Survival Tip: Cleaning Charred Cookware in the Field

How to clean charred pots

Cooking over an open fire is awesome… until you have to clean the charred mess off of your pots and pans! But have no fear! I’m going to show you a simple way to get the shine back on your metal cookware – in the field without soap, steel wool or chemicals.

Cleaning Charred Pots

Here’s What You’ll Need:

You’ll need a thick rag or a heavy-duty scrubbing pad… I like a pad better since it will hold up much better in the field. But either will work.

How to clean charred pots
You’ll also need some water.

How to clean charred pots
A charred metal vessel to clean,

How to clean charred pots
And our secret weapon… ashes taken from our fire pit and cooled off.

How to clean charred pots

NOW… Before you start, make sure your cup, canteen, or pan are cool.

Oh, yeah… I also recommend that you wear gloves when you do this since ashes can irritate your skin.

How to clean charred pots

Wet Rag or Pad
Okay… now simply wet your rag or scrubbing pad with water and ring it out pretty good… leaving it just moist enough to pick up the cooled ashes.

How to clean charred pots

Start Scrubbing
Now begin rubbing the ash compound on the outside of your container with your applicator.

How to clean charred pots

You should quickly see the baked-on char begin to breakdown. Continue this process, occasionally rinsing your applicator and vessel as you go until the bulk of the char and ash is gone.

How It Works
The ash acts as a mild abrasive and also chemically breaks down the char… which is pretty cool.

If this doesn’t seem to be working, your rag or scrubber may be too wet.

Once you are satisfied, make sure you rinse and dry your vessel.

How to clean charred pots

Bonus Tip
If you are a perfectionist like me, here’s a little trick to polish things up even more and remove remaining stains when you get home:

Grab a tube of Flitz. Flitz is a metal, plastic and fiberglass polish paste that I have used for years on my stainless weapons and gear.

How to clean charred pots

Simply put a little dab of Flitz on a clean dry rag and rub it in. You should quickly see it buff out remaining stains.

How to clean charred pots

Continue this over the entire outside of your vessel.

How to clean charred pots

Then Buff with a dry rag and make sure you wash your vessel well to remove any residue before using.

There you have it! A simple way to maintain your cookware in the field using little more than cooled ashes from your fire and a little water.

How to clean charred pots


8 Responses to “Survival Tip: Cleaning Charred Cookware in the Field”

  • It still sounds dopey as all git-out, but if you have soap with you (a bar, a bottle of liquid, or last night’s fat and hardwood ashes), it works, and has since I learned it when I was a Boy Scout, 45+ years ago.

    mix your soap with some water, smear on the outside of the vessel (you REALLY don’t want any inside) and cook away over the fire. Looks like absolute hell when you’re done, but cleans up very quickly.

    • JamesD

      I learned that as a scout too!
      Using soap is so much easier!
      Some of the bio-degradable camping soap works just fine.

  • keebler

    When I was a Boy Scout I was tought to use Ivory soap on stuff I still use any soft soap bar on stuff it works for me & a Lot less Labor too.

  • I have use the soap on the outside for years. A little dish soap smeared on cleans right up after the cookings done!

  • Hello! I’ve been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and
    give you a shout out from Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

    • Carin

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Looking forward to getting some fresh posts up as spring comes and thaws us all out here!

  • Thanks for the sweet tip. I just bought myself a dirt bike and intend to do some ruffin it out in the bushes lots.

  • Awesome . Scrubbing pad, water and soap are just enough but not totally, thanks for the new technique .

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