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As part of my "kitchen inventory package" my short stay agency gave me for my cooking, there's a pan. After a couple of mistakes (cough using it to heat sauce without adding oil (as instructed!) then not cleaning the pan up immediately) and much cleaning, I can now see I ended up scratching the 'black' off my pan.

Is the pan still safe to use, or do I need to buy a new one? What could go possibly wrong if I did use it and why?

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I'm surprised I couldn't find a dupe of this question –  badp Dec 10 '11 at 11:15
    
Do you have a picture? –  soegaard Dec 10 '11 at 13:03
    
@soegaard Not right now I'm afraid. –  badp Dec 10 '11 at 13:40
    
Is(Was) it non stick? –  talon8 Dec 10 '11 at 14:30
    
@badp You should clarify the type of the pan first, whether it is non-stick, cast iron, etc. Indicating only the colour isn't sufficient to decide the type. –  MissesBrown Dec 11 '11 at 0:16

1 Answer 1

I'm going to assume that this is a non-stick coated aluminum (maybe s/s) pan and specifically Teflon or one of the common knock-offs; those are the only types of pans I've seen that are white under the black coating. If you had well-seasoned cast iron, it would be grayish colour (well, iron).

It's not unsafe in the same sense as eating raw meat is unsafe, but there are some things you should know:

  1. The base metal (under the coating), if it is in fact aluminum, now has a reactive surface. That means you won't be able to cook anything with vinegar, wine, tomatoes, or anything acidic, without further damaging the pan and leaching metal into your food.

  2. Once a non-stick coating gets scratched, if there's any left, it also starts to peel, and once it starts peeling then it's very easy for it to get into your food. According to DuPont, the chemical PTFE is inert as long as it is not heated to extreme temperatures, so you shouldn't get seriously ill if you happen to eat a few flakes of it by accident. Make your own decision.

  3. Your non-stick pan almost certainly isn't going to be non-stick anymore, which means that even though it probably won't harm you, it will be a truly awful cooking surface.

On the basis of #3 alone, I'd suggest that you replace it with a new one, especially since it was cheap to begin with.

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Now I have to check if it's actually white or not. Well, it's not; it's... metal grey. I'm sorry –  badp Dec 10 '11 at 17:55
    
@badp: How heavy is the pan, and does a magnet stick to it? Cast iron is pretty easy to spot; it has a porous surface and is heavier than any other kind of cookware. If it's anything other than cast iron then everything stated above still generally applies. –  Aaronut Dec 11 '11 at 0:06
    
The pan is fairly heavy, heavier that what I've used otherwise. I don't have a magnet handy and I'd rather not try with my hard drive. –  badp Dec 11 '11 at 0:29
    
@badp: "Fairly heavy" isn't a very precise measure. Trust me, you'll know if it's cast iron because it will be really, really heavy, and again, have a porous, not smooth, surface. If it's just "kinda sorta" heavy and the exterior is steel or some other smooth metal then you don't have cast iron. –  Aaronut Dec 11 '11 at 5:42
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A 12" cast iron pan weighs ~8lbs/3.6kg. Varies a little by manufacturer of course, but that should give an idea. –  derobert Dec 11 '11 at 8:20

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