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The Hotline: Serious Education ... plus the most fun you can have in metal finishing. Ted Mooney, Webmaster

Retinning and care of copperware


I am a homemaker that has several pieces of old and new copper cookware. I want to know if I can "retin" my own copperware? Is it dangerous to cook in worn tin-lined copperware? Also, what about food contact in unlined copperware? What's the best way to care and polish, using commercial or home made products?

Thank You,

Melaney Mattson
- Capistrano Beach, California


Yes Melaney it is dangerous to cook in pots with exposed copper you will get copper poisoning. That is why it is plated in the first place. Second, you can do this yourself but it's a little dangerous ( extreme heat, smoke fumes). Third, take care of them as you would a Teflon surface. Do not clean with steel wool.

Chris Jenkins
- Mississauga, Ontario, Canada


If you are not cooking acid food and the copper is not oxidized, some experts say that you can still use your copperware, but with care. How do I myself retin the pot?

- Switzerland

Tinned Copper Pot

Hi, Melaney; hi, Caesar.

letter 25553 explains how to do historical re-tinning in pretty deep detail. In the end, you may decide that you don't want to re-tin your own based on the messiness of the operation, and the fact that experience is a great teacher and you can gain only so much experience doing a few pieces of your own. But there is nothing high tech about it, and you can do it yourself if you wish. Good luck


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Tin Ingot

Water-soluble tinning flux


It is not true that cooking in untinned (unlined) copper pots is dangerous. Unlined copper pots are used to make jam, cook vegetables and melt sugar. The only danger is when an unlined copper pot is left to sit wet and it oxidizes. The oxidation (vert de gris) can be mildly caustic. But if you see green oxidation on a copper pot, scrub the pot, wash it and use it. Of course retinning a copper pot that shows some copper is the best way to go. But that's another story.



As a former San Diego resident, I recognize Don Coulon as the former owner of my favorite restaurant, The Belgian Lion. Mr. Coulon also is the former owner of a wonderful kitchen supply store of the same name (where his daughter sold me my first copper pans.) Mr. Coulon does know copper. I know that he used to re-tin the copper pans he used in his restaurant. Maybe he would be willing to explain the process.

Ken Wilson
- Washington, DC

March 11, 2008

Copper teakettle, is tinning even needed for boiling water? My name is Rhapsodie, I am buying my first copper cookware, and would appreciate some useful information.An item that was purchased is an antique copper teakettle to be used on my wood stove for boiling water. It is not lined and the water to be used is hard (iron, gas, and other minerals), is it safe to use the kettle in this way?

Rhapsodie McClintick
- Belfast, New York

June 30, 2008

Hi, Rhapsodie. Some readers has already expressed their opinion on this. My own leaning is towards Paraselcus, who tells us the difference between a medicine and a poison lies in the dosage. Since most of your water pipes are probably copper, the potential additional amount of copper that would be dissolved in the water by boiling it in a copper teakettle is probably quite marginal.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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