If you are considering using non-stick cookware, there are some things to look for and some things to avoid.
Some people refer to all non-stick products as “Teflon.” That is a brand name. You might be familiar with questions arising about the safety of the product.
The chemicals in question with some non-stick pans are PTFE and PFOA. (I considered going into the science of these chemicals, but I worried I’d bore you.)
These chemicals are used in most non-sticks, including ceramic titanium and diamond non-stick. PTFE is generally recognized as not cancer-causing but studies have not reach a consensus with PFOA. (More about PTFE and PFOA in the “care and use” section.)
If you want to avoid these all together, you can choose a ceramic non-stick pan. These are usually clearly labeled with statements like “PTFE and PFOA Free” or “Safe Non-stick.”
Care and use
The early release of Teflon, or non-stick, pans are very different than the non-stick of today. Originally, the coating was applied to a pan and sent directly to the consumer.
Once heat was applied to the pan, fumes were released into people’s homes and chemicals were potentially leaching into people’s food.
The key to a thoroughly safe non-stick pan is not overheating it.
Nowadays, quality non-stick pans are typically baked before being sent to the consumer. The key to a thoroughly safe non-stick pan is not overheating it, or reaching that pre-consumer baking temperature. Consult your pan’s instruction manual, or just stay under 7/10 on your stove.
Another safety no-no is gouging. Don’t ever use a knife on a non-stick surface. Also, don’t use steel wool when cleaning. Check out my post on cleaning tools for some non-stick cleaning tool suggestions.
Remember, if a tag says “Dishwasher Safe” it doesn’t mean dishwasher proof. The same goes for “Metal Utensil Safe.” Hand-wash and use non-stick safe materials whenever possible.
Remember the ceramic pans that boast being PTFE and PFOA free? Well, there’s a downside.
These pans tend to be more fragile than other non-sticks. Some people use them for years and they work great, but they probably take good care of them.
Now, I recommend this for storing all non-sticks but this is especially important with ceramic pans: use a buffer when stacking. When you place a metal pot on top of a non-stick, you could chip or scratch it. There are cookware storage pads available for purchase, but you can also use an old tea towel or cloth napkin to protect the non-stick surface.
I’ve used all sorts of non-stick materials in my kitchen and I find the diamond coated ones to be the most durable. These pans use a layer of real diamonds as an added layer of durability. (Don’t worry, they are factory-made diamonds, not mined.) If you look at the picture, you can almost see them sparkling.
Where it’s made
Different countries have different production standards. Go for a non-stick that’s made in Europe, Canada or the U.S.
Cost and quality
You’re probably not going to like this, but you get what you pay for. Be wary of the safety of a non-stick frying pan at a dollar store that has no label, and only costs $3.
Always clean thoroughly. Residual oils can fuse to you pan when heat is applied. If it builds up, your pan will become sticky.
Never use cooking sprays. The chemicals can eat away at the non-stick.
Avoid dishwashing and metal utensils.
If a pan is gouged, throw it away.
Always read the care and use manual for your pan.