Pans and pots are as important in the kitchen as bread and butter. They are an absolutely essential part of cooking.
This is why we’ve written this article to guide you on how to be able to tell if a pan is non-stick.
In this article, we will not just tell you how to check for non-stick pans, but also how these non-stick pans work and some useful tips to keep in mind when using one in your kitchen.
How to Check If a Pan is Non-Stick
If you have been wondering how to tell if a pan is nonstick then you’ve come to the right place. These signs may seem subtle to you now but as you begin to notice the differences they will start to become quite apparent.
Firstly, the non-stick pan will have a dark gray coating inside the pan and the metal outside will be shiny. So the difference in appearance will be enough to easily tell a non-stick pan apart from others.
Furthermore, the cooking surface of the pan will be really smooth, shiny, and scratch-less when you first buy it. Unlike other pans, the surface will never be dull or dry. You will easily be able to notice this difference if you try touching a non-stick pan. Other pans will feel more grainy and comparatively uneven.
Moreover, non-stick pans are also often lighter than cast iron pans. This is because they are made with aluminum and coated with Teflon. This is why there is a noticeable difference in the weight of non-stick pans and other pans. This is another way you can tell a pan is non-stick.
And of course, if this is something you need to know when buying a non-stick pan, you can do a quick search (if buying online) or ask the salesperson if in-store.
How Do Non-Stick Pans work?
The metal surface of a non-stick pan is coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which is also known as Teflon.
Teflon is the material that covers the metal surface of the non-stick pan when it is heated. The Teflon coating acts as a barrier and it stops the metal surface from coming into contact with sticky hot food.
As a result, the surface remains smooth and no food sticks on it.
Reasons to Switch to Non-Stick Pans
This technology has definitely been a game-changer for cooking.
There are many advantages of using non-stick pans which are discussed below. Overall, non-stick pans have made it a lot easier for new cooks to prepare their meals.
Non-Stick Pans Are Easy to Cook In and Clean
As mentioned earlier, the Teflon coating on a non-stick pan makes sure no food sticks on it. This makes the pan very easy to cook in.
Amateur cooks can easily cook in non-stick pans without worrying about the food sticking or possibly burning from the bottom.
Furthermore, it is also far easier to clean a non-stick pan. You do not have to scrub hard to try to get rid of the food stuck on it.
Cooking in Non-Stick Pans Doesn’t Require Oil
This is undoubtedly the biggest advantage of using non-stick pans.
In a non-stick pan, you can easily cook almost any healthy meal without using a single drop of oil. Due to its non-stick properties, a non-stick pan will thoroughly cook a dish without the need for oil.
This makes non-stick pans the perfect cookware for people who want to opt for a healthy lifestyle. They can cook yummy meals without compromising on their diet requirements.
Non-Stick Pans Are Scratch Resistant
It is advised not to use metal utensils or knives on your non-stick pans. This is because such sharp utensils can easily harm the Teflon coating. Metal utensils can easily scratch or scrape the non-stick coating and ruin your pan.
For this reason, if you are cooking in a non-stick pan, wooden or silicone spatulas should be your go-to utensils at all times. If you use the right spoons, your non-stick pan’s surface will remain scratch-less for a long time.
Non-Stick Pans Give Uniform Distribution of Heat
Uniform distribution of heat is necessary in order to cook food faster and save fuel.
Non-stick pans offer an even distribution of heat and you can cook food much faster in a non-stick pan.
This makes non-stick pans even more suitable for cooking
Non-stick Pans Look Modern and Stylish
Non-stick pans have a grayish coating that stays smooth and gives them a stylish look.
They look far more presentable and stylish in a kitchen. On the other hand, steel and aluminum pans which have uneven surfaces tend to look worn out after they are used just a few times.
The Safety of Using Non-Stick Pans
Although there are many advantages of using a non-stick pan, they have remained under public discussion for other reasons too. Many people were skeptical about using a non-stick pan because there were health and safety concerns associated with them.
The concerns were mainly about a chemical which is known as Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This was the chemical which was used to produce non-stick Teflon pans until 2013.
According to research, exposure to PFOA has been associated with a number of diseases. These include thyroid disorders, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, as well as testicular cancer. Furthermore, PFOA has also been linked to infertility.
A program named “The PFOA Stewardship Program” was launched by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency in 2006. This encouraged the elimination of PFOA from all Teflon products.
Avoid Overheating Your Non-stick Pans
Teflon coated non-stick pans are generally considered to be safe for cooking. However, if you overheat these pans to extreme temperatures, they can give off toxic fumes. These toxic fumes are given off only at temperatures above 300 °C so this can be easily avoided.
Exposure to these toxic fumes is not good for health and can cause fume fever. Common symptoms of the Teflon flu include fever, headaches, and body aches. These symptoms usually start to appear 4-10 hours after the exposure. The condition usually gets better within 48 hours or so.
Furthermore, some case studies stress on more serious consequences of exposure to Teflon fumes like lung cancer. The conditions for such side effects are rather extreme. The individuals were exposed to toxic fumes for more than four hours at high temperatures such as 390°C or above.
This shows that the health effects of overheated Teflon can easily be avoided through careful cooking. One must take proper care and pay attention not to cook food on a non-stick pan at extremely high temperatures.
Tips for Cooking in a Non-Stick Pan
These basic tips will allow you to minimize any risks that come with cooking in a Teflon coated non-stick pan.
This way you can conveniently and safely enjoy cooking in a non-stick pan.
Avoid Preheating an Empty Non-Stick Pan
The first and most important tip for cooking in a non-stick pan is to not preheat it when it is empty.
Preheating can often leave the non-stick pan overheated. You want to avoid overheating at all costs to safeguard your safety.
Do Not Cook on High Heat
Another useful tip that will work to your advantage is to not cook on high heat.
Cooking on high heat can easily cause the non-stick pan to overheat and you want to avoid doing this. As a non-stick pan has an even distribution of heat, you can easily cook on medium or low heat instead.
Keep Your Kitchen Ventilated
This is simply a safety measure.
Make it a point to remember to open windows and switch on your exhaust fan whenever you are cooking in your non-stick pan.
This will make sure you never get exposed to any toxic fumes at all.
Only Wash Your Non-stick Pans Gently
Never wash your non-stick pans with any harsh sponges.
You do not want to scratch off the Teflon surface.
This is why you should gently wash the non-stick pans with only soap and a soft sponge.
Know When it’s Time to Replace Your Non-Stick Pan
If you ever see the Teflon coating on your non-stick pan wearing off then it is time to get a new pan.
Excessive scratches and the surface chipping off is not a good sign. If the surface is visibly deteriorating then this means the pan must be replaced immediately.
The Bottom Line
Non-stick pans are very popular for cooking healthy meals all over the world. Due to their non-stick surface, they provide comfort and ease like no other pan. It allows people to cook food with little to no oil in order to follow a healthy lifestyle.
The only drawback of non-stick pans is that overheating Teflon creates toxic fumes. However, this problem can easily be avoided by not allowing the cooking temperatures to exceed 300°C.
This is a manageable task. Ultimately, it all boils down to how you use this pan. With minimum attention and care, it is sufficient to say that non-stick pans can safely be used on a daily basis.
At the end of the day, non-stick pans have made cooking healthy and convenient for everyone around the world. There is a reason non-stick pans have become best-sellers worldwide so quickly. You have to use them to know the unparalleled convenience they offer. Prepare yourself to be pleasantly surprised. Once you start using them, there really is no going back!
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