I bought a nonstick Greenpan at Williams and Sonomo. It was kind of expensive like $100. It was working great. Then someone used it on high heat. Now it sticks a lot. Visually, I don't see anything wrong with the pan, but it seems to be totally broken.

I'm surprised that using it just a single time with high heat was enough to ruin the nonstick surface entirely.

Was this my fault? Or should an expensive nonstick pan be a bit more durable than that? (I am new to cooking so sorry if it's a newbie question. Any info appreciated!)

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    Washing improperly and high heat aren't great for nonstick pans, however I doubt it could "ruin" a good quality pan in a single use. Luckily, there are a lot of explantions on How to make non-stick non-stick again if you do a bit of reserach. – Halhex Jun 12 '19 at 14:54
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    How hot did the pan get? – GdD Jun 12 '19 at 15:18
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    10 min at 500F will permanently destroy any nonstick pan, regardless of price. – FuzzyChef Jun 12 '19 at 18:52
  • Where is the threshold? 450? Or less. I don’t put mine (Le Creuset and Henkel) above 400 or 425, but I have wondered. – RFlack Jun 14 '19 at 3:07
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    Usually it just looks "dry" or "matte" compared to good nonstick. – FuzzyChef Jun 14 '19 at 23:18

Yes high heat can burn off the nonstick coating.

My roommate's girlfriend did one of my pans that way, heating it very hot while dry. It was pretty spectacular. Everyone in the house had this weird little cough like from dilute pepper spray. Anything silver in the house tarnished. I presume the nonstick was burned off and floated around in the house, causing these effects. The pan was still usable after, just no longer nonstick.

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    All of your silver? Really? How far was it from the kitchen? Just wondering because I'm not willing to do the experiment myself. – FuzzyChef Jun 19 '19 at 17:59
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    @FuzzyChef- I had a souvenir silver fish in my bedroom upstairs and it tarnished. – Willk Jan 28 at 1:17

A single session at temperatures above 500F/260C is sufficient to ruin any PTFE-based nonstick pan, regardless of price or "quality". PTFE is base for the vast majority of all nonstick coatings, and goes by the brand name "Teflon". Degredation can happen at lower temperatures (anything above 400F), but at 500F or above it is both certain and swift.

You haven't said how hot the pan got, but assuming that it did get to 500F, then (a) yes, it is your fault, and (b) no PTFE-based nonstick pan is going to be more durable against excess heat than that, no matter how much you paid for it.

At a high temperature, PTFE undergoes "pyrolysis", during which some of its flourine compounds vaporize (which isn't good for your lungs, and can outright kill birds). After pyrolysis, the coating loses a lot of its nontstick properties, even though it may appear undamaged. In my personal experience, there is a subtle change to a more "matte" appearance to the nonstick surface.

Manufacturers of Non-PTFE nonstick claim that their cookware can withstand higher temperatures without loss of nonstick properties. GreenPan, for example, claims to be good to 850F. However, to date these claims have not been verified by independent authorities. Also, note that some cookware which claims to be "non-Teflon" or "PFOA free" is still based on PTFE (such as ScanPan).

  • I use the term "PTFE-based" because there's a lot of argument about whether Teflon is just PTFE, or PTFE+PFOA, and that argument is irrelevant to the question of heat degredation. – FuzzyChef Jun 19 '19 at 18:34
  • For (a), to be fair, it is the fault of the "someone" who used it on too-high heat. From the original question, that may not be OP. Though it is certainly user error :) – Megha Jun 21 '19 at 8:41
  • The OP's question was "was this MY fault", not "was this their fault", so by my reading "someone" is the OP. – FuzzyChef Jun 21 '19 at 23:45

Heating nonstick pans above 500° Fahrenheit or 260° Celsius will burn off the nonstick coating

The toxic vapors released can cause serious problems for some animals like birds that are more sensitive to polluted air, which is why it is frequently recommended that a person be very careful with nonstick pans if they have those animals.

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