A small scratch on your Teflon pan can cause it to quickly degrade or even worse, cause the non-stick coating to combine with your meals.
HERE'S WHY USING A SCRATCHED TEFLON PAN IS DANGEROUS
The Teflon coating of your pan can easily get scratched if you use metal utensils to cook food or clean them using abrasive pads. Such scratched bits can mix with food, or get dissolved into gas due to overheating.
The toxic fume released at high temperatures has been found to pose harm to humans and pet birds, leading to flu-like symptoms. Thus, the importance of keeping your Teflon pan at low or medium heat during cooking.
OVERALL, if your Teflon pan has scratches on it, it may not be safe for you to use.
HOW TO PROLONG THE LIFESPAN OF YOUR TEFLON PANS
Protecting your Teflon pan from scratches is your best chance at avoiding the dangers discussed above. You need to exercise utmost caution when cooking with Teflon cookware to minimize your risk. Here are some tips that you should always keep in mind:
1. Always Keep Your Kitchen Properly Ventilated
Before up a Teflon pan, whether it's for frying or sautéing foods, make sure that your kitchen is well ventilated. Open the windows and leave them that way while you cook using the pan and don't forget to turn on the exhaust fan. This allows easy removal of exhaust fumes that may escape from the pan as it gets heated.
2. Season Your Pan Before Every Use
Seasoning your Teflon pan is done to fill any pores in the non-stick coating and make sure the food doesn’t get stuck to the pan. This will not only make cooking easier, it'll prolong its lifespan. It is best advised to season your pan before every use which isn't very difficult to do. All you have to do is grease the surface of the pan with any oil of your choice.
After greasing, place the pan on the stove over low heat and leave it for about a minute or two. Turn off the heat and let it cool down for another few minutes. When it has completely cooled down, use a paper towel to wipe off the excess oil and dry it up once again.
Your pan is now seasoned and ready for use.
3. Never Use Metal Utensils With Your Teflon Pan Plastic, Silicone Or Wooden Utensils
It can be tempting to use your favorite metal utensils with your Teflon pan, but the frictional force from such utensils expose the pan to damage and scratches. The ideal utensils to use alongside your Teflon pan should be made of plastic, silicone, wood.
You'll find your Teflon pans lasting much longer than they used to with just this one tip.
4. Avoid Cooking At High Temperatures
Never place a Teflon pan on high heat or use it for cooking methods, like broiling, that require such. Instead, always make sure that the pan is always on low or medium heat.
5. Never Preheat The Pan While It's Empty
Teflon pans can attain high temperatures quickly, and when they are empty, this will quickly cause the emission of polymer fumes that are dangerous for your health. So even when you do preheat your Teflon pan, make sure that it contains some food or liquid to counter the rapid heating.
6. Stop Using Abrasive Scrubbing Pads
Although an abrasive pad may seem like the best way to get rid of stuck-on food bits, it should never be used to clean a Teflon pan, or any non-stick cookware for that matter.
Over repeated use, the abrasive force fork the pad may damage the non-stick coating of the pan leaving it scratched and shortening its lifespan.
7. Hand Wash Them Gently
When washing your Teflon pans, make sure to do it gently and with a soft sponge dipped in warm, soapy water. There'll hardly be any food bits stuck to the pan but if you observe any, leave the pan to soak for a few minutes and they'll come off easily.
8. Avoid Major Water Temperature Changes
Taking a hot pan and subjecting it to cooler or cold temperatures can cause your frying pan to warp. This affects cheaper pans more than industrial strength ones. Resist the temptation and don’t do it. Let your nonstick pan cool for a few minutes first. A warped pan keeps the heat from distributing correctly, and they’re annoying to cook with.
9. Don't Cook Acidic Foods In Your Teflon Pan
Cooking acidic foods in your nonstick pan will cause the coating to start flaking. This includes foods like tomatoes and lemons, which tend to bond and loosen a nonstick coating. This top is especially important if you notice that the coating of your Teflon pan may be shallow.
10. NEVER Use Aerosol Cooking Spray
An aerosol cooking spray will ruin your Teflon pan, and most other non-stick cookware, quickly. This is because the store-bought oil aerosol sprays build up and coat a pan’s surface when heated. With prolonged use, this slowly damages the non-stick coating of your pan. Instead, use regular oil or self-pump oils.
11. Store Your Pans Properly
The ideal way to store your Teflon pans is by hanging, and with plenty of space between each of them. If you don't have enough space to do this, just make sure that they don't scrape against each other and that they are away from sharper objects and corners.
YOUR TEFLON PANS SHOULD BE DISCARDED WHEN:
You observe that they are visibly deteriorating i.e. you can start to see the core of the pan, or the handles are beginning to melt.
Caring for your Teflon pan is very important as it can help keep the pan looking new for a very long time and also protect you and your loved ones from health hazards. Health is wealth!