Once you start using your nonstick pan regularly, it’s only natural that it will begin to show signs of wear and tear. And as anyone who owns a nonstick pan knows, that usually means the surface will get scratched sooner rather than later. You might not think this is such a big deal. After all, scratches are almost inevitable with regular use anyway.
And unless you’re keeping track of how many times you can flip an egg with one of those nylon-tipped spatulas or how many pancakes you can cook at once before the bottoms get too brown, which we both know you’re not doing, you probably don’t even know when they happen. And while they may not seem like the end of the world, those little nicks and cuts actually have a pretty significant impact on how safe your pan will be for cooking.
If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s still safe to continue using your scratched nonstick pan, read ahead to find out more!
What Happens When a Nonstick Pan Gets Scratched?
When a nonstick pan is new, the coating is very tightly applied and has a smooth texture. As soon as it gets even the most minor scratch, though, that coating is compromised, and it starts to flake off.
The problem is that there is no way to completely remove that nonstick coating. It’s not like you can take sandpaper to it and scrub it off. So the only way to get rid of any damage is to scrape it off.
But, as you know, scratches happen. And if you aren’t careful to avoid scratching the nonstick surface, you’re going to damage it. And if you damage the nonstick surface enough, it can flake off completely and expose your pan to the high temperatures that are required to cook on it in the first place.
Is It Safe to Cook with a Scratched Nonstick Pan?
As we’ve covered above, scratching your nonstick pan weakens the surface and could make it more susceptible to flaking off completely. So it’s pretty easy to see why it’s not safe to keep cooking with a scratched nonstick pan.
But what if only a few small scratches are present? Or even just a single, small scratch? Is it still safe to keep using your pan?
Well, that depends on a few different factors. If your pan has a single scratch but is otherwise in great condition, you may be able to get away with continuing to use it.
However, if your pan is already in pretty bad shape and has many scratches, it’s probably best to get a new one. And even if you only have one small scratch, it’s still a good idea to replace your nonstick pan sooner rather than later.
How to Tell If Your Pan Is Still Safe to Use
It can be pretty difficult to tell whether or not your pan is still safe to use. It’s not like there’s a big scratch that you can easily see.
That said, if you’re concerned that your pan may be scratched, there are a few ways to tell. You can use a magnifying glass or a microscope to closely examine the surface of your pan and see if there’s any visible damage.
Or, you can do the simpler but just as effective method of just running your fingers over the surface of your pan. If you feel any rough patches or find that the surface is rough to the touch, your pan is likely scratched.
How to Prevent Pan From Getting Scratched?
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to prevent your pan from getting scratched is to use it properly. That said, there are a few things you can do to try to prevent scratches if you’re already using your pan and it has been scratched.
First of all, don’t allow the pan to heat up too high. If your pan is getting too hot, the food will start sticking more often. And you know what that means? More scratches! So try not to let the pan get above medium-high heat if you can avoid it. Also, be sure that when you are cooking on an electric stovetop, you have the burner set at a medium setting or lower (if there’s a temperature control).
It’s also essential that when you are cooking with nonstick pans, they aren’t overcrowded in your pot or frying pan. If there isn’t enough room for the food to move around and spread out across the surface of your nonstick cookware, they will start sticking more often and will scratch more easily.
When cooking with nonstick pans, it’s also important that they aren’t overcrowded in your pot or frying pan. If there isn’t enough room for the food to move around and spread out across the surface of your nonstick cookware, it will start sticking more often and will scratch more easily. They may not even need to be filled with food, either.
If there is a little bit of room in the pan, that’s ok. It’s better to have a little bit of room than to have the pan filled with food. However, if you don’t have enough space in your nonstick frying pan to move the food around, you can always use a heat-safe rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir and flip your food so that it cooks evenly on all sides. Just be careful not to scratch your nonstick pan!
Use Wooden Utensils Only with nonstick pans!
You must never use metal utensils when cooking with nonstick pans! Metal utensils will scratch the surface of your nonstick cookware, which will make it lose its nonstick properties and create more sticking problems for you in the future.
It is very important that you never use metal utensils when cooking with nonstick pans! Metal utensils will scratch up the surface of your nonstick cookware, which will make it lose its nonstick properties and create more sticking problems for you in the future. So what should you use instead?
You should only use wooden or heat-safe silicone utensils. I prefer silicone ones because they are heat resistant and won’t melt into my food if they get too hot (which does happen sometimes).
3 Foods You Should Never Cook in Nonstick Pans
While nonstick pans are great for cooking all sorts of things, there are some foods that you should never cook in them. Foods with high sugar content or that have a lot of fat usually don’t do so well in nonstick pans.
This is because sugar and fat tend to build up and harden on the surface of your nonstick pan and can scratch it pretty easily. Things like pancakes, waffles, crepes, pies, brownies, cookies, cakes, etc., should all be cooked in regular pans instead.
Easy Ways to Repair Scratched Nonstick Pans
If you’re already in the process of pan-scratching and you want to repair your nonstick pan before it’s too late, there are a few different ways you can go about it. Some nonstick pans come with a special scratch-free coating that you can use to cover the surface and protect it.
Or, if you have a tin of baking soda, you can make a paste out of it and rub it over the surface of your scratched pan. If these two options don’t work for you, you can always use sandpaper to try to smooth out the surface and make it look as good as new.
If your pan is too scratched to fix, but you still want to keep it (and who doesn’t? ), there are three easy ways to get rid of the scratches and get it back in shape: Rubbing compound: Rubbing compound uses friction to smooth out scratches on your nonstick pan so they are no longer visible.
You have to buy a rubbing compound or find some at home (like toothpaste) and rub a small amount on the scratched area with a soft cloth. Mix baking soda and water to make a paste, apply it to the scratched area, and let it sit for a few hours.
You can then remove the paste using a soft cloth dipped in warm water. If you have some cooking oil, you can apply it to your pan and then immediately heat the surface of your pan so the oil soaks in and fills in the scratches.
As you can see, there is nothing to worry about when it comes to using nonstick cookware. You can use it without having to worry about damaging your cookware or your health. You just need to make sure that you only use the correct utensils and that you don’t cook at too high of a temperature.