Pitting in aluminum pans and cookware is corrosion that creates tiny holes in the metal and is typically the result of having put these pans through the dishwasher. Aluminum should never be put into a dishwasher, but rather be washed by hand in mild dishwashing liquid.
Most dishwasher detergents are extremely alkaline and readily pit and discolor aluminum. Dishwasher detergents can also create a kind of grey film on the surface of aluminum, which can become difficult if not impossible to scrub off.
I am afraid there may be nothing you can do to remove the pits. However, there is a rather simple way to remove the dark, ugly discoloration that often appears in well-used aluminum cookware.
You want to fill the stained aluminum pot with a highly acidic solution: For each quart of water you need add 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, white vinegar OR lemon juice. Any one of these items will create a highly acidic solution, which will reduce discoloration due to oxidation. If you have other aluminum items like flatware that has become discolored, you can add these pieces to the pot.
If you need to clean the outside of a pot as well as the inside, try submerging it in a larger pot (doesn’t have to be aluminum, as the acid solution will not harm stainless steel or other types of pots) that you have filled with this acidic solution.
Set the pot on the stovetop and bring the solution to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the burner off when the aluminum brightens, allowing the pot and its contents to cool. Pour the solution down the drain.
If any discoloration remains, gently scrub the pot with a scrubber sponge. Avoid using steel wool, which is too abrasive and could cause future problems on aluminum.
Another option: Use a gentle aluminum cleaner meant for cookware instead of the boiling method above. Our friends at Bar Keeper’s Friend have introduced a fabulous cleanser and polisher, Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleanser & Polish that does a great job cleaning up all kinds of cookware including aluminum. You might give this a try on the pitting. Provided the damage is not severe, you may be able to rub out the pitting enough to bring your venerable and well-loved cookware back to it’s bright and shiny appearance.
Mary Hunt is the founder of DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of Debt-Proof Living. To find out more about Mary visit Creators.com.