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Why do my frying pans warp?

Why do my frying pans warp? I preheat my frying pans with a Cooper grill surface thermometer placed directly on the cooking surface. When the pan gets to 400 degrees I put the meat in to sear it. I have a glass top electric range and use good quality cookware (Vollrath Tribute). When I preheat the pans the heat control is turned to 6/10. What can I do to get a good sear on an electric range without warping my pans? I have considered preheating the pan to a lower temperature then putting in the meat and jacking up the temperature but electric stoves just don't respond that quickly. Any ideas?

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  1. What do you do when you are done cooking? Do you notice it warping when it is getting hot, or is it happening during a too quick cool down?

    2 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      Happens during the heating phase. My 12" Tribute pan warped almost right away. The 14" is heavier gauge metal and lasted a couple of years before warping.

      1. re: wyogal

        my worst warped pan is cast iron. but used on very hot gas stove. i suspect it happened while deglazing. didn't notice until i used a glass top stove. i have been using a ceramic coated pan which is pretty non stick but warps. i have been thinking of going to all clad but really dislike cleaning stainless.

        1. Is this tri-ply SS/Al/SS? It's not surprising to me that any similarly constructed pan would warp being heated from one side to high temperature. I think a carbon steel or all-aluminum pan is better suited to searing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            It is tri-ply "clad" style. I recently bought an uber-heavy Vollrath Intrigue brazier that has a 1/4" thick aluminium slab welded to the bottom and it seems to heat evenly and hasn't warped (yet). I always thought tri-ply was the holy grail. Perhaps not.

          2. No expert here but I don't think they should be warping. Have you contacted Vollrath? I have a glass cooktop also. My carbon steel warped immediately. I called the company (don't recall the manufacturer) and they sent me a brand new one immediately.

            1. If you wash or dip your hot pans in cold water....they will warp....

              8 Replies
              1. re: fourunder

                My pans have always cooled before I wash them.

                1. re: MarKoz

                  Are you putting cold liquid into a very hot pan?

                    1. re: MarKoz

                      Hot pan, and cold meat. I have straightened stainless food conveyors by applying heat to one side, and cooling it with a wet rag-pulls it right over. Stainless is very squirrely when heat is applied. It moves a lot when I weld it, especially thinner sections.

                      When metal is heated it expands, when it is cooled it contracts, and if it is cooled unevenly the internal strain in the metal warps the shape.

                      1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                        The day my big pan warped I had 3 steaks in it that had sat out of the fridge 1 hour before being placed in a 275 degree oven for 30 minutes before searing in the pan.

                        Sounds like regular cooking puts a great deal of stress on metal. Another plus for gas heat where slight warps don't affect the performance (or so I'm told - I've never had the pleasure of cooking with gas).

                        1. re: MarKoz

                          Well, even on a gasrange you need a flat bottom to keep the oil evenly distributed over the bottom of the pan.

                          1. re: MarKoz

                            High heat puts increased stress on the pan, not so much "regular" cooking.

                            Is the warp permanent, or does it return to original shape when cooled?

                            1. re: GH1618

                              I can tell you my daughters warped pans are permanently warped. The bottoms look more like woks, well that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.