We can’t imagine a kitchen without a non-stick pan. It shows how indispensable it has become in our lives.
However, finding the right non-stick pan can be baffling as some non-stick pans have a notorious reputation regarding safety. Some non-stick are more durable than others. And honestly, the question is: is there any non-stick pan that can last a lifetime?
All of these mind-boggling questions can be answered if you know the types of non-stick pans, and their main attributes that distinguish them from others.
In This Article
- Types of Non-Stick Pans [Find Out Which One You Should Buy]
- Teflon (PTFE) Non Stick Coating
- Ceramic Non-Stick Pans
- Carbon Steel and Cast-Iron Pans
- Silicone Bakeware
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up!
Types of Non-Stick Pans [Find Out Which One You Should Buy]
There are generally two common types of non-stick coatings.
- PTFE (Teflon)
Other than these two, some cookware can be seasoned to mimic non-stick pans like cast iron or carbon steel. Some bakeware made of silicone is also non-sticky in nature.
Let’s have a look at all non-stick types and their pros and cons.
Teflon (PTFE) Non Stick Coating
Teflon, which was accidentally discovered in a lab at DuPont, took the culinary world by storm by entering the cookware industry and forming the first-ever non-stick pans.
While late-night infomercials were singing praises about non-stick pans, an uproar and controversy was aroused against Teflon. A chemical (PFOA) in Teflon was found to be linked with various diseases such as:
- Kidney and liver diseases
- Birth anomalies
- Various cancers
Not just that, it was also causing land pollution and water pollution. Imagine the outcry it must have caused! The company was sued, lots of money was being paid in damages to settle the case, and the chemical PFOA was banned. Since 2013, all Teflon pans have been PFOA-free.
But Teflon non-stick pans have been around for so many decades for a reason. The non-stick performs flawlessly and brings ease and convenience in the kitchen for even the trickiest foods that stick most in the pans. If you think Teflon coated cookware doesn’t meet your requirements, you can check these best frying pans without teflon.
- Teflon is chemically inert, meaning it is non-reactive and stable. It is inflammable and non-toxic.
- Due to its high-melting point and low friction, it is considered ideal for non-stick cookware coatings.
- It is more durable than any other non-stick coating.
- Teflon non-stick pans can be found at an affordable price.
- Teflon pans are easier to clean.
Limitations of Teflon Coating
- At temperatures higher than 500°F, the non-stick coating releases toxic fumes, which can cause Teflon flu (Shivering, headaches, body aches, and fever).
- Although PFOA has been eliminated from the production of Teflon, chemical Gen X, which replaced PFOA, is being questioned for its safety.
What to Look for When Buying Teflon?
- Teflon pans with triple coating outperform dual-coated or single-coated Teflon pans, so buy a Teflon non-stick pan with multiple coatings.
- All Teflon pans have an inner layer of aluminum. Try to pick the one that has hard-anodized aluminum in the construction. Hard-anodized pans reduce aluminum leaching in the food when the pan gets scratched and make it more sturdy, rust-resistant, and long-lasting.
- Buy a Teflon pan with a metal disc bonded at the bottom. Not only does it make the pan induction compatible, but it also makes it heftier and warp-resistant.
Who Should Buy Non-Stick Teflon?
Teflon is relatively long-lasting non-stick than Ceramic, so those who want to buy a solid, substantial non-stick cookware can choose Teflon. Since it is available at low-range, mid-range, and premium prices as well, you’ll be able to find the non-stick that caters to your needs and budget.
Ceramic Non-Stick Pans
Ceramic non-stick pan coatings were introduced after the Teflon debacle and its concerns regarding safety and health. Ceramic coating is derived from Silica (sand). The coating is often termed as sol-gel and is applied to non-stick cookware by dipping or spraying. The cookware is then subjected to high temperatures to cure or harden it.
Just like Teflon, ceramic non-stick pans also perform greatly by even heating and browning the food. But the ceramic coating loses its non-stick quality faster than Teflon.
Benefits of Ceramic Pans
- The ceramic coating is slick, non-toxic, and safe to use.
- Ceramic non-stick cookware has attractive soft pastel colors.
- Ceramic cookware has higher heat resistance, and that’s the reason you’d find ceramic non-stick cookware oven-safe up to 600° F.
- It doesn’t emit any toxic fumes even at high temperatures.
- It is lightweight.
Limitations of Ceramic Coating
- Ceramic coatings can develop microscopic cracks, which eventually propagate, leading to chipping and flaking of the coating.
- The non-stick ceramic surface stains easily if the food is cooked at a high temperature. Some foods like tomatoes or curry also leave stains on the surface.
- The non-stick quality of ceramic pans degrades faster than Teflon.
- The earlier ceramic coating had lead and cadmium, which are toxic to consume.
NOTE: Recently manufactured pans from any well-known brand don’t have any harmful chemicals in the coating.
What to Look for When Buying Ceramic?
- Buy ceramic pans that are dual or triple coated with titanium or diamond infusion.
- Premium ceramic pans also use hard anodized aluminum like Teflon to increase the sturdiness and strength.
Pro-Tip: Buy ceramic pans with darker interior and exterior as stains won’t be too obvious in darker pans.
Who Should Buy Ceramic Pans?
Ceramic is the best substitute for non-stick pans without Teflon. It is for those who are particularly wary about the harmful chemicals used in cookware. But they need to be replaced sooner; affordable prices for ceramic make up for the need for earlier replacement.
Carbon Steel and Cast-Iron Pans
Carbon steel and cast-iron pots and pans are not non-stick in nature. They don’t have any coating over them to create a frictionless surface. Instead, cast-iron pans and carbon steel need to be seasoned with oil to create a thin layer that doesn’t let the food stick to the surface.
When the pan is seasoned, the oil fills in the pores of the cookware surface to create a smooth, slippery surface. Any carbon steel or cast iron pan can be seasoned with a high-smoking oil over the stovetop or in the oven.
Read the complete step-by-step method to season the pans using the right oil.
Benefits of Seasoned Pans
- Carbon-steel or cast iron will last forever if properly taken care of. So, it’s a one-time investment, and unlike Teflon or Ceramic, you won’t need to replace your pans after every few years.
- They are heavy-duty cooking vessels that maintain heat once pre-heated and cook the food evenly.
- They are free of all chemicals and deliver healthy and non-toxic food.
Limitations of Carbon Steel
- The pans need to be re-seasoned now and then, especially after cooking acidic food or washing them with soap.
- Cast iron pans are heavy and make handling difficult.
What to Look for When Buying
What to Look for When Buying Carbon Steel or Cast Iron?
- The cast-iron pan should have a smooth surface with a thick base. A thick base holds heat that gives a perfect sear.
- It shouldn’t be too heavy, nor too light. A light cast iron pan is more prone to warping.
- Enameled cast iron pans are not non-stick, nor can they be seasoned like regular cast iron. So, if you want to create a natural non-stick by seasoning, stick to a regular cast iron pan.
- Carbon steel is smoother with less weight, more malleable, and less brittle than cast iron.
- Buy carbon steel with a thick base for even heating and strong riveted handles.
Who Should Buy Carbon Steel or Cast-Iron Pans?
Carbon steel and cast iron pans are for those who don’t want to replace the pans every few years. Due to their durability, these pans are the choice of professional chefs too. One should invest in these pans if he is ready to take on pan seasoning frequently.
Silicone bakeware is made of a flexible synthetic “rubber-like” material made of silicon, oxygen, and other natural elements. Since the material is flexible, you won’t find cooking pots and pans made of silicon. It is only used for making bakeware molds and is non-sticky in nature.
- Silicone bakeware is not only oven safe but is also freezer safe. Silicone bakeware is generally oven-safe up to 250° C and can withstand freezer temperature up to -18° C.
- They are long-lasting and won’t dent or break if you drop them accidentally.
- These are affordable and brown the food evenly.
Limitations of Silicone Bakeware
- They are not dishwasher safe and don’t biodegrade naturally.
- Oven-safe temperature is way less than other non-stick pots and pans.
- They may feel tacky and become floppy over time.
- Low-quality silicone bakeware is full of binders and fillers and can have an odor to it.
- If silicone bakeware isn’t cured adequately during production, it can leach chemicals during baking.
What to Look for When Buying Silicone Bakeware?
- Always check that the silicone bakeware has complied with the rules of the FDA.
- One way to check that the silicone mold doesn’t have many fillers and binders is to twist it. If you see a lot of white streaks, it shows the bakeware is made of poor quality and has lots of fillers in it.
- Always buy from a renowned brand or seller to avoid low quality.
Who Should Buy Silicone Bakeware?
Silicone bakeware is for those who don’t want to use toxic aluminum metal bakeware. Since silicone bakeware is very economical, anyone can get it for baking purposes. For easy unmolding and cleaning up, silicone bakeware is preferred.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of non-stick is best?
Both ceramic and Teflon non-stick coatings are better. However, Teflon’s non-stick coating is more durable than ceramic. But if you are over-concerned about safety, choosing ceramic pans would be a better decision. You can also choose cast iron or carbon steel pans and season them frequently to mimic the non-stick quality of synthetically coated cookware. Cast iron or carbon steel would last a long time, but you will have to season it every so often.
Which type of non-stick coating is safe?
Ceramic non-stick coating is safer than Teflon because it doesn’t emit any harmful gas even at high temperatures. But make sure to buy non-stick ceramic pans from renowned brands like GreenPan, as they don’t have lead or cadmium in the coating. Replace chipped or heavily scratched ceramic pans to avoid aluminum leaching in the food.
Do professional chefs use non-stick pans?
Professional chefs don’t prefer non-stick pans because non-stick pans wear out easily and can’t endure high-heat cooking. They prefer carbon steel or cast iron pans for their high-heat sauteing and durability. If they need non-stick pans, they will pick triple-coated professional-grade non-stick cookware.
Does olive oil ruin non-stick pans?
Olive oil can damage non-stick pans if heated beyond the smoke point. Using olive oil to cook the food within its smoking point won’t damage the non-stick pan. Overheated olive oil creates a crusty layer that clings on the non-stick surface that is challenging to clean, and the pan gets scratched during scrubbing. Or, if you use harsh detergents, it will weaken the non-stick coating, accelerating the wear and tear of the no-stick pans.
Is stainless steel better than non-stick?
Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat, but stainless steel with an aluminum layer improves heat conductivity. Stainless steel lasts a lifetime, whereas non-stick cookware needs to be replaced every few years. But the convenience and ease of cleaning make it a more popular choice among consumers.
Although seasoned pans can mimic the non-stick quality, they are not truly non-stick pans. Proper non-stick coated pans are only Ceramic and Teflon. Silicone bakeware is made of flexible material and withstands stovetop heat, nor are they firm and sturdy like other pots and pans. It’s the reason for its limited use. Some people also think enameled cast iron pans as non-stick, but the enameled coating isn’t non-stick.