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Mark Lipton

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Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Mark Lipton » Thu May 15, 2014 12:50 pm

I am in possession of a nearly 15-year-old All-Clad Teflon-coated frying pan. During its lifetime it has been used extensively for frying (duh!) which has resulted in a darkening of the Teflon and general carbonization of the interior surface. I am unsure whether the carbonization results from the usual heated oil seasoning process familiar to owners of cast iron skillets, or rather to the gradual breakdown of the Teflon (that would involve the loss of either elemental fluorine gas or HF, neither of which makes me feel very good). My reading suggests that this latter possibility is less likely, as the documented thermal degradation of Teflon gives rise to various perfluorinated goodies, but not elemental carbon.

So, the question: how long do you use a Teflon-coated pan before getting rid of it? Does my pan sound like something you would still use, or would you be searching for a new pan? As far as I can tell, it's still reasonably non-stick, but I usually cook in it with oil, so it's not clear how non-stick it still is.

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Tom Troiano

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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Tom Troiano » Thu May 15, 2014 3:04 pm

I would estimate 7-10 years but that's just a guess. 15 is definitely longer than I've used most of mine but if it works fine why replace it? How much "bad stuff" is released onto your over easy eggs in the morning? My sense is that you get 100 times more "bad stuff" during the rest of the day!
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Mike Filigenzi » Thu May 15, 2014 4:59 pm

Our strategy for teflon-coated pans is to buy them from restaurant supply stores. They tend to sell brands that are reasonably heavy and cook well for low prices. I'd estimate that the ones we use most go 8 - 10 years before deteriorating to the point that we buy new ones. Usually, though, this happens due to scratching of the surface or overheating them when dry (although we do try to avoid these problems). If yours hasn't been overheated and the surface is still pretty much intact, I don't know that I'd get rid of it. It's an All Clad, so I would expect it to last quite a bit longer than the cheaper ones we buy.
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Robin Garr

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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Robin Garr » Fri May 16, 2014 9:49 am

Maybe I'm hard on pans, although I do take care not to use metal utensils on nonstick, but I generally buy mid-range, not the most pricey, and expect to exchange them for new ones after maybe two years at a guess.

I've currently got a set - omelet/saute pan and small wok - that use some modern non-Teflon coating, and they've held up surprisingly well.

And the one All Clad omelet/saute I had, received as a gift, degraded more quickly and developed bad spots faster than the cheap stuff. :P
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Mark Lipton » Fri May 16, 2014 12:56 pm

Thanks for the input, guys. Tom, your egg test is a good one, but I don't usually cook eggs in this pan (I've got other frying pans I use for that purpose). This one I mostly use for searing meats, pan frying various things and even shallow deep frying. I'll probably phase this one out over the next year or so.

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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Jenise » Fri May 16, 2014 2:12 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:I am in possession of a nearly 15-year-old All-Clad Teflon-coated frying pan. During its lifetime it has been used extensively for frying (duh!) which has resulted in a darkening of the Teflon and general carbonization of the interior surface. I am unsure whether the carbonization results from the usual heated oil seasoning process familiar to owners of cast iron skillets, or rather to the gradual breakdown of the Teflon (that would involve the loss of either elemental fluorine gas or HF, neither of which makes me feel very good). My reading suggests that this latter possibility is less likely, as the documented thermal degradation of Teflon gives rise to various perfluorinated goodies, but not elemental carbon.

So, the question: how long do you use a Teflon-coated pan before getting rid of it? Does my pan sound like something you would still use, or would you be searching for a new pan? As far as I can tell, it's still reasonably non-stick, but I usually cook in it with oil, so it's not clear how non-stick it still is.

Mark Lipton


Funny you ask. Last weekend I made my husband an omelette in my little Teflon coated All-Clad skillet, and it stuck. Over the last year (or so, I probably didn't notice it so much early on) it has discolored just as you describe, changing from the original shiny almost-black to a very dull brown. The egg stuck. They're local farm eggs a friend brought me--so were they older eggs, is that why they stuck so badly?, or is it the pan which I've been noticing isn't very non-stick any more. I've had it about ten years. In light of your question, I'm ready to concede that it probably wasn't the eggs' fault.

Out it goes.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Tom Troiano » Fri May 16, 2014 4:00 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:This one I mostly use for searing meats


Its interesting how people do things differently. I would NEVER EVER sear meat in a Teflon pan. I'm not saying its wrong I just find that it works better (at my house!) in non Teflon.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Tom Troiano » Fri May 16, 2014 4:02 pm

I hit send too quickly - I think Teflon, in general, works much better at temps far lower than searing temp.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Mark Lipton » Fri May 16, 2014 5:03 pm

Tom Troiano wrote:I hit send too quickly - I think Teflon, in general, works much better at temps far lower than searing temp.


Yes, that's a good point that I should have considered before putting this pan to use. My problem is that I'd never worked with Teflon pans before, so had no prior experience to go on. I do use Teflon pans for making omelets and frittatas, but not this one. Now that I think about it, I probably was regularly heating the Teflon surface above 200°C, the known threshold temperature for Teflon decomposition.

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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Mike Filigenzi » Fri May 16, 2014 7:13 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
Tom Troiano wrote:I hit send too quickly - I think Teflon, in general, works much better at temps far lower than searing temp.


Yes, that's a good point that I should have considered before putting this pan to use. My problem is that I'd never worked with Teflon pans before, so had no prior experience to go on. I do use Teflon pans for making omelets and frittatas, but not this one. Now that I think about it, I probably was regularly heating the Teflon surface above 200°C, the known threshold temperature for Teflon decomposition.

Mark Lipton


Bet you'd have noticed the decomposition if you'd had any pet birds in the house.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Carl Eppig » Sun May 18, 2014 10:51 pm

Don't have a lot of Teflon, but do have a hinged omelet pan coated with it. Use it three or four times a month with a thin non-metallic spatula, and it has held up for decades.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Jenise » Mon May 19, 2014 3:23 pm

Encouraged off the ledge by this thread, bought a new Teflon pan at Homesense (Candian, part of the TJMaxx/Marshalls family) this weekend. $19, and a joy to use this morning. The old All-Clad can't leave fast enough!
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by wnissen » Wed May 28, 2014 4:06 pm

I have the T-Fal 12" that Cook's Illustrated recommends, we use it almost every week for stir fries. It lasted 2.5 years, but it's only $30. I happily bought another.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Thu Jun 05, 2014 4:33 pm

I'm lazy about cleanup so I try to use Teflon-ish pans for everything that I can. The pots have held up for years and years. The large saute pan needs replacing after about 5 years of pretty regular use. It's the small saute pan that takes all the abuse -- really hot pan-roasted salmon -- and needs replacing every 2 years. (I also don't hot-pan red meats in Teflon.)

So, I'd guess it's the heat that destroys the coating, not the usage.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Bob Henrick » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:36 pm

Tooting a horn I am sure, but IMO Teflon coated skillets (and I do use one for my morning egg) is probably the worst overused piece of cookware in the house. There is another thread on the FLDG about seasoning cast iron. A properly cleaned and seasoned cast iron skillet will be as non stick as any coated paN COULD ever BE. Eggs will not stick if the pan is properly seasoned and then used. Avoiding certain things in certain pans is the key. Never cook bacon in the same pan you fry your egg. The sugar in the bacon will mess with the seasoning. NEVER use detergent to clean the skillet. wipe it out and leave a little oil on the cooking surface. Okj, backing off now, but if anyone has questions please ask.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Bill Spohn » Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:56 pm

Robin Garr wrote:And the one All Clad omelet/saute I had, received as a gift, degraded more quickly and developed bad spots faster than the cheap stuff. :P



Mine too! Finally tossed it last year when I had a recipe that I really wanted non-stick for and bought a new Lagostina. We'll see how well it lasts (kept the receipt for the 15 year warranty). Last one had the surface break down notwithstanding the fact that I used it only for omelets. They accused me of using it too hot. I told them I rarely made carbonized eggs. We ended up with the store declining the warranty and me declining any further patronage of them or the brand.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Izzy B » Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:23 am

Jenise wrote:
Mark Lipton wrote:I am in possession of a nearly 15-year-old All-Clad Teflon-coated frying pan. During its lifetime it has been used extensively for frying (duh!) which has resulted in a darkening of the Teflon and general carbonization of the interior surface. I am unsure whether the carbonization results from the usual heated oil seasoning process familiar to owners of cast iron skillets, or rather to the gradual breakdown of the Teflon (that would involve the loss of either elemental fluorine gas or HF, neither of which makes me feel very good). My reading suggests that this latter possibility is less likely, as the documented thermal degradation of Teflon gives rise to various perfluorinated goodies, but not elemental carbon.

So, the question: how long do you use a Teflon-coated pan before getting rid of it? Does my pan sound like something you would still use, or would you be searching for a new pan? As far as I can tell, it's still reasonably non-stick, but I usually cook in it with oil, so it's not clear how non-stick it still is.

Mark Lipton


Funny you ask. Last weekend I made my husband an omelette in my little Teflon coated All-Clad skillet, and it stuck. Over the last year (or so, I probably didn't notice it so much early on) it has discolored just as you describe, changing from the original shiny almost-black to a very dull brown. The egg stuck. They're local farm eggs a friend brought me--so were they older eggs, is that why they stuck so badly?, or is it the pan which I've been noticing isn't very non-stick any more. I've had it about ten years. In light of your question, I'm ready to concede that it probably wasn't the eggs' fault.

Out it goes.


When I started buying free range eggs I did notice a slight change in behaviour compared to my normal routine, notably with shells sticking after being hard-boiled. I wonder if this is a common occurrence but it's interesting that someone else had brought this up as a possible issue.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Jenise » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:18 pm

Izzy, welcome to the forum. Shells sticking to hard-cooked eggs is actually a function of freshness-the fresher the egg, the more inclined that shell is to stick.
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Re: Expected lifetime of Teflon-coated frying pan

by Carl Eppig » Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:53 pm

We recently got one of those gizmos that hard boil an egg out of the shell. Haven't tried it yet!

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