Does broiling empty nonstick pans kill them?
October 6, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Did I just ruin half my pots and pans?

This is kind of related to this question, but at a higher temperature. For storage space, we keep some of the pots and pans in the oven, as we hardly use it. Forgetting this, I set it to broil and didn't realize my mistake until I smelled heated plastic. About two minutes after smelling it, I realized what it was and yanked everything out of the oven.

The handle on one of the pots is nobly and bubbly looking and that pan is warped. The two non-stick pots don't have this. However, when I took a sniff of them, there's a weird, off putting smell there, which hasn't gone away after 20 minutes. This smell was not there before. I'd rather not have to replace them, but if I hit that crucial temperature that makes them unsafe (gas oven, broil is a setting with no high or low to it), I'd rather know that now than later.

So can I still use these pots and pan? Or have I permanently slagged the nonstick coating and need to replace them? (Can I just wash them out and if the smell is gone use them?)
posted by Hactar to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
Can you use them? Sure. The worst that will happen is the nonstick coating comes off into your food, and maybe tastes bad. Nonstick coating like Teflon is an FDA approved food additive for this very reason, and has been tested to get this approval. I would suggest trying some scrambled eggs in them, and see how they turn out.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:11 AM on October 6, 2010

Also, the nonstick coating does evaporate at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, so if they were directly under the broiler then yes the nonstick is probably gone. But it doesn't hurt to test them before tossing.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:13 AM on October 6, 2010

Air out your kitchen. Teflon (if that's your non-stick coating out-gasses some nasty fumes about 500˚F. I'm not a chemist, so I can't advise on the state of the pans.

Good luck!
posted by alexandermatheson at 11:14 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

overheated nonstick can be dangerous - toxic, both in food-contact and in fumes. Please throw them out, and realize that you've learned from the experience, as will everyone who reads this.

the things that don't have nonstick aren't horribly damaged, (even though they're warped ...That warp won't go away, either) though you'll want to be careful if the melted handles aren't fully supported by metal inside. If it's crumbly at all, pay attention or use a camping pot-handle when using those pans.

...anyway, that's what I'd do.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 11:15 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I would toss them and gradually replace them with cast-iron and clad pieces.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:18 AM on October 6, 2010

Please, Please take what I am the Walrus says with a grain of salt. It's safe to a point. I looked up this article: read the whole article, even the graphs/charts.

The article states "The risk to consumers is considered negligible." but for things like this, I recall my Father-In-Law's rant: "Scientists used to say that butter was bad, and to use margarine, and now they say margarine is bad, and to use butter, so I don't believe any of them anymore."

The article also says,"What should you do if the pan does become damaged? A clear answer, from Kannan: Throw it out."
posted by ChefJoAnna at 11:25 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you don't want to be eating any flaking-off PFOA (or breathing it, the airing out advice is good!). PFOA (teflon) has a sizable body of toxicology research, and it supports pitching the damaged non-stick pans.
posted by ldthomps at 11:31 AM on October 6, 2010

Chucked them. Not happy about this, but it's safer. And don't worry, I've been airing out the apartment since I pulled them out of the oven.

Thanks everyone.

Going to try to stop us from storing things that don't go in the oven (bake sheets and the like) in the over anymore.
posted by Hactar at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2010

(Also, my roommate said he'd replace the pan, so all I have to worry about is a new pot. We didn't need two small sauce pans anyway.)
posted by Hactar at 11:49 AM on October 6, 2010

yes, good thing you tossed them. I added a ton of storage to my tiny kitchen by putting a small wire shelf on a bit of wall up near the ceiling, then putting hooks on it to hang a lot of pots and pans from.
posted by jrishel at 12:59 PM on October 6, 2010

now that the item is resolved... wanna hear a story?

I was cooking a large party at a clients house. The client's elderly mother had been staying with them for a week before the party. I had one of my assistants turn on the oven, and i made sure she checked it was empty first, as lots of people use their ovens for storage of infrequently-used pots & pans. (little consolation to you, OP, but of course you KNOW you're not the only one!)

Soon, we all smelled a sickeningly-sweet sorta-rotten plastic-burning horrible smell.

I opened the oven door, and smoke started billowing out. I soon discovered a melted tub of shoulda-been-frozen chocolate chip cookie dough in the furthest-back part of the top rack. It was way back there, and judging by the smell, it had been there for a few days. It couldn't be seen from the quick glance one does when checking for a pan. The plastic tub melted, and the plastic and cookie dough oozed through both racks and were now burning on the oven floor.

Turns out the elderly mother had hidden it there, but forgot where she'd hidden it. When she couldn't turn it up, she thought the daughter, who disapproved of her eating so much junk food, had found it and threw it away. That was a fun argument to witness. :-(

Mom admitted it that she hid it, because the client/daughter was FURIOUS with me that her house now stunk (oy did it ever) and she was expecting guests. She had already been yelling at me for causing the stink when Mom came over and took the blame. And oh yeah, I had to clean it up, and i still had to bake things for the party.

Moral of the story: don't put stuff in the oven that isn't food you're about to cook in the immediate present!
posted by ChefJoAnna at 2:28 PM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

« Older What drawing tool lets a non-geek make a webcomic?   |   Books on Papal history? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.