10 Ways to Ruin a Nonstick Pot or Pan

A long time ago I invested in an expensive set of non-stick cookware. I was forever burning foods and my pots and pans spent hours in the sink, soaking, before I scrubbed… and scrubbed… and scrubbed them to get the food debris off. After a short time, my non-stick cookware began to stick. I figured it was just a cheap set (though it wasn’t, really). My problem? I was using them all wrong. When I came across this article - Non-Stick Pots - 10 Ways to Ruin a Non-stick Pot or Pan – I suddenly realized the error of my ways. How many of these ten ways to ruin a non-stick pot or pan are you guilty of? (I’m guilty of just about all of them.)

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) was invented by Roy Plunkett in 1938 while he was working for a joint venture of the DuPont company. The substance he created was found to have several unique properties, including very good corrosion resistance and the lowest coefficient of friction of any substance manufactured to that date. Teflon was trademarked in 1944 and by 1951 DuPont had developed applications for Teflon in commercial bread and cookie-making. The company avoided the market for consumer cookware however, due to potential problems associated with the release of toxic gasses if stove-top pans were overheated in inappropriately ventilated spaces. Marc Gregoire, a French engineer, subsequently patented the process for coating cooking pans and in 1956 the Tefal company was formed to manufacture non-stick pans. Did you know that drastic water temperature changes can cause your pan to warp and that a warped pan will not have even heat distribution? That’s what can happen if you place your very hot non-stick frying pan into cool or lukewarm water. Guilty. I have often run the cold water tap in order to cool the hot pan down faster. Apparently that is very bad for non-stick pans. OK. Moving on!

One of the biggest culprits are metal spatulas, whisks, tongs, cutters… anything metal that you’re going to poke into your non-stick frying pan. The best utensils to use on a non-stick pot or pan are wood, plastic or silicone. Even fork-turning your food can cause nicks and scratch your pan. And don’t be tempted to cut your pizza with a metal cutter in the non-stick pan. This will mar the finish. Slide your pizza onto a cutting board first. And, like with pizza, don’t cut things like desserts or mom’s mighty meatloaf in the pan with a metal knife or utensil. It can pierce the coating, leaving your pans unsightly, cause foods to stick and rust to form.One of the ways to ruin a non-stick pot or pan kind of surprised me. I mean, I had never thought about it before. Storing your pans improperly can cause scratches in the finish. You should always nest your non-stick frying pans and other cookware carefully. You shouldn’t have metal pan covers with thin, sharp edges sitting inside your pans, nor should you have other little pots or pans sitting inside your bigger pots and pans. This will cause scratches to the finish. (Seems logical enough, but where in the world am I going to put all of my pots and pans?!)

Who knew non-stick pots and pans were so sensitive? I’m definitely guilty of most of these errors and now I’m forced to go buy another set of non-stick cookware. But this time I’ll know what not to do! A good set of non-stick pots and pans is a great investment and should be cared for. Try to avoid these ten awful things to do to a non-stick pot or pan and you should have them for many, many years!

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