Coatings used in the cookware industry are made from either a silicone
base or a fluorocarbon (P.T.F.E.) base. Fluorocarbon coatings
(think ozone layer) are applied in a 2 or 3 coat process,
consisting of 1 or 2 layers of the non-stick material, plus
a "sealer" or topcoat. This is the process generally
used on interior coating. A reinforced coating is one that
utilizes the application of stainless steel particles in
a molten state to the surface of the pan prior to coating
with the nonstick material. The main differences in different
quality levels are in the formulas of the liquid coating,
the number of layers of coating, and the thickness of each
layer. "Generic" or non-branded coatings are generally
used on low end frypans, and will usually be a formula that
has less durability and release qualities than branded coatings.
Exterior coatings are
usually use a 1 coat silicone based process. 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.
have varying qualities of non-stick coatings are manufactured
for bonding to the surface of utensils. Their advantages
include considerable ease in cleaning and reduction of the
need for grease in your cooking. Their disadvantages are
that they may become too easily damaged by spatulas, spoons,
forks, etc., especially metal ones, and that their durability
has a short life expectancy. Even the newest non-stick coatings
will begin to lose their resistance to sticking after only
a few years; sooner if the pan is constantly overheated
or cleaned in the dishwasher or with harsh detergents. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions on
using and caring for your non-stick pan; you may be surprised
to learn that the warranty may be voided if the utensil
is overheated or cleaned in the dishwasher.
One of the biggest problems faced while selecting
nonstick cookware is that in most every pan the nonstick
coating always seems to scrape off despite using all the
cooking and cleaning instructions. So I decided to so some
online research, and picked up some pointers on how to pick
up a really good nonstick pan.
It seems that all good
nonstick coatings are made with the basic ingredient, PTFE,
or polytetrafluoroethylene. Though this is supposed to have
excellent nonstick properties, it's also very soft and therefore
scratches easily. Which is why it has to be mixed with other
materials in order to make it harder. The
difference between different nonstick brands lies in the
proportions in which PTFE is blended with other materials.
And that's where manufacturers
can cut costs. For instance, PTFE has to blended with an
ingredient that helps it stick to the cookware. Cheap nonstick
cookware tries to compromise by using just one layer of
material, which is mixed with enough other ingredients to
stick onto the steel or aluminum, and loses a lot of its
non-stickiness in the process. This usually has to be rolled
onto the steel before the pots and pans are formed.
Better cookware, on the
other hand, starts with a similar blend which sticks to
the pot, but then adds extra layers where the proportions
are changed. The second layer is formulated to stick to
the first layer, but has improved nonstick properties. The
third layer is enhanced even more, so that it sticks to
the second layer, and has even better nonstick properties.
Three layers is supposed to be the minimum for good, long-lasting
nonstick cookware. The very best nonstick cookware in the
world has seven layers.
You don't need to be an
expert to tell how good the nonstick coating is in the cookware
All you have to do is rub your fingers back and forth along
the surface. If you feel tiny ridges, put it back on the
shelf. Those ridges indicate that the manufacturer rolled
the coating on, so there's probably one layer. A good nonstick
finish is absolutely smooth, because it's been sprayed on
in the correct sequence and properly cured.
PTFE-based nonstick coatings
are always matte. If it's shiny, that means it's been coated
with silicon - an absolute no-no. Silicon is okay for bakeware,
but it reacts badly with animal fats.
you buy a nonstick pan, three things should come along with
it. A wooden spatula, a nylon sponge and a short booklet
that initiates you into the care of your new product. If
you take the trouble to read the booklet, you'll know that
before you use your
nonstick for the first time, you have to wash it thoroughly
in hot soapy water with a sponge or dishcloth. Then rinse
it in hot water and dry thoroughly. Next, wipe the nonstick
surface with a small amount of cooking oil on a paper towel
and wipe off the excess oil. Your pan is now seasoned to
a heat setting higher then medium is rarely necessary and
certainly not advisable.Since one of the advantages of a nonstick pan is that
it requires very little oil, you could
try using a cooking spray instead of pouring from a can.
A cooking spray works best with olive oil, not a staple
with Indian cuisine, but we're sure you could innovate.
The spray itself isn't easily available in India - but you
could try making your own by converting an empty spray can
you'd usually use to clean windows. It just might work!
you're cooking with your nonstick pan, use plastic, rubber,
silicon, and wood utensils. Avoid anything sharp, though
scratches will not affect the nonstick properties, it can
certainly disfigure the surface of the pan.
seasoned nonstick user, I'd say handle
your pan like it's made of crystal.
It's important to thoroughly clean it after use. Often,
oils are not removed by hand washing, and thus bake into
the pan surface the next time it is heated up, which retards
the non-stick effect. Never use steel wool, steel scourging
pads or harsh detergents Nylon
scrubbing pads are safe. It
is best to use warm water and mild detergent.
Heating nonstick coatings such as the Teflon on pots
and pans can generate a chemical compound that persists
in the environment indefinitely, research has found. At
temperatures over 400 degrees the heat caused a gradual
breakdown of the fluoropolymers into a variety of other
compounds that were released into the air. The researchers
said the compounds are also released, though more slowly,
at normal cooking temperatures. They examined the effects
on the environment and did not look at whether the compounds
also get into food during cooking.
Among the compounds
released were a witches' brew of environmentally suspect
chemicals. Besides trifluoroacetate they included:
Polyfluorocarboxylic and polyfluorocarboxylic acids,
a family of chemicals that includes one being phased
out of Scotchguard and other products because it accumulates
in the human body.
Fluorocarbons, which contribute to global warming
by trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Trifluoroacetate, or TFA, is known to be mildly
toxic to some plants. Because it takes decades or centuries
to break down, some scientists have speculated that
it could accumulate and cause harm in certain locations,
such as wetlands.