8 Common Materials that Are Used to Make Frying Pans

Frying pan on table

One of the main things to consider when buying a frying pan is the material used for its construction.

The construction material determines the utility of this essential piece of cookware.

So let’s take a closer look at the different types of materials used to make frying pans and their important properties.

1. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is widely preferred for constructing all types of cookware because of its attractive properties.

Firstly, this material withstands high heat and is a good conductor of heat.

Secondly, it’s sturdy and durable.

Finally, it’s non-reactive, which means that you can use stainless steel pans for cooking all acidic and alkaline ingredients.

An additional advantage of using stainless steel frying pans is that the metal is lightweight and easy to handle.

Since frying pans are moved around and handled roughly, it’s an important factor to consider.

It’s also easy to clean. Most stainless-steel pans are dishwasher-safe.

You can use abrasive cleaners and sponges to clean it without worrying about damaging the surface.

Rough scouring of the surface can damage its luster. Nevertheless, the pan will continue to be usable.

Stainless steel pans aren’t non-stick. Hence, they aren’t the best choice for preparing delicate and sticky foods.

The handles of these pans are usually made of stainless steel, wood, silica, or bakelite.

2. Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is an alloy of iron and carbon.

It has many of the attractive properties of cast iron and stainless steel, making it a very versatile choice for a frying pan.

Frying pans made of carbon steel are lighter than cast iron.

It’s heavier than aluminum and stainless-steel pans.

Nonetheless, it’s easier to handle than cast iron pans.

Another additional benefit is that carbon steel is highly durable.

It also has excellent heat conductivity properties.

One of the most attractive factors about carbon steel frying pans is that they develop a natural non-stick property with use.

You must season it before first use.

This will help it develop a non-stick patina that allows ingredients to slide off the surface easily.

However, you must be careful when cleaning the pan. The seasoning can erode when scrubbed roughly.

Carbon steel isn’t dishwasher-safe. So you will have to handwash it.

Another factor is that the iron in carbon steel can react with acidic ingredients.

Transfer any acidic foods to another container after cooking to prevent any surface deterioration.

3. Cast Iron

Cast iron was the golden standard for frying pans for ages because of its highly attractive properties.

It’s durable, withstands high temperatures, and goes from stove to oven easily.

Additionally, cast iron frying pans develop a natural layer of seasoning with continuous use.

This makes it naturally non-stick without any of the typical problems of non-stick pans.

Cast iron is also almost indestructible. So you can even pass them down generations as heirlooms.

However, cast iron pans require more maintenance and care than other pans.

They are sensitive to moisture and develop rust when exposed to water.

The non-sticky patina erodes when the surface is scrubbed roughly. Hence, you should handle it gently.

Compared to other materials used to make frying pans, cast iron is much heavier.

It’s usually difficult to move and lift. It doesn’t cool down quickly after use. It’s also not dishwasher-friendly.

Despite these shortcomings, cast iron frying pans are always in demand because of the beautiful results they produce during cooking.

Cast iron is ferromagnetic and hence induction-friendly.

Cast iron pans usually come with handles of the same material.

However, they may sometimes have metallic or wooden handles.

4. Copper

Copper pans are a symbol of luxury. They are usually very expensive.

Hence, they aren’t commonplace in most households.

Nevertheless, these frying pans look splendid and have excellent heat conductivity, making them an attractive choice for cooking.

It’s easy to control the heat in a copper frying pan, making it the ideal choice for cooking delicate ingredients.

It will heat and cool down quickly, making it easy to handle.

However, you should be careful when buying these pans.

Copper is very reactive. The surface layer will erode if you use it for cooking certain ingredients.

Modern copper pans usually include a tin or steel lining to prevent such reactions.

You should buy copper pans from a reliable manufacturer to ensure that the lining is of good quality.

Copper pans also require extra care and maintenance since they tarnish easily and lose their luster.

They aren’t dishwasher-friendly.

You must always handwash them and dry the surface immediately to keep them looking new.

5. Ceramic

Ceramic frying pan

Ceramic cookware is fast replacing traditional non-stick pans because they offer similar results.

Additionally, ceramic pans look pretty and are free from the issues associated with non-stick materials.

Ceramic frying pans are made by combining natural and inorganic raw materials like clay, glass, and various other minerals and treating them at very high temperatures.

These pans usually have attractive bright colors that liven up the kitchen.

Ceramic cookware also has a non-stick surface that food can easily slide off.

This non-sticky property reduces the need for oil to cook or fry ingredients.

However, ceramic isn’t naturally non-stick, like cast iron or carbon steel.

With continuous use, the surface lining wears off, and you will have to use more oil for cooking with it.

Ceramic frying pans will usually have a metallic base layer of aluminum or steel.

Their ability to conduct heat depends on the base metal that is used.

It’s not as durable as steel or iron frying pans but is neither as expensive.

6. Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron frying pans are made of cast iron with a coating of enamel on the surface.

The purpose of this coating is to make it invulnerable to acidic ingredients that cast iron reacts with.

So this pan is often more versatile than cast iron pans.

You can use it for cooking and storing acidic dishes and sauces.

It’s also less prone to rusting.

Since the base of these pans is cast iron, it has all the attractive properties of traditional cast iron.

These pans have good heat conduction, non-stick properties, and they heat the food evenly.

Additionally, they can also go directly from stovetop to oven.

However, they are heavy and not easy to maneuver. Most enameled cast iron pans aren’t dishwasher-friendly.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions before putting them in the dishwasher.

Another factor is that the surface is brittle and prone to cracks.

It becomes easily damaged if you drop it accidentally.

These frying pans are also expensive compared to those made of other materials.

7. Non-Stick

Non-stick frying pans have a metallic base with a non-stick coating of Teflon, PTFE, or other chemicals.

This coating on the surface prevents ingredients from sticking to the surface and helps them glide off easily.

Non-stick pans are widely preferred because they are lightweight.

They are good for preparing delicate foods like crepes and omelets.

While they provide the same non-stick benefits as cast iron and carbon steel, they don’t require seasoning.

They are also much easier to handle.

However, non-stick pans are prone to scratches, and the surface layer can peel away.

You can’t use them for high-temperature cooking, and they are seldom oven-safe.

These pans are usually not dishwasher-friendly.

Nonetheless, they are easy to clean because nothing sticks to the slick surface.

The main cons of non-stick pans are that most non-stick pans, except for premium brands, aren’t as durable as other types of frying pans.

However, they are usually much cheaper too.

Non-stick frying pans usually come with handles made of plastic, silica, or wood.

8. Aluminum

Aluminum is lightweight, durable, and easy to handle, making it a good choice for frying pans.

However, aluminum is a reactive material.

The surface corrodes easily when it comes near moisture and acidic ingredients.

Hence, aluminum frying pans aren’t widely preferred these days.

The commonly-used aluminum pans have an anodized lining that is non-reactive.

These pans are good for tossing and cooking ingredients and preparing dishes like stir-fries.

Another factor that adds to their appeal is that aluminum frying pans are inexpensive compared to other pans.

Aluminum isn’t naturally non-stick. So you will need more oil for cooking.

The metal also tends to heat up quickly, making it hot to touch if the handle is also of the same material.

Hence, most aluminum frying pans come with wooden or plastic handles.

These pans aren’t as durable as other metals.

They develop pits and indents, as well as lose their original white color over time.

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