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Have you ever worn out a stainless pan?

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I really beat up my All-Clad pans almost every day, but they look like they will outlive me. Have any good home cooks out there actually worn out a stainless steel pan? How many years does it take? (Leaving a pan unattended and killing it by scorching doesn't count.)

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  1. What kind of damage do you have in mind when you talk of 'worn out'?

    4 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Used to the point where someone thought it was time for replacement. I suppose everyone would have different criteria. If it looked like the worst discolored, pitted, warped, and gouged pan. If the aluminum core was exposed and reacting with your tomato sauce. Maybe the handle could break off. There must be some point when a restaurant would replace a saute pan. I just wonder if the home cook could ever achieve that. Maybe I should have asked what a chowhound's criteria for pan replacement would be?

      1. re: paulj

        I have warped and bent a few aluminum pans in commercial use, and many Teflon coatings have been worn off, but All-Clad is bullet-proof if it is given reasonable care.

        I have never seen a AC pan pit, and never seen a pan that was so warped that it could not be useful. Many people who are used to inferior cookware tend to use excessive heat with AC, Sitram or copper, but that is easily cured by forcing them to clean the pans with a toothbrush.

        If the pan is burned, you can fill it with warm water and a bit of cream of tater and let sit while you eat, but let the pan cool first.

        Barkeepers Friend and a 3M green scrubbie can do wonders for stained cookware. I have seen more pans damaged by the use of a residential dishwater then cooking mistakes.

        1. re: Kelli2006

          Unfortunately, I have. My handle cracked and it became difficult to hold, maneuver and clean. Eventually the handle broke completely off. However, the pan itself is still in great shape!

          1. re: CookforFun

            I have never heard of a AC handle breaking. They have a great warranty, so I hope that you didn't discard the pan.

      2. It's really hard to do. I ruined a pot once when trying to make candy, when the sugar just seemed to become one with the bottom of the pan. Fortunately, I was using a cheap old Revereware pan because I had a hunch I might damage it. I've seen them burned on the stove, and they still come back to life.

        About the only wearing out that seems to happen, and I have no idea how long this takes, is pitting and warping. If you cook on a flat ceramic cooktop like I do, warping will cause you to toss pans well before their useful life might come to an end than if you cook on a gas range. This is because the extra mobility is dangerous, or at least a nuisance. It also means that the heat element doesn't have full contact with the bottom of the pan. I just recently tossed an All Clad LTD pan for this very reason.

        As for pitting, the only pan I have ever seen this happen to is at least thirty to forty years old, and it is an old roasting pan that was used in a restaurant kitchen. It was also used to make pan gravy, so it did make it to the stove top. As this is the only ss pan I have ever seen with pit marks, I have to assume that it had a really, really hard life before I ended up with it via my grandmother. Oddly, with all of its imperfections and permanently burned-on grease marks in the corners, it is my favorite roaster. Go figure.

        1. I have worn out at least one old-fashioned Farberware saucepan. The handle stayed on ok, but I noticed that the aluminum bottom was getting pretty thin on the outside. I used the pan from the mid-1970s through approx. 1999. That's about the time I began replacing my pans with Cuisinart stainless with copper sandwich bottoms. Much better pans!

          1. If you're talking aobut a clad pan, it would be tough to do without a welding torch.