How to clean a burned porcelain teacup?
June 25, 2008 11:31 AM   Subscribe

How to clean a fine porcelain teacup that found its way into a bonfire?

A friend moved recently, and apparently missed a cup in one of the boxes. While burning the moving boxes, he found one of his good porcelain teacups roasting in the fire. He fished it out, but it's a bit charred. I've been able to get much of the black off by soaking it in hot water, but the painted pattern is starting to come off, so I'm afraid to use Bon Ami or baking soda.

Any suggestions about how to get the remaining black crud off without further damaging the cup?
posted by workerant to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
How about soaking it in a strong solution of baking soda and water? I've used that to soak off burned-on food from baking pans. After soaking for awhile the crud should come off with a minimum of scrubbing (hopefully!)
posted by cabingirl at 11:53 AM on June 25, 2008

The Mr Clean Magic Sponge? I've cleaned some unbelievable stuff with one of those things.
posted by 8dot3 at 12:48 PM on June 25, 2008

Be careful with the magic sponge. It is wonderful - its the only way to get cat face loving off the wall corners without taking off the paint - but I have noticed it wear away paint/dye/details from other surfaces. Not saying it won't work, and its probably gentler than baking soda, but be careful.
posted by sandraregina at 1:04 PM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: Hadn't thought of the magic sponge... thanks, people.
posted by workerant at 1:11 PM on June 25, 2008

Be VERY gentle with whatever you do. The painted pattern is most likely a decal, and only fired into the top surface of the porcelain. They can be notoriously fragile, and depending on how hot the cup got in the fire, the decal may just be looking for a reason to come off. If it is not a decal, it is probably china paint, which is just as delicate.

Certain firing processes end up with the ceramic being coated with soot -- we usually use an SOS scrubby to get it off - that is probably way too caustic and abrasive for the cup.

I think the magic sponge is a great suggestion, and hopefully it will work. If it doesn't:

If you know a local potter, you could ask them to re-fire the cup to a very low temperature (decal temperatures) in an electric kiln - that might burn out any remaining carbon from the glaze and possibly reseat the decal. . .

I'll ask some other clay folks and see what they say - you are welcome to contact me at the address in my profile.

Good luck!
posted by dirtmonster at 3:20 PM on June 25, 2008

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