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Questions such as Are Non-Stick Bread Pans Destined to Fail? conclude that non-stick pans do not last forever, especially cheaper ones. I am trying to find some information that allows me to quantify this to some extent.

I normally use teflon non-stick pans some 3 times a week. I only use wooden and plastic tools on them, never metal ones. For some dishes, however, it is necessary to exert some rather punctual pressure (through the food) on the pan's surface, as well as dishes that require quite some oil (sometimes added in between, i.e. while the pan is heated) even in non-stick pans in order to not stick.

In my experience, my teflon pans live for some 3 to 4 years before they start showing some minor, but visible blank spots of one or a few mm² where the teflon has disappeared. Which is when I start considering looking for a new pan.

At my usage rate, is this within the expected lifetime range of teflon pans? or, asked more generally, What is the approximate expected lifetime for teflon-coated non-stick pans?

  • As I only keep a couple (ie, 2) teflon pans, I can't really give an expert answer ... but I know that in the past I seem to have killed mine from heating them too much. I wouldn't be surprised if pre-heating the pans, or differenent construction between brands were significant. (I seem to recall one company saying that they had a pattern of bumps / ridges in the metal, so there was more surface for the teflon to stick to, and so that metal utensils wouldn't scrape to the bottom ... it might've been Circulon) – Joe Jan 1 '16 at 23:24
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    This probably depends on the brand and quality of your pans. I don't think there's one answer for all cookware. – Catija Jan 2 '16 at 1:28
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    As other comments have said, I think the answer will vary significantly depending on the pans. And, as you seem to reference in the question, the answer will depend on how you use the pans -- how hard you cook with them, what kind of utensils you use, how hard you scrub or wash them, how often you do all these things, etc. I've had cheap pans fail noticeably within a year and little use, but the only nonstick pan I own now (a crepe pan, which I mostly use for scrambled eggs these days) I've had for well over a decade with no noticeable degradation in the coating or any sticking whatsoever. – Athanasius Jan 4 '16 at 5:33
  • I got tired of my Teflon wearing out so I got a cast iron skillet. It's been pretty awesome, but the manual cleaning is a bit of a pain. Also consider stainless steel. – Chloe Apr 21 '16 at 23:23
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America's Test Kitchen says that good quality nonstick pans last them about six months.

They're presumably cooking with them several times a day, so if you use it once every couple days, and are as good as they are about not doing things that'll damage the coating, you might get a few years. So your experience sounds roughly normal.

As another data point, they also quote the Cookware Manufacturers Association: "'If you get a year to a year and a half of life out of [a new nonstick pan], we think you got a pretty good deal.'" That's coming from people interested in selling pans, possibly not talking about the best quality, and with experience based on typical less-careful usage, so I'm not surprised they gave a lower number.

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