Non-stick pans are great because you can cook as messy as you want to and all of that stuck-on mess in your pan washes out super easy when you’re finished. Your perfectly cooked food slides right off with no oil needed!
These have quickly become some of the most popular pans on the market because they offer a modicum of convenience and simplicity to our busy lives where we need it.
But what do you do when the non-stick pan coating starts coming off? The only solution to fixing non-stick pan coating coming off is to start seasoning your pan. There are also many ways to prevent the non-stick coating from coming off, such as avoiding metal utensils, cooking spray, and the dishwasher.
The problem with non-stick pans is that there is a lot of debate as to whether or not they are really safe to use. There is also a lot you should know about the coating on the pans and what to do if that coating starts to scratch.
In this guide, we will share with you all of the details that you need to know about that non-stick coating.
From discussing what might be causing it to peel, solutions for a coating that is coming off, and when to throw the pan away and replace it, we’ve got you covered.
What Makes a Non-Stick Coating Come Off?
There are many reasons that a non-stick coating might come off. It’s possible to scratch it by using the wrong utensils in it, it’s possible that it will start wearing over time, and it’s possible that your dishwasher could be harsh on it as well.
There are so many reasons that lead to non-stick coating coming off. We’re going to go over some of the most common reasons. Later in this guide, well share some solutions and tips as well.
Unfortunately, a non-stick coating is not perfect. It will eventually wear down over time, but there are also some things you can avoid that will help you to preserve the life of your non-stick pan.
Here are our tips for preventing your non-stick coating from coming off before its time.
1. High Heat
It seems like pans would be able to handle the heat, right? And they can, but when it comes to the non-stick coating itself, high heat is actually really tough on that coating.
This is the most common reason that a non-stick coating might start coming off, so absolutely something to be aware of.
Teflon is only considered safe up to 500°F. Beyond that temperature, it can be toxic. This is the standard set by the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency.
Typically, you probably aren’t reaching this temperature cooking on the stove, but it is possible for your pan to get super-heated, especially with high heat settings and extended cook times.
What happens is when you cook at high heat on a regular basis, this could wear on the pan. Over time, it will break down the non-stick coating and even potentially cause harmful toxins to release from the coating.
If the coating starts to erode or come off from high-heat cooking, it might not be safe to continue using as-is.
There is no danger in the fumes, just a potential risk from the coating if it is peeling, as the toxins in the coating could potentially leech into your food.
2. Unseasoned Skillet
You’ve heard of seasoning a skillet, we’re sure. A lot of people think that only materials like cast iron need to be seasoned, but this isn’t entirely true.
When you get your non-stick pan (or pans), you should look into how to season them properly.
Seasoning the non-stick pan protects the coating and generally makes it last quite a bit longer. You will also need to re-season the pan at intervals throughout the life of the pan, although it doesn’t have to be weekly, or even monthly.
Season your pan before you use it and then season it at regular intervals as well. There are plenty of instructional sources out there that will walk you through the seasoning process for a non-stick pan.
It’s a very similar process to seasoning cast iron.
3. Cooking Spray
You want to know what you should definitely avoid? Using non-stick spray on a non-stick pan. Some people think it’s olive oil ruining non-stick pans, but that’s actually not true.
People use cooking spray all the time on these pans, but the non-stick pan is already designed to be, well, non-stick! Adding that cooking spray you use all of the time is a waste of spray and can be hard on your pan.
The problem is that when you use non-stick spray on a non-stick pan, that stuff actually builds up on the coating. It sticks to the surface and doesn’t come off when you’re cooking or cleaning with the pan.
If you’ve ever done this and then noticed a sticky residue afterward, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. Of course, you might be able to scrape it or scrub it off, but you’re going to wear down the coating or possibly even scratch it.
A lot of non-stick pans are labeled as dishwasher-safe, but can we let you in on a secret? They aren’t really made for the dishwasher.
Sure, you might be able to use the dishwasher for a while and never have issues, but eventually, you will notice a difference in quality.
Non-stick pans are typically easy to clean and wash. Even though we all prefer the dishwasher, you might need to just take one for the team and go ahead and wash your expensive non-stick cookware by hand.
The problem with the dishwasher is the intensive high heat used during the cycles. The detergent, coupled with the extreme heat, can be very hard on that coating and eventually cause damage.
You probably won’t notice it right away, but it’s a breakdown that will happen over time.
5. Cooking Utensils
Did we just catch you using a metal utensil in your non-stick pan? That’s a definite no-no!
Sometimes we don’t even think about it. We grab our favorite serving spoon or spatula without considering the damage we’re about to cause, and it’s the poor innocent pan that suffers.
Metal spoons, spatulas, knives, and forks are all common culprits. All of these and any other metal material should never come into contact with a non-stick pan surface.
These will easily scratch the non-stick coating and leave your pan scarred. Your non-stick coating will be split or scratched and can start peeling off.
Sometimes it’s too subtle to notice, until all of a sudden our food seems to be desperately clinging to the pan for dear life.
We recommend wooden or silicone utensils with a non-stick pan, but you can use other materials if they are gentle enough. Never use something solid like metal or steel, as these are very hard on your non-stick surface.
6. Acidic Foods
Finally, there are some foods that can also be hard on your non-stick pans.
Most likely, this will never be the true cause of your non-stick coating coming off because it takes a lot of this particular use to cause harm. But it is possible, so we felt it was important to share.
Foods that have a lot of acid like pickles, tomatoes, wine, vinegar, lemon, and more, can be corrosive.
Non-stick pans can be damaged by the acid in these foods if they are used frequently for cooking or used all of the time without other less-acidic ingredients in between uses.
The use of acidic foods is more likely to cause the non-stick coating to blister, which can lead to it peeling or coming off.
Solutions for Non-Stick Pan Coating Coming Off
Thankfully, all is not lost right away. You can do things to help reduce the likelihood of pan coatings coming off and potentially even prevent it.
There are even some things you might be able to do even when the damage has already begun.
Keep in mind that there might be a point in time where you actually have to toss the pan, as there is nothing left you can do.
Just because you have a little scratch or you’re noticing some change in the coating doesn’t automatically make it bad. There are some solutions and best practices.
First of all, refer to the items above that cause your non-stick coating to potentially come off and refrain from them. Here is a recap for you.
- Avoid metal or rough utensils that might scratch the surface
- Don’t use high heat for extended periods or too often
- Avoid using the dishwasher
- Season your pans regularly
- Don’t cook acidic foods too often
- Don’t use non-stick cooking spray
Before we move on to the solution, we should talk about something important. Some sources online claim that you can use Teflon sprays to repair your pans, but these sprays are made for industrial use. They are flammable and toxic.
The only real solution to keeping your pans non-stick is to season them.
Seasoning Your Non-Stick Pans
This is a preventative measure and so many people don’t even consider this option for a non-stick pan.
However, it just might save your pan and keep it lasting much longer for you. If your pan is seasoned regularly, you are less likely to experiences stains, scratches, and non-stick coating coming off.
You can’t season it just once. You’ll have to do this on a routine for it to really be effective. Even if you just season your pan a couple of times a year, this action will do a lot to stop non-stick coating from coming off.
If your coating is already starting to show signs of wear, this might not do much to help you. It’s more of a proactive approach.
You can use your choice of oil for the seasoning process and there are plenty of tutorials out there that show you simple methods for seasoning pans like this.
Season your whole set and not just your skillet. This process works by using oil combined with extreme heat for a short period of time to form a protective layer of the pan’s surface.
It’s most common for cast iron pans or woks of any material but it is effective for non-stick pans as well.
Don’t just season it once and think you’re good to go. Season it and then re-season it on some sort of routine and schedule. Seasoning is simple and doesn’t cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Trust us, it will be worth it.
When to Throw a Non-Stick Pan Away
Try as you may, there will come a time that you absolutely will have to toss that pan and replace it. If you waited too long to try to find a solution, now is that time.
If the coating is noticeably flaking or peeling, you should replace the pan. The coating could flake or peel into your food and while you may never get sick, there is the possibility that you will ingest toxic compounds from it because of this.
Here are some signs that it’s time to replace your non-stick pan:
- The coating is flaking
- The pan has become warped
- The pan has extreme discoloration
- Major scratches in the surface
- Non-stick coating is peeling off
While there are things you can do to help your non-stick pan and even bring it back from minor incidences, it’s far better to be proactive and do things to reduce the likelihood of your non-stick coating coming off in the first place.
Once it gets to the point where it is flaking or peeling, you need to replace the pan and stop using it. Treat yourself to a new one!
We hope that you found this guide to be a helpful resource for knowing just how to handle and maybe prevent your non-stick coating from coming off of your pans.
Knowing the reasons and the things you can do to help might just make the difference between life or death for your pan.
We invite you to review our question and answer section below for some additional information.
Is It Safe to Use a Peeling Non-Stick Pan?
No, it really isn’t safe. Unfortunately, that coating can be toxic when it is not intact. If it is peeling or flaking, you run the risk of it getting into your food and being ingested.
Can You Re-Coat a Non-Stick Pan?
Yes, you sure can! Try just seasoning the pan if it is not too far gone. This works wonders for a pan and may even help cover up stains and scratches.