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Thread: brass pans

  1. #1
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    Question brass pans

    I had my eye on a cauldron type pan today in a charity shop.
    it was made of a single sheet of 1/8th brass, with a 3/8ths thick steel hangy handle which was secured with very heavy copper rod rivets-it was about a foot across the top and maybe nine inches across the base.
    It wasn't, or at least it didn't look like, a decorative "shiney thing" it looked like it was made for doing a job.
    They had 8.50p on it and I almost coughed up.
    The question is can you use brass pans for cooking!
    if so I'll be back into town in the morning!
    regards
    R.B.
    Often Out,standing In A Field

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    That was what we call a jeely pan. Basically it's for making jam. Known as a Maslin pan they're now made in aluminium and stainless steel.
    A tiny portion of the copper from the brass used to leach into the jam and it stopped the mould growing.
    They're good pans but thin on the bottom.
    £8.50 was a good price for a sound one.

    cheers,
    Toddy
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Wa hey!

    Quote Originally Posted by Toddy View Post
    That was what we call a jeely pan. Basically it's for making jam. Known as a Maslin pan they're now made in aluminium and stainless steel.
    A tiny portion of the copper from the brass used to leach into the jam and it stopped the mould growing.
    They're good pans but thin on the bottom.
    8.50 was a good price for a sound one.

    cheers,
    Toddy
    Thanks Toddy!
    thats me off back into the town tomorrow!
    Often Out,standing In A Field

  4. #4
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    Check the bottom, if it goes "boing" when you press it then it's really getting to the end of it's useful life. It's not dead until there's a hole, but they do get sticky when you boil stuff if they've worn too thin.
    Mine was my Grandmother's and it still makes good jelly but jam just sticks now.

    They polish up nicely and look kind of cool hanging around if you've space...like copper kettles

    cheers,
    Toddy
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.

  5. #5
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    Default jeely pan or coal scuttle?

    well here it is:



    thing is; is it a pan or a coal scuttle? the bottom is as thick as the sides and goes thunk when you tap it! I'm not too bothered if it is a coal scuttle mind you its a cracking doobey dangle for 8.95 either way! ( could have sworn it was 8.50 )
    Cheers
    R.B.
    Often Out,standing In A Field

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    Oh very nice find
    That's such a neat shaped one too, and it looks virtually new. Well done.
    That's more cauldron looking than mine, I bet it would work well over an open fire as well as on a hob.

    cheers,
    Toddy
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Toddy View Post
    Oh very nice find
    That's such a neat shaped one too, and it looks virtually new. Well done.
    That's more cauldron looking than mine, I bet it would work well over an open fire as well as on a hob.

    cheers,
    Toddy
    I had similar thoughts about the open fire
    Thank you very much for your advice Toddy, I'll let you all know how it behaves over the winter.
    Kind regards
    R.B.
    Often Out,standing In A Field

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    Oh! - that looks good!
    What do folk in Geordieshire cook in cauldrons?
    How civilized are they now?
    Love makes the World go round......Lust makes it all go pear-shaped...

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    The copper cookware used by serious chefs was traditionally 'tinned' on the inside. These days, they seem to be mostly lined with stainless steel. It is possible to have the older kind of copper cookware retinned, but it is fairly expensive. Remember that pukka copper cookware is very pricey to start with: certainly, well north of 100 for the larger pots.
    It might be worth making enquiries at a shop that sells high end cookware. Even with the cost of retinning, you may still have a bargain. Alternatively, you could try to tin your pot yourself. I saw instructions for this somewhere, once.

    BTW, Toddy, I'd say that if there was enough copper going into your jam to prevent mould growth, it would be more copper than was good for you (which is why copper cookware is tinned or stainless steel lined).

    Burnt Ash

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    Default Retinning Service

    Retinning of copper pots can be done by Thomas Gameson & Sons Ltd. http://www.gameson.co.uk/page11.html

    Burnt Ash

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    Thumbs up cheers

    that looks interesting, and certainly not expensive. it's going to be p&p that puts the cost up a bit but they seem to look nice when done and safe to use for food as well.
    Cheers ash
    R.B.
    Often Out,standing In A Field

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burnt Ash View Post

    BTW, Toddy, I'd say that if there was enough copper going into your jam to prevent mould growth, it would be more copper than was good for you (which is why copper cookware is tinned or stainless steel lined).

    Burnt Ash
    I suppose that depends on just how much jam you can eat But it's a tiny proportion. For over twenty years I made 200 jars of jam a year, my grandmother did likewise for thirty years before me and the pan is 'still' sound, if getting a bitty thin.

    The fruit acids dissolve a little of the metal from many pots, not just brass ones (better than copper which gets 'eaten' away, aluminium becomes very badly pitted and even stainless steel becomes stained.

    I dye and I use mordants to do so, I researched the metals most commonly used; iron, alum, copper, tin & chrome.
    I'd rather trust the copper than I would tin to be honest. The pollution from tin is so bad I just refuse to use it, it is implicated in the feminization of invertebrates at the bottom end of the food chain.
    I know my brass pans are an alloy that contains tin but it's more stable in alloy.....why do you think the copper pans need to be re-tinned? It gets eaten away.

    The only issue with brass is whether or not it is arsenical tin or not. Arsenical tin melts and flows better, keeps a harder edge (too much and it's brittle though) (Bronze Age weapons I'm an archaeologist), and it's 'shiny' , think Bling of the period Modern Indian brass supposedly makes much use of arsenical tin.

    A tinned copper kettle, used only to boil water is a different thing from a cooking pot.
    With a brass or copper pan, don't leave food sitting in it, especially acidic food. Cooking in them though, the heat is evenly distributed and they're much lighter than cast iron.

    cheers,
    Toddy
    Last edited by Toddy; 17-12-2007 at 17:13. Reason: typo's (sigh)
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toddy View Post
    I suppose that depends on just how much jam you can eat But it's a tiny proportion. For over twenty years I made 200 jars of jam a year, my grandmother did likewise for thirty years before me and the pan is 'still' sound, if getting a bitty thin.

    The fruit acids dissolve a little of the metal from many pots, not just brass ones (better than copper which gets 'eaten' away, aluminium becomes very badly pitted and even stainless steel becomes stained.

    I dye and I use mordants to do so, I researched the metals most commonly used; iron, alum, copper, tin & chrome.
    I'd rather trust the copper than I would tin to be honest. The pollution from tin is so bad I just refuse to use it, it is implicated in the feminization of invertebrates at the bottom end of the food chain.
    I know my brass pans are an alloy that contains tin but it's more stable in alloy.....why do you think the copper pans need to be re-tinned? It gets eaten away.

    The only issue with brass is whether or not it is arsenical tin or not. Arsenical tin melts and flows better, keeps a harder edge (too much and it's brittle though) (Bronze Age weapons I'm an archaeologist), and it's 'shiny' , think Bling of the period Modern Indian brass supposedly makes much use of arsenical tin.

    A tinned copper kettle, used only to boil water is a different thing from a cooking pot.
    With a brass or copper pan, don't leave food sitting in it, especially acidic food. Cooking in them though, the heat is evenly distributed and they're much lighter than cast iron.

    cheers,
    Toddy
    I'm happy that you're hale and well after 20+ years of jam making , but I do stand by my comment that dissolved copper salts are not very good for you. Toxicity is usually related to dose, though one must watch out for toxins that accumulate in the body, such as heavy metals (e.g., mercury, cadmium, lead). The reason that tin is used for coating copper cookware is that it does not dissolve (and form toxic compounds) in the sorts of things that are typically cooked in cooking pots. It's also why we have 'tin' cans, which should -strictly speaking -correctly be called 'tinned' cans.
    I would agree that if you were boiling water in a copper kettle, there shouldn't be anything in the water to dissolve the copper. But water isn't always pure. I remember a corrosion lecture when we were told the story of an old boy who had succumbed to lead poisoning. He was always the first to come into his local pub at opening time and, naturally, had the first pint of beer drawn by the landlord. Unfortunately, it was an old pub (and the landlord not particularly attentive to his cellaring duties). The pipes were lead and the beer lying in them between opening hours was plumbo-solvent...
    The useful alloys of copper are many. In general, where the principal alloying element is tin, these alloys are called tin bronzes. Where the principal alloying element is zinc, these alloys are known as brasses (yellow brasses).

    Burnt Ash
    (metallurgist)

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    Useful man, you will no doubt be inundated with questions on metals now.

    Tinning a can is very good, for some foods, however, nowadays more and more cans, especially for fruit, are lined with a plastic coating.

    While I do agree that copper is not a good thing in any quantity, domestic water supplies make use of it, kettles, pots and the like are traditional and seem to cause no long term issues, and jam making in a brass pan has a long history. I suspect the portion of dissolved copper is minute, indeed it is a common addition, with zinc in multi vitamin and mineral tablets.

    cheers,
    Toddy
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burnt Ash View Post
    It is possible to have the older kind of copper cookware retinned, but it is fairly expensive. Remember that pukka copper cookware is very pricey to start with: certainly, well north of 100 for the larger pots.
    I went to a factory in villediue over in france where the blokes make copper pan's by spinning copper disc's on lathe former's. Top skill, they hand hammer some item's as well. Some of the metal was about 3 milm thick. Some of the pan's were tinned some left plain. I think you could get a jam pan for about 50-60

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toddy View Post
    Useful man, you will no doubt be inundated with questions on metals now.
    Heaven forfend!

    Tinning a can is very good, for some foods, however, nowadays more and more cans, especially for fruit, are lined with a plastic coating.
    Yes, the old style 'tinned' cans are increasingly being superseded.

    While I do agree that copper is not a good thing in any quantity, domestic water supplies make use of it, kettles, pots and the like are traditional and seem to cause no long term issues, and jam making in a brass pan has a long history. I suspect the portion of dissolved copper is minute, indeed it is a common addition, with zinc in multi vitamin and mineral tablets.
    It's the dose thing again. We do need traces of certain elements that in greater quantity would be toxic. These are usually available to us in a balanced diet, or through properly dosed dietary supplements. For myself, I'd be a little wary of getting more than was good for me through contamination.

    Onwards!

    Burnt Ash

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr dazzler View Post
    I went to a factory in villediue over in france where the blokes make copper pan's by spinning copper disc's on lathe former's. Top skill, they hand hammer some item's as well. Some of the metal was about 3 milm thick. Some of the pan's were tinned some left plain. I think you could get a jam pan for about £50-£60

    I visited Villedieu-les-poêles many years ago. Interesting place. This is one company there http://www.cunillexport.com

    Burnt Ash
    Last edited by Burnt Ash; 19-12-2007 at 16:51. Reason: correction

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    Its a great bargain.

    But dont use it for anything with vinegar, Mrs Beeton warns against contaminants from the pot that way

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    On the subject of metals, I remember reading some years back, than even stainless steel leach heavy metals in the food you cook in it. Maybe it was a scare story then just like aluminium being linked to Alzheimer's disease. Any idea if it is still thought?
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    Do you remember that old nursery rhyme?

    Peas porridge hot.
    Peas porridge cold.
    Peas porridge in the pot
    Nine days old!

    Well, it referred to keeping a pot of soup/stew on the back of the wood/peat cook stove where it kept so-so warm. When you prepared the next meal, you pulled it over to the hot part of the stove to heat it back up, and stirred in extra ingredients to help fill the pot back up. When done, you pushed it back to a cooler part of the stove to "keep warm". You kept this up until you cleaned out the pot at a meal - then you started over.

    Well, that practice is part of what gave copper and brass cooking pots/kettles their bad reputation. That food sat in those pots for anywhere from hours to days. That constant contact allowed the food to pick up metal particles leached out of the pot. And, since the pot was seldom cleaned, it slowly tarnished (corroded or oxidized) and that also got into the food. Plus, people ate food several times a day every day that was cooked in those copper/brass pots. The accumulation of all this added up to that metal toxicity that eventually started affecting their health. And so that "bad reputation" of copper and brass cooking pots/kettles developed. It never happened with the copper/brass tea kettles, but they only heated up water, and that water didn't absorb all that built up crud. (Plus, lime deposits inside the kettle helped coat the insides to keep the water away from the metal.)

    The main problem with copper/brass is those oxides that form on them - that tarnish and/or verdegris (green crud). If you keep the pot/kettle crupulously clean, most of the problems go away. The second big problem is storing food in them for more than an hour or so. That long-term contact allows the acids in the food to "leach" out metal particles.

    If you remove the two main problems, then using copper/brass pots/kettles to cook in becomes relatively safe - even with acidic foods. (Of course, this only applies to people who are not hyper-sensitive to copper or other metals.) Just clean your pots very very well, and remove the cooked food right after you are done.

    To give an example of this, just look to the British royal families. Their cooks/kitchens use unlined copper pots/kettles to cook in all the time. But they are "religiously" cleaned/polished with each use. And this has been going on for decades, if not centuries. Hmmm wait a minute ... given some of the antics of some of the Royals um this might not be the best example to use hmmm ... Never Mind.

    I personally use a small, unlined copper kettle to cook in when out on my 18th Century treks or outings. And I also use a brass mug. I do not have any worries about such occasional use. But I also keep them very clean!

    Hmmm ... again. Mayhap that would explain some of my ... excentricities? Naaaay ... I came by my present level of sanity naturally, without the help of heavy metals. Just the occasional adult beverage, a few shrooms, some bad fermented corn, and an occasional "trip" to some of the more exotic recreational areas around the world to meet-n-greet the natives.

    Every metal gives off some particles when you cook in them. Every metal! It then becomes a matter of how much it gives off, and how that metal affects your personal body and its health. Example - cast iron frypans. They give off a little iron into the food you fry up. But a little extra iron in a person's diet is usually good for them.

    Most tin linings come off through scraping/stirring the food while cooking - instead of leaching off. Even using wooden spoons still wears a little on that tin lining - just not as much. Plus, the actual alloys in that tin can vary. As noted before, sometimes it even includes things like arsenic. And sometimes you even need to worry about the solder used to seal the seams/joints. Occasionally that solder has lots of lead mixed in with the tin.

    There are a number of places that NICKEL PLATE the insides of copper and brass pots/kettles. They electroplate that coating on. It ends up being a much harder and better lining material - as long as you aren't allergic/sensitive to nickel.

    So, the level of concern about cooking in brass or copper pots/kettles is a concern, but not as DIRE as most are led to believe. It then comes down to the level or "dose" of metals you receive in your food.

    But ultimately, it's all a matter of personal choice. Only you can decide to use your brass pot/kettle for cooking or not.

    Just my humble thoughts to share. Take them as such.

    Mikey - yee ol' grumpy blacksmith out in the Hinterlands

  21. #21

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    There was an episode of House where a nun suddenly became ill and it was the cummulation of copper from eating out of and cleaning the pots in the convent (and a copper coil but that was the twist in the tail)

    So if an american doc soap says its true then it must be
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  22. #22

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    Question for you lot
    I have a brass pot just like that one just smaller (only abour 6 or 7 inches across), I've cleaned it using stuff like wirewool and monkey brand
    However its now getting vurdigres (I wish I could spell, 'that green crud'), is there anyway I can protect it (and still use it) and is there anyway to get that stuff off that doesn't need hours of hard labour and abrasives ?

    BTW it cost me 2 squids

  23. #23

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    In the same way that copper enters the body from pans does the wearing of the copper bracelet around the wrist(that sends your wrist green ) cause the same problems?? I was led to believe that the copper/ toxins that entered the paws in the skin was actually good for joint problems or is this sort of an old wives tale??

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForgeCorvus View Post
    Question for you lot
    I have a brass pot just like that one just smaller (only abour 6 or 7 inches across), I've cleaned it using stuff like wirewool and monkey brand
    However its now getting vurdigres (I wish I could spell, 'that green crud'), is there anyway I can protect it (and still use it) and is there anyway to get that stuff off that doesn't need hours of hard labour and abrasives ?

    BTW it cost me 2 squids
    Copper and brass "oxidize" when exposed to the air. If you start hand cleaning/rubbing/polishing your pot by hand, by the time you get back around to where you started it's already getting dull - and tarnishing. The only way to keep copper or brass polished Bright is to coat it with some clear poly or shelack right away. But you can't do that on the inside if you wish to cook in it. So you settle on a "clean but dull" finish on the inside. The really bad stuff is that green crud - verdigris. That's the stuff that will easily come off in your food, and then get into your system.

    That other thing to remember is the level of exposure you get to that copper/brass in the food you eat. A little bit eaten occasionally usually doesn't affect people (unless you are particularily sensitive/allergic to copper/brass).

    And there are various claims/studies that a little bit of copper in your system does help your joints - this the wearing of copper braclets. Full controlled medical studies on this? I don't know, I've never looked to see.

    Just some more humble thoughts to share. Take them as such.

    Mikey - yee ol' grumpy blacksmith out in the Hinterlands

  25. #25

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    The copper bracelets work (supposedly) by you absorbing a small amount of copper salts (the green stain) via your skin (most of it stays on your outsides), this acts as a homiopathic (I think I spelled that right) dosage

    Copper is the standard treatment for stiffness of the joints as copper poisoning (ie a massive dose) causes your joints to stiffen and become painful.

    I'm going to try boiling orange juice in mine to acid pickle it, then I'm going to give it a coat of cooking oil

    My Mums jam pan is still clean on the inside (after a least a year) having been used for marmalade, its the same kind only much bigger

  26. #26

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    I have a dodgy left wrist, that has given me jip for ages, (got to have an op eventually) so I got myself a copper bracelet to try it out, been wearing it for around six months now, and not a sign of an ache or pain in the wrist like i used to have, and yes i have a green wrist
    It may look like im not doing anything, but at the cellular level im really quite busy.

  27. #27
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    Default Oh well!

    Quote Originally Posted by maver View Post
    I have a dodgy left wrist, that has given me jip for ages, (got to have an op eventually) so I got myself a copper bracelet to try it out, been wearing it for around six months now, and not a sign of an ache or pain in the wrist like i used to have, and yes i have a green wrist
    One of my best mates is a chartered physio and he claims there is no proven benefit in wearing copper bracelets-tough cacky! I'm wearing mine all the same
    Kind regards
    R.B.
    oh p.s. I've polished up the pan but it's serving as a repository for various artefact's at the moment, thats Repository!
    Often Out,standing In A Field

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    Default 18th Century Brass Trade Kettle.

    I guess I am probably too late to reply to this thread, but I will offer this info anyway just in case it is of any use now.

    As far as I know, brass contains lead, so you should not cook in it or eat from it. Foods containing more acid than others will probably go black if cooked in brass, such as tomatoes for instance.
    The good news is that you can purchase tin lined copies of the 18th century brass or copper trade kettle.
    [img]http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/4366/kettlebookcover.jpg[img]
    This one is much smaller than the one you show in your image, & is more suitable for carrying in a knapsack.
    Regards.
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by,
    and that has made all the difference.
    Robert Frost.



  29. #29
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    Posting image in above post did not work! Here is my tin lined trade kettle.
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by,
    and that has made all the difference.
    Robert Frost.



  30. #30
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    Just seen this reply from Le Loup

    there's a company here, that re-tins brass and copper cookware but I can't for the life of me, remember what it was called now!

    cheers

    R.B.
    Often Out,standing In A Field

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