I recently ruined the Cuisinart nonstick frying pan my wife bought 15 years ago by using it like an iron skillet and just adding oil without cleaning it after each use. I tried oven cleaner to get the gunk out (a no no for nonstick) and after scrubbing it just removed the non-stick coating in the middle.
There is also the health concerns of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) (e.g. teflon) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is used to bond the coating to the pan.
I looked for reviews of cookware and consumer reports liked the EarthPan using SandFLow nonstick technology. It's sand based; Does that mean silicone?
Environmental benefits of SandFlow technology also include the radical reduction of greenhouse gasses during cookware production. They didn't say how.
However, several of my web searches found forums where users complained the non-stick properties of EarthPan wore out in several months.
There's the issue that food doesn't brown as well in a nonstick pan.
You serious cooks probably need several frying pans one for eggs and stirfry and another for browning. But that's beyond my expertise.
Cooking pros in the forums seemed to like All-Clad and Calphalon.
Celphalon keeps changing their technology:
2004 - Calphalon One Infused Anodized Aluminum
2007 - CS nonstick - tri-ply stainless steel with a nonstick surface
2009 - Unison Slide Nonstick and Sear Nonstick Anodized Aluminum
I was in Target for something else and saw a KitchenAid aluminum nonstick (Heavy gauge commercial style; reinforced nonstick system) on sale. It was the heaviest aluminum frying pan I've seen and figured heavy is good (in cookware not in running shoes) so got it. KitchenAid wasn't listed in CR's non-stick category but got a good rating in their regular pan review. It was $25
It had a "hard base" ceramic nonstick system. Hard base and ceramic sounds pretty safe. Cool! What is that?
I just spent 45 min. on the phone with various KitchenAid 800 numbers trying to find out what "hard base" ceramic was (It's not on their web page, and the coating looked like teflon (PTFE). I was surprised to finally get thru to someone who could answer. It is:
1. A "Hard base" primer - ceramic particles of mean diameter less than 4 µm
2. Ceramic layer
3. Whitford Eclipse nonstick layer
Whitford is a company that produces nonstick coating for a variety of companies including Cuisinart. Eclipse appeared to be their best coating, but was in fact "rich in fluoropolymers". Not a problem as long as you don't overheat or have your canary in the kitchen.
This pan will scratch glass top ranges.
See: Eclipse for Cookware - Housewares Coating Guide - Whitford Worldwide
and Coating World Article
I'm not pushing KitchenAid. All-Clad and Calphalon are probably better, but it's like iPhone vs Android (Google software used in many smart phones) vs Blackberry. Who knows?
I don't think PTFE is going to hurt you unless you cook like I do and leave the pan on the stove while you read your email.
Material - Health - Safety:
- Non-stick coatings used in the cookware industry are typically made from either a silicone base or a fluorocarbon, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) base. DuPont Teflon® is a type of PTFE.
Newer models have coatings with proprietary composition such as sandflow, Unison, "hard-base ceramic", Quantanium, ..., which may or may not be PTFE or silicone.
Like other consumer products from mobile phone to running shoes they introduce new models with state-of-the art features so fast that organizations like Consumer Reports or user comment forums on the web can't keep up.
- Fluorocarbons have a serious drawback if accidentally overheated, the fumes will kill household birds. Probably not too good for us humans (especially if someone has asthma or other breathing problems), or other pets.
Over the past 40 years, there have been only a few reported accounts of polymer fume fever, a minor health effect with reversible flu-like symptoms, as a result of severely overheating non-stick cookware.
- In early 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked eight American companies, to work towards the elimination of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) -- which they labeled a likely carcinogen--by 2015. PFOA also known as C-8 is a chemical used to bond the nonstick coating to the pan.
- A 2005 forum entry said, "I must say never found a none stick yet that stayed none stick very long."
- Cookware should never be overheated.
- Low or medium heat is recommended for cookware with Teflon(R) non-stick coatings. The coatings are completely safe for normal kitchen use, including baking or frying, and have a recommended maximum use temperature of 500°F (260°C).
- Empty cookware should not be left on a hot stove or in a hot oven.
- To enjoy optimum performance from your Calphalon cookware, keep it scrupulously clean. Any kind of oily residue on your pan can cause foods to stick.
- With nonstick cookware, the cooking surface doesn't determine the amount of fats you use to cook. You can use very little or no added oils at all. Or you can use as much butter or oil as you like. You decide, that's the beauty of nonstick.
- So, use oils or fats for added crispness, color, or flavor, if you like. For a golden color and crisp texture with hash browns, pancakes, and sautéed meats, apply a thin coating of butter or margarine. You may also wipe a thin film of olive or vegetable over the cooking surface.
- DO NOT use metal utensils or sharp instruments on pans with non-stick coatings.
- When sauteing, stir-frying or frying, always preheat the pan at the temperature setting you'll use to cook. Preheating provides maximum control for the cooking process. The pan is properly preheated when the rim is hot-to-the-touch.
- Heat the pan over medium to medium-high heat. When the rim of the pan is hot-to-the-touch, rub a teaspoon of butter over the inside of the pan. When the butter begins to bubble briskly (it should not brown), it's ready for the ingredients. If the butter begins to burn and turn brown, the heat setting is too high.
- They also said not to move the food around but wait until it starts to brown since this will free it from the pan.
- Do not use PAM, the silicone propellant that is coming out of the can as well that bonds to the nonstick and insulates it.
- We Only fry in light coat of olive oil and only use real butter. Veggie oil, sprays and margarine will ruin non stick coatings over time.
- A 2007 forum comment says, "You only use non-stick pans for a very small number of things like stirfry and cooking eggs. For most everything else you're going to use a "stick" pan."
- Pans with a stainless exterior and nonstick interior can go into the dishwasher. However, hand washing is recommended.
- Do not use abrasive cleansers or cleaning pads, oven cleaners or other caustic cleaning solutions, baking soda, automatic dishwasher detergent.
Types of Cookware:
Nonstick pans are best for simple cleanup. They need less oil for cooking, which eliminates some fat from your diet. But they're more easily scratched than uncoated cookware, so avoid using metal utensils. Also, food doesn't brown as well in a nonstick pan.
- Traditional Nonstick e.g. Tefalon/PTFE
This popular cooking surface is ideal for low-fat and non-fat cooking. Its nonstick surface makes clean-up easy. Oven safe.
- Anodized Aluminum and Infused Anodized Aluminum are also considered nonstick.
Anodized aluminum and infused anodized aluminum are two traditional surfaces that sear perfectly, release with ease and deglaze beautifully.
The coating doesn't actually sit on top of the surface at all; rather it fills microscopic pits in an extremely hard and scratchproof metal surface.
Hard-anodized aluminum is plain aluminum that has been processed in a series of chemical baths charged with an electric current. The result is a material that has the same superior heat conductivity as aluminum but is non-reactive with acidic foods, such as tomatoes, and twice as hard as stainless steel. Two drawbacks to hard-anodized cookware are that it is not dishwasher-safe and, because it is not magnetic, it will not work with induction range tops.
Oven and broiler safe.
Infused anodized cookware provides a smooth metal surface that is stick-resistant. Interior and exterior surfaces are infused with an advanced release polymer.
Calphalon one and Unison are a type of infused anodized aluminum
Surfaces of the pan are coated with a near impervious and nonstick coating created principally from sand. No PTFE or PFOA. Can be heatd to 650°
- Stainless Steel
As one of the traditional cooking surfaces, stainless steel provides a reflective cooking surface that is perfect for searing and deglazing. Oven, broiler and dishwasher safe.
- Cast Iron
- Enameled Cast Iron
All-Clad Stainless, copper and Aluminum.
FAQs - All-Clad - Contact
2004 - Calphalon One Infused Anodized Aluminum
2007 - CS nonstick - tri-ply stainless steel with a nonstick surface
2009 - Unison™ Slide Nonstick and Sear Nonstick Anodized Aluminum
EarthPan Anodized Aluminum with SandFlow&trade nonstick-
+61 3 9761 5655 (Australia) -
KitchenAide - Aluminum, Stainless and cast iron. 888 801-1707
Their "Hard base" ceramic nonstick system is three layers: (1). "Hard base"primer with ceramic particles in the range of 0.1 µm to 1.0 µm; (2). Ceramic layer with particles of mean diameter less than 4 µm; (3). Whitford Eclipse nonstick layer rich in fluoropolymers.
Cuisinart - Stainless with Quantanium® nonstick interior.
Whitford makes many of the nonstick coatings used by other companies.
Consumer Reports Review - Sample of a few in the top half.
Non-stick cookware Even Non-stick Ease of
Brand - Model Cooking durability cleaning
EarthPan With Sand Flow (Anodized Al) 4 4 5 *
Calphalon One Infused Anodized 4 4 3
Calphalon Kitchen Essentials 4 4 4
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Non-Stick 66-7 5 1 5
T-Fal Encore Hard Enamel 4 1 5
EarthPan Hard Anodized 4 4 5
StarFit Alternative Eco Pan 4 4 5
* There have been negative comments about EarthPan with things starting to stick in the first month or two.
See: Consumer Reports Review for more.
Best Non-Stick Frying Pan Reviews
Some 10 inch pans I have used:
Brand Weight (lb-oz)
KitchenAid Alum non-stick Whitford Eclipse 2-9
Farberware Alum non-stick Dupont Teflon Plus 2-5
Cuisnart stainless 2-2
Guidelines for use:
See How to Care for Nonstick Cookware - Caring for Non-Stick Cookware & Bakeware | About.com
- To ensure nonstick performance from the start, it has been standard practice to "season" or "condition" the pan by lightly coating the surface with any type of cooking oil, baking it, and wiping it clean; however, at least one maker, Calphalon, says this one-time seasoning is not necessary for nonstick cookware.
Others say to just heat the pan over low heat, rub the surface with vegetable oil and allow the pan to cool, then wipe out as much of the oil as possible with a paper towel.
- Nonstick cookware shouldn't be used over very high heat. We always thought this was simply a safety precaution to avoid heating Teflon to the point of releasing toxic chemicals. But it's more because high cooking temperatures can crack the Teflon coating and also don't cook the food as well.
- Keep your nonstick cookware clean for consistent, quality performance. Any food residue or leftover grease will cook into the surface and carbonize, causing food to stick. That cooked-on residue is hard to see and even more difficult to remove, so wash carefully and thoroughly every time.
It's essential to let the cookware cool completely before washing; immersing a hot pan in cooler water could permanently warp and ruin it. Though it's tempting to load the pans into the dishwasher, resist the convenience and always wash nonstick cookware by hand with hot, soapy water using only a dish detergent made for hand washing. The high heat of a standard home dishwasher can not only ruin nonstick surfaces but also void the warranty.
You can scrub off stubborn messes with some elbow grease and a washcloth, sponge, nylon scrubber or nylon net-wrapped sponge such as a Dobie pad.
and No Nonsense: How to Avoid Ruining Your Nonstick Pans The New York Times | The Kitchn
What Should I Consider When Buying a Frying Pan? | WiseGeek.com
Thread: Please recommend a good frying pan for steak. (page 1)
Calphalon One not-Nonstick vs. All-clad Stainless? - ChefTalk.com Community
Non Stick Coatings at MissVickie.com
Your Cookware Helper - Cookware Materials
DuPont Teflon : Safety of Non-stick Cookware : FAQs
Excalibur Coatings: Whitford Fluoropolymer Metal Related Nonstick Coatings by Plas-Tech Inc.
Calphalon - Use & Care
Howstuffworks "How Nonstick Cookware Works"
Nonstick Cookware Safety Concerns - Nonstick Coatings and PFOA
Cleaning - Other
How Do I Clean the Bottoms of My Pots? Good Questions | The Kitchn
How to Care for Nonstick Cookware - Caring for Non-Stick Cookware & Bakeware
Calphalon - They may be poisoning birds, but they recycle - Comments at Elisa's Green Scene - 2009
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last updated 25 Nov 2010