Non-stick pans are made of a coating that prevents food from sticking to the pan.
They have been around for a long time, but they didn’t become popular until recently. The first non-stick cookware was created in France in 1954 by Marc Gregoire, who had the idea while working on an industrial project involving coal dust and rubber.
He found that when he used mineral oil instead of petroleum jelly as a lubricant, cooking became much easier because food no longer stuck to his pots and pans. Soon after he patented his “Teflon” technology under the brand name Tefal, which is now one of the leading manufacturers of non-stick cookware products today.
Nonstick coatings, known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), are what make nonstick pans so useful. While you might want to write a catchy opening, using scientific terms can get you closer to the right tone for the article. Taking time to learn about these materials will help you write more effectively and impressively.
Nonstick coatings are a group of fluoropolymer resins that have useful properties in the kitchen. Polytetrafluoroethylene is sold under many brand names, but it has the unbrand name of Teflon® from the company DuPont as its chemical name. It was originally used in electrical insulation and the aerospace industry before it became popular for cookware coatings.
Where do they come from?
While PTFE was originally discovered in 1938, it wasn’t until 1954 that the material’s chemical stability and nonstick properties were finally recognized. In 1971, DuPont started selling Teflon® skillets to consumers. Its plastic-like nature allows chemical reactions to take place with materials on its surface; PTFE does not react with the materials on its surface. However, when exposed to extreme heat or other substances, such as grease, it can break down and release toxic chemicals into your food.
What do they look like?
PTFE is made of long chains of fluorine atoms that are bonded together. These chains form a three-dimensional network that has no branches. It looks a lot like graphite, which forms well-ordered sheets of carbon atoms held together by covalent bonds.
How are they made?
PTFE is made in either of two ways, polymerization or polyaddition. Polymerization involves reacting chlorotrifluoroethylene, CClF3 with ethylene fluoride, CH2F2. This process produces a solid PTFE resin that can then be mixed with fillers and other additives to make a nonstick coating.
How do they work?
Nonstick coatings can be divided into two main types, perfluorocarbon resins, and fluoropolymer resins. Both types use PTFE as the base material for a nonstick surface. Perfluorocarbon resins typically rely on dimethylpolysiloxane (DMP) as the base layer because it has a Teflon®-like surface. Fluoropolymers are expensive resins that rely on fluorinated polymers with PTFE base coatings to make nonstick pans work well.
Properties of nonstick pans
PTFE’s properties make it an ideal material for nonstick cookware. It has low chemical reactivity, a high melting point (500 degrees Celsius), good electrical and thermal properties, and is chemically inert and non-toxic in its natural state. Because of this non-reactivity, it is harmless to the body when ingested or handled. The only evidence that these coatings are dangerous comes from toxicity tests performed on animals. However, the amounts used in these experiments were much greater than what would be experienced by humans in everyday life.
Fluoropolymers are great at preventing food from sticking to the pan. When a gas is used as a lubricant between two solid surfaces that come into contact with each other, it is called a lubricant film. The effectiveness of a lubricant film is measured by the pressure that has to be exerted on one surface before it makes contact with its counterpart. This force, called the adhesion strength, can be as low as 10-12 N/m2 for PTFE coatings and can make cooking easier, but only if you know how to use it correctly.
Using nonstick pans the right way
Nonstick coatings are a great way to make cooking easier, especially for inexperienced cooks. When used correctly, their effectiveness is undeniable when it comes to preventing food from sticking to your pan. However, if not used correctly, they provide no benefit and can in fact be dangerous by releasing toxic fumes into your food. If you ever notice that your nonstick pan is beginning to show minor signs of wear, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Simply replace the coating on the pan with a new one from quality manufacturers such as DuPont.
There are some things that you can do to help prolong the life of your nonstick pans:
Understand the differences between nonstick pans and stainless steel cookware.
Nonstick coatings are designed to be effective in reducing cooking times, but they do not work very well at conducting heat. This means that if a nonstick pan gets too hot under a high flame or is allowed to sit on a burner for extended periods of time, it can release fumes that are toxic to humans. At high temperatures, the synthetic fluoropolymer coating breaks down and the black color of the pan darkens and begins to turn into a brownish-black tint as it reacts with air. This is known as thermal degradation or hot frying and is only observed when pans are used at excessive heat. It is best to avoid using high flames as often as possible to prevent this from happening.
Nonstick pans are not good for cooking foods that require high heat.
As mentioned before, nonstick pans are best for low-heat cooking. If you need to cook at higher temperatures or with more force than what one usually encounters when using a frying pan (for instance, when deep frying), it is best to use stainless steel pans. If you insist on using a nonstick pan under such circumstances, at least avoid letting the temperature get too high.
If you do not like having to deal with a greasy clean-up after frying food in your pan, try coating the surface of the pan in baking soda before using it.
If you are new to cooking and lack confidence, try using nonstick pans for easy recipes that do not require extended heating or high temperatures. The easier it is to cook with a pan, the less likely you will be to cause a problem in the kitchen. When you begin to gain more experience, feel free to experiment with other types of pans.
The most important indicator of a good nonstick pan is the coating itself. The more layers present in the coating, the better it will be at preventing food from sticking to it. Some coatings are only one layer thick; others might have four or five layers. No matter which type you decide on, there are some things that you should consider before making a purchase:
Nonstick Pans vs. other Cookware Materials
Nonstick pans have become such an integral part of every home cook’s kitchen that you may forget there are other options on the market. To truly understand the reasons why these pans are used so frequently we have to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of cookware.
Nonstick Teflon: Of all non-stick finishes available, Teflon was one of the first. Created by DuPont in 1938 it’s been a staple in every home kitchen for decades. Teflon is a polymer, similar to plastic or acrylic, which provides a non-stick surface during cooking. It’s one of the most durable finishes available and can last anywhere between 6-10 years if cared for properly.
Metallic/Dull Finishes: These types of pans are made of heavy gauge metals like stainless steel, copper, and cast iron. They tend to evenly distribute heat and aren’t prone to burning your food like nonstick pans are. When cared for properly they can last decades with no flaking or peeling of the finish. It’s also one of the most cost-effective options available out there on the market today, especially when you find a quality product.
Enamel/Ceramic: These pans are more similar to traditional cookware. Each piece is made of a thick, durable coating on the outside and an absorbent metallic core in the center. The inside of these pans is coated with ceramic rod lubricants that allow food to slide easily off the sides. They’re extremely durable but they aren’t nonstick and are prone to chipping. The biggest downside is that these pans tend to be cumbersome for home use.
Cast Iron: Like dull finish non-stick pans, cast iron can also be a great choice in the kitchen if you know how to use it properly. It’s one of the best heat conductors around so it’ll evenly cook your food. They’re also very durable and can last up to 50 years if cared for properly. If not treated correctly, however, these pans are prone to rust and flaking. It’s one of the heaviest options on the market so it may not be ideal for home use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all nonstick pans created equal?
In a word, no. Not all nonstick pans are created equal because not all nonstick coatings are the same. As mentioned above, it is important to find a pan with as many layers of this material as possible in order to get the most out of your purchase and to ensure that food will not stick.
How do I know if a nonstick pan is right for me?
The best way to know whether or not a nonstick pan is right for you is to evaluate your current cooking experience and decide how much time you want to spend in the kitchen. If you’re an experienced home cook and want a lighter-weight pan that can easily be taken from the stove to the oven, Teflon may be perfect for you. If you’re looking for more of an all-around type of pan that will even out your cooking experience then it’s usually best to look into cast iron or other steel types of pans.
What are the benefits of a nonstick pan?
The main benefit to using a nonstick pan is that it’s so easy to clean up. Food will slide off the side of these pans with very little effort, and if you do have some leftovers sticking to the sides all you need is a paper towel or sponge to get everything cleaned up. It’s also a good idea to use cooking sprays in conjunction with these types of pans so food doesn’t burn onto the finish and eventually wear it down over time.
What are my options for cleaning my nonstick pan?
The best way to clean a non-stick pan is to simply wash them by hand with warm water and dish soap. If you want to get food off the finish quickly, you can rub it with a paper towel or scour pad. Just be sure to never use steel wool or metal objects on the surface of non-stick pans as this will remove and damage the finish over time.
Why are nonstick pans bad for the environment?
Nonstick pans are bad for the environment because they have been shown to give off toxic fumes when heated. Teflon has also been known to leach into food at temperatures slightly above room temperature which can be harmful if consumed regularly by humans. Although most types of nonstick coatings have been improved over time, it’s still a good idea to read the fine print on your label and make sure that the pan you’re buying does not contain Teflon if you plan to use it at high temperatures.
Are nonstick pans eco-friendly?
Although there are some Teflon-free options out there on the market today, nonstick pans overall are not technically eco-friendly because they release toxic fumes when heated. Most nonstick pan manufacturers do say that their coatings are safe to use and will pass FDA standards, but it’s still a good idea to read the fine print on your label and make sure that the pan you’re buying does not contain Teflon if you plan to use it at high temperatures.
How do I know that my nonstick pan is not toxic?
If you are unsure whether or not your non-stick pan contains harmful materials then the best way to find out for sure is to check the product’s label. Most brands will post a complete list of all ingredients used to create these types of pans, so all you need to do is find the section on your pan that lists out all the facts about it. If there is a coating made of Teflon or some other type of chemical-based substance in your pan you may want to refrain from using this product until more information has been released.
Do nonstick pans scratch easily
Most nonstick pans are made from aluminum or some type of steel/aluminum combo. Aluminum is known for its lightweight and ability to evenly distribute heat over a surface, while the steel or metal mixture helps keep the pan’s finish intact for longer periods of time. Depending on how you take care of your nonstick pan, it should not scratch too easily.
What are the different types of nonstick pans?
There are a few different types of cookware on the market today that can be considered non-stick skillets and pots. A special type of coating is used to coat these surfaces which makes it near impossible to get food to stick to the surface during cooking. The nonstick finish is usually made from a type of Teflon or another type of synthetic material which can be harmful if heated up in excess, so it’s always best to read the label on your pan and find out exactly what kind of materials were used when manufacturing it.
what are non stick pans made of – Conclusion
Nonstick pans are a great option for families with children or people who do not like to stand over their cookware while preparing meals. These types of pans can also be easier on the environment because they do not require you to use as much oil or butter when cooking, however, it is important that these items are properly taken care of in order to prolong their lifespan.
There are some pans out there that have been known to scratch or chip easily, but it’s not a given and depends on your cooking style. When shopping for nonstick cookware, it’s always best to read the fine print on each label in order to find the type of pan that suits your needs while still being eco-friendly and safe to use at high temperatures.