How to look after your oven, care and maintenance
Looking after your oven, care, maintenance and tips
A vastly underestimated factor that can add years of life to your oven is the simple act of oven cleaning. There is no genuine substitute for hard work in the real world. Just making that choice to wipe down your oven with a clean sponge after each use can allow you to extract the maximum performance over the long term. This ensures the instant removal of stains and food spillages, and keeps your oven looking spic and span. Of greater significance is the fact that regular cleaning prevents the build ups of charred food and grease residues that are among the leading causes of unpleasant oven smells.
The process of oven cleaning is not overly complicated. There are many methods and oven cleaning tips available that can help you accomplish this undertaking. You simply need to find a course of action that works best for you.
Oven Cleaning Products – Typical Chemical Composition
There are many over the counter oven cleaning products that can simplify the clean-up process. A closer look at their chemical composition allows you to understand the manner in which these cleaners execute their functions.
Butane - One tricky issue that adds a certain degree of difficulty in cleaning out an oven is the presence of charred food particles. Char is essentially carbon, which is an almost impenetrable, impossible to clean organic material. This may require the use of an organic dissolving agent such as butane, which is a colorless and odorless gas. Liquid butane is used in oven cleaners to help loosen these hard to remove char particles. Another function of this gas is to act as a propellant, and ensure that the other components of the oven cleaner are dispersed evenly across oven surfaces that need to be cleaned.
Monoethanolamine or MEA is another organic compound found in most oven cleaners. This chemical reacts with food stains and helps break down any trapped fatty acids. At the same time, this compound has the unique property of converting this type of stain into a grease destroying solvent.
Traditionally, one of the most prevalent chemicals found in oven cleaners is lye, more commonly identified by its chemical name of sodium hydroxide. (In the past potassium hydroxide was used, but this was a relatively unstable compound.) This is an alkaline product with powerful corrosive properties. It works in conjunction with butane and MEA to deliver a powerful cleaning performance. While butane and MEA weaken the carbon coating of charred stains, lye attacks any fatty acids found under this layer of char.
Diethanolamine (DEA) may also be used as a part substitute for MEA. This is primarily because DEA has greater foaming properties as compared to MEA. In effect, the foam prevents the other chemicals from evaporating on contact with the oven surface. This ensures that the cleansing reactions occur for a longer period of time and any residue is completely dissolved.
While, the effectiveness of these chemical oven cleaners cannot be denied, it is essential that you follow all instruction governing the use of these products. They do contain highly reactive chemicals that may cause harm if used improperly. You are also strongly recommended to wipe down your oven thoroughly after using these oven cleaning products, to make sure that there are no chemical residues left behind.
DIY (Do It Yourself) Oven Cleaning Tips and Tricks
If you are concerned about the chemical composition of conventional oven cleaners, you may resort to making your own natural cleaners at home. A latent advantage of these cleaners is the fact that they are eco friendly. Another benefit of these methods is that they are inexpensive and utilize ingredients that are likely to be found in most households. Some popular oven cleaning tips have been outlined below.
Most citrus oils such as lemon oil are ideal for cleaning out an oven. They are natural dissipaters of grease and provide a fresh natural fragrance. Fill a baking pan half way with water. Slice 3 lemons and squeeze out the juice into the water. The remnants of the lemon may also be added to the water. Bake the resulting mix for approximately 30 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting vapors will loosen any accumulated grease and grime within the oven. This residue may then be wiped off with a clean cloth. In the case of stubborn stains, you may leave the mixture in the oven for a longer period. You may also use a silicone/plastic spatula to scrape away some of the stains. The remaining lemon water in the pan may be used to wipe down the oven. This process is likely to generate a fair amount of smoke and fumes, so make sure that there is adequate ventilation in your kitchen.
Another natural cleaning technique is through the use of baking soda and vinegar. (Vinegar is known for its ability to remove grease.) You can use a spray-bottle to apply vinegar directly to any stained sections of your oven. Baking soda is then sprinkled on top of the vinegar. This causes a gentle chemical reaction and the mixture is seen to visibly bubble. Let this mix rest for at least 30 minutes before removing it with the aid of a scouring brush (non-abrasive). You may choose to dip the brush in vinegar to increase the effectiveness of this method. Finally, wipe down the oven thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of this mix
An effective cleaner may be formulated by mixing together 1 tablespoon commercial liquid soap, 1 tablespoon Hydrogen Peroxide, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar along with a quart of lukewarm water. The resulting paste may be applied to the insides of the oven with a sponge. Allow the paste to sit for an hour before scrubbing off with a scrubby or sponge. Wipe down afterwards with a clean, damp cloth.
You may also fashion a simple, effective cleaner by mixing equal parts of salt, vinegar and baking soda. Apply this paste directly to any stain build ups within the oven. Heat up the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and leave for 1 hour. After the oven has cooled down, clean thoroughly with a clean damp cloth or sponge.
Taking Care of Your Oven - Common Maintenance Issues
Oven Thermostat - a properly calibrated oven thermostat is essential to guarantee the reliability of your recipes and to avoid culinary disasters. The integrity of your oven thermostat may be checked by comparison with an external oven thermometer. To ensure the accuracy of your readings, it is recommended that you allow your oven to run through at least 3 on and off cycles. This testing process can last for at least 20 - 25 minutes. During this process the temperature of the external thermometer should match that of the oven thermostat. A difference in the range of 0-25 degrees Fahrenheit may be considered to be an acceptable result.
Oven Door Gaskets and Hinges - are part of the insulation features of your oven. For the most part they are fairly durable, but excessive wear and tear over a length of time might damage them. Check your gaskets periodically to ensure that there are no heat leakages.
Another factor here is to ensure the proper functioning of the oven door hinges. An oven door that does not open or close properly is generally indicative of a faulty hinge. Inevitably, this is the result of a misshapen hinge or a broken spring, which should be replaced.
Oven Control Panel - It is important to ensure that your oven control panel remains free of any dust build ups or spillages in order to maintain the proper functioning capacity of your oven. In most instances, the control panel is constructed from glass or porcelain, and it may be cleaned with a regular glass cleaner. Always make sure that you do not use an abrasive cleaner that may damage this surface.
Oven Timer Settings - In the case of older ovens with manual dials, there are certain settings that may cause a complete cessation of all oven functions. A prime example is the 'cook and hold' function. In such cases it may be necessary to reset the oven timer in order to ensure regular functioning of your appliance.
Voltage surge suppresser - Most modern ovens are regulated by an on board microprocessor. In the event of a voltage fluctuation, this processor and its related circuit board are prone to heavy damage. Circuit burn outs can cause massive damage to your oven and repairing such a unit can cost you a fair amount of money.
If you choose to line the insides of your oven with aluminum foil, it is necessary to make sure that the foil does not come into direct contact with any of the internal parts of the oven. The foil should not obstruct the oven vent that is located near the burner. If this foil makes direct contact with the burner, it can result in a short circuit.