HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Is there a technique to "unbow" older pans that no longer sit flat?

Laying on of hands by the metal gods?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Blunt force trauma by a dead blow rubber hammer or, as I did, bang the dimple on a deck post and force it back up. Worked like a charm. Pan sits flat again.

    The other Calphalon pan was sent to the land fill never to be seen again. And I will never buy Calphalon again. Wasn't any better quality than the Pampered Chef pan we tried years ago. It bowed up like a cats back just as soon as it touched heat and I immediately sent it back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BoardSMITH

      The essentail difference between high end pans like Calphalon and their cheaper brothers is that Calphalon backs their's up. If you had taken your Calphalon back to a store that carries the line, they would have, in all likelihood, given you a new one on the spot no questions asked. Been there and done that.

      1. re: GeezerGourmet

        Interesting you say that, because when I tried to return my POS Calphalon the store staff swore up and down I must have used it incorrectly. In fact, I know how to cook and use pots and pans correctly. Minus one customer for Calphalon and minus one for the store.

    2. In general, no.

      The pots and pans bow because of uneven heating and (especially) cooling. Putting cold water (or food!) in a hot pan causes the cooled part to contract, which in turn causes the contracted part to pull on the still hot parts, stretching it. What you eventually end up with is "too much" metal around the edges, which all tends to compress the center, which bends, or bows to a concave or convex shape.

      The problem with getting a pan back in shape is that reversing the process is nigh impossible. Imagine trying to take a stretched-out pie crust and shrink its diameter evenly without wrinkling it. There's really no way of keeping the pan bottom flat while compressing it from all sides (essentially making it thicker and smaller in diameter by a millimeter or so) available to the homeowner.

      In theory, you could 'anneal' the pan in question. You'd simply have to make sure the bottom is held perfectly flat, heat it up to about 800 degrees for aluminum, or 1200 degrees for steel, and then slowly let it cool. Cast iron is somewhat of an exception. Put something really heavy on your cast iron in such a way that the weight is forcing it back into the desired shape, and leave it that way for several months to a year.

      But again, in general...no. Suffer with a wobbly pan, or a pan with a hump in the middle, or buy a new one are your only real choices.

      1. You didn't say what the pan is made of...

        1 Reply
        1. re: toomanypots

          It is vintage 18-8 SS Rena Ware of which I am particularly fond. I'm going to try the rubber mallet method. Thanks.

        2. I second the rubber hammer recommendation, I've seen line cooks hammer a pile of aluminum pans back flat.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rockfish42

            Rockfish is right as long as the pan is aluminum, which is what most line cooks use, or copper. If it's steel, no way, not even with a steel hammer. I checked the Rena Ware site and they don't say, but it looks like steel to me (and the SS in the label probably means Stainless Steel). Toss it. If it warped, the bottom was probably too thin.

          2. They will never be flat enough to sit flat on a smooth top stove, no matter what you do. Maybe a gas range, but not perfectly flat.