It WILL etch the surface and the stronger the lye content the deeper and faster the "etch". Don't leave it on more than a few minutes or the surface will start to pit and you will need a LOT of polishing to get it smooth again. That said I clean large commercial aluminum oven pans on a regular basis using the commercial oven/grill/fryer cleaner sold in pump botttles at Sam's Club. It's an inexpensive lye based cleaner that is very effective on stainless and works fine on aluminum if you work fast and don't mind the dull finish it leaves behind. I try to limit it to the exterior surfaces on aluminum cookware to protect the cooking surface. Do not use it on anodized Calphalon surfaces - it will destroy them almost instantly.
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