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Thread: Dirty pans

  1. #1 Dirty pans 
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    Hi,
    First post here so a hello to everyone! Came here for help with a question but got diverted reading posts about turbofan engines (brought back memories!) and whether or not peeing is advisable. How I love physics - I'll be visiting more :-D
    To get back to the point, this is going to sound daft but I was wondering if someone has the definitive answer to whether it's a good idea to clean sooty saucepans or not. I'm a keen mountaineer and it's the hot topic on another forum at the moment. To be fair, when you're carting gas cylinders up a mountain you want to make the best use of the energy in them.
    So. One arguement is that aluminium or titanium saucepans are good heat conductors in their own right, they're lighter without soot (tar for lower altitude campers with a wood fire), and the soot (tar) would reduce the conductivity.
    Alternative theory: Carbon (soot) is a good conductor, and being black helps the pans absorb heat rather than reflecting it away. Plus scrubbing a pan uses precious calories which could be saved by leaving it.
    I guess the energy saved by scrubbing vs energy saved by carrying arguement is going a bit too far, but from a conductivity point of view I wondered if anyone could help.
    Thanks very much!


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  3. #2  
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    Congrats. I think you have come up with a topic to rival the peeing thread for the doesn't-really-matter championship.

    That said, I lean toward the clean pan school of thought. I think the major heat transfer mechanism with a gas fire is convection. If you put your hand alongside the flame and out of the plume, I don't think you will feel much heat.

    A wood fire might be a different matter with those hot coals acting as a black body radiator. But then you are not going to lug the extra wood up the mountain.


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  4. #3  
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    What can I say - we do try when it comes to these things :-D
    Apologies for not replying sooner. Been away (yes lugging gas cannisters up a mountain). At the time it did actually feel more relevant, to my poor legs anyway!
    Cheers for the reply!
    Ioan
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  5. #4  
    Cooking Something Good MacGyver1968's Avatar
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    It should be a pretty easy experiment to determine which is better. Just time the boiling of water in a dirty pan, then clean it, let it fully cool, and time again. You wouldn't even need a thermometer, just a clock with a second hand...and look for the first bubbles.

    I'd like to know which it is...although I agree with Harold, that a clean pan would be better. Metal in general is great at conducting heat, where ash has lots of air spaces, and I would predict it would act more like an mild insulator...slowing the heating just slightly.
    Fixin' shit that ain't broke.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor wallaby's Avatar
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    working in a pizza store i would actually say that the clean pans would conduct better.
    we recently, as in month ago, replaced the old pans (greasy lightly covered in burnt topping) with smaller cleaner ones. the pizza that came out when these pans were new was quite noticably better cooked and better tasting, yes a qualitative result i know but hey i'm not the only one in the store who noticed this.
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