Cambria Style

The Art of Re-Tinning Copper Cookware

Copper cookware can cook for your family for generations.

  • Written by Amanda Lecky
  • July, 2016

Copper cookware is prized for more than its pretty face—experienced cooks love the precise, even temperature control the highly conductive metal gives them, making it an ideal choice for sauteing or simmering delicate sauces. But, copper aficionados also know the favorite material comes with a trade-off: the need for regular maintenance. Copper’s gleaming surface tarnishes quickly, even when in regular use. And the lining—if it’s tin, not stainless steel, as the linings of most copper pots and pans made before 1990 are—will wear away after years of cooking and cleaning. This is a problem, because the lining prevents a reaction between acidic foods and copper that can cause verdigris poisoning.

Restoring the shine to the surface is easy

Just polish regularly.

You can’t repair the worn lining yourself, but, fortunately, a worn spot is no reason to bid adieu to your favorite copper saucier. Instead, look to a company that specializes in retinning, like East Coast Tinning in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Using the traditional “hand wiping” method of retinning, East Coast Tinning first removes the old tin lining and prepares the raw copper to receive the new tin. The artisans protect the outside of the item to prevent any tin from adhering in the wrong place, then they heat it to 450 degrees, the melting point of tin. Molten tin is then poured into the pot or pan, swirled around, and wiped out by hand before it’s left to cool naturally. This method of hand-wiping creates a much thicker layer of tin inside the pot as compared with electroplating, resulting in a much longer-lasting lining. Finally, any dents are removed and the finish is polished to a bright shine.

As a general rule of thumb, East Coast Tinning recommends retinning whenever the lining has worn in a spot as big as a quarter. And, protect the longevity of your newly retinned  cookware by treating it well. Never heat it to 450 degrees, the melting point of tin, or you’ll risk damaging the lining. Always use wood or plastic utensils to avoid scratching the surface. Don’t scrub or scrape it. Never put it in the dishwasher. And always keep it clean and polished. Follow these instructions, and your copper cookware will deliver years of beauty and performance.

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