Every kitchen has a bunch of handy tools and utensils that can instantly save a cooking emergency.
Such is the case with non-stick cookware.
Easy-to-use, super-handy, and quick to clean, non-stick pans are perfect for preparing a breakfast omelet and pan-seared meat. Owing to its fantastic non-stick technology, it helps retain all the flavors and juices of your food.
However, there’s a catch.
Non-stick cookware usually has a coating over it. And this coating can sometimes come off.
In this article, I mention what to do when the non-stick coating is coming off and the possible reasons for it
If you’re looking to replace your non-stick pan, I suggest checking out the amazing Blue Diamond toxin-free non-stick pan (it’s PFOA free and safe to use). You can find it in different sizes with and without lids.
What Causes the Non-Stick Pan Coating to Come Off?
Being the star feature of your cooking utensils, the non-stick coating does run the risk of eroding over time.
If you’re facing a similar problem, you might be making a few of these mistakes that could render your non-stick pan useless.
Cooking At High Heat (without Oil)
Heat is the number one culprit that can destroy the precious coating of your non-stick pan.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when Teflon is heated above 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the coating can turn toxic and begin to deteriorate.
It’s recommended that you should never heat your non-stick without adding any oil (see the video below, it’ short)
When you heat your non-stick and high heat, the non-stick coating can come off and can also become a potential carcinogen.
If you repeatedly use the pan for high-heat cooking, it will destroy the surface over time and emit toxic vapors that can turn your food unpalatable.
Most people smoke their non-stick pan, which can also release toxic chemicals and erode the coating.
Note that the fumes that are released when you overheat the pan are not dangerous for humans but are dangerous for birds (although most new non-stick pans don’t have this issue).
So if you keep pet birds and use non-stick and high temperature, you want to be extra cautious.
Not Seasoning Your Skillet
Failure to pre-season your pan when using it for the first time can make the coating extremely vulnerable to wear and tear (especially if you start cooking at high temperatures).
Many non-stick users think that non-stick pans don’t need any oil. While this works in some cases, it’s always recommended to use a little oil to make sure the seasoning of the pan remains
The coating will eventually degrade over time, and not re-seasoning your pan now and then will worsen things.
Using Too Much Non-stick Spray
Using a non-stick spray is one of the most common kitchen mistakes.
The main idea behind a non-stick spray is to cover the cooking surface with a protective layer, so the food doesn’t stick.
However, the need is redundant when the skillet is designed to be non-stick.
Over time, the buildup of non-stick spray will stick to the surface and refuse to burn off while cooking.
Even if you scrub and rinse it hard, it’s very unlikely that the sticky film will come off.
You might need harsh bleach or elbow grease to scrape it off from the sides of the pan, which is a huge hassle on its own.
Using Abrasive Utensils on the Cookware
The coating is already fragile, to begin with, so if you’re using sharp steel ladles to sauté or toss your food, you’re damaging the cooking surface with scars and scratches.
Metal utensils such as spatulas, knives, and forks can scratch off the coating and cause the food to stick to the pan.
This is especially true when you’re cleaning the pan.
Most people make the mistake of using steel wool which severely damages the pan coating and leads to pits and peeling.
Tossing the Pan in a Dishwasher
This might be the biggest blunder that most people are guilty of.
Even when nonstick pans are apparently dishwasher safe, you’re still exposing them to extremely hot water, hard scrubbing, and harsh cleaning detergents.
You may not notice the damage initially, but over time, the coating of the non-stick pan will come off.
I recently bought a Zwilling non-stick pan, and I was recommended not to wash it in a dishwasher (despite it saying that it is dishwasher safe). After a few rounds of cleaning the nonstick pan in the dishwasher, I can see some scratches appear on the pan.
Related Article: Is It Ok to Put Non-Stick Pans and Pots in the Dishwasher?
Frequently Cooking Acidic Foods
Acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon, vinegar, pickles, and wine can be corrosive to the delicate coating of a non-stick pan.
If you frequently use your skillet for cooking these ingredients, the acids will burn and cause the coating to peel off over time.
Acids tend to leave blisters, which will speed up the aging process and decrease the life of your cookware.
Non-Stick Pan Flakes in Food – Are these dangerous?
If you have a non-stick pan where the coating is coming off, you might sometimes see black flakes of non-stick in your food.
The other day, I was flying eggs in one of my non-stick pans where the coating is coming off, and I could see tiny black flakes in the egg.
While it’s best to avoid consuming food that has these non-stick pan flakes, in case you accidentally end up consuming it, there is nothing to worry about.
These are not harmful or a health risk and will easily pass through your body without doing any damage
Reversing the Damage: Here’s What to Do When the Non-stick Pan Coating Is Coming Off
If you’re thinking of tossing away your non-stick pan because it has become sticky and useless, you might want to re-think your decision.
Non-stick cookware is usually expensive and shouldn’t be thrown out immediately after losing a bit of its functionality.
A little maintenance and care can surprisingly go a long way in keeping your skillets and pans looking sleek.
If you notice that the non-stick coating is peeling off, here are some effective ways to bring back the non-stick luster.
Fix it with a Non-Stick Cookware Repair Spray
Your first call of action is to use a non-stick repair spray.
If the damage is not that severe, a repair spray will easily save your pan. Start by thoroughly rinsing the pan and gently scraping off all the food bits and grease.
Dry it up well and spray a thick, even coating of non-stick repair spray.
You can easily buy one from a convenience store – these guys are quite common. After spraying, let your pan rest for 20-30 minutes, and then switch on the oven.
By baking the skillet, the heat will get rid of the sticky film and allow the repair spray to do its magic.
Stick the pan in for around 45-50 minutes and then allow it to cool completely. Make sure to keep it in the oven as it cools down to avoid drastic temperature changes.
Next, rinse the pan using gentle dish soap and a soft sponge until all the grease and debris comes off. Your pan is now ready to use!
Re-seasoning Your Non-Stick with Oil or Shortening
Most people forget to oil their pain with canola, vegetable, or coconut oil before they start using it.
However, if you didn’t do it at first, you can fix the coating with a thin layer of oil or shortening.
The layer of oil is then heated under extreme temperatures, which allows it to polymerize onto the pan’s surface and form a protective layer.
This essentially stops the pan from catching stains, rust, or scratches.
However, seasoning is a recurring process.
You will have to do the seasoning every now and then to refill the scratches and reinforce their non-stick traits.
Most importantly, re-seasoning is a cheap, super-quick, and effective option to revive your sticky pan as compared to investing in a new one.
There are two steps to this process. At home, re-seasoning will require you to thoroughly wash your pan and get rid of all the food scraps, grease, and residue stuck on it.
To remove stubborn food particles, you will have to wash them with a baking soda concoction.
- Simply dissolve a few dashes of vinegar into a handful of baking soda and mix with water. Pour the mixture into the pan and boil it. After a few minutes, when the bubbles start forming, pour out the solution. The baking soda mixture is amazing at dissolving the most obstinate stains. Now, you can wash the pan as usual.
- Proceed to season the pan by pouring a few drops of oil over the surface and warm it up at medium heat. Switch on your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and pour enough oil to cover the entire surface.
Place the pan inside to bake for up to 2 hours.
Keep the non-stick pan inside overnight to allow the coating to heal and recover its strength.
By the next morning, your cookware will be as good as new.
Replace the Pan
Your last option is to replace the pan with a new one and look after it well.
Although the above two hacks should work fairly well, if you think the damage is irreparable, it’s better to invest in new non-stick cookware.
Also read: When and How to Recycle Your Frying Pans?
How to Extend the Life of Your Non-Stick Pan
Looking after your kitchen utensils, especially something as delicate as non-stick cookware, can really keep it in top condition and running for a long time.
Let’s face it, you can’t do without a non-stick pan, and considering that they’re fairly expensive, it’s incumbent to practice care and caution.
Here are simple safety tips that will increase your non-stick pan’s life.
Season and Re-season!
While re-seasoning will fix a sticky pan, it is the first thing you should do before using a brand-new one.
Also, continue to re-season it with oil every two weeks.
Choosing the Right Stirring Utensils
Ditch all-metal spoons and spatulas and only stick to gentle, non-abrasive stirring utensils.
You can use a wooden ladle to stir and toss sticky food around like chicken, veggies, and fish.
Wood is softer than metal and doesn’t leave scratches. However, if you’re cooking something tricky like a pancake, then you might need to consider other options.
Silicon utensils are by far the best.
They are malleable, soft, and dishwasher-safe. To cook light foods like eggs, veggie stir fry, or fritters, silicone spatulas are the best as they flip the food easily without harming the pan in the least.
For heavier foods like steaks, fish fillets, and quesadillas, you can use nylon utensils that are sturdier than silicon.
However, whatever utensil you use, make sure to not be too rough on the pan.
Ensure Proper Storage
Just as you need to be careful when washing nonstick cookware, you have to store it in a safe place, too.
Don’t just throw it in a cupboard as the impact can damage it. Tuck it away nicely in a spacious cupboard where it doesn’t come into contact with other utensils.
This will keep it unharmed and prevent scratches.
Strictly Avoid High Heat
Your non-stick pan isn’t meant for high-heat foods or acidic foods. You can use a cast-iron skillet or a grill pan for that purpose.
Foods like soft scrambles, pancakes, tortillas, frittatas, and lean meats are the best options to prepare over a non-stick pan.
They cook quickly and are less likely to stick to the surface.
And, for color-changing recipes that need you to caramelize onions or butter, it’s better to stick to stainless steel.
Adding Fat at the Right Time
Instead of waiting for the pan to heat up before you toss in the butter or oil, pour it in before you start the flame.
This is necessary for non-stick cookware as it protects the layer from overheating and enhances the product’s life.
If you add fat after heating, you run the risk of igniting unhealthy fumes that can make your food extremely unhealthy.
Don’t try to scrape off every layer of oil and food from the pan.
A little oily film should always stay on the pan to protect it from erosion.
When cleaning the cookware, always use gentle dish soap and a soft sponge once or twice a day, depending on how often you use it.
Make sure to dry it up before properly storing it in a cabinet.
With these non-stick cookware safety tips, there’s no way your pan is ever getting a scratch or stain again!
Non-Stick – A Surprising Discovery
Ever heard of accidental discoveries that end up saving the world? The non-stick pan is a great example of such a discovery.
This handy cooking tool was more of an accident than a thoughtful invention.
In 1938, Roy Plunkett – a famous chemist was deeply engrossed in a profound experiment to create alternatives for the refrigerant used by the DuPont chemical company.
One such experiment required him to freeze and compress tetrafluoroethylene – the chemical name for a colorless gas that turns into a waxy solid in cold temperatures.
This unique solid – known as PTFE – was extremely slippery and didn’t seem to hold friction.
DuPont, the company, then patented this discovery as Teflon, which twenty years down the road is being used in modern-day non-stick cookware.
Although the substance has been developed and refined, it retains its basic structure and is used to make waffle irons, skillets, and other non-stick cookware.
But here’s the catch – the coating is extremely fragile and not resistant to wear and tear.
If you don’t handle your non-stick cookware with gentle care, negligence will destroy the non-stick layer and carry its fate to a trash bin.
Surprisingly, every kitchen mistake that can wreck your non-stick is easily avoidable with a little bit of conscious care.
How to Remove Non-Stick Coating?
There are a few ways to remove the non-stick coating, but the most common is using oven cleaners.
Make sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner, and be very careful when using it, as it can be harmful if inhaled or ingested.
Another way to remove the non-stick coating is by using a degreaser. Again, read the instructions and be careful when using it, as it can also be harmful if ingested.
Finally, you can try scraping off the coating with a razor blade or a wire brush.
This is probably the most labor-intensive option, but it’s also effective. Just be careful not to damage your cookware in the process!
You may also like the following articles:
- What Are Some Substitutes for a Grill Pan?
- Do Non-Stick Pans Need Oil?
- How to Check If a Pan is Non-Stick?
- What Pans Are Safest to Cook With?
- Are Teflon Pans (Non-stick Pans) Bad For You?
- Can Non-Stick Pans Be Re-Coated?
- How to Remove Cooking Spray Residue From Pans?
- How to Make a Pan Non-Stick with Salt?