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Frying Pan Q&A

... your questions answered. A blog by Claire - The Frying Pan

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How does "nonstick" stick to pans?

Posting date: 22nd November 2007 14:43

Q Why do non-stick coatings stick to the pan if they are non-stick?

A We are pleased to say that Radio Essex asked us to answer this their burning question of the day in their Lunchtiime Show on 22/11/2007.

Claire Hodgson's answer live can be found on the BBC Radio Essex , just for today.

But here is a fuller explanation

Q1 - Why does the non stick, stick to the pan if it is non stick?

Very good question! Obviously it is a very slippery material and the bonding is difficult to do.

The bonding is dependent on how the non stick coating is applied. Different companies have different trade marked technologies.

It works best if you have several non-stick layers, applied with specialist coating application methods - at least 3 good layers:

  • base layer, designed to bond to the base of the pan
  • mid layer
  • top layer primarily for the cooking surface being non stick

But the material used for the pan is also important - certain materials bond with non stick better than others.

Q2 - What is the difference with different pans?

Basically, you get what you pay for!

A cheap pan will have one or two non-stick layers and a cheap pan base. It might work just as well first time, but the non stick is going to peel and crack quickly.

Better quality non stick pans have

  • 1. different and thicker non stick layers
  • 2. good quality pan bases
    • thick gauge cast aluminium pan for example, will take coatings better than a thin aluminium pan base
    • thick gauge bases also spread the heat better, stop heat spots or over heating of certain spots of the pan, protecting your non stick
  • 3. a good coating application method

Different manufactuers have come up with different solutions.

Q3 - What materials are used?

In traditional non stick, a compound called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is used. Probably the best known brand of this type of non stick is Teflon.

Then different materials are used in different pan bases. For example, cast aluminium pans can have a titanium layer because titanium bonds very well with the non stick layer

Swiss Diamond has real diamond crystal layer infused with the non stick material which they say is 25% better than the titanium solution. It has the traditional non stick but say that because of the process used the harmful part of PTFE is not present in the pan

PTFE is not harmful if ingested as a hard substance but can be harmful if it becomes a gas at over 235 degrees centigrade.

Calphalon One Hard anodised pans are made from cast aluminium infused with oxygen and a polymer penetrates the pores of the pan to make it stick resistant rather than non stick but very durable. It has the traditional non stick in it.

Gastrolux pans have a Biotan surface which is a mixture of titanium and ceramic. This is completely non stick and PTFE free.

In 2005 the US Environmental Protection Agency found that the chemical compound, PTFE used to make this traditional non stick was a "likely carcinogen if heated at very high temperatures (over approx 235 degrees centigrade)

Q4 - How much does the way you cook affect the non stick?

Heat your pan up slowly - this will protect the non stick

Don?t preheat an empty pan for more than a a couple of minutes

Don?t over heat your pan

Q5 - What advice do you have to increase the life expectancy of a non stick pan?

Before first use, make sure thorougly clean and then wipe with a slight coating of oil.

Don?t over heat - don?t heat over 235 degrees centigrade.

Don?t use metal implements

Don?t cut or chop the food when in the pan

Don?t leave unattended on a heat - especially if have no oil or fats in

Handwash - caustic detergents can degrade the non stick over time

Don?t use abrasive scourers just warm, soapy water and a soft cloth/sponge.

Clean thoroughly after every use - don?t want a build up of oils to reduce the effectiveness of your non stick

Storage - make sure sharp utensils, lids etc wont damage the surface

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