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Jul 12, 2012 12:56 PM

Cooking Spray and Nonstick Cookware

There are lots of things that can make a nonstick surface of a pan non-nonstick. Most of these I can understand: automatic dishwashers, abrasive cleaners, etc. But one thing that is on most of the lists that I don't understand is cooking sprays.

Why would spraying oil on the pan cause it to get a grip, where pouring oil in doesn't? Is it the lecithin? (There isn't much else in there.) Why doesn't this get washed out when you clean the pan? I need help from you chemistry experts out there.

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  1. This is a good article from NYT that discusses the issue:

    "But what about PAM or other cooking sprays? I often put a few squirts on my nonstick frying pans.

    Not a great idea, I was told. After a time, the build-up in the areas where the heat doesn’t burn the spray off — like on the sides of a frying pan — becomes sticky and pasty. I found this to be true of my pans, but didn’t know why.

    Mr. Winter said it’s the soy lecithin in the spray that causes that stickiness. Instead, he recommends just using oil or a spray called Baker’s Joy that also contains flour.

    For due diligence, I checked in with DuPont, the makers of Teflon, and a spokeswoman said in an e-mail that “it is acceptable” to use nonstick cooking sprays although “not necessary.” "

    2 Replies
    1. re: breadwinner

      None of my nonstick pans are sticky. I always use lo or medium heat and they clean up fine. Smooth and dry. But after about a year and a half it starts to stick.

      1. re: breadwinner

        That's interesting. I'd read that it isn't the spray itself but the propellant that makes the pans sticky, but there's a lot of misinformation out there. The soy lecithin explanation makes more sense.