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I don’t know about you, but I really like cooking on Teflon pans.  The nonstick coating just makes my life in the kitchen that much easier.  From being able to step away from the stove for a second without fear of my food cooking to much quicker and easier cleanups, I definitely prefer nonstick cookware in most instances.

However, the other day I noticed that one of my favorite Teflon pans had a scratch in it.  I was so upset (and mad at my husband for not putting it away correctly, but that’s another story).  The scratch didn’t look terrible, though, and I wondered whether the pan was still safe to use.  

I did some research and would love to share what I discovered about using scratched Teflon pans, in case you’re ever in the same predicament that I was in.

What is Teflon? 

I want to start by taking a small step back and looking at what Teflon is.  This will help in understanding whether Teflon pans that are scratched are safe to use.

Teflon is a type of coating used to give cookware a nonstick finish.  The material’s formal name is polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, and it is a synthetic chemical that was created over 90 years ago.

If you’ve heard that cooking on Teflon pans is dangerous, you’re probably thinking of the chemical PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid.  PFOA is no longer used when making Teflon pans, but it was still in use until 2013.  

PFOA does pose some potential health concerns as it has been linked to kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid problems, and some cancers.  However, generally speaking, even with older cookware that may have trace amounts of PFOA, the risks are considered to be low.

Teflon cookware manufactured since 2013 does not contain PFOA and is considered safe to use when the manufacturer’s recommendations are followed.  For instance, you should never use Teflon cookware over very high temperatures (above 500 °F), because it may cause the coating to deteriorate.  This can release toxic chemicals into the air that can lead to flu-like symptoms.

In sum, Teflon is considered a safe material so long as the cookware is used properly.

Is it safe to use scratched non stick pan? 

So, is scratched Teflon dangerous?  Here’s where things get a bit more complicated and the answers from various experts aren’t always as clear.  Most agree that using a Teflon pan with a minor scratch shouldn’t pose any major health risks.  However, at the same time, health professionals and other experts still recommend replacing scratched Teflon pans.

While the coating of a scratched Teflon pan is unlikely to cause major health problems, it is better to be safe than sorry.  Additionally, even if the coating won’t harm you, do you really want it flaking off into the food you’re cooking?  You don’t want to have guests over for dinner and try to explain away Teflon flakes by saying you added some extra pepper to the dish, do you?

The biggest potential health concern from using a scratched Teflon pan comes when the aluminum core becomes exposed.  Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat.  The Teflon coating covers the aluminum and prevents it from causing any harm.  However, scratches, particularly large or deep scratches, can expose parts of the aluminum core.

The aluminum in the core could then leach into your food.  Ingesting toxic levels of aluminum (or more than 1 milligram of aluminum for each kilogram of body weight) could potentially lead to various medical conditions, such as Alzheimers, breast cancer, or Crohn’s disease.

This is just another reason to replace your scratched Teflon pans and make sure you’re taking all the steps possible to keep yourself and the others in your home healthy.

Scratched teflon

Can you fix scratched Teflon pans?

When you’re wondering what to do with scratched Teflon pans, remember that the safest option is to replace them.  You can also try to fix a scratched non-stick pan if the scratch isn’t too deep or large.

Avoid using Teflon spray-on coatings that you might see online.  Even though these are recommended by some, the manufacturer’s directions often state that they should not be used on cooking equipment.

Rather, you can try to use coconut oil to resurface a nonstick pan.  Start by cleaning the pan very thoroughly using baking soda, a soft sponge, and a plastic scraper.  You want to make sure that you remove any food residue and as many stains as possible.

Then, dry the pan with a lint-free cloth and leave it out on the counter for about an hour or so more to make sure it is fully dried.

Melt coconut oil and put it inside a spray bottle.  Spray the interior surface of the pan with the coconut oil, and then gently spread it over the entire surface with a lint-free cloth, taking care to apply an even layer.

Then, heat the pan (with the coconut oil still on the inside) over medium-high heat.  Let the pan get hot, then remove it from the burner and let it cool at room temperature for about 1 hour.

This method should resurface the pan.  However, the coconut oil is unlikely to last as long as a true Teflon coating, and you may find yourself having to repeat the steps above.

Why Replacing Scratched Pans is the Best Choice

Teflon scratched pans ideally should be replaced.  As we shared above, scratched Teflon can flake off into the foods you’re cooking.  This is not appetizing and can negatively impact the taste and appearance of your meals.

Additionally, if the scratch is deep enough to expose the aluminum core, it could put you or your loved ones at risk of aluminum toxicity and various health problems associated with it.

Another reason to replace scratched Teflon pans is that the pan won’t be nonstick in the area with the scratch.  This can negate the benefits of using nonstick cookware; your foods may stick when you’re cooking and clean-up won’t be as easy.

Is scratched teflon dangerous

Protecting Nonstick Pans from Scratches

When you replace your scratched Teflon pan with new nonstick cookware, it is important to take steps to protect it against getting scratched.  Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Never use metal utensils on Teflon pans as they can scratch it.  Rather, use silicone, plastic, or wood to protect the Teflon coating.
  • Use cookware protectors between Teflon pans when stacking them.
  • Hand-wash Teflon cookware with a non-abrasive sponge.  Do not use scrubber pads or clean Teflon pans in the dishwasher.
  • Never heat a Teflon pan over high heat as it can cause the nonstick coating to deteriorate.

Scratched Teflon Pan:  What You Should Do

While using a scratched Teflon pan is unlikely to seriously threaten the health of anyone in your home, it is still safest to just replace scratched pans with a new piece of cookware.  If you enjoy using nonstick cookware, follow the suggestions above to protect your new pan from getting scratches.  If you’re looking for something a little more scratch-resistant, consider trying stainless-steel pans.

What to do with scratched teflon pans

FAQs

Are scratched Teflon pans safe?

The potential risks of using a scratched Teflon pan aren’t worth it.  While minor scratches are unlikely to pose a major threat, the safest option is to invest in a new pan.  This will help prevent the coating from flaking off into your foods and will also keep the pan easier to clean.

How do you get scratches out of a Teflon pan?

While some recommend using a non-stick Teflon coating spray to cover up scratches on nonstick pans, these sprays are not intended to be used to repair cooking equipment.  You can try spraying coconut oil over the pan and heating the pan with the oil in it.  This can help to improve the overall nonstick feel of the pan, but it won’t eliminate a scratch.  If your pan is scratched, the best option is to replace it.