teflon pans

Your scratched non-stick pans could be doing more harm than good

Christmas has come and gone. The paper has been ripped off presents and hopefully the turkey and its leftovers are a fond memory. So what did you get? Anything cool like a camera, hip like a hoverboard, or practical like a pan? Whatever Santa stuffed in your stocking this year, if you don’t need to return it, then you need to find a home for it. Now is the perfect time to go through your cupboards and get rid of old, dented, broken or chipped items.

That goes for your scratched frying pans which you’ve been meaning to get rid. Even if you didn’t get a new set of frying pans, you should really toss those old non-stick items. We have it on good authority that they do more harm than good to you and your family.

The Problems with Scratched Teflon

When teflon was accidentally invented in the 1930s, people quickly realized the potential benefits of its non-stick properties—no more food stuck to your pans! By the 60s, it was all the rage and households swore by their non-stick surfaces. It didn’t take long for concerned parties to worry about what this chemical surface could do to our bodies though, especially if they became scratched.

Fast forward a few years and scientists have put some of those fears to rest. As much as a scratched pan flakes off bits of its surface into your food (do you really want flakes with that?), the makers of Teflon pans insist that these particles pass harmlessly through the body. Fine and dandy for some, but you must decide whether you want foreign chemicals passing through your system, whether they purportedly do harm or not.

There is also the suggestion that we not use metal utensils in Teflon containers. Again, the fear is that metal scratches the non-stick surface, but today’s surfaces in higher quality pans are far stronger and less likely to scratch regardless of what you put in them. Some manufacturers even suggest these pans can go for a run through the dishwasher nowadays. Before you toss all your t-fal on the heavy-duty cycle though, take note of one caution associated with non-stick surfaces; you should not use high heat when you cook with them.

As much as you will probably be fine, the makers of Teflon pans suggest using medium to lower heats when using non-stick pans. Why you wonder? Well, it seems that at high heat, even in as little as 2-5 minutes, toxic gases are emitted. You may not notice them, but those gases can be enough to kill a bird in the vicinity (move Tweety out of the kitchen before you fry that steak). So dial down the heat and turn on your exhaust fan before you start cooking. And my thinking is that if 400° is enough to do harm to a pet bird and give you flu-like symptoms, then perhaps the heat of a dishwasher isn’t the best option either. That leaves you with hand washing, minus the abrasive scouring pads.

For those of you who might debate doing a DIY fix on the old frying pan, we wouldn’t suggest it. Once the teflon surface becomes compromised, you don’t know what other issues or health concerns might arise. So stack your scratched pans by the door and call Load of Rubbish to pick them up. We’ll make sure they get recycled at the end of the day. It isn’t worth risking your health, especially if Santa brought you a shiny new cast iron skillet to cook with in 2016.

Happy Holidays!