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A traditional technique of cleaning food burnt vessels and the Physics behind it

I now stay alone doing the cooking and washing all alone. In between cooking also I manage to watch a bit of TV, browse net, respond to WhatsApp and FB etc. Most of the time, I successfully manage alll these without any mishaps. A few days back it so happened that I kept milk for boiling in a steel sauce pan on the induction cooker. A WhatsApp chat engaged me so much  that after some time I smelt a burning of vesselt. When I looked, I was shocked to see that the entire milk was boiled and finished and the vessel was all burnt dark like charcoal. I tried to add gel cleaner and scrubber and even after two days most of the charcoal like appearence of the vessel remained and I thought that the vessel may not be put to use anymore.

Suddenly there was a flashing memory, my grandmother seemed to tell, “put some raw rice and water in the vessel, keep for some time and scrub.” Suddenly I decided to try this. A handful of raw rice was put into the burnt vessel and some water was also added. I kept it for about half an hour and then started scrubbing. To my astonishment, the charcoal like coating which I had on the steel vessel, which I thought I will never be able to remove, started to come ouot now. Within a few minutes of rubbuing most of the burnt coating was removed. I was really happy and at the same time felt apprecoative of the ancient techniques of cleaning. In ancient times, when they didn’t have LPG or induction cooker, cooking was mainly by burning wood and getting a  cot of carbon over the vessel was common. But every day the vessels were cleaned like sparkling new except the bottom part which is intentionally left black and rough to enable maximum absorption of heat from the source during cooking. The black colour has the piorpert5y of absorbing all the heat radiations incident on it.

Various techniques are used at that time depending on the type of burn or the type of dirt.

For example, If a copper vessel is having black patches, we use tamarind and coconut fibres along with some clean sand. The tamarind reacts with copper oxide and loosens it, the fibre provides a smooth hold and contains the tamarind and sand. The sand which is silica, is hard and acts as the sdcrubbing particles releasing the copper oxide from metal surface. Thus in a few minutes, the copper vessel will shine like new, which is also the result of the lustre of metal. (shining of a freshly cut metal surface. The scrubbing takes away a thin layer of the dim oxidised surfaces and makes it shiny)

Let’s come back to my case, the action of raw rice. Just like the example of cleaning copper vessel, here the rice provides some chemical reaction with the burnt mik and carbon. When the burnt vesssel is allowed to stand for a while with water and rice, the rice gets softened and the rice husk remains get released. The soaked rice reacts with the burnt milk and loosens it. Now after about half an hour when we start scrubbing, the nanosized rice husk particles which are  hard like silicate helps in removing the loosened burnt milk.

This action of the hard and smooth nano particles along with the chemical reaction of rice with the burnt milk help to clean the vessel easily.

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