6 Stains On Stainless Steel – The Cookware Advisor

6 Stains On Stainless Steel – The Cookware Advisor

Dream Cheeky will help you know How Do You Fix Discolored Stainless Steel 2022: Best Guide

Video How Do You Fix Discolored Stainless Steel

Stains on Stainless Steel Cookware #2


A few days ago my husband left a stainless steel saucepan of water boiling on the stove well past the point of complete evaporation! The result? A pan with small discolored dots on the bottom that just won’t come off.

I realized that we are now the proud owners of … a pitted pan!

What is pitting?

Pitting is technically not a stain but an erosion of the surface of the metal. Pitting on stainless steel occurs in the presence of chlorides, like salt. So clearly, the tap water that was boiling in our pot had some salt dissolved in it which went on to create pitting once all the water was gone.

I’m going to go into deeper detail for those interested in a more scientific explanation, myself included! The reason why stainless steel is resistant to corrosion is because it contains chromium. Chromium reacts with oxygen in the air to form a thin layer of chromium oxide on the surface. It is this layer of chromium oxide that makes stainless steel passive and protects the steel from reacting with oxygen and rusting.

Now I’ve been boiling salted water (for pasta, rice etc.) for years so I know that salted water normally doesn’t damage stainless steel. However, when undissolved salt is added to a stainless steel pot (or water boiled dry, as in my case) the chloride in the salt can attack the passive layer of chromium oxide, leaving pockmarks where it removes the oxide.

Can you remove pitting stains?

According to hunker.com, yes, by grinding out the pitted and/or rusted parts and being careful how you use it in the future (i.e. avoid prolonged exposure to salty water, vinegar etc.) so that it doesn’t pit again.

For most of us who are not willing or able to grind a pan, I would say, no. Once your stainless steel pan is pitted, it’s pitted.

Is it safe to use a pitted pan?

Now if you’ve read my article on stainless steel cookware, or if you’ve spent any time researching stainless steel you would know that it does leach small quantities of nickel and chromium into food. For most of us, the amounts are not significant and by and large, stainless steel is considered a safe material for cookware.

According to most accounts, a pitted pan is still safe to use and will not lose its function though of course, it won’t look as good as before. The chromium in the stainless steel would already have formed a new layer of chromium oxide layer over the pits and in theory, your pot is as corrosion resistant as before.

Others, however, warn that a heavily scratched and pitted pot will leach more of these metals and you should dispose of them. Personally, I am going to toss my pitted stainless steel sauce pan, I don’t want to take the chance.

So in the end, the choice is really yours.