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Non-stick performance and durability are determined by two main factors: pan thickness and coating quality. A thick pan will always outperform and outlast a thin one, regardless of coating quality. This is because thin pans are prone to overheating and “hot spots”, which will damage even the best non-stick coating. Thick pans do not have this problem because they distribute heat more evenly, and for this reason are better suited to premium coatings.

Overheating and utensil abrasion are the primary causes for non-stick coating deterioration. When using non-stick pans, it is recommended to keep the cooker at a low or medium setting at all times. It is also recommended to use heat-resistant plastic or wooden cooking utensils, since harder materials such as stainless steel can scratch the non-stick surface. (This holds true even for cookware that claims it is "safe for use with metal utensils”.)







Some manufacturers of plain (not hard-anodized) non-stick aluminium cookware offer cookware with dimpled or textured interiors, claiming that this offers protection against utensil abrasion and thereby increases non-stick durability. However, since plain aluminium is soft, utensil abrasion on the patterned or textured surface can quickly wear down the raised parts; the remaining portion of protected coating in the recessed areas is not sufficient to keep food from sticking to the pan. It is to be concluded, therefore, that patterned or textured plain aluminium non-stick pans do not offer increased food release durability compared to pans with flat non-stick interiors.






The story is different, however, for patterned hard-anodized pans. Hard-anodized "Hi-Low" surfaces do offer significant protection against utensil abrasion and improve non-stick longevity. This is because, unlike plain aluminium, hard-anodized substrates are extremely hard. The "peaks" (high portion) are usually made very narrow so that the recesses (low portion) become the larger area of the pan's surface. Since these peaks are extremely hard, they will not wear down and will therefore protect the non-stick surface in the recesses. Also, because the recesses make up the majority of the surface, the pan will retain its food release capabilities even if the non-stick coating on the peaks is damaged or worn.






Due to competition between cookware manufacturers, extended warranties (guarantees) from 10 years to lifetime are offered on a wide range of non-stick cookware. Non-stick cookware has improved greatly, but no pan will remain non-stick forever. The coating will slowly deteriorate depending on the amount of use, the type of cooking, and the care given. A pan being used three times a day for a family of five is not going to last as long as a pan sold to a couple who have croissants and espresso every morning and eat dinner out three nights a week. Once again, the quality of the pan, and the use and care given, determine non-stick durability – not the warranty.





How many times have you asked, "What is the best non-stick coating?"

On the first day of use, food release performance is the same for all non-stick brands. The real issue is how pans release food after many years of use.

Each non-stick manufacturer has its top-of-the-line product. DuPont has Autograph®; Whitford has Excalibur®. These are three-coat systems. Other products such as DuPont Teflon® Select and Xtra are also three-coat systems, but they are not top-of-the-line. Also available are lesser-quality one- and two-coat systems, but, again, on day one, the difference in terms of release food is hardly detectable.






When it comes to non-stick durability (the length of time the coating will continue to release food), coating quality does make a difference when comparing one coating against another on the same quality pan. Remember, a superior coating on a thin gauge pan is no better than a cheap coating on a heavy gauge pan. For superior non-stick performance, both the coating and the pan must meet high quality standards.





In addition to coating quality, a pan’s non-stick durability is determined in three ways:

  1. The type of pan (surface) to which the non-stick is applied.
    Assuming pans have similar heat conduction properties, the same non-stick applied to a hard-anodized aluminium pan or arc-sprayed stainless steel pan is far more durable than when applied to a plain aluminium pan. Likewise, a plain aluminium non-stick pan is far more durable than an enamel-on-steel pan having the same non-stick coating.
  2. The thickness of the pan.
    Repeated overheating deteriorates non-stick coatings. Generally, "hot spots" and the consequent coating deterioration happen much faster on lightweight pans. Remember, the thicker the pan, the better the heat distribution and the protection of the non-stick surface.
  3. The application method.
    Because non-stick coatings are made from the world's most slippery substance, permanently bonding them to a pan takes a great deal of technical expertise. Coating manufacturers' labels, such as DuPont's Autograph®, are used to certify that the pan has received the right application method. Established cookware manufacturers such as Meyer work closely with coating manufacturers to implement strict quality controls and to ensure that reputations are not compromised by inferior production practices.


If a non-stick pan does not have a certified coating label, it is important that the cookware manufacturer be well known for quality non-stick products.





"What is non-stick made of?"
Non-stick is a unique plastic material, designated in the trade as "PTFE." This is the most slippery substance in the world and is the reason food does not stick to non-stick pans.

"What is Teflon®?"
Teflon® is the brand name for DuPont's original non-stick coating. DuPont’s scientists have invented the technology behind non-stick coatings. Today, there are many companies producing non-stick coatings for cookware, such as T-Fal®'s "Super T®" and Whitford's "Xylon®" and "Excalibur®." However, the best-known brands are made by DuPont. The quality of Dupont's non-stick coatings from good to best are: Teflon® II, Teflon® Select, Teflon® Xtra, Teflon® Professional and Autograph®. Look for the DuPont certified labels on Meyer cookware to assure the best non-stick technology money can buy.

"Will the non-stick hurt me if I swallow it?"
No. Non-stick coatings are safe and pose no hazard to human health. In the event that particles of non-stick coating are accidentally ingested, there is no danger because the coatings are inert and non-toxic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found the composition of non-stick coatings acceptable for conventional kitchen use.


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