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Ceramic vs Teflon vs Stainless Steel Cookware, whats the difference? Navigating between these different type of cookware can be difficult for beginner cooks. Each has their pros and cons. For example, ceramic and teflon are both teflon but their durability is different. Stainless Steel last pretty much forever, but food will stick and most will stop using it shortly after. This article will take a closer look at how these different materials affect cooking. We will also discuss how to use these pans effectively.
Ceramic vs Teflon vs Stainless Steel Cookware Manufacturing
Teflon (PTFE) is the original nonstick coating. Originally, it was applied to cookware to make things easier to clean. Now its main function is to ensure that food does not stick. However, because of recent articles regarding the potential effect of PFOA, there has been a switch to ceramic cookware. What most people do not know is that PFOA, while harmful, is only used in the production of cookware. It does not end up in your cookware. What PFOA does damage is the environment. For that reason, when manufacturer advertise cookware to be healthy and green, it is in reference to the PFOA. This usually applies to ceramic cookware. Since ceramic cookware requires a different manufacturing process, it lacks any such chemical.
Hard Anodized cookware usually use teflon. But they apply the coating via an electrochemical process called anodizing. These usually prefer a tougher nonstick coating. Prices reflect that as well.
Stainless Steel cookware on the other hand is much different. Usually stainless steel cookware is stamped with a hydraulic press. They get a sheet of stainless steel and then stamp it out. This allows for quick and easy manufacturing. No chemical is needed for this process.
Nonstick and Durability
Both Ceramic and Teflon cookware has great nonstick ability. However, Teflon last a lot longer than ceramic coating. You can expect ceramic coating to last half a year to a year before it starts failing. There has been reports that some ceramic coating fail after only a couple of use. However, stainless steel pretty much last forever. It is hard to destroy it unless you overheat it to the point of warping. Something which all type of pans are susceptible.
With that being said, you can prolong the life of the nonstick coating by doing two things. One is to never use a metal utensil. Scratching the coating will make it fail faster. Two is to not overheat the pan. Overheating the pan can and will destroy the nonstick coating rapidly. You can temper the heat of the pan by adding oil to a cold pan. Interesting enough, the temperature limit on the ceramic coating is much higher. With some manufacturer claiming that it can go 500 degree and above. It is not recommended for Teflon to reach above 450 degree Fahrenheit. Stainless Steel cookware usually have a oven safe temperature of 500 degree as well.
Health and Safety
While fears in regards to Teflon or PTFE has been mostly overblown, it does have one critical issue. If you manage to heat Teflon Coating to 572 degree and above, fumes might emit from the pan. This can cause people to feel flu like symptoms called Teflon Flu. Teflon Flu has been known to kill small birds due to respiratory issue. Although this effect on human is unlikely. Ceramic and Stainless Steel cookware does not have this same issue. Regardless of the fact, cookware should rarely reach 500 degrees. This only occurs if you leave the pan empty and keep the fire on.
Teflon Ingestion is a fear that a lot have. When people see marks and tear in their coating, they fear that they will get cancer. Luckily, Teflon coating is chemically inert and it should pass through your body without any ill effect. I could not find any information about the ingestion of Ceramic coating. You can find more information about cookware safey in my article here.
Ceramic vs Teflon vs Stainless Steel Cookware Performance
Aside from the nonstick performance, there should not be any significant difference between the three. All they are is the coating. What does affect performance or heat conductivity is the base construction of the pans. Usually it will be aluminum. Although some manufacturer will use copper or all stainless steel. You can usually find what they use per their spec sheet.
Cookware with stainless steel are usually induction capable. You need the pan to have a magnetic pull for it to be compatible. On some Teflon and ceramic coating, manufacturer will put a stainless steel base to give it the same effect.
Ceramic vs Teflon vs Stainless Steel Cookware Cleaning
Cleaning is easiest on Teflon. Since its black and nothing sticks, you can wash it within seconds. All you need to do is use the soft side of the sponge. Ceramic coating is easy to clean also but it often time leads to stains. This is because the coating is usually light in color and you will see any imperfection. Stainless Steel is the hardest to clean. Oil stains and residue will usually get baked on. To clean it, you can soak the pan and hopefully it will soften up. If that does not work, I recommend using Barkeeper Friends to remove any stubborn stains.
Fond is the development of Maillard Reaction. This is when the sugars in the food caramelize at 300 degree Fahrenheit and above. Different flavor compound will start to develop at this temperature. This is a technique that many chef uses. Since stainless steel cookware sticks more, food will tend to latch on develop more fond. If you want to make a sauce from this, stainless steel is the best choice.
Teflon and Ceramic teflon fond develop is a lot lower. Since very few thing sticks, fond development will be reduced. You can maximize this by increasing the contact of it to the pan. You can usually do this with a Cast Iron Weight. This maximizes contact with the pan.
Ceramic vs Teflon vs Stainless Steel Cookware Thoughts
Ceramic and Teflon cookware are truly one of the best innovative invention. They make cooking easier and helps make home cooking easier. However, they have issues such as durability and possible health issue. Stainless steel on the other hand is basically the opposite, it last forever but food sticks. However, once you learn how to cook on stainless steel, this does not become an issue. Which one you should choose should depend on your situation. I personally have a combination of all cookware. I use it when the right situation should arise.
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