Nonstick Skillet Nonstick Cookware
Nonstick cookware is a very attractive idea, but one that rarely lives up to its promise. Some chefs like to have a non-stick pan for scrambled eggs, but beyond that most do not favor nonstick cookware. Photo is of a Cuisinart skillet, quite suitable for eggs.   Photo © source.


2009 Clove Garden

General & Safety

I'm sure better nonstick cookware measures up to the manufacturer's claims in the laboratory, but the kitchen is not a laboratory environment. At best it's an industrial environment and at worst resembles a combat zone. Tools will be abused, accidents will happen and nonstick cookware is particularly vulnerable.

When purchasing you have to consider nonstick to be temporary. Experts say it should be replaced within 2 to 3 years of purchase or immediately when damaged.

Good Housekeeping has these recommendations in a well referenced article. for more detail see Note-1.

  1. Never preheat an empty pan.
  2. Don't cook on high heat.
  3. Ventilate your kitchen.
  4. Don't broil or sear meats.
  5. Choose a heavier nonstick pan.
  6. Avoid chipping or damaging a pan.
It also has to be stored carefully to avoid damage to the surface. If pans are stacked they must have at least a paper towel between them.

Most nonstick cookware has a base of anodized aluminum. Should the surface be damaged you also get all the "benefits" of bare aluminum. Non-aluminum nonstick wares tend to be very expensive - not a good investment for something you expect to throw away in 2 to 3 years.

The cheapest nonstick cookware has a single ply of nonstick coating, which tends to start scratching through immediately, even using wood and plastic tools. Better brands use as many as 5 plys in an attempt to make the coatings more durable. Some say their coating is tough enough to use metal tools - but I wouldn't push my luck.

Nonstick coatings start to outgas at just below 450°F/230°C. By 600°F/315°C toxic fumes are severe. Birds can be killed by these fumes and people can be sickened by them. Because in operations such as stir frying or searing 450°F can be exceeded in spots on the pan, nonstick should not be used for those applications.


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All images not otherwise attributed are © cg1.