Are the new ceramic non stick pans any different than the old Teflon® ones?
Surprisingly, the ceramic non stick pans are different in many ways. Let’s take a look at the differences. Teflon® and all other PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) non stick coatings have an upward heat limitation of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a limitation defined by the FDA, who says that the PTFE will begin to break down at temperatures above that limit. Obviously, it’s not a magic cutoff point, but the issue is that you don’t want to use teflon pans, PTFE cookware or BBQ grill mats anywhere near 500 degrees.
The ceramic non stick pans, on the other hand, will withstand heat a bit above 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This provides a significant advantage in terms of durability and longevity. If you employ the same practices you would with a PTFE coated pan – low and medium heat only, not radical temperature changes, soft spatulas only and no abrasive cleaners – you will get significantly more use out of the ceramic non stick pans than the old style PTFE cookware.
Another point about the heat resistance of the ceramic coatings is that the manufacturers claim that even when the pans are overheated they don’t emit toxic fumes like the PTFE coated pans do. Is this true? I couldn’t say for sure but it sure would be great if it is, wouldn’t it?
Are the ceramic non stick pans really non stick?
My experience is that you need to be a lot more careful about how you use the ceramic coatings in regard to their non stick properties. There are foods that do stick to them such as whitefish and certain marinades and sauces. This is true of Teflon® and PTFE pans too, but I find the ceramic coatings to be a bit trickier.
The manufacturers of Greblon and Thermolon, two of the top non stick ceramic brands, claim that the ceramic non stick pans have superior non stick properties over Teflon® and other PTFE coated pans. If there is any difference in the non stick properties between ceramic and PTFE it is a subtle one, otherwise there wouldn’t be any difference of opinion about it. So I think it comes down to what you’re trying to cook more than anything else.
In spite of the fact that the ceramic non stick pans are more durable and more resistant to scratching and corrosion than the PTFE coated pans, most people report that the don’t last as long. This is partially due to the thickness of the coatings. PTFE pans multiple layers of nonstick surfacing while non stick ceramic pans use only a single thin layer. It keeps them affordable, but cuts down on their lifespan.
Making your non stick pans last
A large part of how long your non stick pans will last has to do with the way you treat them, of course. So whether you buy ceramic non stick pans or PTFE cookware, follow these simple rules to get the maximum lifespan from your pans.
1. Use low and medium heat when cooking. Don’t turn the burner on high because you’re in a hurry to heat up the pan. That’s the main way pans get incinerated. Just don’t do it.
2. Never expose your pans to sudden temperature changes. The most common way this is done is by putting the hot pan under the faucet and running water on it. Very bad.
3. When you wash your pans never use any abrasive pads or cleaners. Just stick to a dish cloth or a sponge.
4. Don’t use metal utensils with the non stick pans. I don’t even use wood, because even though it is softer than the metal, it is hard enough to scratch the non stick surface. I use soft plastic and silicone only.
So how do the non stick ceramic pans stack up?
It depends on what your priorities are. If you are concerned about environmental impact and food safety, in my opinion the ceramic non stick pans are a better choice than the PTFE cookware.
If you’re priority is to buy the pan that will last the longest, the PTFE pans would be your choice. Hope that helps.