As much as we’d like them to stay pristine forever, nonstick pans have an expiration date. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to tell when it’s time to toss them, but there are a few key signs to look for.
Ultimately, there’s no hard and fast date for replacing nonstick pans, but the wear and tear on them is how you’ll know when to replace each one.
First, you should check for any flaking. Nonstick pans are coated in a material that makes them, well, nonstick. For some pans, there’s a plastic-like coating, and for ceramic options, it’s a glass-like finish. Both of them can begin to chip and flake. While ingesting a bit of this isn’t harmful, it’s best to say goodbye once this process begins, and it’s only likely to get worse as time goes on.
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Scratching is another visual indicator. If the pan has been damaged using metal utensils or other sharp objects, you’ll likely see scratch lines in the pan that appear white and dry. This means the coating has worn down in those areas, and they’ll become clingy—not what you want from a non-stick surface. While this type of damage can be circumvented over time by using a bit of extra oil or fat to prevent food sticking, it does mean your pan is likely on its last leg.
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Basically, if you see visual damage or notice sticking in your pan, those are clear indicators that it’s time to get shopping for new cookware. Ultimately, you should ensure that your pans are well cared for in order to prevent frequent replacing. If that time has come, though, there’s plenty of quality cookware to choose from.