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The other day I was cooking milk rice and forgot about it so it burned a little on the bottom. This lower layer was very hard to clean. A lot of websites recommend boiling water in the pot with baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) or citric acid to dissolve the burned residue and make it easier to clean the pot. I tried this but it did not help. I doubt there is even a chemical reaction between these reagents that would help in any way.

Is this another myth or is there scientific basis for given recommendation?

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  • $\begingroup$ Not sure about acid, but soda does help sometimes, and that's for a reason. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Dec 25 '15 at 8:19
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The hotter the water, the more likely it will be to remove burnt-on starch. Not only does $\ce{NaHCO3}$ raise the boiling point of the water, but it also helps saponify fats (actually, "washing soda", $\ce{Na2CO3}$ would be better).

However, you still need to do a lot of scrubbing afterwards to remove the carbonized layer.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1.) I suppose the carbonized layer is by far the hardest part to remove so this is what sodium bicobonate and acid should work on. 2.) Isn't burnt-on-starch the same as carbonized layer. Your answer implies them to be different, if I understand it correctly. $\endgroup$ – problemofficer Dec 27 '15 at 6:59
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    $\begingroup$ 1. Use either sodium bicarbonate or acid, not both at once. 2. You can't clean the hard bottom layer off until you remove the partially burnt porridge. 3. No, the alkali will not significantly remove pure baked-on carbon -- use abrasive & elbow grease. $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik Dec 27 '15 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ Then is there any significant advantage to using NaHCO3 instead of regular dish liquid to solve the fats? If there isn't then the recommendation is non-effective and a myth. Since as you already stated removing the carbonized layer does not become easier with NaHCO3 or acid. $\endgroup$ – problemofficer Dec 27 '15 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ Boiling with liquid detergent will cover the stove in foam. If you prefer, use detergent for dish washing machines, which is alkaline and does not foam. $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik Dec 27 '15 at 23:05
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Soaking burnt on food with baking soda - I do it all the time! I think boiling the pot is counter productive. Just let it sit covered with water and baking soda - lots of baking soda. It's very cheap. B Putting the pot back on the stove just heats the burnt food more potentially making it even harder to remove. Just soak it - overnight for a serious build up. You still might have to abrasively remove the last of the residue. I just cleaned a Pyrex casserole from dinner that had cheese scalloped potatoes burnt all around the top edge. Soaked it in q larger bowl covered with a water and a generous shake of baking soda. A few hours later it all came off with very little effort.

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