Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've heard of pans with ceramic non-stick surfaces; it seems some reports on internet say they may "fail" in about 6 months.

How can these pans "fail"? Do ceramic-coated pans require non-stick-friendly devices?

Normal nonstick surfaces fail by getting scratched, having spray-on butter encrusted into it, and if damaged could release toxic coating. Do ceramic non-stick surfaces have a similar problem?

share|improve this question
3  
For the record, especially based on some of the answers, make sure you always use a little oil. Even though at the start of the pan's life you can get away without it, this significantly decreases the life of the non-stick surface. In addition, take extra care to make sure you don't burn anything in it--this also harms the coating. Finally, don't store food in it. They take a little more care than some other pans, but this will extend the usable lifetime significantly. –  jandjorgensen Mar 31 '12 at 5:03

9 Answers 9

I have a ceramic-coated pan too, and always treated it with care (plastic utensils, no overheating, etc.) It failed too, after some time (I think I've had it for 9 months now, and used frequently).

Unlike a failed Teflon pan, it does not look or feel any different. But while at the beginning it was superslick, with everything gliding right off it in a fluid motion, now it is only moderately non-stick. I can still use it as normal, including for such problematic cases as omelets. But if I fry without fat, I need a spatula to dislodge the omelet from the surface. In contrast, when I bought it it was like polished ice. It is still more non-stick than, say, enamelled or seasoned iron, and definitely better than stainless steel. But it isn't as good as a good-quality PTFE.

If the non-stickness keeps at this level, I still think that it makes sense to buy it, if you have the money. They are expensive, especially the brand-name ones, but can give you nice, even heating. While they will give you less non-stick performance, they are more robust than PTFE - metal utensils don't damage them, they don't overheat as easily - and I found the non-stickiness sufficient. The nice thing about them is that the quality ones aren't thin aluminium, mine has a 10 mm sandwiched steel bottom - you don't get this in PTFE. So they can be used for applications impossible with PTFE, and will give you a better heating in the cases where PTFE would have worked.

On the other hand, you can decide to go traditional, with a combination of PTFEs for the sticky applications and iron or steel for everything else. It will probably give you a better tool for the stickies, as long as the PTFE coating itself doesn't fail through accidental overheating. It is up to you which style you prefer, but the ceramics aren't the panacea they are touted as.

share|improve this answer
1  
I've had a different experience with a (cheap) ceramic pan and won't be buying another. It took the pan forever to heat on the induction stove and then, in less than a month with little use, the eggs started to stick. I only used it with eggs, and took good care to oil the pan and use non metallic utensils. –  BaffledCook Sep 2 '12 at 10:19
2  
@BaffledCook The heating time is more dependent on the material below it, not on the coating. But I must say that by now, it "failed" even more spectacularly, sticking terribly, worse than non-oiled steel. I restored it to a usable condition with NaOH, but it looks like it is starting to gum up again. –  rumtscho Sep 2 '12 at 11:35
    
I'm sure the heating time has nothing to do with the coating, I agree. I guess I ruined the pan by trying to heat it faster... –  BaffledCook Sep 2 '12 at 14:13

I purposely never used metal in my ceramic-coated ware, despite ceramic being harder than steel, but still after about 6 months the smooth coating had gone and it lost its non-stickability. They're Le Creuset, not cheap, so I'd like to think it wasn't a quality issue.

I thought it might be acidic casseroles being left in it for a few days in the fridge, but didn't really research it deeper. I'd also steam-fry naan in them until I noticed the damage occurring if one burnt.

share|improve this answer
    
Can you link the Le Creuset ceramic nonstick? I wasn't aware they were making such a thing. –  rfusca Jan 4 '12 at 15:42
    
They don't as far as I'm aware either, but the standard ceramic when new exhibited an inherent non-stickability that allowed minimal oil and made cleaning a breeze, but sadly disappeared with time. –  jontyc Jan 9 '12 at 23:10

I found that using a stiff sponge brought my pan back to life. I use it almost every day and after a year it still works great. my guess is that a small amount of egg residue is left on the pan by a cloth, and it builds up over time; a slightly stiffer cleaning method takes this film right off. To be clear I did not use the abrasive side of the sponge, just the soft side.

share|improve this answer

These pans definitely require non-stick-friendly devices. Very recently, an Israeli investigative report tested the coating of a sample of ceramic coated pans and found excessive amounts of lead and cadmium in some (not all) of them. See coverage by The Jerusalem Post and the Green Prophet.

If you are not sure about the contents of the coating, consider replacing the pan when the non-stick starts to deteriorate.

share|improve this answer
    
When i traded in my dirty old Teflon skillet, the saleswoman was adamant about not using molten plastic utensils on the ceramic, as that could scratch it. –  Cees Timmerman May 26 '13 at 1:22

Ceramic coating is a piece of crap. Don't waste your money on it and use whatever type material you wish on it. From the moment I got it, it has caused food to stick and stains very easily and hard to clean. You can't even cook bacon on it much less an egg, unless you like your eggs broken.

If you want the best use stainless and good grade oils. It last forever and its a lot easier to cook with.

share|improve this answer

I make ceramics (not pans) for a living. Maybe it isn't the ceramic layer itself that fails but the glaze used to cover it. Glaze is molten glass and can be scratched. It will also deteriorate in the dishwasher. I tend to take my (deteriorated) plates and cups (the ones where the tea stains no longer come out in the dishwasher) and refire them in the kiln. This melts the glaze and re-distributes it. They are then like new. However, I don't think the ceramic pan would survive this.

share|improve this answer

I purchased an 8 inch ceramic coated fry pan about 6 months ago for $12 at Ocean State Job Lot. I had high hopes for this magic pan. The name of the brand is "Fry Pan". I cook eggs and sausage separately maybe 3 or 4 times a week. I've burnt the sausage several times. Result is that the pan is exactly the way it was when I first used it. Everything I had hoped it would be, it is. When I slide the eggs out onto a plate I immediately squirt a little liquid dish soup in and hot water out of the tap, slosh it around and rinse it out with hot water and it's spotless again. Sometimes after I burn something, I use a sponge too. I have no way of knowing if this pan has toxic substances and really don't care! I'd like to find a similar 1.5 qt sauce pan but I don't think that they make one.

share|improve this answer

For folks with bad experiences with ceramic coated pans, believe me, I totally ruined an Orgreenic pan and have since discovered why!. I use an almost new gas stove and had been setting the dial or 4, which is much too high for these type pans. I bought a new pan and now only use 3 (which brings the pan heat to actually only about 255 degrees Fahrenheit. Everything cooks beautifully including sausage, eggs, bacon, hamburgers and more, and I don't use anything in the pan, no butter, and certainly no spray-on of any kind (that will guarantee a ruined pan). Hope this helps folks.

share|improve this answer
1  
If this is what lets the pans work, then they are a worse investition than PTFE, which work to above 200°C. At 255 F, most of the things one needs a pan for don't work well. –  rumtscho Jul 7 '13 at 19:48

I have a 9-month old ceramic 12" fry pan. For the first 7 months, it cooked beautifully, stuff slid right out. Last two months, everything sticks horribly, it is stained, and horrible. Donating it this weekend. I was super careful with it, never cooked on high heat, and all that. It has just failed. I will no longer buy ceramic.

share|improve this answer

protected by Community Aug 31 '13 at 0:13

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.