Well, I'm coming here to settle an argument, again...
After roasting a rump roast the other night, my perennial houseguest volunteered to 'clean up.' An hour later, I found my roasting pan and v-rack out on the back porch filled with water. When I asked, I was told that there was 'stuff burnt on' and they had to 'soak.'
I tried to explain that 'soaking' doesn't make burnt food/fond any easier to get off, just wetter. However, when challenged, I couldn't explain why.
As a kid, my mom 'soaked' dishes after cooking, so did grandma. Never seemed to do anything, but they did it anyway. Why not? What has chemically happened to food that gets 'burnt on' and why does dousing it in water not do much?