Long live the non-stick frying pan!

We recently received a brilliant email from a chap called Jim who was suitably impressed by our frying pan report (thanks Jim!) and who had some wonderful advice on how to restore the non-stickiness to your non-stick frying pan!  We wanted to share it with you all, so here is Jim’s advice…

As you know already, PTFE coatings frequently lose their non-stick property as a thin adherent film of pyrolytic carbon accumulates on top of the PTFE non-stick layer (ironically, one of the few materials that can stick to PTFE is this form of carbon).

Unfortunately the carbon layer is normally the same colour as the PTFE neneath (ie. black) - such that very few users recognise what’s wrong.

Until, that is, their eggs begin to stick. And then, frustrated and failing to recognise the cause, they may finish by throwing away an otherwise good pan. Not perhaps the best example of ’sustainable living’ !

But a problem understood is a problem half solved. And this problem is curiously easy to diagnose. Just place a little cold water in the pan, swirl it around, and let it come to rest with the pan slightly tilted. Where a carbon film is present, the surface of the pan remains wet across the whole base of the pan.

The way to restore the non-stick property is simply to remove the carbon film, exposing the original PTFE beneath. Given that the carbon film is quite hard, whilst the original PTFE coating is soft, the obvious way to achieve this is to rub the inside of the pan with a hard abrasive - eg. ‘wet and dry’ paper, using it wet to avoid clogging.

Typically ’P600′ or ‘P400′ grade abrasive paper will be suitable, though for very heavy contamination a coarser grade may be required to get the job done in a reasonable time.

The idea is to rub down the base of the pan as if you were removing a hard paint film, pressing quite hard with a small patch of abrasive paper folded back on itself, and swirling around a small puddle of water as you go.

Keep on rubbing away until you begin to see regions of the surface that dry off quickly just after you have rubbed them. The reason that they dry off is that you have now removed the carbon film, exposing the original PTFE beneath (PTFE isn’t wetted by water).

Of course you don’t want to remove the softer PTFE layer itself, or not if you can help it. So you concentrate now on rubbing just those portions of the surface which still remain wet as you go over them.

Very likely the water in the pan will quickly become black with all the carbon you are removing. It’s a sign, of course, that you are making good progress. But by all means tip this dirty water down the sink, and replace it with clean.

Eventually you should reach the stage where the entire surface dries almost instantly as you swill the water around in the base of the pan. The job is now done, and provided the PTFE layer itself has survived you should get several years more of trouble-free service from your quality pan.

Take a look at these photos that Jim sent us of his Crown Merton frying pan that he has had for 45 years and that is now as good as new after he used the above method to clean it!

Now it’s our turn to be impressed Jim!  Thank you so much for sharing this, we are sure it will be a great help to lots of our Art of Living customers.

For even more information on how to prolong the life of your non-stick pans and for advice on an alternative take a look at our previous blog entry titled “Non-Stick Pans - the facts!”