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I have a mildly scratched teflon pot and recently contemplated about throwing it to the bin but online pages suggested that it's fine as it is a recently bought one (less than 4 months ago in an EU country).
Yet when I heated the empty pot at 6th level of my electric stove I smelled a strange odor close to that of a burning plastic. Consulting the internet, stoves can heat up to 220 Celsius degrees and polymer fumes are released at 300 degrees. Can it be that the phenomenon starts appearing early when the pot is empty?

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    Jesus Christ, get it out of your kitchen ASAP. "Overheating of PTFE generates fumes of highly toxic PFIB ... PFIB is included in Schedule 2 of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)" (from here). Mar 2, 2022 at 9:59
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica I'm sure after 13 hours it's fine. The average person is an awful cook. Most households will see at least one burnt teflon pan in their lives and they were designed on the understanding that some people will inevitably burn them. If it was that dangerous it would not be on the market. The only people who need to be really careful are people who keep certain animals, birds in particular. A burnt teflon pan can be enough to kill any birds in the house.
    – J...
    Mar 2, 2022 at 12:48
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    @J... There is a wide spectrum between "kills you quickly" and "you can eat from it", and most of it doesn't belong in a kitchen ;-). Mar 2, 2022 at 13:57

1 Answer 1

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Electric stove elements can reach 800C if left on high with nothing on top. While an empty pan won't quite reach that maximum (which is also bad for your stove), they can certainly get well over 400C.

As such, if you heated an empty nonstick pan for a while and smelled it burning, the nonstick coating may be ruined. That's easily tested; fry an egg in it.

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  • Would you recommend changing the pan?
    – X HOxha
    Mar 1, 2022 at 22:40
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    Test it. It only costs you an egg. Couple drops of oil, heat it up, crack an egg. If it sticks like glue, then you ruined it and need a new one.
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 2, 2022 at 1:41
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    @XHOxha if in doubt, if egg sticks more than before, it is safer to replace the pan. Overheating PTFE creates some nasty carcinogens.
    – Mołot
    Mar 2, 2022 at 12:14
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    If the egg kills your bird it's time to replace the pan, Mar 2, 2022 at 13:58

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