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When To Throw Away Nonstick Pans

It’s important to know when to throw away nonstick pans.

Several Failure Modes for Nonstick Pans

Your Pan is Warped

Pans warp for two main reasons

  • Overheating
  • Sudden Cooling

Most nonstick pans cannot be used on high heat for very long without introducing the risk of warping. This is especially true if the pan is empty; having some oil or food in the pan helps the pan to resist overheating.

In addition to that, sudden cooling can be a problem. Even if you were not cooking on high heat, if you cool a hot skillet under cold water you are risking warping.

In either case, warping occurs when different areas of your pan expand and contract at different rates.

A warped pan does not pose any sort of safety hazard. However, it will not be on your burner evenly, so it won’t heat evenly, so your food won’t cook evenly.

Also, a warped pan can wobble on your burner during cooking.

The most serious consequence of a warped nonstick pan is that warping may contribute to your nonstick surface not sticking very well to the pan. The nonstick surface may start to become detached or may flake off.

When to Throw Away Nonstick Pans
Badly scratched nonstick pan

Your Nonstick Pan is Scratched

Traditional nonstick pans have fragile surfaces. You should never use metal utensils on them, including forks, and you have to be very careful with how you handle and store them.

No matter how careful you are, you will end up with minor scratches on your nonstick cookware. These scratches are not a major issue.

If you have scratches that food sticks to, that means you have scratched down to the bare metal. Once food sticks to your nonstick skillet, its time to throw it away.

To avoid having scratched nonstick pans, consider owning metal utensil safe nonstick cookware from Scanpan.

When to Throw Away Nonstick Pans
When to Throw Away Nonstick Pans

Your Nonstick Pan has Discoloration

Sometimes discoloration is just the built-up food stains that accumulates with time.

On an older nonstick pan, discoloration likely means that your nonstick coating is no longer effective and is degrading quickly. Food will begin to stick more easily to your pan, and you are at risk of some of the nonstick coating peeling off.

Once serious discoloration begins, you know its time for a new nonstick pan.

We strongly recommend Scanpan.

Your Nonstick Coating is Flaking Off

If any of your nonstick coating is flaking off, it is time to throw your pan away.

There is no way to repair your pan, food is going to stick where the coating is missing, and, most importantly, the flaking is going to quickly get worse.

Food Sticks to your Pan

Food may begin to stick to your nonstick pan for no obvious reason.

You don’t see any deep scratches.

You don’t see any discoloration.

Your nonstick coating is not flaking off.

But food is sticking to your nonstick pan.

Your nonstick coating is just worn out. It’s not going to improve over time, cleaning it won’t help. You need to throw your nonstick pan away and buy a new one.

If you are looking for a non stick pan to better resist high heat, check out this article here.


Now you know when to throw away nonstick pans!

  • Your pan is warped
  • Your nonstick pan is badly scratched
  • Your nonstick pan has discoloration
  • Your nonstick coating is flaking off
  • Food sticks to your pan

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