What a minefield! …. but let’s see what can be done to un-ravel the mystery behind these products.
Oven cleaners can be divided into two main groups, those that work and those that don’t!
Generally speaking, the oven cleaners that “do what they say on the package” will contain ingredients that mean you’ll need to be very careful when using the product.
You MUST read the instructions first. This is very important indeed.
There are numerous cases every week of damage to both humans and appliances where the instructions have become ‘destructions’ because warnings have not been heeded. Warnings are put onto oven cleaning products for good reason.
A common ingredient found in many ‘off the shelf’ oven cleaners is sodium hydroxide more commonly known as caustic soda. This product is a very high alkaline that can cause a lot of damage if not used in accordance with instructions.
Just a few of the associated problems caused by mis-use of caustic soda based products are:
- Burns to the skin
- Irritation to eyes
- Damage to nostrils and lungs
- Removal of paint
- Corrosion of certain metals
- Dulling of glass
- Rotting of rubber
- Distortion of elements
- Removal of ‘self-clean’ coatings including ‘non-stick’.
The list above isn’t exhaustive, but just an idea of what can go wrong. That said, caustic soda is a very effective oven cleaner and oven cleaning product particularly in a commercial environment. You may also need to look out for some of the different variations of caustic/corrosive oven cleaners including caustic potash and potassium hydroxide to name just a couple. If the oven cleaner you’re looking at has a label for ‘corrosive’ than the chances are it contains caustic in some way, shape or form.
A huge issue with caustic based products is that they often are sold in aerosol sprays and the product is dispensed at speed making accurate ‘spraying’ virtually impossible without ‘masking’ all the potentially hazardous areas before-hand… pretty time consuming in the modern world we live in!!
You’ll also do well to look out for the so called ‘professional oven cleaning companies’ that claim to be “just a bit caustic”… products are either caustic or not… bit like ‘wet’… Either it is or it isn’t!!
A far ‘kinder’ range of oven cleaners contain ‘surfactants’ to physically break down the grease and fatty substances rather than ‘burning’ them off. Oven cleaning products containing these ingredients will generally be more limited in effect and will take longer to work.
On the plus side however they will be a lot kinder to the environment and safer to dispose of after use. You’ll probably have to use a lot of this type of oven cleaner on heavy soiling perhaps even a second or third application in severe circumstances.
The range of oven cleaners and oven cleaning products that claim to be ‘eco-friendly’ is a huge growth market. A couple of these products claim to be ‘chemical-free’ !! This actually means they only contain water….anything added is in fact a chemical of some sorts. Various pastes, sprays and gels will have limited effect as their main constituent ingredient is just water. Extremely environmentally friendly but won’t necessarily do the job you need doing. In many cases simple washing up liquid would produce a better result!!
As you’ll now appreciate the oven cleaning product range is interesting and diverse for many good reasons and logic. As we pointed out from the outset, it’s a minefield out there however, exercising due diligence before embarking on the oven cleaning chore, should ensure that both you and your cooking appliances are still in one piece once you’ve finished the job!!
If in any doubt, contact an oven valeting professional. These guys will know exactly what they’re doing and will leave your oven sparkling, hygienic, safe to use and you free to enjoy the finer things in life!!