The most attractive factor of a non-stick pan is that it allows food to glide off its surface.
This makes it easy to cook with less oil. Additionally, it also makes cleaning easier.
However, a non-stick pan can lose its non-stick ability when it develops dents or scratches.
In the case of naturally non-stick materials like carbon steel and cast iron, they can become sticky when the patina or layer of seasoning erodes.
So, how do you restore a non-stick pan?
6 Different Ways to Restore a Non-Stick Pan
If your non-stick pan isn’t extensively damaged, you should be able to restore it.
However, the method for restoration will depend on the construction of the pan.
Different materials need different restoration methods based on whether the pan is naturally non-stick or has a non-stick chemical coating.
Let’s take a look at all of them.
1. Deep clean the pan to get rid of the residual food.
Residual food can make a non-stick pan sticky.
Food particles can adhere to the surface of the pan and make it rough.
In this case, the food will not glide off the surface smoothly.
Fortunately, deep cleaning the pan will resolve this issue.
However, you should not use any abrasive scouring pad or cleaning detergent.
They will erode the non-stick surface completely and worsen the situation.
Instead, use a gentle cleaning solution like soapy water to dislodge all the residual food.
A solution that always works is a mix of baking soda, vinegar, and water.
For one cup of water, you can use half a cup of vinegar and two tablespoons of baking powder.
Add the ingredients to the pan and place it on the stovetop.
Turn up the heat to medium and let the mixture boil slowly.
Keep it on for ten minutes, and then take it off the stove.
Then wash the pan with gentle soap. It will be ready to use.
2. Season the pan.
Some non-stick pans made of cast iron and carbon steel aren’t naturally non-stick.
If they aren’t pre-seasoned, you must season them before cooking in them.
It’s an easy process and doesn’t take too long.
To season the pan, clean and dry it thoroughly. Choose any edible vegetable oil for seasoning.
Apply a layer of oil on the surface and place the pan on the stove. Heat it on medium and wait till it starts smoking.
Then, reduce the heat and allow the pan to cool.
During this time, the oil seeps into all the gaps in the metal and seals it.
This makes the surface smooth. So, when you cook food on the surface, it glides off easily.
With continuous use, the layer of seasoning, also called the patina, improves.
So the non-sticky properties of the pan will get better with consequent use.
When using a seasoned pan, be gentle while cleaning.
Don’t scrub the surface vigorously since it can dislodge the seasoning.
3. Re-season the pan when it becomes sticky.
In the case of cast iron and carbon steel pans, their seasoning improves with continued use.
The more oil you use for cooking, the better the patina becomes. So food will glide off an older pan much faster.
However, the patina can erode with rough handling and scrubbing.
You may notice that the non-sticky properties of the pan go away if you don’t use it for a long time.
The good news is that you can restore the seasoning.
To restore the seasoning, apply oil to the pan surface and place it on medium heat.
Wait till it starts smoking to take it off the heat.
The oil that you applied seeps into the open gaps and seals them.
Thus, it creates a slick non-sticky surface that food can’t stick to.
4. Season the pan in the oven.
Apart from seasoning the pan on the stovetop, you can also season it in the oven. The procedure is the same.
However, you should heat the pan in the oven instead of the stovetop.
To season the pan in the oven, begin by coating the surface of the pan with oil.
You can use any edible oil, like vegetable oil or corn oil.
Spread oil on the surface of the pan so that it’s evenly coated without any gaps.
Place the pan in a preheated oven and let it sit for up to two hours.
This will give the oil enough time to soak into the surface and form a slick and smooth layer.
You can take the pan out of the oven after two hours.
However, we recommend leaving it inside the oven overnight to dry completely.
When choosing this method to restore a non-stick pan, you should always check if the pan is oven-safe.
This method is usually safe for iron and steel pans since the material is oven-proof.
Nonetheless, check whether the handle of the pan is safe before placing it in the oven.
Now, this technique isn’t suitable for non-stick pans with chemical coatings.
Teflon and other non-stick coatings can’t withstand high oven temperatures.
So they can get damaged permanently.
5. Season with oil or butter before use.
A non-stick pan can become sticky if you don’t use enough oil while cooking in it.
If you have used the pan for dry cooking, it could have degraded the natural seasoning of the pan.
The same applies to ceramic and enamel-coated non-stick pans.
The coating of these pans will erode over time, and they will slowly lose their non-stick ability.
In this case, you can restore the non-stick properties by seasoning the pan just before use.
Heat the pan with oil or butter just before cooking.
This will temporarily seal the gaps in the pan and help you to remove food off the surface easily.
Use a paper towel to apply oil or butter on the surface.
Dip the paper towel in the oil or butter and rub it on the surface till it spreads uniformly.
You can then use your pan as usual.
Interesting Reading: 4 Main Reasons Why Professional Chefs Don’t Use Non-Stick Pans
6. Restore the surface with table salt.
An innovative and relatively new way to revive a non-stick pan is by using salt, a staple pantry ingredient.
You can use this method to restore any non-stick pan, including those with Teflon and PTFE coatings.
Begin by cleaning the pan with a gentle dishwashing detergent and a soft sponge.
Never use an abrasive cleaner because it will further erode the non-sticky surface.
After cleaning the pan and getting rid of any food residue, place it on the stovetop.
Heat it till it’s very hot and the surface starts smoking.
At this stage, add enough salt to cover the base with a thick layer.
Shake the salt till it spreads evenly, and there are no gaps.
Cook the salt in the pan for several minutes till it turns color. The salt should become brown.
Your work is done at this stage. Get rid of the salt by tipping it out.
Then, use a damp towel to wipe the surface of the pan.
You can then proceed to use the non-stick pan as usual, and food will easily come off the surface without any effort.