Separating 2 pans that have become stuck together can seem like a daunting problem. But it's not.
Using either heat or cold on both pans is a total waste of time.
To separate them use the heat = expand/cold = contract theory in simple physics.
Put the plug in your kitchen sink and fill it with water you have heated on the stove to not quite boiling and only deep enough to come close to the rim of the lower pan. Then put ice water in the upper pan. The hot water will expand the lower pan and the ice water will contract the upper pan allowing them to separate easily and safely with no damage to either one.
By Cricketnc from Parkton, NC
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How do you separate two pots that were put together to form a double boiler?
Charlie from grantham, NH
Reheat the bottom pot and put icewater in the top pot while heated. They should pull right apart. (07/18/2006)
not sure this would work but try putting them inthe freezer (07/19/2006)
Just yesterday, I had that problem with my canners that I had stacked together to store for the year. I sat the bottom pot in the sink of very hot water and used the sprayer and spigot to put cold water in the top. They came right apart!!! If I had thought of that in the first place, I would have saved two fingernails and quite a bit of frustration. (07/19/2006)
By Margie Minard
Craig and Margie, that worked. Thanks so much I was really struggling with two large pots inside one another. Great! (10/30/2008)
Thank you so much. I have tugged and pulled, broken two screwdrivers and put pans in hot water with ice in the top. None of that worked. I have been working on these two pans for over two years. I put ice in the top one and put the bottom one on a burner with low heat. Within two or three minutes, I heard a pop and I was able to get them apart. Now I can use them for my holiday cooking! (12/05/2008)
Thank you for the tip. I tried the ice cubes in the top boiler and put the pot on the stove on low heat. It took a few minutes, but I was able to finally get them apart. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (12/20/2008)
I was just curious about this as I had a friend that just a couple of days ago dodged a bullet. They had the same situation where the pots were stuck together and did the ice in the top, heat on the bottom. They did it wrong. The steam in the bottom caused such pressure that the top pot shot out and hit the ceiling. The pot was embedded in the dry wall and broke some of the ceiling joists. If you are going to try this, I would try the ice in the top and let it sit and then put the bottom in a tub of hot water, if this doesn't work, then I would be extremely careful, if that is even possible. Had someone been above the pot, I am pretty sure there would have been a severe injury if not death. Thanks for listening.
Yikes! Jackie's post turned me away from the method. I was attempting to free two 4-quart pots stuck together. Thanks! I'd tried cooking oil, etc., etc., until somebody suggested WD40! Worked like a charm! (Gotta wash the pots really well after that, though.) One problem was getting leverage on the side of the pot away from the handle to "walk" it loose.
Don't use a screwdriver or chisel! I used a treated 18" 2x2 scrap that happened to be cut at a 45 degree angle, plenty of strength to grip the pot rim and no scratches. Could even use a hammer on it without hurting the pot, but didn't have to with the WD40. Glad to have our pots back! (11/05/2010)