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Non-stick pans have become extremely popular for their excellent, easy-to-use properties. They’re a breeze to clean and can cook delicate dishes without getting any food burnt to the surface. But they do not last forever and eventually need to be replaced.

How do you tell if a non-stick pan is ruined, you ask? Kitchenways has the answer and has put together this guide to help you determine if you can extend the life of your pan for longer or if it’s time to invest in another. Keep reading to find out when to throw away non-stick pans.

How Long Do Non-Stick Pans Last?

On average, non-stick pans last for about five years. By this point, their Teflon surface has undergone some damage, or the metal has warped, and it will no longer work optimally. Non-stick pans are generally known not to last as long as their stainless steel or cast iron counterparts and need to be replaced more regularly.

How To Tell If A Non-Stick Pan Is Ruined

The Teflon coating of a non-stick pan is what gives it its non-stick properties. This smooth, almost frictionless surface makes it both easy to cook delicate dishes like eggs and soft fish, and easy to clean. However, the Teflon coating does not last forever and can be damaged by high temperatures, metal or sharp utensils, or even an abrasive sponge.

So they can be ruined rather easily. Here are the clear signs that it is time to replace your Teflon non-stick pan:

  1. The non-stick coating is coming off
  2. There are significant scratches on the surface and food is sticking in the scratches
  3. The pan is warped, and the cooking surface is now uneven
  4. There’s a dark discolouration from food build-up

Should You Throw Away Nonstick Pans When It Starts To Flake Off?

Unfortunately, yes. When the Teflon coating starts to flake off, food will start to stick to the surface of the pan, likely burning parts of your meal and making it difficult to clean. In addition to this, when a pan starts to flake, these Teflon flakes will end up in your food, which is potentially hazardous for your health. So when you notice the non-stick coating coming off, it is time to throw away your non-stick pan.

How Can I Extend The Life Of My Non-Stick Pan?

While non-stick pans aren’t made to last forever, some extra care will help extend their use. Follow these tips to keep your pan scratch-free and functional for years to come:

  • Use silicone or wooden utensils when cooking with the pan
  • Wash your non-stick cookware with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth
  • Don’t wash your non-stick pans or pots in the dishwasher, as the high heat and harsh detergents can damage their surface
  • Do not use the pan on high heat to sear or boil foods, as non-stick cookware cannot handle high temperatures
  • When packing the pan away, take care not to stack other utensils on top of it, which can potentially scratch its surface
  • Do not use cooking sprays, as they can cause a greasy build-up
  • Avoid cooking acidic foods, such as tomato or wine-based sauces, as these can also damage the Teflon coating

Can I Repair My Non-Stick Pan?

Luckily, not every damaged non-stick pan is ready for the bin. While a proper repair is not possible, there are ways that you can still utilise an imperfect pan.

If your pan has a few scratches, simply add a little extra oil when cooking to “fill in” the scratches. This will stop food from sticking to the surface, making it perfectly usable.

If your pan has a dark discolouration from food buildup, read our blog on how to clean your pan correctly, and give it a deep clean. You will likely be able to dislodge the dirt and clean it completely, making the pan usable again. Once it is properly cleaned, follow our normal cleaning tips, and you will extend the life of your pan drastically.

Lastly, you can season your pan with vegetable or coconut oil. This is a method of baking oil into the pan to revive its non-stick properties. In order to do this, follow these six steps:

  1. Heat the pan on medium heat for 3 minutes
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut or vegetable oil to the pan
  3. Swirl the oil to coat the entire surface of the pan
  4. Heat the oil until it starts to smoke
  5. Let the pan cool completely
  6. Rub the oil into the pan with a paper towel to get into all the pores and scratches

Do You Need A New Non-Stick Pan?

If, after reading this blog, you still feel like there is no hope for your pan, browse our range of non-stick cookware here. We have a broad range of high-quality cookware and kitchen utensils, perfect for any avid cook.