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We recently bought a flat top (glass top) stove to replace our standard electric stove with the coiled "eye" heating elements. The flat top is certainly easy to clean, and if you have a boil-over, it does not fill the pan under the burner and spill into the interior of the stove - all pluses. However, I find that every nonstick fry pan I have has developed a 'bow' or curvature. That is, the center of the pan is bowed out, so that when the pan rests on the flat top stove surface it does not make great contact anywhere except right in the center. All the edges of the pan curve up, away from the heat. Thus it takes awhile to heat up, and probably wastes lots of heat. This bow may have been present with the regular "eye" coiled heating elements, but it wasn't as noticeable because they were not as absolutely flat at the glass. I even bought a new nonstick skillet, and swore to never use it on more than medium high, to keep this bow from forming. Still, it has bowed over a few months use, so even on the new skillet this problem remains.

My question is, what can I do to avoid or fix this problem? I keep wishing for some high heat tolerant and conductive thing to put between the stove surface and the pan so I get good thermal contact (something like a thin bag of sand, but with the bag made out of a material that would not be destroyed by the heat). Or am I just buying cheap nonstick cookware, and if I really spend a lot on a frying pan, the problem would not occur. This last part is really my question. I have spent $30 on a frying pan, only to see this same thing occur. If I spend $200 on a frying pan, will that solve the problem (will it not do this bowing thing), or will I get the same results in a few months? Thanks.

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I live in the US, North Carolina – AWMoore Mar 17 '11 at 10:53

The reason that cookware warps is that it is has too thin of a base. When it has been heated to a high temperature, it warps upon cooldown. The only way to avoid this is to buy very sturdy, heavy duty cookware. You need to look for something with a very thick and heavy base, then you will have no issue.

And don't think that it will put you in the poor-house. I bought new pans 6 years ago, and they are still fine. The most I paid was $30 for my 14 inch pan. Every other pan I bought on sale for 10-15 dollars.

As for pots, you should be able to get a good set of Lagostina (or comparable brand) which are certainly not professional, but they will do the job. They will not run too much money.

Just reread your post, originally missed the bit on the end. You absolutely do not need to spend 200 dollars on a pan. Just do your homework on the brand you are buying. Where do you live (country, I mean. Not trying to be too personal)? I may be able to suggest some places if you live in North America.

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He added a comment to the Question that says he lives in NC, by the way. – Preston Fitzgerald Nov 24 '14 at 1:25

Ensure that you're not washing them until after the pan has cooled - the cooler water can cause warping if you do like my fiancee and take them right off the heat into the sink to soak.

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You can wash them warm, but you don't want to give them a sudden thermal shock. (a small amount of liquid to deglaze should be okay, but not tons of water after having had the pan blazing hot). I prefer washing them warm, as I find it easier than letting them cool down fully first. And like mrwienerdog mentioned -- heavier pans will have less of a problem than thinner ones. – Joe Oct 24 '11 at 16:35
Right, I was referring to the practice of plunging them into lukewarm or cold water from the sink immediately after removing the cooked food, while the pan is still at its hottest. – Yamikuronue Oct 24 '11 at 16:39

I have one large, deep sided skillet, which bows upward like that. I'm very careful not to shock the pans, but this one is very thin. The other pans I have, with thick bottoms, don't move at all.

I got into the habit of putting the tea pot on, while cooking. This is partly because I'm usually also making coffee, and I use the hot water to warm the cup while the coffee is brewing. As a side effect, if I want to add some water to a hot pan, I have boiling water to use. Hope it helps.

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Aluminum likes to bow as you describe. If you lack any good hard surfaces in the kitchen, take the pan outside and whack its bottom on the sidewalk a couple times. That'll reflatten it. Carefully aplied hammers or fists can accomplish the same job inside.

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