While I was out thrifitng recently I came upon a vintage Cathrineholm (if you are into mid-century Scandinavian design you know what I am talking about) lotus design fondue pot. I rushed over to the extremely collectible pot in a frenzy...OK I probably just pregnancy waddled, but whatever. I hustled. Anyway, I picked it up and realized that it was very badly burned. The entire bottom was black and the burns licked up halfway around the bowl. If it weren't burned, I thought, the piece was in amazing condition. I tried to scratch it off with a fingernail, but it appeared to be a lost cause. I tried to just walk away, but I couldn't.
I remembered that I am a more capable person than I give myself credit for and maybe, just maybe, I could restore this fondue pot to its former glory. So I bought it and took it home. My first stop was to sit in front of the computer to search for a good cleaning method. Everything I found for restoring enamelware was pretty abrasive and or ridiculous. So I just decided to try to invent my own technique and it worked! So here is the scientific process I have devised to restore burnt enamelware to its vintage glory. Unfortunately I didn't think to start taking pictures until about halfway through, so you'll never know just how badly burned this pot was...but you can still get the idea.
So, first you need to find a pot larger than your enamelware. Fill it with water, high enough to cover the burnt enamelware. Add some baking soda. I think I added about 1/4 c. at a time. I really wasn't scientific about it. Bring the water to a boil. Add the enamelware and keep the water at a low boil for a while. I left it for about 20 minutes.
Then you can take a soft rag and start wiping at the burnt materials. My first pass over got some of the lighter burns, but there was still a LOT of burn. So I kept at it, checking it every 20 minutes or so. I would wipe off a bit more with the damp rag each time. As the water evaporated from the pot I added more water and baking soda (careful or the soda might boil over).
I just kept at the process, took about an hour and a half of boiling time and it was finally clean! Like really clean! I was so excited that the process worked.
While I really want to keep the piece I cannot start collecting Cathrineholm, lest I turn into a hoarder of mid-century paraphernalia. So it is now available on our etsy site. Check it out and while you are there see what else is new!