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Is it possible to prevent the chemical reaction that occurs when a tin is boiled in an aluminium pot? Answered

When a tin is boiled in an aluminium pot a chemical reaction takes place that creates a grey film in the pot. This can be removed with some very vigorous scrubbing with steel wool - it takes hours! Can the chemical reaction be prevented or is there another reaction that can be created that will remove the grey film?


Put the tin in a plastic bag

A vinegar boiling bath works for me. Makes it look like new. Ain't ionic transfer cool?

I think its because they linked ingestion of aluminium from cooking to some cases of alzheimers that its been outlawed in some countries - although I'm fortunate to stay in South Africa and we can still buy lovely heart aluminium pots (woohoo oldage here i come)... its a curious question, I suppose the best solution would be to use a different pot like you've mentioned although perhaps you could do some experiments with some deionised water avoiding direct contact (and if it works you could keep it in a container and reuse it). Oh this is all a thumb suck

thank you for your comment. Yes, I have put a new stainless steel pot on my wish list!


9 years ago

err...call me crazy, but can't you use a pot now made with aluminum?....that would definitely stop the grey film....

thank you for your comment. Yes, I have put a new stainless steel pot on my wish list!

you could try using a sacrificial metal and place it in your pot however, since aluminium is quite high up the reactiity series it would seem quite tough to do that seeing as other than magnesium all other metals react with water. WOulnt it be easier to use a copper pot especially seeing as you dont need anything else. just boil away

thank you for your comment. Yes, I have put a new stainless steel pot on my wish list!!

put the tin and the pot so that they dont make direct contact connect few volts DC to them while boiling. try both possible directions of + and - maybe in one direction there will be much more and in the other much less reaction

thank you for your comment. I'll try the non-contact method first as I wouldn't be confident with connecting volts to a tin inside a pot of water - it makes sense though - a bit like reverse electro-plating!.

I'm no chemist so I can't say how, but obviously it MUST be possible to create conditions where the ion reaction is defeated, either electrically or chemically so it's a good question, kudos for asking it. What I wonder though is what do you need to boil tin in an aluminium pot for? And another q. is: do you realise that aluminium pots are not to be used for cooking food, since ingesting aluminium from food prepared in them over longer periods was found to cause braindamage/disease and because of that it's outlawed to sell bare aluminium pans in many countries (just a friendly notice).

thank you for your comment. When the GFC abates I'll buy a gorgeous stainless steel pot - 22 litres in capacity, as it's primary role in my kitchen is the boiling of the plum puddings!!!