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I have an old teflon frying pan with a non-stick coating (I think all teflon pans are non-stick, but let's not be picky :) ).

If I pour some oil on it, it doesn't spread out and cover the pan, it collects in small puddles.

I know this is expected because of the nature of the non-stick coating, but what I'm wondering is:

I bought a new teflon non-stick frying pan and when pouring oil on it, again, it doesn't spread and cover it but instead of forming in puddles it only leaves drips/drops on the surface.

Is this because my newer pan has a higher quality non-stick cover or is it some other property that dictates HOW MUCH oil won't puddle/spread on it?

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All Teflon pans are non-stick, but not all non-stick pans are Teflon ;-)

Teflon, when new, is one of the slippiest substances known to man. Nothing will adhere to it, not even oil. When new, you can have a hard time getting an even coating of oil unless you make it deep enough to fill a base layer. The oil will be more attracted to itself than to the pan.

Once you've been frying in Teflon for a few months, the surface gradually does begin to get coated in carbon, from burnt ingredients &/or oil. I don't know quite what causes this - potentially the surface getting slightly damaged or roughened by abrasion; but an older Teflon pan will more easily coat in an even layer of oil.

If it pools in patches, then the best reason I can think is that some areas are more abraded than others, or the pan base may be going out of true. Most cheap frying pans will eventually bow one way or the other over time - some forming a 'moat' round the edges as the base has bowed inwards, others a 'pond' in the middle, as it bowed outwards.
A 'quick fix' for cheap pans affected in this manner is to put it [cold & clean] on a carpeted floor & gently stand in it. It's a bit rough & ready but it's not worth fixing professionally.

From comments - The Frying Pan Ballet Company
[credit David Hoffman + 10 mins in Photoshop by yours truly]

enter image description here

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    I now have visions of lots of users balancing in their frying pans in the middle of their living room. – Stephie Mar 2 at 11:37
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    @Stephie - We could set up a dance troupe - the Frying Pan Ballet Company ;) – Tetsujin Mar 2 at 11:49
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    <waits for photos in the FP> – Stephie Mar 2 at 11:49
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    Just for the information of anyone visiting this question/answer in the future - upon further inspection it was, indeed, discovered my older pan is a bit dented in the center, thus the oil forms puddles. :) Also, thank you, @Tetsujin for the awesome answer! – J. Doe Mar 2 at 13:13
  • @Stephie - there you go ;) – Tetsujin Mar 2 at 13:30

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