Caring for Your Camping Cookware

Put soap on the outside of your pots. Only does this if you are car camping and cooking over a fire. Introducing this much soap in the backcountry would not be following Leave No Trace ethics. Putting all little dishwashing soap on the outside of your pot (make sure you don’t get any on the inside) makes for easy cleaning of the soot that will accumulate on the outside. Just take a small amount and put a thin layer on the bottom and sides of the pan. Make sure also you don’t get any on the handles.

Make a small cooking and cleaning kit. Your should make a cooking and cleaning kit that includes a small pot holder, a can opener, cheesecloth packed in a Ziploc bag, a very small scrub pad, a small travel sized bottle of a unscented, bio-degradable, low-phosphate dish cleanerand a small sponge. Use the potholder to pack around your stove or two pots that might be banging around making noise and driving you nuts. Make sure you get a quality can opener that is small and durable. Cut a small piece of a standard pad you can get in a supermarket to make a small scrub pad. Do the same for a sponge. Make sure to pack your scrub pad, sponge and soap in a Ziploc bag. You may want to seal your bottle of soap with wax before because the soap tens to prevent a good seal. You can use the wax from a survival candle to reseal the bottle in the field. When in the backcountry, use the cheesecloth to strain out any food remains out of your gray water. Shake any food captured in the cheesecloth into your waste bag and keep the cheesecloth stored separate from your scrubbing gear.

Use sand or ashes to scrub your pot. Ashes and sand have been used for centuries as a cleaning agent. Take a small amount of clean dry sand and scrub away with a cloth. Unless you have a really sticky mess, the results may surprise you.

Use heat and water to clean your pots. After you have scooped out all of your dinner and everyone is eating, fill the pot with water, put a lid on it and bring it to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the pan soak. Water is a powerful solvent and when combined with heat and steam can get off even the nastiest mess. You can use the same pot of hot water to wash your plates and other dishes.

Consider not using soap for cleaning. If your traveling less than five days and you are in the backcountry, consider forging soap altogether. Hot water can keep the pots clean during this time.

Clean your cookware properly. As soon as you get off the trail and back at home, properly clean your cookware set and allow it to thoroughly dry before storage. Nothing is worse than finding a crusty cooking kit after a long day of hiking.

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