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Melted Foil on Cooktop

Melted Aluminum Foil on my Cooktop!

Cleaning off Aluminum Foil stuck to a cooktop

We occasionally get questions from home chefs who’ve run into trouble with their ceramic glass cooktops.  Recently Jeanne Huber from the Washington Post asked for Ted’s help for a home chef whose new ceramic glass cooktop had melted aluminum foil on the surface.  Here’s a link to that article (to find the cooktop question, scroll down past the cabinet door question) The Washington Post Home & Garden.    We’ve expanded on that topic, including the tests we did with melted aluminum foil and cleaning photos.

Summary:  Aluminum foil should never touch your glass-ceramic cooktop while it’s hot.
Melted on Aluminum Foil

Melted on Aluminum Foil

 

“I know, I know- why didn’t I tell you that BEFORE you had to search for it?!? “

I assume if you’re reading this, you accidentally melted some aluminum foil to your cooktop.  There is good news and bad news… The bad news is you can most likely never completely remove the damage.  The good news is you can clean up most of the mess and continue to use your cooktop as normal, possibly hiding the stain under a cute tea kettle when you have visitors.

 

How to clean melted-on aluminum foil- the short version:

AL diagram

How to clean melted-on aluminum foil- the long version with detailed photos:

In my experience, the difficulty of cleaning and the final result depend on how soon after “the incident” you attempt to remove the aluminum, and on how close the aluminum foil contacted the hot cooking surface.  The clean-up will not be easy.

comparison cleaned now vs later

Melted foil cleaned immediately (left) and after reheating (right)

 

These photos compare melted aluminum foil cleaned immediately upon cooling (left photo) to cleaning following a longer waiting time including reheating (right photo) simulating the benefit of cleaning up melted aluminum foil as soon as possible without allowing to re-melt to the surface.

scraped while hot

Reheating the aluminum foil and attempting to scrape it off while hot makes the stain look worse

 

 

 

DO NOT  try to reheat the foil hoping it will become easier to remove.  In fact, stop using the affected burner until you’ve cleaned it.  It is fine to use the other, non-foil attacked burners.  Reheating might work to remove foil in other situations, but it makes the foil melted on your cooktop even worse looking.   As you can see in this photo, when you reheat the melted foil and try to scrape it off while hot, the bits of aluminum you remove reattach to the glass and re-melt in metallic streaks.  This makes the stain larger and more noticeable.

Use a razor scraper to remove as much foil as possible

Use a razor scraper to remove as much foil as possible

STEPS TO MITIGATE:

 

Aluminum Foil Removed from Cooktop after Scraping

Aluminum Foil Removed from Cooktop after Scraping

STEP 1:  With the cooking surface cool, start the cleaning process with a metal razor scraper.  No cleaner or liquid is used in this first step; only the dry razor scraper.  You’ll need to be aggressive; this is the step where you will remove the majority of the aluminum stain.  Hold the scraper at an angle and try to get under the foil and scrape away as much as possible.   But do not gouge the glass with the corners of the blade.  Watch your fingers too- don’t make the situation worse by cutting yourself or scratching the ceramic glass surface with the sharp blade.  If you haven’t used a razor scraper to clean your cooktop before, see our post about general cleaning to practice the right angle and technique for scraping.  Scrape away the top layers of foil, the corners, etc.  When you get frustrated, step away a moment and come back to scrape some more.  I said this wasn’t going to be easy.

Here’s what you might be left with after diligent scraping.  Note that all future cleaning steps will result in minor improvement, and this might be what your cooktop is going to look like from now on.

Breathe and take a moment to think about buying a cute sturdy tea kettle to hide this under.

STEP 2:  Now we move on to the wet cleaning steps.  Use your favorite liquid cooktop cleaner labeled for use on glass-ceramic “smooth top” ranges.

Do not use cleaners for window glass, such as Windex or other ammonia-based cleaners.

Squirt the cleaner directly on the stain and buff with a clean paper towel.  Rinse with water and dry with clean paper towel.

foil wet cleaning 1foil wet cleaning 2foil wet cleaning 4

You may find the paper towel method feels a bit wimpy for your tough aluminum foil stain.  In general, sponges and abrasive scrub pads should be avoided because they may permanently scratch the ceramic glass surface. especially if a hard abrasive particle becomes lodged in the sponge.  However, there are some cleaning kits available labeled for cleaning ceramic glass cooktops that are packaged with a sponge.  In theory, this sponge should be safe to use, but test a small area to be sure you don’t see scratches before trusting it.  

foil wet cleaning 5 foil wet cleaning 6    foil wet cleaning 7If you’d like to get more aggressive, a paste of baking soda and water may provide more grit for polishing off stains.  Note that baking soda could contain hard particles that could scratch the ceramic glass surface, so use a trusted brand and test a small area to be sure it’s not scratching.

Keep in mind, the more aggressive you go on abrasive the more likely scratches show up on a high-gloss back surface.

After all your efforts, you may be left with something similar to this stain, shown in the next photo.

Melted Foil After Cleaning

Melted Foil After Cleaning

The appearance of your stain now represents the best you can do for melted aluminum foil.  Once you’ve flushed off all the cleaner with water and buffed dry with clean paper towels, it’s OK to use the cooktop, including this stained area as usual.  If you look closely at the ceramic glass surface in the area of the stain, you will likely see pits where bits of the surface have chipped away.  The melted aluminum foil reacts with the ceramic glass surface and damages it permanently when the foil is forcibly removed.  Luckily, this is a cosmetic stain, and the cooktop will function normally.

____________________________________________________________________

Other Internet Suggestions We’d Caution you NOT to try (and they do NOT work):

 

 

A quick internet search will provide many other ideas to try on a melted aluminum foil cooktop.  Here are a few that you should not try since I did it for you:

MATERIAL


Ingredients

Effect on Foil Stain

NOTES &

PICTURES

DRAIN CLEANER


Sodium Hydroxide, aka Caustic/lye

The ceramic-glass surface pitted and hazed, no foil removal

Nasty.  I did this under a fume hood with protective equipment.  Suggest you not try this.

Drain Cleaner on Cooktop Foil

Drain Cleaner on Cooktop Foil

Pitted Surface after Drain Cleaner

Pitted Surface after Drain Cleaner

VINEGAR + SALT


5% Acetic Acid

No change to foil or ceramic-glass surface

The acetic acid can damage the glass-ceramic surface, especially if heat is added, i.e. burners turned on

Vinegar + Salt on Cooktop Foil

Vinegar + Salt on Cooktop Foil

MATERIAL


Ingredients

Effect on Foil Stain

NOTES &

PICTURES

OVEN CLEANER


Sodium Hydroxide

No effect on foil stain and no effect on ceramic glass surface

The sodium hydroxide can damage the  cooktop surface if heat is added, i.e. burner turned on

Oven Cleaner on Cooktop Foil Stain

Oven Cleaner on Cooktop Foil Stain

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18 Responses to “Melted Aluminum Foil on my Cooktop!”

  1. Jim January 8, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    So there is no way to use chemicals or corrosives to take the Aluminum up or dissolve it??

    • Ted Wegert January 18, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

      Hi Jim. I am not aware of any such chemicals that would also be safe enough to use in a home. I would guess that if you can actually get the aluminum to dissolve, there would still be a mark or surface irregularity remaining. Sorry. If you hear of something, I’m willing to look into it further.
      Ted

    • Allen December 9, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

      Correction, hydrochloric acid found in the works will eat the aluminum off and not affect the glass . I did it yesterday. Shalom, Allen

      • Ted Wegert January 5, 2017 at 1:40 am #

        That’s scary Allen! Glad it worked…I hesitate to suggest for everyone to get some HCl. Not the best “consumer” cleaner…if you know what I mean. BE CAREFUL bringing acids into the kitchen, know what you are doing and use proper protective gear.

  2. Shay May 4, 2015 at 7:19 am #

    I had the same problem
    I used a bbq cleaner (can’t remember what brand or what kind, we just had it lying around)
    we sprayed the bbq cleaner on wherever there was melted foil on the stove top
    let it sit for around 3 mins and rubbed it off with steel wool (put in a little bit of arm muscle into it aha)… the aluminium foil came off with no scratches

    Don’t know if this makes a difference but when I did this the stove top was still warm/cooling down when we put the bbq cleaner on

    • Allen January 5, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

      It is not as scary as thinking what my wife Cindy would have done to me if she saw it before I cleaned it. She never noticed. The safety instructions are on the bottle “The Works” and it was very easy.

  3. Brian D. Hawkins October 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    As dumb as it sounds, I was actually going to layer my new glass top range with aluminum foil to try to keep it clean. I just spent an hour getting it back to “good as new” condition and thought aluminum foil might help keep it clean. I am SO GLAD I thought it better to search first and found this article before I created an terrible situation. Thank you for putting this out there.

    • Ted Wegert October 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

      not dumb! We can go to great lengths to make cleaning easier! This was something I did with coil cooktops, but it doesn’t transfer well to glass-ceramic cooktops. Frequent cleaning with a true cooktop cleaner and a razor blade scraper make life easier. I too get lazy and don’t clean enough. A tough job on glass-ceramic is still easier than the nooks and crannies of a coil cooktop spill. Thanks Brian.

  4. Shannon Wolfe July 21, 2016 at 3:35 am #

    What about WD-40? Will it remove foil from glass top stove? Will it damage the surface beneath the foil?

    • Ted Wegert September 7, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

      I’ve heard others suggest WD-40, but more for a plastic melt on the surface. It won’t hurt anything unless the surface is hot (danger!). Just be sure to clean it well before powering it on/heating it up again as the lubricant is flammable. My guess…I doubt it will help removing the foil.

  5. Johannes August 26, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Im no chemist but I know that if you make rhubarb dishes in an aluminium pan the aluminium will dissolve. Is it not oxalic acid in the rhubarb that does the trick. I dont know if it will damage the stove but perhaps you could try. also I was thinking about building a galvanic cell. perhaps put a little cleaning soda and water mixture on the stain on the stain and put something of iron on top of it. If I remember my chemistry right then the stain will be dissolved.
    Correct me if Im wrong.. 🙂

    • Ted Wegert September 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

      haha…that’s great. I’m no chemist either but a quick “Google” references rhubarb to oxalic acid and then oxalic acid as a cleaning agent to aluminum.

      Keep me posted…and I’ll think about this one more too. Maybe you’re on to something but I’d need to see how the glass-ceramic reacts to oxalic acid exposure over time before I recommend it.

      I’ve read that Bar Keepers Friend is a cleaner that contains oxalic acid. This is one of those cleaners that will take most things off, including some of the glossy surface. I haven’t tried it for aluminum removal…BUT this cleaner can be quite aggressive on a glossy black glass-ceramic surface due to the abrasives used. IF anyone tries this, it should be a last resort where, to the owner, a gloss removal is better than the aluminum marks. Food for thought, but I’ve not tried it yet.

  6. Allen December 9, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

    I just used “the works”, hydrochloric acid. I laid newspaper patch on the stove top and let the acid sit for over an hour . It removed 99 percent, I might go for that last little speck a little later on.
    This acid won’t eat glass. I am pleased with the results. Shalom, Allen

  7. jennifer d hathorne February 16, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

    Allen:
    Where do you get ‘the works’ hydorchloric acid?

    • Ted Wegert February 19, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

      Jennifer, We’ll see if Allen answers, but search the MSDS (Safety Data Sheets) on “The Works” websites. It should be listed. Please be careful.

      • Allen February 20, 2017 at 12:47 am #

        You can get the works at any grocery store, any hardware store, Walmart, Ace Hardware, in the plumbing area. It’s the blue bottle. The green bottle is a different kind of acid, I don’t know if it works

  8. Lisa B. April 8, 2017 at 3:21 am #

    I believe The Works Tub and Tile Cleaner (green label) contains Oxalic Acid, just like the rhubarb, and should also be helpful on the aluminum stain. I and going to try it tomorrow on my Mom’s stovetop that has aluminum melted on it. Here is the link where I found this information:
    http://www.fooducate.com/app#!page=product&id=ACDCA524-4697-11E1-AFF9-1231380C18FB

    I will let you know how it works 🙂

    • Ted Wegert May 4, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

      any success?

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