Skip

It was (unfortunately, not such) a pleasure to burn
January 8, 2014 8:33 PM   Subscribe

I left a non-stick pot on the stove with the burner on overnight -- is it safe to cook in it?

The pot comes from this cookware set. After a thorough cleaning, base of the pot looks more or less the same, but doesn't quite feel as nonstick on the bottom. I know some nonstick coatings are thought to potentially be cancerous or poisonous after heat exposure. Am I wrong to worry, or is it simply time to get a new pot?

Bonus Question: Is there any way to tell how nonstick it still is without, well, having something stick?
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I personally wouldn't trust it. But I don't use nonstick anyway so maybe I'm overly cautious in that area.

Best way to test is sacrifice an egg and see how/if it sticks.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:36 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


If I had to throw away a perfectly good non stick pot (or pan) every time I burned it, I would be ordering in a lot more. If it functions, I would use it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:02 PM on January 8


Uh you do know that Teflon undergoes chemical changes when it gets too hot that can be very toxic, yeah?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


"Uh you do know that Teflon undergoes chemical changes when it gets too hot that can be very toxic, yeah?" posted by feckless fecal fear mongering

EPONYSTERICAL!!!

(moving on)

Was the burner on high heat? Medium heat? I suspect from your question that it was probably on very low heat, and that you thought you'd turned it off? (I suspect if the heat was higher that you would be looking at an obviously destroyed pot.)

If the burner was at high heat, the fearmongering won't be so feckless.
posted by Kololo at 9:15 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The burner was on high heat for most of the time (I turned the heat to high to set water boiling, at which point I forgot about the pot and the water entirely).

It's not entirely clear to me that the pot had a teflon coating in the first place though? The amazon reviews seem mixed on this point.
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. at 9:25 PM on January 8


If the pan had a nonstick coating and you had pet birds, this would have killed them. I'd toss the pan, air the place out, and be sure not to make this mistake again, especially if you have pets or an infant.

It's not fearmongering at all.
posted by aryma at 9:44 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


Probably the only thing that kept your pot from from self-destructing (either warping badly or melting) is how thick that set is, compared to the average nonstick pot. The nonstick coating is certainly destroyed, probably all over. I felt the different in my crepe pan when I accidentally overheated it a few minutes too long, not even overnight.

By "burner" do you mean a gas burner, or do you have an electric stove? I can imagine a pot withstanding some kinds of electric stove longer than a gas stove.
posted by WasabiFlux at 9:49 PM on January 8


First of all, your cookware is PFOA-free, per KitchenAid's product specs.

Secondly, you can just ask KitchenAid, they know under what conditions their products will become damaged. They're going to err on the side of caution because it's in their best interest to do so -- their reputation for safety, plus you potentially buying a new pan from them. (I expect they'll say that the pan is probably fine but that you may have shortened its lifespan a bit.)

The Notorious B.F.G.: "Is there any way to tell how nonstick it still is without, well, having something stick?"

Not really, but while ongoing exposure to fumes from overheated degraded Teflon is harmful, frying one more egg in the pan on medium heat to test the surface isn't going to douse you in poison.
posted by desuetude at 10:13 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


I would toss it because I don't feel like I could know for sure if it's dumping harmful stuff into what I'm eating/breathing but I'm also generally suspicious of non-stick stuff regardless of what I read.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:38 PM on January 8


It's not entirely clear to me that the pot had a teflon coating in the first place though? The amazon reviews seem mixed on this point.

No, what it has is a extra-thick layer of aluminum-oxide. Thicker than the 4 nanometer layer that rapidly forms on any freshly machined aluminum face exposed to air.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:19 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Bonus Question: Is there any way to tell how nonstick it still is without, well, having something stick?

Just fry a single egg on it.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:23 AM on January 9


The ad provided in the question says the inside of the set is coated with nonstick material which is safe up to 400°F, which isn't much when you heat a pan on high throughout the night, so…

Testing to fry an egg? I would not trust standing close to that pan, let alone eating that egg, frankly.
posted by Namlit at 3:47 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


When in doubt, throw it out. Why take a chance?
posted by matty at 4:53 AM on January 9


I'd dump it and buy myself a cast iron pan that your children can will to their grandchildren. There is a learning curve and some maintenance involved but a cast iron pan can be just as non-stick as any teflon pan when seasoned correctly and it will leech iron into your food instead of who knows what. Oh, and buy yourself a timer and set it EVERY time you turn your stove on. Get in this habit and it will save your ass within a month.
posted by any major dude at 6:23 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


This happened to me and I tossed the pan. And I use cast iron now.
posted by escabeche at 7:19 AM on January 9


I purchased the same set after extensive research. I want to point out that Hard Anodized Aluminum ends up working as a non-stick surface - BUT it is not a non-stick coating and does not use any Teflon.

"Infused anodized cookware is aluminum pots and pans that have been treated with polymers, acids and electrical charges to create a surface that is almost completely nonporous. The benefit of infused anodized cookware is that food will rarely stick to the bottom of the pan and the aluminum will heat very quickly. One potential drawback is that, while the pans are very durable under most situations, they are vulnerable to some chemicals, acidic products and high heat. The coating on infused anodized cookware is smooth and does not resemble more traditional nonstick coatings. Over time, from normal wear and usage, the anodized surface of the cookware will start to pull away from the base aluminum and eventually leave the pan without a coating, at which time most manufacturers recommend disposing of the pan."

I would also contact Kitchenaid for their opinion - but would be prepared to do a test fried egg and barring any change in stickiness, would keep the pan.
posted by Lizc at 9:50 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


If you decide you need a new pan, this is the non-stick pan that Cook's Illustrated recommends, after much testing. Works great and it's cheap enough to buy a new one whenever you're unsure about the old one. I've tried to like cast iron and support it in principle, but in practice it's too heavy, too much of a hassle to wash it differently than everything else, and ends up sitting at the bottom of the pile unused. YMMV.
posted by echo target at 9:54 AM on January 9


We have one hard anodised pan that we use just for eggs.

The ones we've bought give up the ghost over time: the surface dulls and eggs start to stick, and that's when we toss the pan and get a new one. That usually takes a couple of years of fairly regular use. Being left on high may have given it a couple of years' worth of use overnight.

nthing the egg test: I'd toss it if it's lost its non-stick properties, but I wouldn't be as concerned about safety/toxicity as I would with a coated pan.
posted by holgate at 10:14 AM on January 9


The listing for your cooking set says that it's safe up to 400F. That's the rating for the nonstick interior coating. This is consistent with a Teflon-style coating.

"Hard anodized" refers to the exterior coating, which is done to improve the durability and appearance of the aluminum cookware, and is unrelated to the nonstick.

A Teflon-coated pan, left on a burner overnight when dry and empty, will definitely reach over 400F at least in spots. This will cause the coating to break down, and convert parts of it into toxic and carcinogenic chemicals which will both gassify into the air and also leach into any food subsequently cooked in that pan.

The pan needs to be tossed. This is the achilles heel of nonstick cookware -- if they are heated dry, they become toxic and need to be thrown out. If you, like me, can't deal with that restriction then nonstick is not for you.
posted by Scientist at 10:28 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


After further poking around online I believe nearly all hard anodized nonstick cookware has a fluoropolymer (PFOA/PTFE/Teflon) coating on top of the aluminum oxide.

In most cases the provided product information will barely hint at this, which is probably deliberate deception.

In the rare case that a pan doesn't have a Teflon coating, it probably has a plastic or rubber handle that can't take a 400 F heat, which means you can't use the maximum temperature rating as a way of separating the two types of cookware.

There are some manufacturers that make hard anodized cookware that don't contain Teflon.
e.g. (amazon link) Those particular pans linked are a bit flaky - reading reviews I think if you're not careful you can accidentally fuse a tough high-stick layer of vegetable oil onto them in normal cooking.

People who are worried about Teflon should probably use cast iron or ceramic-lined cookware. Or buy hard-anodized pans that explicitly say no fluoropolymer (PFOA/PTFE/Teflon) in the product information.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:55 PM on January 9


"Hard anodized" refers to the exterior coating, which is done to improve the durability and appearance of the aluminum cookware, and is unrelated to the nonstick.

I'm pretty sure it's the inside cooking surface as well.

But the inside will also usually have Teflon too.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:57 PM on January 9


Voting throw it out. It's damaged at a bare minimum and possibly unhealthy. Not worth the risk.
posted by cnc at 4:01 PM on January 9


« Older What are good examples of tech...   |  I'm interested in going to gra... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments



Post