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Sep 25, 2009 08:41 AM

Can deglazing damage your pan?

A lot of people seem to use SS pans to deglaze. Will pouring room-temp wine into a hot pan cause undue stress?
I have Hard anodised Aluminium and enamelled Cast iron.

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  1. Tossing a few ounces of wine into a hot pan - still on heat - does relatively little to change the pan's temperature. Immersing a hot pan into room-temp liquid is another matter entirely. Deglaze away

    2 Replies
      1. re: Soop


        I agree with Ferret. A small volume of liquid will not hurt your pan because the change in temperature is too small -- at the end that is what it counts. If you think about it, you probably change the pan's temperature when you put a piece of meat onto the pan too, right?

    1. Yes, it can. I'll explain:

      Things expand with heat. The hotter the more they expand.

      Take a saucepan and heat it on the stove as usual. The bottom will get hot. Eventually the sides will be hot too. Please notice that the bottom gets hot, thus expanding, before the sides, and since it gets hotter it expands more.

      That means the bottom is larger than it was, but since the sides have also expanded, everything fits generally well. But then... *splash*..... Toss in some water or wine and the bottom suddenly cools and, more importantly, *shrinks*. Just the bottom, as the sides and perhaps the edges of the bottom are still at a higher temp.

      Now, when the bottom contracts because of the lower temperature it pulls on the sides of the pan. But, the sides of the pan resist this effect. What happens all too often is that the metal of the pan bottom *stretches*, or I should say 'is stretched by the still hot sides and edges'.

      No big deal, right? Wrong. Once you've stretched the metal, it doesn't 'spring back', it remains larger. That means you've now got a pan with a bottom that's just tiny bit too large. However, like trying to fit something just a wee bit too big in a tight space, the larger bottom won't 'fit' right anymore, unless something bends. And it's the bottom that bends, into a concave or convex shape.

      Simple metallurgy, engineering and physics, and you can't escape from it unless you've got a rather thick bottom to resist warping which will let the sides compress the bottom without it 'popping' in or out. A stiffer metal like cast iron helps too, while aluminum is ductile enough that it'll eventually warp if you keep splashing cold liquids in a hot bottom. Stainless-encapsulated aluminum bottomed pans are generally resistant to the warping, simply because the SS 'insulates' the aluminum, slowing down the heat transfer enough that the temperature difference (or temp. shock) is lessened.

      Deglazing your cast iron, no problem. The anodized aluminum will eventually warp somewhat from repeated deglazings, though.

      14 Replies
        1. re: ferret

          I agree with ferret. One can, possibly, over time and neglect ruin pans. Respect your cookware, or not, and for the most part, all will turn out well enough.

          Besides, deglazing helps to remove the charred bits so one isn't stuck scraping pieces off with a harsher material and/or chemical.

        2. re: ThreeGigs

          By your logic, the very act of putting a pan on a burner will ruin it.

          You need better pans.

          1. re: ThreeGigs

            I am going to disagree with you on a number of points...

            < Once you've stretched the metal, it doesn't 'spring back',>

            Absolutely it does. It stretches according to Young's modulus of elasticity and will 'spring' back provided it does not fracture or reach the stage of plastic deformation. We frequently heat metals, fit them and then allow them to shrink tight. This goes back to wine casks and wagon wheels.

            <stiffer metal like cast iron>

            Steel is 'stiffer' than cast iron both in tension and shear. More similar in terms of compression. Stainless steel is stiffer than steel.

            <The anodized aluminum will eventually warp somewhat from repeated deglazings>

            Repetition will not affect steel or aluminiums abilty to return to its previous relatively unstressed state unless fatigue is an issue. Cast iron is more likely to fracture as it is less ductile. (Not entirely true as stress relief can take place at high temperatures, or at very high temperature the crystalline structure can change - all that martensite, austenite cementite etc stuff I have thankfully forgotten.)

            <while aluminum is ductile enough that it'll eventually warp if you keep splashing cold liquids in a hot bottom>

            The rapid cooling of the centre of the pan will be affected by its malleability rather than its ductility.

            And finally from an emprical basis I deglaze my pans and so far they have remained flat.

            Edit: forgot to mention in stress situations like above I think it unlikely to get uniform deformation leading to a concave bottom. The best example to think of is a think cookie sheet in an oven. It doesn't bell, it twists.

            1. re: Paulustrious

              < provided it does not fracture or reach the stage of plastic deformation >
              But that's my point. A 250 degree (F) increase or decrease in temp will cause a 12 inch aluminum pan's bottom to grow or shrink by roughly a millimeter, or 3/64ths of an inch.
              To use your example, if you heated a band of aluminum and shrink-fit it on a thin disk of aluminum, wouldn't the disk be under compression when the band around it cooled? And the disk would tend to try and favor a shape to reduce the stress, which would be a convex/cave shape. And a band around a disk is exactly the shape of a pan.
              Also, if this effect didn't happen, pans wouldn't warp. At all. But they do, and the edges of the pan being stretched beyond their plastic deformation limit, or the sides being pulled in past the limits of elastic modulus, cause it.

              <Steel is 'stiffer' than cast iron both in tension and shear.>
              True, and perhaps I wasn't clear enough, but I was comparing the stiffness of cast iron to aluminum, not stainless steel. Most SS-only pans use a rather thin sheet of the stuff to which the word stiff wouldn't apply.

              <Repetition will not affect steel or aluminiums abilty to return to its previous relatively unstressed state >
              I was talking specifically about aluminum pans, not steel. The repetion of small plastic deformations will eventually even out and produce a uniformly oversized bottom, which will tend to warp.

              <The rapid cooling of the centre of the pan will be affected by its malleability rather than its ductility>
              Don't forget the sides, which is what I'm also talking of. If the shrinking bottom 'bends' the bottom of the sides inward evenly, it leaves behind a compressive stress on the bottom which increases the tendency for it to bow 'up'.

              <And finally from an emprical basis >
              From an anecdotal basis, we've all, I'm sure, seen warped pots and pans. And I'm sure we all know that thicker bottoms warp less, but that's simply because they're better able to resist the tendency of the metal to deform into a shape with less stress because of the thicker cross section.

              Caralien has it right, though. Don't deglaze a very hot pan and you'll be fine. Respect the cookware.

              FYI: The reason cookie sheets 'twist' is the same reason spoked bicycle wheels 'figure eight'. It's the shape with the lowest stress that a cookie sheet with a shrunken center and stiff edges can take.

              1. re: ThreeGigs

                "Don't deglaze a very hot pan and you'll be fine"

                Caralien said that???
                Stop worrying so much and just cook. This is a non-issue. Let the deglazing begin!

                1. re: ThreeGigs

                  "Don't deglaze a very hot pan and you'll be fine. Respect the cookware."

                  Pans are tools and not museum pieces. I take very good care of mine but I also use them. Part of normal use in my house is deglazing, and yes, it usually happens at a pretty high temperature.

                  1. re: ThreeGigs

                    >>"A 250 degree (F) increase or decrease in temp will cause a 12 inch aluminum pan's bottom to grow or shrink by roughly a millimeter,"<<

                    My 12" aluminum pan weighs about three pounds. My physics is rusty, but if you have that smoking hot (500F), isn't it going to take a whole lot of room-temp liquid to drop that temp by 250F?

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      In general if you have pans that are seriously hot you will get a lot of boiling at the interface and the steam acts as an insulation layer. It will take quite a few seconds to lower the temperature to (say) 220F.

                      My avatar shows my thoughts on deglazing.

                  2. re: Paulustrious

                    Hey Paulustrious: I was trying to deglaze an All Clad LTD pan, and it warped, right there on the burner, and remained warped. I tossed it out of disgust. However, aluminum half sheet pans will warp when liquid is put into them while hot, but then they flatten out again. Could be a coincidence, but the only pans I ever have problems with seem to be anodized aluminum. My Calphalon skillets tend to spin on my flat burners too.

                    1. re: RGC1982

                      Oh believe me, I didn't say that pans could not warp, I just took issue with certain statements that were given as facts but i thought were questionable. I suspect many pans (especially stamped and multi-ply) can be constructed and leave high levels of internal stress. These are very likely to find an alternative stable geometry. (Posh way of saying warped)

                      1. re: Paulustrious

                        You guys must be very abusive. My Calphalon Triply cookware have yet to warp on me and I am fairly careless from time to time, like boiling my pan to complete dryness for 10 second before I realize there is no boiling sound.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          One should not be abusive when pan-handling.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I admit it. I had to enter a ten step program for pot abuse.
                            One flambe is too many and a thousand is never enough.

                  3. No. I have seen run of the mill aluminum and SS pans get used to extremes and deglazed dozens of times a day for years on end. If they can take that in a commercial kitchen you will not wear one out at home from simply delazing. It's just a pan not an SR-71.
                    Enamled cast Iron is even more durable.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Only the cheapest, thinnest, poorest quality pans will warp if you do a simple deglaze, and only if you seriously overheat the pan. If you ruin a pan that way, your pan is (was) crap. Toss it and buy a decent one. Stainless with a copper or aluminum bottom, and enameled cast iron are excellent for making fond for deglazing. Plain cast iron will turn your sauce grey, and anodized aluminum doesn't give you a decent fond. Never tried it with plain aluminum. I expect teflon coated aluminum would be even worse than anodized.

                      Soop, go with the enameled cast iron.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Zeldog

                        If this damages a pan then I guess I want to damage every pan I own. Pan sauces and deglazing is what is fun about cooking. I also love to clean my pans by deglazing. Its much better than scrubbing.

                        1. re: mmdad

                          There ya go. A pan is just a tool. Use it well, eat well! :)

                          1. re: Fritter

                            Hear, hear, mmdad and Fritter. I don't recall ever once seeing JC or JB and any one of the master chefs I've watched through the years agonize over deglazing.

                            Anyway, the way I see it is that my cookware was meant to serve me, not the converse.

                          2. re: mmdad

                            Snap - and I deglaze with a sauce made of water and sunlight.

                        2. In 50 years of cooking, I've never had a problem. I don't use cheap pans, however.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: pikawicca

                            With the exception of the All Clad LTD, the only problems I have ever had have been with cheap and/or anodized aluminum pans. The All Clad LTD was an expensive standout.

                            I think heavy disk bottomed stainless steel, professional grade copper and high quality clad pans don't have these issues. These support your statement about not experiencing this with cheap pans, for the most part. Again, I think the exception is anodized aluminum, and this is usually cheap -- except for All Clad.

                            1. re: RGC1982

                              " I tossed it out of disgust"

                              Considering they have a life time warranty that was an expensive mistake. Deglazing is normal use. You don't deglaze with a cold pan. There is no comparison between a sheet pan and a saute pan. Sheet pans are flat and thin. Because you had a single defective product only means one thing:
                              You should have sent it back for a free replacement.

                              1. re: Fritter

                                If RGC either registered it or still has the receipt, it might still be worth a try to contact AC, explain what happened to the AC Ltd., and see if they'll still offer recourse (or at least partial resource). After all, I know that many people love their AC, but complaints of warping *have* been an issue for AC. (Not saying how much of the warping discussion is true, or who is to blame, but I know mine's warp and I know that I used it and treated it properly.)

                                But the point is, maybe AC would still help RGC is some way, even without the actual pan. And, depending on how long ago it was purchased, if it were done through a credit card, the card company may still be able to provide something that will serve as proof of purchase.

                                You're right; good cookware can be an awfully expensive proposition, so if people have complaints, they should seek assistance under the warranties.

                                1. re: Normandie

                                  I have never had to use AC customer service but I can tell you my experience with Calphalon warranty service was incredibly good.

                                  1. re: Fritter

                                    I'm glad to hear that. I don't know much about Calphalon's customer service, but my two favorite SS sauce pans are the Calphalon multiclad copper (or whatever they're called). I did notice the language of the literature that came with them seemed customer-oriented.

                                    Likewise, I've never needed to invoke the LC warranty, but I corresponded with their customer service department quite a bit, and it provides *excellent* service. So my impression is that most of the higher-end manufacturers really do want to stand by their products and do what they can to win user loyalty.