Non-Stick Coating Coming off, How To Fix It?

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Non-Stick Coating Coming off, How To Fix It?

You brought a high-quality non-stick cookware set, and everything was going fine.

You’d enjoy low-fat cooking and easy food release in a non-stick pan, and cleaning it never felt like a task.

But one day, you noticed a long scratch on your favorite non-stick pan. You ignored this scratch and kept using the pan, thinking it’s all fine, and that’s how things started going downhill.

More scratches started to appear inside your non-stick pan, and it was soon a flaky mess you didn’t want to deal with; frustrating, right?

But what can we do now? Can you fix a peeling non-stick coating, or is it a gone case? If those Teflon flakes get into your food, are you at some risk? And the list of confusions goes on.

If you relate to the situation I penned above and want to fix a peeling non-stick coating, you’re at the right place.

Being someone who spent years in the kitchen fiddling with all kinds of cookware, I sure have some pro tips that can breathe new life into your dying non-stick cookware.

Let’s jump straight in and find how to fix a flaking non-stick coating and when is the time to get rid of it.

Why Is My Cookware’s Non-Stick Coating Coming Off?

Some home cooks are oblivious of the causes that initiate chipping in their cookware. Hence they don’t know the correct solution.

Therefore, we at go by the logic that understanding the root cause of a problem is important before we heading towards the remedy.

Here are the primary culprits behind the destruction of your precious non-stick cookware:

Extremely High Temperatures

All non-stick cookware sets come with a maximum temperature limit. If you go beyond that temperature limit, i.e., 570F (some variants have lower limits), the non-stick coating releases potentially harmful fumes into your food.

However, these fumes aren’t the only thing that goes wrong when you cook at extremely high heat; the coating itself starts to melt, leaving your pan with a dusty mess.

When we heat non-stick cookware beyond the safe limit, its Teflon particles start peeling. Soon after, the pan loses its effectiveness.

If you often toss your non-stick pan in the oven or cook several food batches while the flame underneath your pan is on, get ready to lose the non-stick coating soon.

Consult your pan/pot’s user manual and never cross the safe temperature specified by the manufacturer.

Sudden Temperature Changes

This factor is related to the first one; when you put an extremely hot non-stick pan in cold or room temperature water, it gets warped.

Unusual temperature changes make a metal pan dis-balanced and chip its non-stick coating, even when you’re careful of the maximum heat limit.

Once you’re done cooking, leave your non-stick pan on the countertop for a while before putting it in the sink.

Similarly, if you season a pan (more on non-stick seasoning later) in the oven, let it come to room temperature before taking it out.

This little step can prolong the non-stick coating’s life and keep it well-balanced for a considerable time.

Brittle Cooking Utensils/Flatware

Teflon coatings aren’t resistant, especially when you use brittle cleaners and utensils in them.

If you have a favorite steel spatula (I do too), restrict it to the non-coated cookware, and bring a safer alternative for your coated cookware.

Even if occasional usage of metal utensils doesn’t disrupt your pan’s coating, it’ll still leave long-term effects. Nylon and wooden spoons work best with non-stick cookware; they don’t scratch the interiors, they’re safe, and you clean them on the get-go, so why not switch?

This suggestion might seem basic to you, but scratches in non-stick cookware don’t happen overnight; several factors pile up before you see chunks of Teflon coming out.

Be a kitchen-smart person and stock your utensil/cookware closet with a sustainable collection.

Dishwasher/Careless Cleaning

Here comes the main culprit behind flaky non-stick cookware, your dearest dishwasher.

We know no one’s got time to wash the dishes manually, and that too when there’s a perfectly able dishwasher available. But, we have to be more cautious about fragile cookware, i.e., non-stick pots and pans.

The dishwasher’s high temperature and water pressure slowly erode non-stick coating, leaving your pan with peeling interiors. To enjoy your non-stick cookware for a long haul, you need to take it out of the bunch and wash it manually.

Another reason why non-stick pots and pans start chipping is steel wool; when something burns inside a non-stick pan, don’t go around scrubbing it for a thorough clean.

Instead, soak the pan in lukewarm water and later rinse it with dish soap. Some stains won’t go with gentle washing? Use white vinegar and baking soda paste for them, but never rely on steel wool or a scouring pad.

Cooking Spray

Did you know that a cooking spray could be the worst enemy of your non-stick pan? Yes, that’s right.

Cooking sprays are emulsified fats mixed with food-grade propellents to prevent your food ingredients from sticking. Using these sprays with non-coated cookware is fine; the problem arises when some home cooks use these sprays with non-stick cookware.

Remember this; PTFE is a fluoropolymer with excellent lubrication properties; it keeps your food from sticking to the metal surface without losing its Carbon-Fluorine bonds. When you already have a strong PTFE layer, why overload it with extra polymers? These polymers will only build up inside your pan, slowly making the cooking surface uneven and the base layer useless.

Yes, cooking sprays are deemed healthy fats, they don’t sit well with non-stick cookware.

We recommend using a small amount of cooking oil, butter or shortening instead of a cooking spray. These fats don’t stick over a coating and easily come off with rinsing.

Acidic Food Ingredients

Acidic foods like tomatoes, lime, lemon, wine, etc., can leach into a non-stick coating when cooked at a high temperature. Although acidic foods aren’t the primary culprits in chipping a non-stick coating, they stimulate the process.

If you regularly cook acidic foods in a non-stick pan, maintain low-medium temperature and always use safe utensils while sauteing/stirring to protect the coating.

How To Protect a Non-Stick Coating From peeling/flaking?

The six reasons I have listed above ruin a non-stick coating, eventually making your pots and pans useless.

If your non-stick pan’s coating is coming off or you want to prevent this situation, here are some pro tips to help you:


Experienced cooks season their non-coated cookware, i.e., aluminum, steel, cast-iron cookware in an oil fil to make it non-stick.

But why should you do it when your pan is already non-stick? The simple answer is seasoning a non-stick pan adds oil film above its coating. This film takes regular wear and tear while protecting the original non-stick coating.

  • Add a few drops of your favorite oil (Grapeseed and Flaxseed oils are the best) to the non-stick pan and heat it.
  • Leave the flame under this pan for 40-60 minutes.
  • Let the pan cool before taking it out of the oven or switching off the flame.
  • Wipe excessive oil and closely observe if the scratches inside your pan have reduced.

This trick works perfectly for minor scratches and dents; you re-fill those small gaps with some oil and finish it with a smooth layer to enjoy easy food release.

However, be mindful that seasoning doesn’t work when your pan’s coating comes out in huge chunks (keep reading to know more about this situation).

Careful Handling

I can’t emphasize safe utensils and flatware enough because people using steel/aluminum utensils with these pans are frustratingly common.

The first time I cooked, I used a steel ladle on a non-stick pan; it’s only later that I realized I was wrong.

If your cookware’s non-stick coating is slightly damaged, be careful about washing and handling it. Use soft sponges, safe utensils, and low-medium heat with non-stick cookware to save its life.

Proper Upkeep

Seasoning isn’t a one-time job; you have to be consistent with it.

I suggest you season non-stick cookware right out of the box and repeat this practice after every three months.

But if your pan is already in use, season it now, and don’t forget to provide it with proper upkeep. Follow our guides on cookware seasoning if you aren’t familiar with this process.

Non-Stick Coating continuously Flaking, What Now?

Even when you’re vigilant about non-stick cookware, a time comes when the coating loses its effectiveness. If you’ve tried seasoning and careful handling, but your non-stick pan isn’t non-stick anymore, here are some ways to manage it:

Use A scouring Pad To Take The Entire Coating Off

If you see pieces of Teflon getting into your food, it’s time to remove the non-stick coating altogether. Get a scouring pad, wooden spoon, and some dish soap to deal with this flaky mess.

Use some elbow grease, and soon you’ll see the aluminum/copper core of your cookware.

Season It Like Regular Aluminum/Copper Cookware

Once the non-stick coating is completely off, season the pan/skillet with cooking oil before using it. This pan/pot will now work as a regular non-coated but seasoned cookware that works fine for regular cooking tasks.

Keep re-touching this coating for a better cooking experience in the future.

Replace It If Cooking Gets Messy/Sticky

You tried scouring the non-stick coating, but it didn’t come off nicely? It’s time to toss the pan/skillet and get a new one.

Some Teflon coatings come off in one piece, so removing them is easier. However, if your pan now has an uneven coating, it’s useless.

You’ll only risk your health by cooking in such a pan, so be careful.

Related Questions:

Is a chipped non-stick coating toxic?

Non-stick coatings contain PTFE and PFOA elements, which are chemicals you never want in your food. Although ingesting small particles of a non-stick coating won’t instantly show negative impacts on your health, you should always prevent this from happening. When your pan’s non-stick coating starts coming off in chunks, either scrap the entire Teflon layer off or nicely season it to contain the flakes. Whatever the situation, ingesting a non-stick coating is always potentially harmful.

Do I throw a pan if its non-stick coating comes off?

If you have tried the tips we shared above, and your pan’s coating still didn’t stop flaking, it’s time to bin the pan and get a new one. You should ideally replace Non-stick cookware after five years because the Teflon coatings become pretty useless after that. If, however, your pan’s coating is peeling off before this ideal duration, we recommend you don’t delay and get a new pan at your earliest. No matter how religiously you protect non-stick cookware, if its coating gets damaged, there’s no way to reverse it (sad but true).

How to increase the lifespan of a non-stick coating?

Here’s a recap of the tips I shared above:

  • Don’t expose your cookware to sudden temperature changes
  • Prefer manual washing over a dishwasher
  • Use utensils made from safe materials, i.e., wood, nylon, bakelite, etc.
  • Season your non-stick cookware with food-grade oil whenever feasible (once in 3 months will suffice)

These precautions will increase a non-stick coating’s lifespan and ensure you always enjoy effortless cooking (you can also utilize these tips with other kinds of cookware, i.e., ceramic, steel, etc.).

Final Thoughts

Non-stick cookware is excellent; it’s easy to clean, perfect for low-fat cooking, and looks slick. But the biggest disadvantage of non-stick cookware is its coating.

Maintaining this coating and using it for years is no joke; you have to be cautious. Understand why your pan’s coating is peeling off and follow the tricks we have shared to see if it gets better.

But if, after all the hard work, food is badly sticking to your non-stick pan and Teflon bits keep coming off, it’s time for some cookware shopping. Check our reviews on the best non-stick cookware and get a set that aligns with your requirements. Good luck!

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Sandra Lee Akaka March 6, 2022 - 2:01 pm

Super great tips, thank you! I do need a new pan but not in the budget, glad to know l can still use my wok. It has small chips on the side but doesn’t seem to be flaking more. Oh well, I’m 72, gonna die anyways:-) jk

Maria H August 20, 2022 - 2:36 pm

Thank you for such a detailed guide, I’m definitely going to try these tips to give my old pans a new life. Thanks a ton!


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