We can all appreciate a great non-stick cookware pan. They are multi-functional, in the way you can cook anything in them, and they require little to no oil or butter on the surface. But how exactly is non-stick cookware made? It is not without controversy. Do you need to be worried about the chemicals they are made with if you were to ingest it during the cooking process? Maybe, but we are fascinated by how it is made.
What Types of Metal Are Used in Non-Stick Cookware?
While pans can be made out of any conductive metal, many are made from aluminum alloy. Aluminum is one of the most cost-effective metals to make a pan from and conducts heat quickly and evenly.
How Are All Pans Uniformly the Same Shape?
Hi-tech dies are used to give the pan the exact desired shape. After the hardened metal is melted down, it is poured into a two-part die, or mold, and allowed to take shape.
Once the metal is cooled, it hardens into the shape of the die, which in this case is the shape of the metal pan.
Dies come in all different sizes and shapes, allowing for different size pans to be made. Diversity in pan size is important; you don’t want to make an omelet in a full-size frying pan, nor can you cook a half-dozen pork chops in a pan suitable for a couple of eggs.
What Else is Applied to the Pan to Make it Non-Stick?
Most non-stick pans are covered in a coating of ceramic. This helps to disperse heat evenly, as well as to control the amount of heat getting to the food; it acts as a protective barrier between the heat source and the food.
Some pans are made from strictly aluminum and ceramic, as a way to reduce the number of toxins introduced to foods when cooking. Others have additional non-stick elements added to the ceramic.
What Other Chemicals are Used in Non-Stick Pans?
There can be dozens of chemicals used to make non-stick pans. Additionally, tiny diamond particles may also be used.
Diamonds help maintain the durability and conductivity of the pan.
These chemicals and diamond particles are an intricate part of the design of the pan to keep your food from sticking during the cooking process.
To ensure they stay in place, the chemically-treated pan is heated up in a large oven, or furnace, and then allowed to cool down.
Chemicals that may be found on pans are PFOA, otherwise known by the full name of Perfluorooctanoic acid, and PTFE, also known as Teflon.
Both of these have been studied to see if there is a link between the chemicals and certain cancers.
If you would prefer to have your cooking surfaces without PTFE and PFOA, there are pans available that specify their absence.
Many studies conclude that as long as you don’t use metal utensils on the non-stick cookware, don’t use steel wool, and you discard the pan at the first signs of chipping or peeling, you can still use these chemical-coated pans safely.
How is the Bottom of the Pan Made?
A lathe, or special cutting tool, is used to level out the bottom of the pan and give it a design that allows for optimal heat disbursement. If you’ve ever cooked on a pan that wobbles and doesn’t lie flat on the stove-top, you can understand the importance of this lathing process.
How is the Handle Attached?
Most pans have a detachable handle. These handles are screwed into the pan.
Some, however, are made to be permanently attached to the pan and are part of the die shaping. These pans tend to radiate heat into the handle, as the entire cooking surface absorbs and disperses heat equally; this includes the handle of the pan.
Pans with detachable handles, or ones that are screwed on, have a protective layer on the handle that does not allow you to get burned should you pick the pan up during the cooking process.
Nonstick pans are fantastic for cooking; however, there are some things to take into consideration when using them. Be sure to watch for chipping of the cooking surface and never use a fork or knife in the pan. This can disrupt the chemicals used to make the pan non-stick and can also interrupt even cooking abilities.