A Guide to Nonstick Kitchen Pans

A Guide to Nonstick Kitchen Pans

Many people consider nonstick pans a necessary part of their kitchen. They’re essential for successfully flipping pancakes and crepes, or for removing eggs and fish in one piece. And for those watching their waistlines, very little to no oil or butter is needed with this cookware.

Knowing about nonstick pans and how to properly use them will help you maximize their lifespan, while also providing you with an enjoyable cooking experience.

Types of Coating in Nonstick Pans

Teflon (PTFE)

The chemical substance polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) was discovered in 1938 by a DuPont chemist. This material has almost no friction, which in layman’s terms means it’s extremely slippery.

PTFE was later trademarked as “Teflonby DuPont (later Chemours) to be used as its unique brand in nonstick cookware. Many companies today now have their own PTFE proprietary formulas and brand names, but “Teflon” is still used by consumers as a generic term for nonstick cookware. 

Safety Concerns

For many years there were health concerns about a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used in the manufacturing of PTFE. This was an important issue, since PTFE was used in many industries, and was even present in household products such as dental floss.

In 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency initiated a program to eliminate PFOA from all PTFE products. The program was successful, and since 2013 all PTFE products have been free of PFOA, including nonstick cookware. Today there shouldn’t be any safety concerns using Teflon products manufactured since 2013.


Based on numerous reviews, consumers find that Teflon does the best job of preventing food from sticking. It’s easy to clean, widely available, and is usually less expensive. 


When heated above 500°F (300°C) Teflon starts to deteriorate, and above 660°F (348°C) the coating decomposes and releases toxic fumes.

However, regular cooking shouldn’t reach these temperatures. When used properly in a well-ventilated kitchen, Teflon pans are safe to use.


The first ceramic nonstick coating (Thermolon) was created in 2007, partly as a solution to PFOA concerns with Teflon. Ceramic nonstick pans consist of a metal base (e.g. steel or aluminum) with a shiny ceramic coating derived from a mineral (e.g. silicon). Proprietary coatings vary among several brands, but Thermolon, for instance, uses a finish made of silicon dioxide in a gel solution.


Pans with a ceramic coating are also easy and quick to clean. One important difference from Teflon is that ceramic finishes don’t start to deteriorate until they reach over 800°F (426°C). Again, you wouldn’t be cooking at such a high temperature.

Generally, ceramic nonstick pans are considered safer than Teflon because they don’t off-gas when reaching higher temperatures. However, not many scientific studies have been done to date on the safety of ceramic coatings.


Nonstick ceramic pans don’t heat as evenly and quickly as Teflon due to the rougher surface area created by their coating. And according to users, food also sticks more to ceramic coatings than to Teflon.

Usually ceramic nonstick pans are more expensive, although with a shorter lifespan. They’re also prone to warping under extreme temperature changes.

Cooking with Nonstick Pans

Here are some cooking tips for prolonging the life of your nonstick pans, and using them safely:

  • Only use low or medium heat. High heat can cause the coating to deteriorate and release toxic fumes (e.g. Teflon).
  • Always preheat with something in the pan. Use a little water, oil, butter, or the food itself. Oils and butter begin smoking at 400°F (204°C), so you’ll know when your pan is too hot.
  • Turn on the exhaust fan when cooking.
  • Use the right-sized burner for your pan.
  • Cover the pan’s surface as much as possible with whatever you’re cooking. This helps keep the temperature lower.
  • Never use power burners with nonstick pans. This is anything above 2,400 watts on an electric range, and 12,000 BTUs on a gas one.
  • To prevent scratches, avoid using metal or anything sharp on the coating. Instead, use wood, plastic or rubber utensils.
  • Don’t use nonstick pans for foods that are highly acidic (e.g. tomatoes).
  • Only cook foods suitable to lower temperatures. For foods requiring high heat, use a cast iron or stainless steel pan.

How to Care for Your Nonstick Pans

It’s a good idea to purchase a high-quality nonstick pan with a heavier bottom. It will cook more evenly, keep you safe by heating up slower than cheaper pans, and last longer. The following tips will help you care for your new pan:

  • Don’t wash nonstick pans in the dishwasher. Hand wash gently with a soft sponge and mild dish soap, avoiding steel wool, abrasive cleaners, and stainless steel scouring pads. For any stubborn food debris, soak the pan in a solution of water and dish soap.
  • Before you wash the pan, give it time to cool. Don’t hurry the process by running it under cold water. Quick temperature changes can cause cracks in the coating.
  • Don’t use nonstick cooking sprays. The pan doesn’t get hot enough to burn off the spray, and the buildup is hard to clean.
  • Store pans side by side, either hanging or sitting, to protect the coating from scratches. If you don’t have room, place paper plates or soft towels in between the pans and layer them.
  • When food starts to stick to your nonstick pan, you can season it by placing it on low heat for about 30 seconds and adding a teaspoon of oil. Rub the oil thoroughly into the surface using a paper towel. Do this any time the pan becomes sticky, or as a regular routine after cleaning it.

Replacing Nonstick Pans

Nonstick pans don’t last as long as those made from stainless steel, cast iron, or carbon steel. Depending on the quality, and the care it’s received, expect a pan to last anywhere from one to five years with average use.

Teflon (PTFE) pans can last from three to five years, while ceramic pans last around two years. Pans with two or three PTFE coatings last the longest, as do those with reinforced nonstick coatings. Some brands reinforce their PTFE coatings with titanium particles or crushed gems.

Nonstick pans should be replaced when you notice any of the following signs:

  • The pan is heavily scratched.
  • The coating is flaking or blistering.
  • The pan is discolored.
  • The pan is warped.
  • Seasoning the pan no longer prevents food from sticking.

Some of the most important items in your kitchen are the ones you use daily, ranging from small appliances to larger ones. For the very best in appliance repair and maintenance, you can count on C&W Appliance Service. Get in touch with us at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form.


For the very best in appliance repair and maintenance, you can count on C&W Appliance Service.