If you have scratched Teflon® pots and pans, food may start to stick to the unsealed surfaces, defeating the purpose of having nonstick cookware. Although you can find some Teflon sprays at retailers, they are not designed to be used on cookware. If your cookware is heavily damaged, it may be time to dispose of it. But to head off damage at the pass before it begins, nonstick cookware use and maintenance tips should keep your Teflon pots and pans in good, scratch-free shape.
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What Makes Teflon Nonstick?
Good Housekeeping notes that Teflon is the most common brand name for nonstick cookware, but other brands use similar technology. This type of cookware is coated with proprietary blends of synthetic per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS) that form compounds, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Science aside, the result to consumers is cookware that's easy to clean because food doesn't stick (or sticks less) during cooking.
Potential Hazards of Scratched Teflon
Although the jury's still out concerning the level at which PFAS may be harmful to people, the American Cancer Society reports that no proven risks have been found from using Teflon-coated cookware, although it does have the potential to be a health concern. Since 2015, Teflon cookware stopped using one of the chemicals that some agencies considered potentially hazardous — PFOA. But if your scratched Teflon or scratched Tefal® pan (also known as T-Fal®), which is another nonstick brand, is older than 2015, it may contain PFOA.
It's also worthy of noting that veterinary experts, including the Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, caution pet bird owners that the fumes released when Teflon-coated pans are heated at high temperatures (500 degrees F) can be toxic or even fatal to pet birds.
Nonstick Cookware Repair Sprays
If you're looking for nonstick cookware repair spray that Home Depot and other retailers carry, a review of the product labels reveals that they are not actually formulated for cookware. "Teflon" does not exclusively apply to cookware; it's also used in many other home, commercial and industrial applications. For example, you may see Teflon sprays that lubricate window and door tracks, locks, hinges and metal products. There's even a Teflon repellant for snow and ice buildup on snow blowers and the undercarriage of cars.
Some companies do provide Teflon recoating services on cookware and bakeware for commercial businesses in the food processing industry. And some of these companies, such as Surface Technology, also provide recoating services for domestic cookware. But reapplying Teflon to cookware isn't an easy homeowner's fix for scratched Teflon pots or pans because of the unavailability of reputable nonstick cookware repair sprays specifically formulated for this use.
Preventing Scratched Teflon Damage
You can prevent damage to your scratched Teflon pans and extend the life of your nonstick cookware by properly cleaning it and using the correct utensils when cooking. Although some Teflon cookware can stand up to metal utensils, using wooden, plastic or heat-proof silicone utensils is always safe. Avoid using scouring pads, steel wool and abrasive cleaners on Teflon pots and pans, and unless your Teflon cookware is dishwasher-safe, use soft sponges or dish towels and dish soap.