If you are looking for cookware, one of the most important questions can be about its durability.
Does it scratch? Will I have this for a few months or a few decades? Let’s look at what the experts say.
Scratches can occur if copper pans are not cared for properly.
However, this is true of almost all cookware, from stainless steel to cast iron. Each type of cookware requires different care instructions. Copper cookware is no different.
It depends on the quality of the pan. Poorer-quality pans may be more prone to scratches.
As with all cookware, materials matter. The better the quality, the more durable the product.
According to Consumer Reports, all copper cookware must have a metal lining. This lining protects against metals leaching into food.
The quality of these linings will vary depending on the quality of the pan. The better the lining, the less prone to scratching it will be.
Uncoated parts of the pan, like the exterior, are more likely to scratch.
The uncoated areas of pans are also prone to oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical process that causes discoloration over time.
Also read: How To Prevent Scratches On Non-Stick Pans?
While scratches may be just a part of using copper cookware, that does not mean you cannot do your best to prevent them.
Here are some quick tips to keep your copper cookware looking its best.
Metal utensils are a guaranteed way to scratch your cookware. When cooking with copper, you should only use wooden or silicone utensils.
Follow this rule for all metal cookware, including cast iron.
If you store your pans stacked in a cupboard, they are going to get scratched or even dented.
The average copper pan is only 3mm thick. This means that copper pans are more prone to denting if stacked with heavier pots and pans.
Instead, store your copper pans by hanging them whenever possible.
If you must stack them, use fabric liners between pans to prevent scratches. To avoid dents, stack copper pans together.
Never, ever put your copper cookware in the dishwasher. Dishwashers may be efficient, but they can damage copper cookware.
The inside of the dishwasher gets too hot, and the jostling movement can lead to scratches and dents.
For tough, stuck-on grime, soak the pan overnight. In the morning, clean with a dishcloth and elbow grease.
Once your pan is clean, make sure to dry the entire pan thoroughly. Leaving water to dry naturally on copper pans will lead to oxidation.
Also read: Seasoning a Copper Pan
The first thing to do is to diagnose how severe the scratch is.
Often, you can buff out exterior scratches by using copper cookware cleaners. Even if they refuse to be buffed out, they aren’t detrimental.
The only damage that does affect your ability to use the pan is damage to the coating. If the copper part of the pan becomes visible, the pan cannot be safely used.
Scratches this deep are rare when you care for your copper cookware properly. However, we’re all human, and accidents do happen.
For tin-lined copper pans, you would need to get the pan re-tinned before using it again.
Unfortunately for stainless steel pans, there is no way to recover the lining. It is possible to repair some dents, but if the copper is exposed, the pan is no longer safe to use.
The best thing to do is throw it away.
If copper pans can be so easily scratched, doesn’t that make cooking with it unsafe? Does the discoloration affect cooking? The answer is generally, no.
As mentioned above, most copper cookware today has a lining of either tin or stainless steel.
These linings keep food out of reach of the copper and prevent the leaching of chemicals.
However, not all linings are created equal, there are pros and cons to both.
Broadly speaking, there is no best lining. Both tin and stainless steel have pros and cons. It comes down to what you as a buyer are willing to deal with.
Tin was the original lining material for copper pans. Tin remains a favorite for prestigious copper cookware companies, like Mauviel and Ruffoni.
The reasoning for the love is two-fold. Tin bonds well with copper, making it the most popular lining for copper cookware.
Secondly, tin releases food, making these pans almost non-stick and easy to cook with.
However, a 2020 study on copper cookware suggested certain cooking practices can damage the tin lining. These included long cook times and cold storage.
While one study is not a definitive statement, it may be cause for concern for consumers.
However, copper cookware fans will say that if your pan begins to degrade, you simply need to re-tin it.
They are correct. Re-tinning is an important part of copper pan maintenance, like seasoning cast iron. Unlike cast iron, you need a professional to re-tin a copper pan.
Re-tinning is a rare service in the United States. US residents will likely have to send their pan away via mail for re-tinning.
This is a time-consuming prospect, however, re-tinning is not needed often. Copper cookware only needs to be re-tinned when the lining becomes worn. This often takes years to occur.
This generally takes years to happen, depending on how often the pan is used.
The upside of this is that essentially, tin-lined copper pans are immortal. If your pan is properly maintained and occasionally re-tinned, it can last for generations.
Stainless steel linings are a recent development in copper cookware. They are more durable than tin linings and do not leach in any circumstance.
Unlike tin linings, stainless steel loves to stick, making them more of a chore to cook with and clean.
Additionally, stainless steel does not like to bond to copper. This not only makes these pans harder to create but also, leads to “de-bonding.”
De-bonding is when the stainless steel separates from the copper, destroying the pan.
Luckily, this only happens if the pan is left over high heat for a very long time or, in some cases, put in a dishwasher.
The good thing about this is that it is avoidable. If you follow the steps mentioned above, you will not need to worry about de-bonding.
Copper pots and pans require a lot of maintenance. Yet despite that, they have remained a cook-favorite for generations.
This loyalty is due not only to their beauty but also their quick, even heating. So, the real question is, do the pros outweigh the cons for you?
If you barely have time to clean your non-stick cookware, copper pots and pans may feel like a chore you do not need.
Copper cookware may be just the thing to complete your cookware collection if you are willing to dedicate the time to maintain your pots and pans.
Other articles you may also like:
- Copper Pans vs. Stainless Steel Pans – Which Cookware to Choose?
- How To Keep Food From Sticking To Copper Pans?
- Red Copper Pan vs Gotham Steel Pan – What’s the Difference?
- Copper Pan or Titanium Pan – Which One is Better?
- How To Bake Bread In Copper Pan
- What to Do With Scratched Teflon Pans (Non-stick Pans)?