Why Do Pans Have Metal, Wooden, or Plastic Handles?

Equipping your kitchen with the right range of cookware not only saves your time and effort but also helps you get great results when trying a new recipe.

Furthermore, having a versatile collection of cookware also ensures that you are not restricted to a certain method of cooking.

With that said, no amount of cookware can be enough for you if you don’t know how to use it correctly.

Therefore, you must do proper research about cookware and learn how the different components of a pan affect its functionality.

Let’s take a look at why pans have different types of handles and how it affects their practical use.

Why Do Pans Have Metal Handles?

The main reason frying pans have metal handles is that metal handles offer higher heat resistance. This means you can easily put your pan in the oven for baking if it has metal handles.

You don’t have to worry about melting the handles or damaging them as metal is strong enough to handle the heat.

Another advantage of having metal handles on a pan is their longevity. Since these handles are made of metal they are strong and sturdy and have a longer working life compared to plastic or wooden handles. Furthermore, metal handles also look more aesthetically pleasing on pans as they are shiny.

The only drawback of metal handles is that they heat up while cooking. This means you cannot lift your pans bare-handedly and will have to use oven mitts to touch the handle. How fast the handle of your pan heats up depends on the metal it is made of.

Metal handles are generally made of iron, stainless steel or carbon steel. All three of these materials have a low ability to diffuse thermal energy.

This means these handles will heat up much slower than the handles made of aluminum or copper. The metal handles that are considered to be the best are handles made of stainless steel. This is because stainless steel heats up significantly slower than iron or carbon steel handles.

Another factor that affects how fast the temperature of a metal handle increases is the design of the handle. If a metal handle is welded onto the hot pan with minimal contact then this will slow down the conductivity of heat to the handles.

So, try to look for such designs if you want a pan with metal handles that don’t heat up quickly.

Why Do Pans Have Wooden Handles?

The most appealing part about wooden handles is their ability to stay cool for very long periods of time.

This means you can comfortably lift your pan using its wooden handles without worrying them about being too hot to touch. This is ideal for people who like to flip food in their frying pan to stir fry it as it cooks.

The main disadvantage of having wooden handles on a pan is that the handles make the pan unsuitable for use in an oven. Although wood does not burst into flames until very high temperatures of around 800 degrees Fahrenheit, it is still unsafe to put the oven.
Related Article: How to Tell if a Pan is Oven-Safe?

The reason behind this is that wooden handles emit dangerous combustible gasses at higher temperatures. These gases can then lead to a sudden explosion inside your oven which is why you must never put wooden handles inside an oven.

Another problem with wooden handles is that they are not dishwasher-safe.

Wooden handles can easily absorb water inside a dish-washer. This water is later evaporated when the handles heat up and this can cause decomposition of the wood.

Why Do Pans Have Plastic Handles?

Similar to wooden handles, plastic handles also offer the user of pans great convenience and comfort by staying cool.

Their ability to conduct heat is not as great as that of metal handles. As a result, they remain cool throughout cooking and this makes them very safe.

Plastic handles are usually made of silicon and they can withstand a temperature of around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The main disadvantage of having plastic handles is that they easily melt when exposed to high temperatures. This means you cannot use a pan with plastic handles for baking purposes in the oven.

Furthermore, you must try to keep your plastic handles safely by not letting them come into contact with a high flame. Plastic handles even start to melt when the flame from the next burner on a stove accidentally touches them. This makes plastic handles far less durable than metal handles. So, keep this in mind whenever you are cooking in a pan with plastic handles to avoid melting them.

Another arguable drawback of having plastic handles is that they look mediocre at best.

The look of pans with plastic handles suggests that the pan is lower in quality when compared to a pan with metal or wooden handles.

What to Do When You Accidently Melt the Plastic Handle of Your Pan

The melting of plastic handles of a frying pan is highly dangerous for us.

It does not only permanently damage the look of our frying pan but has far more serious consequences for our health. When plastic handles melt, they release harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide, dioxins, and furans into the surrounding air and food. These chemicals are highly dangerous to us.

Carbon monoxide is known to be poisonous gas. For this reason, you should immediately open up the windows in order to increase the ventilation of air if you have accidentally melted the plastic handles of your pan.

Furthermore, you should also dispose of any food that was present in the pan. This food will not only smell weird but it is actually dangerous to eat as it may have absorbed some of the carbon monoxide released from the plastic.

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