How Nonstick Cookware Functions

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Maintaining Nonstick Cookware

Using a metal fork on nonstick pans can cause them to look like the one in this image.
© ­iStockphoto/Marek Uliasz

There are various types of nonstick cookware available in the market today, with varying coatings, layers, and thickness of the metal base, all of which determine the durability and longevity of the cookware. Pans with more coatings and heavier weight are likely to be more expensive [source: Cookware Manufacturers Association]. Regardless of the type chosen, nonstick surfaces, whether it’s made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or another fluoropolymer, should be handled with care to preserve the coating of the cookware.

William Raiford of DuPont says that most nonstick cookware coatings are expected to last between three to five years with normal use. The frequency of the pan’s use, the type of cooking done with the pan, and the utensils used with the pan can all affect the lifespan of nonstick cookware.

While nonstick cookware does not require rigorous scrubbing, it can be cleaned with warm soapy water. However, harsh abrasives and rough cleaning pads should be avoided.

Utensils made of wood, plastic, or coated materials are the best options for preventing scuffs and scratches on the nonstick surface of a pan. It’s also a good practice to store the pan in a place where it won’t get scratched [source: DuPont].

One of the major advantages of nonstick cookware is that it allows you to cook with less oil. However, this does not imply that you can’t use butter or oil in your cooking. It’s not recommended to use a lot of nonstick spray as it can eventually leave a residue that can affect the nonstick surface’s performance [source: T-fal].

By following some simple tips regarding use and cleaning, you can maintain your nonstick cookware’s longevity. First, set your stove to low or medium heat. Ensure that the pan does not exceed temperatures of 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (204 to 260 degrees Celsius). Heating an empty pan can cause it to reach very high temperatures quickly. This recommendation is as much about safety as it is about maintaining your pans – we’ll explore this further on the next page.

Popular Nonstick Cookware Brands

  • All-Clad
  • Anolon
  • Calphalon
  • Circulon
  • Cuisinart
  • Farberware
  • T-fal ­

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1. What is nonstick cookware?

Nonstick cookware is a type of cookware that has a nonstick coating on its surface. This coating is usually made of a material called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. The nonstick surface allows food to slide off easily, making cooking and clean-up much easier.

2. How does nonstick cookware work?

The nonstick coating on the surface of the cookware creates a barrier between the food and the metal, preventing the food from sticking. The coating is made up of tiny particles that create a very smooth surface. This smooth surface allows the food to slide off easily without sticking to the pan.

3. Is nonstick cookware safe to use?

Nonstick cookware is generally safe to use, as long as it is used properly. The nonstick coating can release toxic fumes if it is heated to a very high temperature, so it is important to use the cookware at the correct temperature. It is also important to avoid using metal utensils on the surface of the cookware, as this can scratch the nonstick coating and cause it to flake off.

4. How do you clean nonstick cookware?

Nonstick cookware should be cleaned with a soft sponge or cloth and mild soap. Harsh abrasives or metal scrubbers should be avoided, as they can scratch the nonstick coating. If the surface of the cookware becomes stained, it can be cleaned with a mixture of baking soda and water.

5. How long does nonstick cookware last?

The lifespan of nonstick cookware depends on how often it is used and how well it is cared for. With proper care, a high-quality nonstick pan can last for several years. However, the nonstick coating will eventually wear off over time, and the pan will need to be replaced.

6. Can nonstick cookware be used on an induction cooktop?

Most nonstick cookware is not compatible with induction cooktops, as the surface of the pan needs to be magnetic in order to work with induction technology. However, some manufacturers make nonstick cookware that is specifically designed to work with induction cooktops.

7. Can nonstick cookware be used in the oven?

Most nonstick cookware is oven-safe up to a certain temperature, which is usually indicated on the packaging. However, it is important to note that the nonstick coating can be damaged by exposure to high heat, so it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for oven use.

8. How much does nonstick cookware cost?

The cost of nonstick cookware varies depending on the quality of the product and the brand. A basic nonstick pan can cost as little as $10, while a high-end nonstick set can cost several hundred dollars.

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