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Is Nonstick Cooking Spray Harming Your Pans?

A man sprays a pan with cooking spray.

It’s time to cook dinner. You reach for your handy non-stick pan and some cooking spray just to be extra sure your food doesn’t stick. While this might seem like a good call in the moment, you should probably rethink it.

Your non-stick pans can be damaged by non-stick cooking spray, and over time, you might end up needing new cookware as a result.

Most non-stick cookware has a Teflon or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) that keeps food from sticking using a combination of carbon and fluorine atoms. Unfortunately, when non-stick cooking spray is used on these surfaces, it’s nearly impossible to remove.

While your pan might seem fine at first, over time, the spray will build up and compromise performance, causing food to stick.

T-fal Titanium Advanced Nonstick Fry Pan

If you've used a bit too much cooking spray, you might need a new pan altogether.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use oil if you’re worried about food sticking to your pan. Olive oil, canola oil, and other types of cooking oils are all safe options. Use a minimal amount of oil and cook on medium heat as high heat can also be a source of damage to non-stick coatings.

If your non-stick pan is, well, no longer non-stick, it might be time to invest in new cookware. This time, though, skip the cooking spray.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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