Cleaning stainless steel

I'm sure there have been numerous posts here about cleaning stainless steel, but I want to share my experience anyway.
I'm a pretty good cook, and I have the full complement of overpriced
pots and pans. My favorite is a set of All-Clad heavy duty stainless I bought 10 years ago for around $800.
The other night I used the 10-inch skillet to brown some tacos. Simple enough. Corn tortillas brushed with vegetable oil, filled with shredded pork that had been braising all day. Tacos browned up nicely and everybody was happy, including me. They're one of my favorite comfort foods.
Unfortunately, the veggie oil burned onto the stainless skillet like you wouldn't believe. Just a brown gunky mess that I couldn't remove with normal washing. I set the pan aside, intending to deal with it later.
That later was last weekend. First thing I tried was a good soak in lacquer thinner followed by strenuous rubbing with purple Scotch-Brite. This didn't even cut the oil. It remained baked on.
I've seen deposits like this turn to ash when I put my oven into its clean cycle, so I put the pan in my heat-treating oven, cranked up the temperature to 600 degrees F, and let it soak for 2 hours.
It came out an unholy black mess. No ash -- more like a badly done powder coating that nothing, not even steel wool, would scratch.
In desperation I turned to the internets, where somebody recommended Bar Keeper's Friend for the worst buildups on stainless utensils. I was skeptical after all I'd done to it already. I was pretty sure I'd have to send this pan to its grave, but I bought a can of the stuff anyway. At $2 or so, it was a cheap experiment.
Lo and behold, to my astonishment, the first application of Bar Keeper's Friend cut about half the black buildup off the pan. I applied some more, making a nice thick paste and letting it sit for a few minutes. With only minimal rubbing with Scotch-Brite, the rest of the pan came spotlessly clean. I was freaking amazed.
What is IN this stuff? Should you be using it with bare hands? Should you be using it around food at all? If it can do THAT to a baked on mess like I had, what can it do to things you (presumably) want to keep?
Anyhoo, that's my story. I'm sticking to it, and I'm keeping a can of this stuff in my cleaning cupboard from now on.
-Frank [Not affiliated with the makers of BKF in any way.]
--
Here's some of my work:
http://www.franksknives.com /
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Snip good story

MSDS says it's oxalic acid.....Paul
http://www.barkeepersfriend.com/BKF_MSDS_01_09.pdf
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I 'discovered' Bar Keepers Friend about a year ago, and have also been impressed with it's results.
Here's more on Oxalic Acid:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxalic_acid
I like to follow up BKF (and other cleanser) use with a plain dishwashing detergent and water wash... just to be sure all traces are gone. Probably overkill, but thats just me.
Also, whenever possible I try to avoid Scotch-Brite and similar products in the kitchen... they're very abrasive. (Especially to glass!)
Erik
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puttguider had written this in response to http://polytechforum.com/metalworking/re-cleaning-stainless-steel-190023-.htm : Have you tried quickleen-s from www.steelcleaner.com said to be ten times better that barkeeper fried. keep it clean ------------------------------------- Erik wrote:

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puttguider had written this in response to http://polytechforum.com/metalworking/re-cleaning-stainless-steel-190023-.htm : Have you tried quickleen-s from www.steelcleaner.com said to be ten times better that barkeeper fried. keep it clean ------------------------------------- Erik wrote:

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On Wed, 15 Jul 2009 13:38:04 -0700, Frank Warner

Oxalic acid. http://www.barkeepersfriend.com/BKF_MSDS_01_09.pdf
I've never used Bar Keeper's Friend, but I do use Zud for cleaning the stovetop. It appears to be much the same composition. http://www.daycon.com/msds/ZUD-msds.pdf
I believe oxalic acid is present in many edible plants. IIRC, wood sorrel is one that tastes pretty good, but you shoudn't eat too much due to high levels of oxalic acid.
--
Ned Simmons

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Oxalic Acid (specifically Oxalic Acid Dihydrate) http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/brands?tbl=brands&id 004001
Frank Warner wrote:

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wrote:

[...]
Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. (The box looks pretty much like the A&H Baking Soda box, only bigger, and you'll find it on the same aisle as laundry detergent. Expect to pay about $3 for a 3-pound box.)
Then, if this ever happens again, save yourself time, effort, and money: don't bother trying to wash it at first. Just put about half a cup of washing soda in the pan, then pour in enough hot water to cover the gunk, and stir until the washing soda is dissolved. (By this time, most of the gunk will be dissolved too.) Allow to soak until the water is cool. Dump the mess down the drain; wipe the pan. If there's any gunk left, *then* get out the Barkeeper's Friend.
Washing soda is also real useful for getting grease out of clothing, or for cleaning the cooktop and range hood.
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On Wed, 15 Jul 2009 13:38:04 -0700, Frank Warner

The active ingredient is oxalic acid, which is also a pretty good rust remover.
As regards use around food and with cookware: http://growingtaste.com/oxalicacid.shtml
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On Thu, 16 Jul 2009 00:50:48 -0500, the infamous Don Foreman

Oxalic acid is also a main ingredient in deck cleaners/brighteners.
-- Mistrust the man who finds everything good, the man who finds everything evil, and still more the man who is indifferent to everything. -- Johann K. Lavater
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wrote:

When it is still warm, pour in some vinegar.
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Frank Warner writes:

You have polymerized oil which is called "paint". Literally. Most solvents do not remove paint.
Next time just spray on some oven cleaner and wipe it off. Really.
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Yup, that's my opinion, too. Trying to burn it off, etc., just makes it worse. To remove a polymerized animal or vegetable fat, you need to turn it into soap, which is what the lye in the oven cleaner does. A little help from some Scotchbrite pads can help, for more delicate stuff, baking soda works as a very mild abrasive in conjunction with the oven cleaner.
Oxalic acid is a poison, not much of one, but still poisonous, and I'd keep it far away from food and food handling equipment. Good for rust removal and removing stains from wood, particularly iron stains from oak. Should be handled with rubber gloves and don't lick your fingers or pick your nose while working with it.
Stan
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