and sends airborne grease all over the kitchen. Unbelievable! This person cooks meat on the stove top.

Oddly enough, this person also seems to feel that meat, such as hamburger, does not have enough grease on its own. The first step to frying any meat on the stove top is to grease the pan and crank the heat all the way up, or almost all the way up.

I think you can see the problem. A cast iron pan at high temperature sends hugh amounts of grease airborne. This grease forms microdroplets which can easily travel upwards and away from the stove 10 or more feet. It's amazing, really.

The person who always cooks using a faster-is-better methodology started out in life very poor. People who have had a hard time growing up sometimes see life as something to be endured. This person definitely sees cooking this way. Cooking brings her little joy. She gets it over with just as quickly as she possibly can.

Tolerating relatives, especially elderly relatives, is something I regularly do. Sometimes it's easier to tolerate something than it is to try to change it.

Since I'm also tolerating all the grease spatter, baking soda makes it much easier to deal with. Thank you baking soda!

Ed Abbott

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Removing the White Silicone Power on My Oven Walls

I received the following email a few days ago from a woman who has silicone powder coating her oven walls after accidentally leaving a silicone mitt in her oven:

Dear Ed,

I have no idea if you can help so all I can do is ASK. Right?

This afternoon I turned my electric oven on to roast a chicken for dinner. I inadvertently left a small silicone hot mitt in the oven the last time I used it. Well...the darned mitt "dissolved" into thick white powder that has coated the entire interior of my oven!!! (Yes, it coated the chicken, too!!!)

Of course, I threw away the chicken and have tried getting the gritty powder off all of the interior surfaces using various methods: I vacuumed the sides with the vac brush attachment; I wiped off what I can reach with wet towels; I used the dryer vent-cleaning brush to try and reach around the elements at top and bottom. The stuff is horrible! It blows like snow and so I wore a mask and goggles in case it is toxic...who really knows?!

My oven interior is extremely hard to access and I am ready to get out the high pressure washer that we use to clean the deck and just go crazy! Of course, I would probably electrocute myself in the process AND flood the kitchen...so, instead, I am asking if you might suggest an alternative. I may have to hire someone to get the oven really clean again...darn it!

NO MORE SILICONE ANYTHING IN MY HOUSE!!!

Thanks,
D.

I've thought about this for a few days now. I've wondered what I might do if I found silicone powder coating my oven.

It occurs to me that ammonia breaks the bonds of many things. That's why ammonia is so effective as a window cleaner. It breaks the bond that holds the dirt on the glass.

If it were me, I might try ammonia first. I'd use a soft bristle brush and I'd scrub the ammonia into the walls of the oven first. Perhaps I would use a toothbrush to scrub the knarly little corners where a soft bristle brush might not reach.

Since this is all an experiment, I'm not sure what I'd do next.

Perhaps I would let the ammonia dry and then try and see if the powder will now vacuum with a vacuum cleaner. However, if I did use I vacuum cleaner I'd use a good model such as a Miele which would presumably keep the silicone in the dirt bag and out of my lungs.

I would not try vacuuming silicone powder with an ordinary vacuum cleaner as may vacuum cleaners filter the air very poorly. Whatever I did, I certainly would not risk getting silicone powder in my lungs!

Perhaps wiping the powder with a damp cloth is a better option as there is no risk of getting silicone powder in the lungs. At least, I hope not.

All of the above is experimental. Since it is an experiment, I might try the ammonia on a small spot on the oven first. There's no point in trying it on the whole oven if it will not work even on a small spot.

My hope would be that since ammonia seems to work on the smooth surface of a glass window that it would work on the smooth surface of an oven wall. You can always hope.

Note that I have not tried any of the above. Therefore, there is some risk in being the first to try it.

However, in general, ammonia is considered to be pretty safe. The one exception that I'm aware of is mixing ammonia and chlorine. I believe that this combination can kill you! Don't do that.

Here are some near-death experiences people have had mixing ammonia and chlorine together:

Chlorine and Ammonia Mixed Together Can Kill You

Make sure the oven is off before trying anything. Since ammonia is wet, it is not a good idea mixing ammonia (which surely has some water in it) with electricity.

I might take the additional precaution of turning off the oven at the circuit breaker if I were to do some really heavy duty cleaning with ammonia

Good luck! Let us know if this works. You can post your results below by hitting the appropriate button. Feedback would be quite welcome.

I have no idea whether or not this will actually work.

Ed Abbott

Friday, March 23, 2012

One Hour of
Wet Baking Soda
Is Not Nearly Enough!

I got an email from a man not too long ago
who stated that he had a big problem with
carbon build-up on the bottom of his oven.

His solution? Make a paste out of the baking
soda, and put it soaking wet on the bottom
of his oven for one hour.

One hour is not nearly enough! The baking
soda method of cleaning your oven works very
very slowly!

In addition to soaking with baking soda for
one hour, he went to the hardware section of
a store and bought some kind of paint scrapper
to get the black stuff off.

He said it worked and I suppose it would. Since
baking soda is a mild abrasive, using baking soda
with a paint scrapper might work.

For many different reason, I would be totally
unwilling to use a paint scraper on my oven. For
one thing, it could harm the oven surface. For
another thing, it is total overkill.

I wrote back to the man and suggested that soaking
the bottom of the oven with baking soda paste over
a 3-day period might make more sense. I suggested
that he re-wet the paste each and every day.

While 3 days is good, a week might be even better.
In any case, you are really not done soaking the
baking soda with water from a spray bottle until
the black carbon stuff wipes off easily with a cloth.

If it doesn't wipe off easily, you are not done yet.
That's my personal experience. Other people have
experienced the same thing.

Commercial oven cleaning solutions exist for a reason.
If you cannot wait a few days for your oven to be clean,
the best solution is probably to use commercial oven
cleaner.

Sometimes, when you are moving out of an apartment, you
do not have a few days to clean your oven. In that case,
commercial oven cleaner may be your best bet.

Every problem has an ideal solution. Baking soda is not
the ideal way to clean your oven if you only have 24 hours
before the job has to be done.

Ed Abbott

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cleaning Oven Vents With Ammonia?

A woman wrote to me today about
her oven vents being dirty:


Ed,

I thank you for the awesome advice on cleaning
the inside of my oven with baking soda. I hate
the toxic fumes that are left behind from store
bought cleaners.

I do have another problem, though. The vent holes
at the top of the door on my double oven are an
unsightly mess. I have tried toothpicks and
tweezers to remove the residue, but most of the
accumulation is greasy and sticky.

Any suggestions on what I can do to clean this
area?

Ruth



I'm going to suggest something I've not tried
myself: ammonia and water.

In browsing the web, I find several sites recommend
ammonia as a natural degreaser. It seems that ammonia
cuts grease.

My best understanding is that both ammonia and water
evaporate. I'm going to speculate that that is why
ammonia and water are frequently used to clean glass.
Glass is not really clean if there is any cleaning
residue left.

Since ammonia and water eventually evaporate into the air,
I'm guessing that this is why ammonia and water make a
good combination for cleaning glass. Since the cleaner
itself evaporates, there is nothing left to stick to your
glass and streak your glass.

The reason I'm leaning towards ammonia and water is
because the person who wrote to me describes their
oven vents as being greasy and sticky. It
sounds to me like her problem is largely a problem
of grease accumulation.

If this were my problem, I might gather the following
things to clean the vents:

  1. Gloves to protect my hands
  2. Ammonia purchased at the grocery store
  3. An empty dish soap bottle
  4. A cleaning sponge

I would wait until I've used up a bottle of
dish soap. I would then save the empty
bottle.

I would then put on my gloves and take the
empty bottle and pour ammonia into it. I
might only fill the bottle half full in
order to make it easy to work with.

I would then pour small amounts of ammonia on
my sponge and start cleaning the grease around
my oven vents. I would be careful not to do this
to a gas oven (natural gas, for example) as ammonia
can be explosive if it is heated to too high a
termperature.

I suppose I might feel at liberty to try cleaning
with ammonia if the oven's pilot light were off.
However, if I was not absolutely certain it was
off, I'd probably be better off skipping the use
of ammonia altogether.

In any case, I'd use as little ammonia as possible
to clean the vents. I'd probably make frequent trips
to the kitchen sink to wring out the sponge and get
the grease out of it.

The whole strategy here is to clean around the vents
without allowing foreign materials to enter the
vents. Since both ammonia and water are said to
evaporate, having a little bit of ammonia and water
enter the vents might not be as disastrous as having
other substances, including baking soda, enter the
vents.

A special concern I have with oven vents is that
they can be the gateway to the air layer that
sometimes lies between two layers of oven glass.
You don't want to clean your vents only to see
streaking on the inside layer of your oven glass.

The inside layer of oven glass is unreachable
from both the interior of the oven and the
exterior of the oven. The last thing you
want to do is to preserve streaks of cleaning
fluid forever between layers of glass.

All of this is speculation on my part. I've
not personally ever tried to clean my oven using
ammonia.

I would think you'd want to be especially cautious
if you have a breathing condition, such as asthma.
I've read that ammonia is quite irritating to both
the eyes and to the lungs. It is for this reason
that I'm suggesting that you use as little ammonia
as possible.

That, in part, is why I'm suggesting using an empty
dish soap bottle. Just as you use a dish soap bottle
to control how much dish soap you use, so you can use
it to control how much ammonia you use.

One more note of caution. Never mix ammonia and chlorine
together. If I understand correctly, the two together
form chlorine gas.

When I was in high school, my friend Charlie did this very
thing. He was mopping the kitchen floor at the restaurant
where he worked. He wanted to improve the ammonia formula
that he was using by also adding chlorine to his mop bucket.

If I recall right, his boss stopped him from doing this just
in the nick of time. Charlie telling me this story in high
school was the first time I learned that ammonia and chlorine
together form chlorine gas --- the stuff used to kill soldiers
in the trenches in World War I.

So don't do that. Don't try to improve your cleaning formula
with chlorine.

All of the above is pure speculation on my part. In searching
the Internet for solutions, I found no solution that addressed
oven vents only. It seems that oven vents are a very special
problem.

I would be disinclined to use baking soda on or around oven
vents. There is a danger of getting baking soda between layers
of oven glass. After this happens, it seems the only solution
is to disassemble the entire oven door to clean between the
two layers of glass.

Please be cautious if you try any of the above suggestions. This
is all uncharted territory for me. There's a big difference between
trying something that has never been tried before and trying something
that is tried and true. Consider the above suggestions as suggestions
only and as something that has not been tried before.


Ed Abbott

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is Baking Soda
the Same Thing
as Baking Powder?

Baking Soda is NOT baking powder. Do
NOT try to clean your oven with baking
powder!

Yesterday, a woman sent me an email that
tells her tale of woe of mistakenly using
baking powder instead of baking soda:


Hi,

Have been reading your ideas and dashed off to
sort oven. Made a big mistake as used baking
powder, not soda.

Worse, made a paste as had not yet got the bottle!
Now have stinky oven with brown powder-paste!

I now have the bottle and the soda. Will it get
rid of the stinky smell and the paste and carbon?

Look forward to your ideas!

Best wishes,
Sue


Here's how Wikipedia describes baking powder:

Baking Powder

According to Wikipedia, baking soda is definitely not baking
powder. Instead, baking soda is an ingredient of baking powder.

The above article seems to say that baking powder generally consists
of 3 things:

  1. baking soda
  2. an acid
  3. an inert starch

For the purposes of this discussion, an inert substance
is a substance that doesn't do anything but act as a
filler. The article mentions corn starch as a possible
filler.

I'm going to guess that the starchy filler is what can
get you into trouble. Starch is mostly carbon I'm
going to guess. After all, starch is a carbohydrate.
The very name, carbohydrate, implies carbon.

Therefore, if you try to use baking powder, instead of
baking soda, to clean your oven, you end up baking carbon
on to the sides and floor of your oven instead. This is
what I"m guessing happened to the woman who wrote the above
email. She ended up baking starch on to the walls of her
oven.

All of this is pure guesswork on my part. I've never made
the mistake of trying to clean an oven with baking powder,
so I don't know for sure.

I'll further guess that the problem can be solved by going
back to using baking soda (not baking powder!) as the cleaning
agent. Since it may be carbon that has baked on to the sides
of her oven, baking soda may solve the problem.

Again, this is all guesswork on my part. However, if this were
my problem, I'd probably try baking soda first.

Ed Abbott

Monday, January 30, 2012

How Long
Does It Take
to Clean Your Oven
With Baking Soda?

Just got the following email:


Hi Ed!

How often and for how long would one need to spray
the baking soda/water mixture on? How do you know
when you're ready to wipe all the grime off?

I'm EXTREMELY pumped to try this. I hate the thought
of cleaning the oven --- and so I haven't really --- in
2 years living here. I've done some wiping but no deep
cleaning. I've just found it too daunting and also haven't
wanted to expose myself/baby to the fumes of traditional
oven cleaners.

Also --- any hints for cleaning the microwave? Would the same
principal work?

What about the elements on the top of an older stove?

Thanks!

Emma


I'll start with the easy question first. How often do
you spray? The answer is as often as you like.
That's the beauty of this cleaning technique. When I
did it, I sprayed the oven each time I walked by it and
happened to think of it.

I'd say once a day should be sufficient. Twice a day is
even better.

How long does it take? About a week. Of course, that all
depends on how wet you keep the baking soda.

Let's say you managed to keep the baking soda wet for 4 hours
a day, after which it dried out. At the end of the week you
would have kept it wet 7 X 4 = 28 hours.

That's 28 hours of chemical reaction causing the hard carbon
material to soften up and turn to dust. That's literally what
happens. You'll see tiny black flecks of carbon hidden inside
the baking soda, if you have really good eyesight and you check
very carefully. You'll find little tiny bits of black buried in
all that white stuff if you look carefully.

Here's the key thing. You are making no progress whatsoever
unless the baking soda is wet. Dry baking soda does not react
with the black carbon at all. The only time you are getting a
chemical reaction is when the baking soda is at least a little
bit wet.

That's OK. With this technique, you make progress in fits
and starts. You start to make progress each time you wet the
baking soda with the spray bottle and you stop making progress
when the baking soda is entirely dried out.

Over time, the little slices of time that you've spent spraying
the inside of your oven start to accummulate. Not only that, but
black carbon dust (well hidden inside the baking soda) starts to
accumulate at the bottom of your oven too.

Again, a week is a good rule of thumb, assuming you work at this
a little bit each day. After a week, you should have made substantial
progress. If anything remains at all, it will be some very very stubborn
spots that you can work on using the same technique all over again.
Eventually, this technique causes all carbon deposits to fall and
crumble --- literally.

As for when to know you are done spraying, try wiping off a
sample spot. If it comes clean, you are getting very close
to being done.

If it doesn't come clean, don't give in to compulsion and start
scrubbing. You don't need to do that. When I say that the black
stuff wipes off, I literally mean it wipes off. It wipes off with
a few swipes of a damp cloth and nothing more. Anything that requires
more work than this means you are not done yet.

As for microwave ovens, I'm hesitant to say anything as I've never
ever tried this technique on a microwave. More and more, I'm
finding that oven technology is changing, and that the words I wrote
10 years ago may no longer apply in quite the same way.

For example, some ovens now have some kind of high tech coating on
the interior surface. I've written about this here:

Two Kinds of Self-Cleaning Oven

In general, I'd be very cautious about dripping water in places in
an oven where water might not be welcome. For example, oven doors
can have vents in them. You don't want to drip water into these
vents. I've written about this here:

Why Is There Streaking
in My Oven Door Glass?


In general, I'd avoid electrically sensitive areas such as oven
light bulbs when spraying a solution in your oven. If you do
get a little water on the light bulb, you may want to wait until
this water dries before risking getting any more water on the bulb.

Water and electricity mix very poorly. I never turned off
the circuit breaker for the oven when I used this technique
10 years ago.

I might do so today. Turning off the circuit breaker is not
a bad idea. Everything is so much more complex these days
that I'm not precisely sure what I'd do other than to exercise
due caution.

Whatever I did, I'd be sure to avoid dripping water into unseen
places and also avoid dripping it on electrical contacts such
as light bulbs.

The one exception to this is the heating elements. I felt
comfortable spraying my heating elements as long as I avoided
spraying the electrical connection where the heating element
plugs into the back oven wall. Again, a little common sense
goes a long way.

Ed Abbott

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Does Baking Soda Ever Turn Hard After You Heat it?

Just got the following email:


Hi

I have been using the baking soda
prescription since Christmas and,
though there has been a great
improvement, I still have 2 patches
that need more.

I have cleaned up all of the soda
and need to use the oven as my
microwave has died and I have not
been able to get out to pick up a
new one.

I have not used the stove oven
while the soda was in it. If I
use the oven as is, will it be
more difficult to clean it later
or shall I start over from square
one and overcome my fear of using
the oven while the wet soda is in
it?

Thanks for any help you can give me.


The question seems to be, Will
turning my oven on with baking soda
in it make my oven harder to clean?

This implies yet another question: Does
baking soda ever turn hard after it
has been heated?


In my experience, baking soda never
hardens due to heat. In this respect,
it is much like table salt. You can
heat table salt to any oven temperature
desired and it still is table salt.

My experience is that baking soda remains
a powder that is easily wiped out of the
oven no matter what temperature you cook
at. Turning the oven on with baking soda
in the oven does not seem to be a problem.

Note that baking soda and baking powder
are two different things. I've written
about this here:

Baking Power or
Bicarbonate of Soda?


Ed Abbott

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Super Strong Cleaner Wipes Numbers Off Oven Dial

Just received the following email:


Dear Ed,

Not sure if you can help but was
just googling and found your site!

I have just tried to clean my landlord's
oven with super strong spray on cleaner...
thought I would clean in and out.. When I
wiped the outside, the numbers around the
dials wiped off! What shall I do?

Thanks!



That is one powerful cleaner! Your email
has caused me to go upstairs and look at
the dial on our oven.

OK. I've just taken a look and I see that
the dial on our oven is actually a knob
that comes on and off. Is this the case
with your oven? I'm not really an expert
on ovens, so I don't really know.

I suppose that I would respond to this problem
differently depending on how bad the situation
is. Are the numbers completely wiped off the
dial? If so, then I might go to an oven appliance
store is see if they have a replacement part.

My first option would be to talk to someone
about a replacement part. For example, here
is an online retailer that seems to have a
selection of oven dials in stock:

Dials and Knobs

I'm not recommending this online retailer
because I don't know them. I'm just saying
that I would start looking around. For example,
I might call the 800 number for the above
online retailer and start asking questions.
As you can see, the number they give at the
top of the above web page is 800-525-5556.

It seems to me that a replacement part is
the simplest and most straight-forward solution
to your problem.

Of course, I'm just guessing, plus using a little
common sense. I'm not an oven appliance repair
guy. Nor am I an expert on ovens.

Ed Abbott

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Removing Plastic
From Floor of an Oven

Just got the following email:


HELP......my wife  turned on
the self cleaning feature on
our DACOR..... only problem.....
she left the plastic drip
catcher sheet in the oven......
now there is a white bumpy film
in oven & on glass.....any way
to remove????


Wow! This sounds like a tough
tough problem. Here's where
some people have posted to a
website who also have melted
plastic in their oven:

Melted plastic inside oven - help!!

Perhaps a razor-blade might help
get the plastic off the window.

What kind of surface is the oven?
I assume it is metal with an enamel
type paint. However, these days, this
is not always a safe assumption as
some ovens are coated with non-stick
surfaces.

Here's someone who claims to have
successfully removed plastic from
the bottom of their oven:

How do you remove melted
plastic from electric oven?


If it were me, I'd try to remove
the bulk of the plastic before cooking
again. If I could do it with a putty
knife without damaging the surface, I
might try this.

The reason I would want to get most of
the plastic out before cooking again is
the problem with plastic fumes. Plastic
smells pretty toxic to me.

A thought that occurs to me is that plastic
softens and melts before it burns. It might
take some careful experimentation, but the plastic
might be softer at say, 300 degrees, than it is
at room temperature. Of course, you don't want
to risk burning your skin doing this It might make
sense to wear burn-resistant gloves or mittens. For
example, you might wear welding gloves or pot holders
on your hands.

Note that I've never tried to warm plastic up
myself to the point where it melts. Therefore
my thoughts on this are purely speculative and
not based on experience. I'm not sure if it
would be possible to heat the plastic somewhat
before removing it.

Write to me if you have a better idea or if you
find something that works. Anyone else have
suggestions? Please post below.

Ed Abbott

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Smoke Coming
From Oven Door

This week I received the following
email from a woman:


Hope you have run across this problem
because I am going a bit nuts. This is
my third time scrubbing my oven, and
I still have smoke originating from
the inside oven door.

The door is spotless, I have cleaned
around the insulation stripping, and I
literally see the smoke coming off of
where the window would be... It doesn't
actually have a window. I use a brillo
pad and repeatedly wiped away gunk and
residue, so that isn't causing the
smoke. Any suggestions?

Thanks!

L.


It sounds to me like there must be a
vent on the door. Otherwise, how could
smoke come out of the door?

She mentions that the smoke seems to be
coming from where the oven door window
would be, if she had an oven door window.
I'm finding this hard to visualize. I can't
imagine smoke coming out of the center
of the oven door.

There is one possibility. It seems to
me that someone wrote to me about having
vents underneath the oven door handle.
If she has vents there, then she could
have smoke coming out of the frontside
of her oven door.

I've just found the post from a few
months ago that describes a situation
where the oven door vents are found
behind the oven door handle:


Oven Door Vents
Are Behind Handle
and Very Hard to Clean



Perhaps this is the answer. If she has
vents underneath her oven door handle,
and some food has gotten into these vents,
maybe this is where the smoke is coming
from.

Anyone have a better idea?

Everything comes from somewhere. The smoke
coming out of her oven door must be coming
from somewhere too.

Ed Abbott

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oven Door Vents
Are Behind Handle
and Very Hard to Clean

I received the following email
yesterday:


Obviously the person who designed
my oven door did not have housekeeping
in mind. My oven door has the vents
immediately behind the door handle.

The space is too narrow to clean
with a toothbrush, or any other
type  of brush. I've tried
everything.

I wipe the stove top and oven
face using a glass cleaning product
after each use, even if I just heat
water for instant coffee

The buildup over time drives me nuts.
It takes hours and patience to get
these tiny vents (on a white door) to
look clean.

I will keep this in mind when I purchase
my next appliances, but that will be a
while since the ones I have are in good
condition except for the crap on
the vents that I cannot clean daily.

-- D




Thank you so much for the email. I had
not realized that oven door vents are so
important until recently.

Apparently an oven door needs vents or
these vents would not be there. However,
these vents can be a problem.

One problem that has come up is the
possibility of water getting into these
vents. The water then streaks its way
down the interior surface of the oven
door class. At this point, the oven
door glass becomes impossible to clean
because there is no way to reach between
the layers of glass.

I've never heard of oven door vents being
behind the door handle. I can see where
this would cause cleaning problems.

I can also see why an oven designer might
put the vents there. It makes it harder
for people to spray cleaning solution into
the vents. If no cleaning solution reaches
the vents, no cleaning solution can get
stuck between the layers of oven door
glass.

However, you seem to have discovered a
distinct disadvantage and that is that
the vents are hard to clean around.

Maybe someone will invent the removable
oven door handle. If this were done, the
designer of the oven could still protect
his precious vents from water getting into
them. At the same time, cleaning up around
the vents would be possible.

I'm not sure what the answer is. It sounds
like a typical design problem. Design problems
are often centered around trading one problem
for another.

Life is like that. You trade one thing for
another. As we get older, life becomes a
series of trade-offs. Some of the trade-offs
are not so bad.

Ed Abbott

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Grease Dripping From Oven Roof

I received the following email:


I was hoping you can help me. I have
a very dirty oven. The grease is
actually dripping from the roof of
the oven.

How do I clean up there above the
element? I have oven spray and it
says that you should not spray on
the element.

How do you spray the roof of the oven
without getting it on the element? Would
your baking soda idea work on it? It's
not really carbon it's grease ---- well,
on the surface anyway --- there may be
carbon underneath!

Please help. Thanks.


I've never heard of using baking soda as
a degreaser. However this web page claims
that it can be used for this very purpose:

Sprinkle Baking Soda on Grease

Here's another that claims the same thing:

Five Natural Degreaser Ideas

Here's yet another:

Baking Soda Is an Effective Degreaser

One advantage of baking soda is that it will
not burn. I wonder about using things that will
burn in an oven. You want to take away from the
problem, not add to it.

I've never used baking soda as a degreaser myself.
Therefore I have no way of knowing how well it
actually works.

The other issue you mention is spraying the heating
element. I've covered that in an earlier blog
post:

Do You Spray the Heating Element?

Ed Abbott

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Baking Power or
Bicarbonate of Soda?

Got the following email not too
long ago asking about the difference
between baking powder and
bicarbonate of soda:


Hello Ed

I am very interested in using
your unique method of oven cleaning.

I have a problem though we (here in
England) have baking powder
or bicarbonate of soda and I
am unsure which one I should be using.

Could you advise please.

Regards

C. Day


Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are
the same thing. Use baking soda.

Do not use baking powder. While baking
powder often contains baking soda, it also
contains other ingredients.

For best results, use baking soda only.

Ed Abbott

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can Baking Soda
Be Used On
a Self-Cleaning Oven?

Lately, I've been getting email from people
who have self-cleaning oven. It has slowly
dawned on me that these ovens have a different
interior surface that needs to be treated with
care.

Put the wrong chemicals on the interior surfaces
of your self-cleaning oven and you damage it.
This is what I'm hearing over and over again.

This begs the question: Can a self-cleaning oven
be damaged by baking soda? Is it safe to use
baking soda on a self-cleaning oven?

This web page seems to think it is OK. It mentions
making a paste with baking soda in it to clean your
oven:

Self Cleaning Oven Repair and Care

Here's another web page that seems to think it
is OK to use baking soda on a self-cleaning
oven:

How to Manually Clean an Electric Self Cleaning Oven

This web page seems to strongly favor baking
soda as a cleaning agent for a self-cleaning
oven:

Self Cleaning Ovens – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds?

I'll be looking at other sources to see if they
agree. I'm not an oven cleaning expert myself so
I depend on outside sources for better information
than I can provide.

Update: June 7, 2013:

Most oven manufacturers provide you with an 800 number
you can call for consumer level information. I'd call
them and ask whether or not you should use baking soda
on your oven.

Oven technology, like all technology these days, changes
so quickly that I'd be reluctant to make a definite
recommendation as to whether or not baking soda is appropriate
for your brand new oven.

Ed Abbott

Two Kinds of Self-Cleaning Oven

I received the following email yesterday:


I used a conventional oven cleaner
on a self cleaning oven.  What damage
did I do and what should I do about
it?  Do I need a new oven?  Replace
the inside racks?  Other.....?


I don't really have an answer to this
question. I'm starting to realize that
self-cleaning ovens are more complicated
than I thought they were.

I always thought that a self-cleaning oven
worked by generating a high temperature. End
of story.

Now I'm starting to understand differently. I'm
starting to understand that the interior of a
self-cleaning oven can have a special surface
that must be treated with care. See the owner's
manual that came with your oven for cleaning
instructions.

Today I've been reading about two kinds of
self-cleaning oven:

  • catalytic self-cleaning systems
  • Pyrolytic self-cleaning units

I read about these two kinds of self-cleaning
oven here after scrolling down:

Self-Cleaning Ovens

Perhaps this information will help the
person above who wrote in. I'm not sure.
I'm not an expert on ovens and oven technology.

Ed Abbott

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aluminum Foil
Stuck to Bottom of Oven

 
Just got the following email:


I have aluminum foil stuck to the
bottom of the oven. It almost looks
like it has melted there. Do you
have any suggestions as to how to
remove it?


I've heard this one before. Others
have written to me with the same
problem.

It seems that aluminum melts around
1200 or 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. That's
a fairly low melting temperature.

However, that may not be low enough to
melt ordinary aluminum foil in an oven.

Here's a web page that suggests there
may be something new called non-stick
foil that melts at a much lower
temperature:

Melted Aluminum Foil
 
This is something that is new to me.
Therefore, I do not know what to suggest.

Anyone have any ideas?

Ed

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can You Cook With the Oven
Between Sprays
of the Oven Cleaning Solution?

 
Just got an email from someone
who read the oven cleaning article
I wrote. Here's the email:


I like your recommendation for cleaning
the oven; mine is extremely dirty  
with baked on grease and other stuff.  
My question is:  can I actually  cook
in the oven between sprays?  I like
the idea that it's not toxic and and I'm
eager to try this process.  Thank you.


Baking soda is quite safe. It does not
emit fumes or anything like that in my
experience.

The only problem comes when you spray
it on to a hot oven surface. You should
never do that. If you do, water turns
to steam and the baking soda goes airborne
to some degree. This has been my experience
in the past.

Taking baking soda internally does not seem
to be a problem. I've known people who have
taken it in quantity to reduce stomach acidity.
Not that I'm recommending this. I'm just saying
that if a little gets in your food it is no big
deal.

In the past, people have also used baking soda
to brush their teeth. Again, not a recommendation,
just a fact.

Currently there are toothpaste products on the
market that contain baking soda. Also, baking
soda is an ingredient is some baking powders
that go into cakes and cornbread recipes. If
you can bake with it, surely you can put it on
the walls of your oven safely and not worry about
it getting into your food.

You should be quite safe if you cook with the
oven between sprays. Just be careful that you
spray when the oven is completely and totally
cooled off.

Ed Abbott

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cloudy Film on Oven Walls
After Oven Cleaning

 
Just received this email:


Help! A housesitter was doing some
home sitting for us while we were
out of town.  She had used our oven,
made a mess and wanted to take care of
it.  

She said she cleans hers by spraying
commercial oven cleaner on, THEN
turning on the self cleaning cycle and
it works like a charm.  Well, my oven
doesn't look so charming anymore. I
believe the self cleaning baked the
commercial oven cleaner into the
walls of my oven and now has a cloudy
film over everything.

After she left I tried using the commercial
oven cleaner the way the directions said
and its not getting any better.  We even
left it over night.  I tried vinegar and
water, baking soda and nothing is getting
the cloudy mess off.  I'm not sure if the
self cleaning would make the fogginess
worse or better, so I haven't tried
that yet.  Any ideas on what to do??

Thanks for your time,


Here's some information from the Easy Off
Oven Cleaning website. Note that they say
avoid using their Heavy Duty Oven
Cleaner on self-cleaning ovens
:


Can EASY-OFF® Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner be
used on continuous or self-cleaning ovens?


Note that they also have a product that
they say is safe for self-cleaning ovens:

EASY-OFF® Fume Free Oven Cleaner

Could this product help you? I have no
idea.

Here's their Contact Us page:

Easy Off Contact Us

If it were me, I'd call their 800 number.
I'd ask if they have a product that will
work in this situation.

Best Wishes!

Ed Abbott

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oven Cleaning
Products and Services

 
Occasionally someone will write me
telling me about their oven cleaning
service or product. It's a big world.

Being a big world, I've decided to create
a post where these people can advertise
their product or service as desired. Some
of these products and services represent
important alternatives to what is available
elsewhere.

Please post your oven cleaning product or
service as a comment to this post. It will
not be considered spam.

Note that I'm limiting this kind of comment
to this one post. I prefer that you not offer
your oven cleaning product or service as an addendum
to other posts unless it is somehow relevant. As
post moderator, I'll be the judge of relevance. My
standards are high.

I appreciate that you have a product or service
that you are offering to the world. Please leave
a message at the end of this post if you would like
others to know about your product or service.

Ed Abbott

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why Is There Streaking
in My Oven Door Glass?

 
I received the following email
this week:


Hello

I love and have used your bicarbonate
of soda and water oven cleaning  
method.  Totally eco and very easy.

However ..... I now have on the glass
parts of my oven doors some  streaky
marks that look as though they are
internal bicarbonate of soda marks -
they are streaked from the top of the
glass on the oven to the bottom and
are spread across the oven door.

Could you let me know the best way to
deal with this if possible?

ANY advice would be great, as I don't
know how to deal with this.   They are
ugly great streaks of what looks like
dried on baking soda running across
the internal glass.  Visible from
the outside of the oven and inside
of the oven

Kind regards

Mary


Hi Mary,

Thanks for your vivid description
of the streaks of baking soda. It
sounds to me like your oven door has
two layers of glass. In other words,
it sounds like it is double-insulated.

I don't know this. However, using more
than one layer of glass is a common heat-
saving strategy when building houses. Each
extra layer of glass provides just a little
bit more thermal insulation than one layer
alone would provide.

Since modern ovens often have glass doors,
it would make total sense to me that the
manufacturers of ovens employ the same
strategy as manufactures of windows do.
That is to say, they use more than one
layer of glass to trap the heat inside
the oven.

I'm not an expert. However, this makes
sense to me. Layering the glass will
help keep the heat inside the oven and
help keep the glass cool and touchable
on the outside surface the oven door.

It sounds like you sprayed your oven
door and somehow the solution got between
the layers of glass. Again, I'm speculating.

Apparently you are not the first person
to have this problem. Here's what Whirlpool
says on their website:

Why is there streaking in my oven door glass?

The answer that Whirlpool gives seems to indicate
that it is the top of the oven door that is the
problem. They seem to be saying that care must
be used when cleaning the top part of the door.

I've just left my desk to check on our oven. I
was remembering that the top of the door on our
oven has vents.

I'm back in my chair and indeed, our oven does
have vents running across the entire top part of
the door. I suspect that these vents are the
problem. Getting water into these vents is a problem.

Our oven door is a door with a glass window and
it has vents on the top surface of the door. The
vents seem to vent air out of the top part of the
door just above the oven-door handle.

I suspect that this is the problem. These vents
are probably where the water solution entered
your oven door. Do you have vents on top of your
oven door too?

Whirlpool seems to be saying that the only solution
to the problem is to disassemble the door. Another
thing I notice about our oven is that we have philips-
type screws on the top of our door --- so it would seem
that this is possible.

Of course, dissassembling an oven door is not for the
faint of heart. Wisely, Whirlpool recommends that a
qualified person do this.

By the way, our oven also has some streaking between
the leyers of glass. However, it is not baking soda
as we now have a self-cleaning oven and have never
used baking soda to clean it. The streaking I see
is black and looks like some kind of carbon.

I live in a different house now under entirely different
circumstances then when I used baking soda to clean
my oven. I was in California when I cleaned my oven
using baking soda. I'm now back in the state where
I was born and grew up, which is Maine. Again, our oven
in Maine is self-cleaning, unlike the one in California.

I think it is worth noting that baking soda is not the
only source of this kind of streaking. Our oven door
glass is streaked with a black substance. I'm sure
other solutions can also streak the oven door between
glass layers too.

I'm thinking of rewriting the article and suggesting
that people not spray the vents at the top of their
oven doors with the spray bottle. What do you think?
This seems like common sense to me.

This is the first I've heard of this problem. Streaked
glass is something that never occurred to me. When I first
read your email, I was a bit confused. I was thinking,
How is this possible?

Please don't hesitate to post or write back, especially
if you find a solution to your problem.

Ed Abbott

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Do You Spray
the Heating Element?

 
Just got the following question
via Email:


Do you spray it on the heating element also??

Certainly you do not try to spray
the heating element. There is no
need to spray the heating element
because any food that gets on the
heating element is going to be burned
up, carbon and all.

Typically, there is not any carbon
residue left on the heating element
after the oven has been turned on.

However, I know of no way to avoid
spraying baking soda on the heating
element. It is unavoidable.

So, I would not try to get baking soda
on the heating element but I would
not worry about it either.

Keep in mind that this is true of any
and all spray-on oven cleaning solutions.
All spray-on cleaning solutions are going
to get spray on the heating element. It
is unavoidable.

Also keep in mind that baking soda does
not burn. Baking soda is an ingredient
in some dry chemical fire extinguishers.
I'm not an expert but to the best of my
knowledge, baking soda does not cause
fires. If anything, it puts a fire out.

Ed Abbott

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chop Stick Clears
Oven Cleaning Spray Bottle

 
Just received a suggestion for
clearing a clogged spray bottle.
Here's the email I received:


If the baking soda gets stuck
in the funnel, OR it clogs at
the bottom of the spray bottle
after shaking it. USE A
CHOPSTICK.

It will clear the funnel nicely,
and you can stir the clogged soda
at the bottom of your spray bottle
after shaking, later..

D. M.
Courtenay, BC, Canada


Ed Abbott

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is It OK to Turn the Oven On?

 
Just got an email from a lady who
wants to know if it is OK to turn
the oven on.

She asks:


One question:  I understand not
to start with a hot oven when spraying
the baking soda mixture in there, but
can you please clarify if it is okay to
heat the oven right after or while the
mixture is still wet in there?  I
don't want to blow up the kitchen.  ;)  

Thanks.


You should be able to turn the oven
on safely. That is my supposition as
well as my experience.

Baking soda is often baked into food,
so it should be safe to consume should
some of it get into your food.

Also, baking soda is an ingredient in
fire extinguishers that acts as a fire
suppresent. So, the baking soda should
not burn.

In general, baking soda is not something
that would explode either.

In short, baking soda does not burn or
explode. That's my understanding.

When I used baking soda to clean my oven,
I turned it on and did not have a problem.

It doesn't burn or explode or get hard
or anything like that. The only thing
that happens is the heat causes it to
dry out.

Note that I am a layperson, not a chemist
or an expert in fire fighting. I'm certainly
not a baking soda expert.

However, my common sense tells me that
turning on an oven that has baking soda
in it should be OK.

After all, each time you bake corn bread
that has baking soda in it, you are doing
something that is considered safe.

So why wouldn't a hot oven be able to
accommodate a little baking soda?

Ed Abbott

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cleaning Oven in a Commercial Environment

 
Here's an email from someone
asking about oven cleaning in
a commercial environment:


Ed,

We  are a cleaning  service.
Just a got a contract  with  
a school  cafe.

Want to  leave  as  little carbon  
foot  print  as  possible .  But  
need to  quick  clean .  Leaving  
the  Baking  solution on  is  not  
an opportunity .  Is  there one?

Thank you in  advance  for  for
help with this.

Good Cleaning,



I don't have any good ideas for
this person. Does anyone else?

Ed Abbott

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ratio of Baking Soda to Water

 
OK. Just got another email:


Hi Ed,

I read your article Eight Easy
Steps to a Clean Oven
and am
anxious to try this process.  However,
I'm not sure what size spray bottle
to use.  

The article mentions using 3 heaping
teaspoons of baking soda, but I didn't
see any reference to the amount of water
to add.


Thanks.


Here's my reply to the above question:

I don't have a precise memory of how
much baking soda I added to the water.

It has been years since I did this.

A safe starting place would be one level
teaspoon per cup of water.

Seems to me I added more than this but
this will give you a very conservative
place to start.

As I recall, the extra baking soda will
tend to settle at the bottom of the bottle.

Therefore, a little extra probably does no
harm as long as it is not too much extra
and as long as it does not clog the bottle.

At this point in time, it has been about
10 years since I actually cleaned my oven
this way.

So, my memory, at this point, may not be
perfect.

Ed Abbott

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do You
Turn the Oven On
For the Baking Soda
to Work?

 
Just got the following question:

You say to Start with a cold
oven.  So, do you turn the oven
on for the baking soda to work??
You do not mention turning the
oven on.


No need to turn the oven on. No
need to keep it off.

Just use your oven as desired and
let the baking soda work.

See this post for more of the same:

Turn On Oven?

Ed Abbott

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cleaning Pots and Pans With Baking Soda

 
OK. Just burned dinner last night.
I burned red beet bulbs on to the
bottom of the pan.

I was watching TV and not paying
attention. That's an old story.

The new story is that baking soda
works great to clean the black stuff
that adheres to the pan.

I really did a good job of burning
the black stuff on this time. The
black stuff is carbon.

Anytime you have food that is burned
on to the side of the pan, it is called
carbon. This is especially true if it
is black.

How did I get it off?

I followed these steps:

  1. I put some baking soda in the bottom
    of the pan.
  2. I wet the baking soda just a little bit,
    just enough to make it a little bit sticky.
  3. I finger-painted the baking soda on to the
    black stuff.
  4. I let it sit like this for a few hours. Overnight
    is probably a good idea.
  5. While I let it sit, I kept the top on the
    pan so that the little bit of water I put in there
    did not evaporate too quickly.
  6. I tested the pan for readiness by finger-painting
    the baking soda again. If the black carbon rubs off
    on it's own, the pan is probably ready for scrubbing.
  7. I then rinsed the pan. In my case, it came out clean.
  8. Had the pan not come clean, I would have
    repeated the above steps. Sometimes you have
    to do this if the black burned-on carbon is too
    thick and has too many layers.

Here are tips that will help you be successful:

  1. Be sure to give it enough time. It's a chemical
    reaction. Chemical reactions take time.
  2. Don't use too much water. Just enough so that
    the baking soda can be finger-painted to the sides
    of the pan. If you use too much water, you dilute
    the effectiveness of the baking soda. At least, that's
    my experience.
  3. Don't start scrubbing until at least some
    of the backed-on carbon comes off when you
    finger-paint it with your finger. Why scrub
    if you do not have to?

Hope this helps someone out there.

Ed Abbott

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Does the Oven Need to Be Turned On?

 
Just got an email from a woman in
Canada who asks if you need to,
use the oven for the baking soda
solution to work?


By using the oven, I assume she means
turning it on.

No, I don't think it is necessary to
use the oven. Just keep the baking soda
wet. That's the key thing.

In other words, heat is not necessary.
Just moisture.

Whether or not heat helps, I don't know.
It might, as some chemical reactions speed
up in the presence of heat.

Baking soda taking the black stuff off of
oven surfaces has to be a chemical reaction
of some kind. That's my assumption.

To summarize: Turning the oven on is not
necessary. Whether or not it helps give a
faster result, I'm not sure.

Ed Abbott

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Choosing A Spray Bottle to Clean Your Oven

 

OK. Just got the following email:


Good morning Ed

Belfast Northern Ireland calling - was
so excited to try your eco friendly oven
cleaning  method ie; with bicarboninate
of soda -  but the stuff won't spray out
of the bottle.  What am I doing wrong,
do I add hot water to the bicarbon soda
or cold?  I don't want to waste any more
as i've already used a whole pkt; with
cold water with no success.  HELP! please.

Yours sincerely  



Here's how I replied:

Hello,

This is a common problem.  Clogged spray
bottles are a common problem.

Here's the solution that I've found and that
others have found.

Be sure to buy your spray bottle empty rather
than using a spray bottle that is pre-filled.  Seems
that prefilled spray bottles are very application
specific and therefore cause problems.

For example, some pre-filled spray bottles are
pre-filled with a window cleaning solution.  These
bottles are a problem.

Since they are not designed to accommodate baking
soda, they will not accommodate baking soda.  Thus
the bottle clogs.

The bottles I bought were general purpose spray bottles.
The nozzles were adjustable and you could put all kinds
of things through the nozzle.

The nozzle could be set to produce a fine mist or
it could be set (with a twist of the ring on the
tip of the sprayer) to produce a stream of water
that did not mist at all.

In other words, the bottle itself was designed to
accommodate a lot of different situations and a lot
of different spray solutions.

Hope this helps!

Ed Abbott

Does Baking Soda Turn to Lye?

 
OK.  The email that I got below basically
asks the question, "Does baking soda
turn to lye?"

The answer seems to be, "no."

Got an email from the same guy
replying to his own question:

Here is the email reply:


No problem, Ed; I appreciate your reply.
I am certainly not suggesting that it does
produce sodium hydroxide---I don't know.
I was just curious.  There are many other
sites on the web that also recommend
using baking soda as a paste in a cool oven.
My only point of doubt is what happens
when you heat it up.  Took too much chemistry,
I guess (which was not very much).

In fact, this post
(post asks about a cheap way to make lye)
makes it clear there is no danger.

Regards,



Ed Abbott

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cleaning Your Oven With Baking Soda

 
This is my first post on a new
blog. This blog is all about oven
cleaning and baking soda.

Baking soda can be used to clean
an oven.

Just got an email from a man who
read this article on my website:

Eight Easy Steps to a Clean Oven

He wrote the following:



Interested in your web post as
a potential help to me.

But I've read that NaOH should never
be used in oven cleaning (even though
it's in many products) because it is
too abrasive and too toxic
(super-strong alkaline).

The baking soda does not turn into NaOH,
then, with high temps, water, salt, and
everything else that might be in there?

Thanks.



The NaOH that he refers to in his email is
also called Sodium Hydroxide or lye.

I remember lye used to be sold as a product
called Red Devil. I suspect that
Red Devil is no longer on the market.

It was a product that would produce a chemical
reaction that would create pressure enough
to clear a blocked drain.

It did this by producing heat and pressure,
as I recall.

I've purchased and used this product before
but doubt it is still available. I've not
seen it on supermarket shelves in years.

In any case, the above email indicates his
concern that baking soda might turn into lye
under the right conditions.

My instinct is that this is not very likely
but if anyone out there begs to differ, please
post your reply here.

Thanks!

Ed Abbott