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Comparisons of alternative non-sticks?

I know there are a zillion threads on non-stick cookware already - I didn't see any that exactly handled this question but I apologize if I overlooked it.

Has anyone, e.g., Cook's Magazine, Which?, Consumer Reports, etc, done any tests of the new "alternative" non-stick surfaces? There's tons of products out there - Safepan, Green Pan, EarthPan, (Cuisinart) Ceramica, etc, etc.

How non-stick are they, especially for cooking omelettes and other eggy stuff? Do they retain their non-stick qualities? How durable are they?

Currently we buy cheap, e.g., KitchenAid, TFAL, etc, small (8" or 10") skillets. And invariably we replace them every year because someone accidently leaves the burner on or too high, or they get scratched or start to peel. The waste and carbon footprint of throwing pans out all the time and lingering safety concerns about Teflon makes us seek alternatives. Well-seasoned iron works well but it's very heavy, especially for my wife, and it's high-maintenance to keep it seasoned and rust-free.

We've tried anodized aluminum (Calphalon) and enameled iron ( Le Creuset ) but eggs stuck (and the Le Creuset was heavy and the handle was hot) .

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  1. plnelson: "Currently we buy cheap, e.g., KitchenAid, TFAL, etc, small (8" or 10") skillets. And invariably we replace them every year because someone accidently leaves the burner on or too high, or they get scratched or start to peel. The waste and carbon footprint of throwing pans out all the time and lingering safety concerns about Teflon makes us seek alternatives."

    This may seem facetious, but we think the VERY BEST nonstick is the one shown in the attached photo. Seriously. (Well, mostly seriously.)

     
    1 Reply
    1. re: Politeness

      I've never been able to get that to work well without using a lot of it. For some things that's OK, e.g., French toast, because I'm going to put a lot of butter on it anyway, but I don't like eggs oily - I like omelettes, scrambled eggs, etc, light and fluffy.

      This morning I was experimenting with an 8" LC that was based on a design from Cousances. I tried an omelette with a little (maybe 1/2 teaspoon?) olive oil, and that stuck. Then I cleaned it out and cooked up some Canadian Bacon (which is lower fat than US strips, but still greasy); took the bacon out and kept the grease and made scrambled eggs and even though I turned them frequently in more grease than I would normally eat, it STILL stuck in places!

      Meanwhile our Analon 8" Teflon was perfect with no lube. But this was our Analon's last hurrah - it's gouged and scratched after a year of use, so today I tossed it and got a KitchenAid 8" for $12 at Marshalls. That's what motivated me to post my question - I like nonstick but I'm getting tired of replacing our pans all the time.

    2. You're going to hate me for this but there isn't a single pan out there that will last for you. You abuse your cookware and cook at too high a heat. That's why everything sticks and having gouges "ruin a surface after only a year" is terrible.
      You haven't heard of wooden or silicone spatulas? Plastic spoons? It's not rocket science.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Dimwit

        "You're going to hate me for this but there isn't a single pan out there that will last for you."

        Our LC and stainless steel pots last just fine- they just stick. That's why I asked if anyone had tested the alternative non-stick surfaces.

        I don't think of it as a matter of "abuse" - Teflon has to be BABY'd. We do use plastic and wood utensils in our Teflon pans - but the gouges happen because we stack our cookware when we store it so flat stuff like skillets end up at the bottom, or we throw them in the sink and other stuff gets thrown on top of them. To me that's normal use, not abuse, because Teflon is the only stuff that seems to have a problem with it. So back to the original question . . .

        1. re: plnelson

          A suggestion for stacking your teflon coated frying pans: put paper plates in between them. The heavy chinet kind work best. Your pans will last a whole lot longer, but of course not forever. Another suggestion: I recently bought a heavy stainless steel frying pan at a local restaurant supply place. I've been very happy with it because you can cook at high heat and if you let meat sit in place until it's brown it doesn't stick. And you get a really nice fond for making pan sauces. I wouldn't cook eggs in it, of course. But it does a great job on other things. I was hoping to see an answer to your original question, since I saw some of those "green" pans at Bed, Bath & Beyond and was wondering how they compare to teflon. I guess they're too new to get definite answers on longevity. Maybe Consumer Reports will do a test soon, and then we'll both know.

          1. re: plnelson

            I have to agree. I've had my anolon for over a year, and they're as good as new because I take care of them. I hang them on hooks rather than stack them, and any metal implements are banned.

            Lo and behold, unblemished pans. I guess it's a choice of changing the way you cook, buying new pans every year, or giving up eggs.

        2. "The waste and carbon footprint of throwing pans out all the time and lingering safety concerns about Teflon makes us seek alternatives."

          I'm so effing tired of hearing this. Aluminum Teflon-coated pans are recyclable. You're not throwing them in the trash, are you? And, please show me one *definitive* report that details the supposed "safety concerns." Bzzzt! You can't.

          Have fun trying to find your dream-ware.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Joe Blowe

            Joe,

            Even if it is recyclable, there is still enormous energy and resource to be allocated for the recycling process, which is why something like cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel pans are actually more green because these pans last as long as the user wants -- until he/she want to upgrade. The whole green pan thing is all hyped up. If I tell you that you can get rich by sending me money, what do you think? Well, these green pans tell you that you can be green by tossing away your existing pans and buy a new one. How green is that?

            plnelson,

            Have you considered a carbon steel pan? It is much lighter than a standard cast iron pan and it can be seasoned -- so it has nonstick ability. As you know, Telfon nonstick pans usually do not last very long because the nonstick coating do not fair well at high temperature or rough handling. Consequently, a lot of people reserve one nonstick pan for eggs and just for eggs. They make sure that pan is never bought up to high heat or abuse. As such, this specialized nonstick pan will last a very long time.

            There are reviews written for these alternative nonstick pans, but I have never seen they all reviewed at the same time.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Chem,

              I simply DO NOT CARE about the energy and resources used to manufacture and recycle Teflon (PTFE) pans. If the best tool for a particular job happens to be a PTFE pan, and if *I* need to buy *ONE* non-stick pan EVERY FIVE TO TEN YEARS, so be it. That's the cost, and I'm happy to pay it.

              And if someone else needs to buy PTFE pans on a more frequent basis, big deal. (Although, 'plnelson' needs a lesson or two on how to treat non-stick cookware.) There are certainly worse offenders to be dealt with. Again, non-stick cookware is just one tool in an arsenal, and like every other piece of cookware in the kitchen it excels at some things and does poorly at others. IMO, every kitchen needs a non-stick pan in addition to a collection of cast iron, stainless or carbon steel, etc.

              Everyday that goes by we hear that our planet is not in the dire straights once predicted. I'm not saying we should go back to our old ways -- definitely not -- but if someone can't have a $10 non-stick pan in their kitchen without being made to feel like Evil General Electric dumping PCBs in the Hudson... well, this is the utopia we're setting up for ourselves?

              1. re: Joe Blowe

                "IMO, every kitchen needs a non-stick pan in addition to a collection of cast iron, stainless or carbon steel, etc"

                I agree, but there are at least a half dozen companies CLAIMING to make non-stick cookware that doesn't suffer from the fragility of teflon, so my question was whether there is any basis for these claims or whether they're just marketing BS taking advantage of naive consumers.

                If it's a choice between coddling my teflon pan and buying a new $12 one every year I'll happily take the latter - my time and limited kitchen real-estate are easily worth it. I have a whole set of plastic spoons, whisks, and spatulas I could also get rid of if it weren't for the teflon.

                But my question in this thread is whether that IS the only choice and so far almost everyone is going off on tangents unrelated to the original question.

                1. re: plnelson

                  "...or whether they're just marketing BS taking advantage of naive consumers."

                  Yes, sir!! Correct, sir!

                  "If it's a choice between coddling my teflon pan and buying a new $12 one every year I'll happily take the latter..."

                  Now you're talking. It's just another kitchen tool with a well-defined lifespan. Use 'em for what they're worth, and then move on to the next one. (And don't let the Greenies make you feel bad for doing it!)

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                "Have you considered a carbon steel pan? It is much lighter than a standard cast iron pan and it can be seasoned -- so it has nonstick ability"

                I haven't had any success cooking omelettes and the like on our Farberware but maybe I'm not doing it right.

                I was under the impression that seasoning cast iron resulted in the formation of Fe3O4. Since Fe3O4 is black does that mean a properly seasoned stainless steel surface is black?

                How "slick" is a properly seasoned stainless steel surface - can I cook eggy stuff without oil?

                1. re: plnelson

                  Just a couple of points:

                  - It's probably just a typo on your part, but you cannot season stainless steel. You can season cast iron or carbon steel, but not stainless.

                  - Seasoning is not just magnetite or iron oxide, it's also polymerized oil. You will have to keep up with the seasoning throughout the life of the pan.

                  - No, you cannot cook "eggy stuff" in a properly seasoned cast iron or carbon steel pan *without* adding any oil. You will need *some* oil/butter/fat...

              3. re: Joe Blowe

                "Aluminum Teflon-coated pans are recyclable"

                Maybe where you live, but not in my town. Anyway, as I said, safety is a secondary concern - my main issue is that teflon doesn't last unless you baby it.

                So could we PLEASE get back to the question? There are a whole bunch of allegedly non-stick surfaces out there these days - has anyone run any real tests of them?

                1. re: plnelson

                  "So could we PLEASE get back to the question? There are a whole bunch of allegedly non-stick surfaces out there these days - has anyone run any real tests of them?"

                  No, there are no comprehensive tests to date.

                  Non-stick surfaces are *coatings*, which by their very nature are FRAGILE. Not one company has developed a ding- and scratch-proof *coating* yet (no matter what they say), so expect to replace them often if you can't/won't change your treatment of the pans.

                  We all basically answered your question, but there it is in plain English: Treat your pans differently, or expect to replace ANY non-stick pan you buy on a regular basis.

                  1. re: plnelson

                    I can guarantee you that there's not a single CHer who would buy one of each of the new pan and try them all. The only people who would give you your answer are the ones you listed in your original post - Cooks' magazine / Consumer reports / etc. I'm sure if you write to them nicely, they will feel the need of carrying out such tests for you, or direct you to a previous released issue so you can look for it.

                    The last time Cooks did a test on non-stick skillet was published in April 1, 2008. Do share what you hear from them!

              4. One of my favorite pans is a heavy T-Fal nonstick 12" skillet that I picked up from a discount store (T.J. Maxx, maybe?). It's been fantastic for anything I can throw at it and it's easily 6 or 7 years old. Finish is still intact. Not sure what you're doing to beat yours up so much, but it's not like we treat them like china teacups.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ferret

                  My personal vote for nonstick is well seasoned cast iron. It's all I have and really the only time I have any sticking issues is with things like bacon. If it's ommelettes you are worried about, i would argue that there is no substitute. Made an omelette this morning with just a little butter on medium head and it slid right out without any sticking. Probably wouldnt have even needed to rinse the pan out. Heat is also critical of course.

                  1. re: Yarr tie me to the mizzenmast

                    And in all truth.. what good is an omelet without a little butter? :)

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