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Bakelite problems

Reader Eileen contacted us this week with an inquiry about her Bakelite handles emitting a foul odor:

I use my Revere pots and pans daily. Today, while making my younger children mac n’ cheese, the handle to the pot started to melt. The chemical smell caused us to evacuate the house for several hours.

This presents a good opportunity to talk about safely using cookware with Bakelite handles.

The biggest danger to Bakelite handles is a gas stove.  If a small pan is put on a large burner such that the flames, or the heat licks up the sides, it will cause the Bakelite to fail and emit this foul odor.  Bakelite is a phenolic plastic; it doesn’t melt when overheated, it breaks down into its constituent parts, one of which is formaldehyde, which is the foul odor Eileen smelled.  Despite the potential risk for this type of failure, we hear very few reports of this type of problem.

However, one issue is that, as Bakelite becomes older and damaged, it will fail through overheating much easier.  Repeated washes in a dishwasher can cause damage that will make Bakelite much more susceptible to overheating.  We did a dishwasher test and have shown that it doesn’t take a lot of repeating washings in the dishwasher for the handles to show visible discoloration, a prelude to the type of damage that can make them more sensitive to overheating.

The other risk to Bakelite is using pieces with Bakelite in an oven.  You might think a Dutch oven was intended for the oven, and when Revere Ware first started selling their iconic cookware they did offer it as oven safe.  But some time later they reversed their position and no-longer suggested it was such.

Bakelite is safe up to 35o degrees F, for a limited time.  But modern ovens can often have hotter spots within them, especially when they are heating up.  We don’t offer our parts as oven or dishwasher safe.

So our three safety tips for the day for cookware with Bakelite handles are:

  1. Never use them in an oven
  2. Wash them by hand, not in a dishwasher
  3. Take care when using them with a gas stove, not to turn the gas up too high
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Summary of options for handle separation repair

We continue to get requests for help with the problem of the metal handle spline separating from the body of a cookware piece, like this:

So we thought we’d summarize the best information we have on this problem in a single blog post.

Option 1: spot weld it back on

You can find out blog post on spot welding here.

When we talked to welders, they felt that the cookware metal was too thin for a good spot welding result.  But it has been done with success, so perhaps they were wrong.  It also might matter if your cookware is older, pre-1968, which has a thicker stainless steel, versus newer cookware, which can be quite thin.

Option 2: Braze it back on

You can find our blog post on brazing here.

Brazing is like soldering; heat up both pieces of metal and flow a melted metal wire between them to permanently attach them.

The results are not flattering, but it works.

Option 3: bolt it back on

You can find our blog post in screwing the handle back on here.

Perhaps the least aesthetically pleasing of the options, but the simplest.

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Revere Ware and warranty

As people spend more time cooking and more time using their vintage Revere Ware, we’ve gotten a lot more requests recently for Revere Ware warranty service, some of them quite demanding.  People seem to skip right past the disclaimer on our contact form an other places on our site.

Hopefully people will find this post and it will help clarify the situation.

The Revere Ware brand has bounced around among several corporate owners since the 1980’s.  They continued to offer some warranty support until 2018, when the latest corporate owner, Corelle Inc, shuttered the brand and discontinued all warranty support.  So unfortunately warranty support for Revere Ware is now a thing of the past.

In contrast, we are a totally separate company that came on the scene in 2009 and started offering a selection of replacement parts to help you get your cookware in good operating order again, and a lot of helpful Revere Ware related materials.

And we are happy to try to answer just about any question you might have about Revere Ware.  But unfortunately, we can’t replace your broken cookware or provide you with free replacement parts for original Revere Ware cookware under their warranty.

We do however stand by our replacement parts; if you have a problem with them, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Revere Ware and glass top stoves

Some people like the look of glass top stoves.  Personally, my wife and I prefer gas cooking as it we find it much more responsive than anything electric.  But what if you do have a glass top stove?  Can you continue to use your Revere Ware cookware?  Reader Mellanie asks:

I received my set of Revere ware in 1967 as a wedding gift from my parents. The pans are in great shape, as is my marriage, and I still use them every day! My problem is that we bought a new stove this year with a glass cooktop and the pans are “rounded” on the bottom now and don’t sit flat on the stove top. Any suggestions for me in cooking with them now. They still work, but it takes longer to cook things. It doesn’t seem to matter much how heavy the contents being prepared is while cooking.

Sadly, you likely can’t (or shouldn’t) use your Revere Ware copper bottom cookware with glass top stoves. For starters, flat surfaces like glass stoves are less than ideal with warped cookware. In addition to the lower heat transmission, they can often warble on the stove by themselves, which I personally find really annoying.

But the best argument against using Revere Ware is that copper can stain a glass stove top. According to GE Appliances:

Copper Bottom pans are also good, but they can leave residues on the cooktop that appear as scratches. These can be removed if cleaned immediately, but do not let a copper-bottom pan boil dry. An overheated copper pot will leave a residue that will permanently stain the cooktop.

Who among us has not accidentally left a pot to boil dry, so this poses a real risk.

Sadly, it is probably best not to use Revere Ware on glass top stoves.

 

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USPS is still having issues

It has been an interesting few months for, well, everything, including USPS mailings.  Here is some of the oddities I’ve seen in the last month:

  • Packages having random delivery time delays
  • Packages that are marked as undeliverable and sent back to us despite having the correct address
  • Letters that take a month or more to arrive just within California
  • An international package that sat for over two months in the Port of LA waiting for international transport
  • Deliveries to the correct address on the wrong street or the wrong address on the correct street

Just a reminder to be patient as shipments from us may not arrive in a timely fashion due to these issues, or may not arrive at all.  Check the tracking which you’ll get with our shipping confirmation email to see what is going on.  If it says delivered, check with your neighbors to see if they received it by accident.

Just understand that we aren’t the USPS and probably have less of a chance of finding a mis-delivered package than you do by talking to your neighbors, mail carrier, or local Post Office.  Please exhaust your local options before expecting us to re-ship your order.

If your order is ultimately not delivered, don’t worry, we’ll do everything we can to make it right.

 

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Insight into the cyclical nature of our business

For years, we’ve seen a sales cycle that peaks around the holidays, and troughs in mid-summer.  Everything associated with our business follows this same cycle, so we are pretty sure it represents the level of interest people have in finding replacement parts for their cookware, and not something else.

And then there is this year, the blue line above.  May was our best month we’ve ever had in 11 years, by a significant margin.

My best guess has been that the holidays bore an increase of sentimentality, which caused people to want to refurbish their Revere Ware, or perhaps do it as a gift for a loved one.  I’d also assumed that the increase in sales we are seeing in the last few months is because people have more time on their hands, and are doing things they have long put off.

In casual conversation with my mother yesterday, a very astute woman and practicing certified public accountant, I mentioned the cyclicality of our sales to her.  She immediately came up with the idea that the current sales increase is driven by the fact that people are cooking more now.

That sure make a lot of sense.  People do cook some pretty prominent meals during the holiday months, and people are preparing their own food more now, as we well know.

I tried to find studies about cooking at home (or restaurant sales) versus time of the year, but was unable to find any data to back up the new theory. Still, I like it better than my last theory. 🙂

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Things are getting back to normal

Our sales continue to be substantially higher than the same period last year.  Because Amazon.com has been limiting restocking shipments for all but essential items, we were starting to get worried about our inventory running out; we began the pandemic lockdown with about 3 months of inventory for normal volumes we expected this time of year, and some of our parts inventory were getting thing.

Amazon did start allowing some restocking of non-essential items, but in the last few weeks, we were very limited in what we could send; we only managed to get a few part numbers that were close to being exhausted restocked and could only send a small amount of each item.

That all changed last week when, without receiving any official notice, we discovered that there were no longer limits on the restocking of any of our parts.  We’ve managed to ship a considerable amount of inventory to Amazon.com now that should bring us back to our 2-3 month stock level targets.

We’ve also continued to frequently restock our fulfillment center that serves orders made from our website.  You should have no trouble getting our items from either source.

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