Overall, oven cleaning technology consists of three types: (1) self-cleaning pyrolytic ground coat, (2) non-self-cleaning ground coat, and (3) catalytic continuous clean enamels. The first reduces foodstuffs to ash with exposure to temperature between 900–1000 °F (482–538 °C), while the second requires aggressive cleaners to remove soils. Both of these ovens have walls coated with heat and acid-resistant porcelain enamel. The third relies on high-metals, porous enamels to catalyze the reduction of soils to ash at normal cooking temperatures. The walls of catalytic self-cleaning ovens are coated with materials acting as oxidation catalysts, usually in the form of catalyst particles in a binder matrix. Cerium(IV) oxide is one of the common materials used. Other possibilities are copper, vanadium, bismuth, molybdenum, manganese, iron, nickel, tin, niobium, chromium, tungsten, rhenium, platinum, cobalt, and their oxides, either alone or in mixtures. Highly active coatings typically contain a copper oxide, manganese oxide or cobalt oxide, and copper and manganese oxides are often used together. The binder may be a fluoropolymer or an enamel frit. In the 1990s, SRI International performed a study for Whirlpool Corporation, and changed the composition and application of the porcelain enamel surface found in ovens to one with low ionic content, and a film that makes fat into water-soluble esters.
A self-cleaning oven is designed to stay locked until the high temperature process is completed. A mechanical interlock is used to keep the oven door locked and closed during and immediately after the high-temperature cleaning cycle, which lasts approximately three hours, to prevent possible burn injuries. Usually, the door can be opened after the temperature cools to approximately 600 °F (316 °C).
Some newer self-cleaning ovens can require a liquid cleaning soap, and a small amount is used if needed. Most self-cleaning ovens, however, do not require the use of any cleaning products. Some new models of self-cleaning ovens use only water exposure to loosen soils from a specially formulated glass coating on the interior of the oven.
Self-cleaning ovens usually have more insulation than standard ovens to reduce the possibility of fire. The insulation also reduces the amount of energy needed for normal cooking.
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