Ceramic coating 40k is like many miles

Ceramic pans: what you should know about ceramic coatings 05/2021

Why we advise against buying a ceramic pan can be found in more detail below in this article. You'd better get yourself a Teflon pan or an iron pan. Why? The short version: they are much more durable and also offer good non-stick properties:

1st place: PTFE pan: Tefal E85606 Jamie Oliver stainless steel

2nd place: Iron pan: De Buyer Mineral B Element

No sticking of food, healthy and easy to clean - these are the advertising promises with which manufacturers advertise their ceramic pans.

In this article, you will learn all there is to know about making, using, and cleaning ceramic-coated pans. You will also learn why we advise against buying a ceramic pan.

Table of Contents

What are ceramic pans made of?

Ceramic pans usually have two components: metal and ceramic. A pan made entirely of ceramic would not work particularly well because ceramic has poor thermal conductivity. The ceramic layer is therefore applied to the metal body of the pan. The thermal properties of a ceramic pan therefore largely depend on the metal used. You can find out more about the thermal properties of the materials in our article on pan materials.

Properties of ceramic pans

Ceramic pans have good non-stick properties, similar to Teflon pans.1

In addition, they usually do not pose a health risk.2

However, there are cases in which the limit values ​​for lead in the ceramic coating have been exceeded.34

In Germany, the manufacturers or importers of the ceramic objects themselves have to have a laboratory checked to see whether the ceramic goods exceed the limit values.5

We therefore recommend using well-known brands such as WMF, Tefal or Berndes for ceramic pans.

Use of ceramic pans

Use oil with a high smoke point for frying. These include, above all, refined oils. Oils with a low smoke point decompose earlier than oils with a higher smoke point.6 In particular, the often used virgin olive oil should not be used in a ceramic pan.

If the oil in the frying pan gets too hot, it polymerizes and forms a brown layer on the pan (see title picture on the right) that is difficult to remove.7 This layer is sticky and significantly worsens the pan's non-stick properties.

WMF recommends using margarine for egg, flour and potato dishes.

Oils or fats are recommended for meat.8

  1. Use the pans just like Teflon pans, over low and medium heat. To protect the coating, it is best to use only soft wooden, plastic or silicone cooking utensils in the pan. The ceramic coating is relatively hard, but it can also chip off.
  2. Protect the pan from knocks and temperature shocks: the ceramic coating is very hard, but it is also relatively brittle. If the forces are too strong, the coating can crack.

Cleaning of ceramic pans

  1. Whenever possible, just wipe the pan and rinse it with water. Most bacteria die anyway at the temperatures that arise the next time they sear.9
  2. If something is burnt in the pan, it is usually sufficient to let the pan stand overnight with warm soapy water. The residue should then be able to be removed with a soft sponge.
  3. If that doesn't help either, you can boil some water in the pan and then rub off the remains with a soft sponge.
  4. Steel wool or other rough cleaning objects destroy the non-stick effect and should never be used.
  5. The dishwasher is no friend of the ceramic pan either: the aggressive cleaning agents quickly attack the surface of the pan.
  6. If possible, you should clean the pan completely after each use. Otherwise, the residues on the surface will continue to burn in with each roasting process.

Lifespan: How long do ceramic pans last?

As with Teflon pans, this depends very much on the use. We have heard of pans that have already lost a lot of their non-stick properties after three months. But we also use pans ourselves that are still performing well after several years.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that the coating does not last forever. Even manufacturers such as Berndes admit that the effect of the non-stick layer wears off over time: "An initial non-stick effect decreases over the service life due to the material and cannot be compared with the long-lasting non-stick properties of PTFE seals."10

Extend service life - this is how it works

However, there are two ways in which you can significantly increase the service life of your ceramic pan:

  • Roast properly:low to medium temperatures, use of highly heatable fats and oils, use of soft cooking utensils made of wood, silicone or plastic
  • Clean properly:Do not use any aggressive cleaning agents, rough sponges or steel wool

Longevity: Teflon / PTFE vs. ceramic

There is no study known to us that has objectively dealt with the two types of coatings. It is also difficult to compare the two types of coatings as each manufacturer uses a slightly modified composition of the coating.

DuPont or Chemours, the manufacturer of Teflon, states that ceramic pans wear out seven times faster than Teflon pans.11 However, no indication of further details or the independence of the study can be found anywhere on the website. We couldn't find more about this study anywhere else either. That is why we do not pay any further attention to it at this point.

An indicator that PTFE coatings last longer than ceramic coatings is the above-cited note from Berndes in the operating instructions for ceramic pans. It would make little sense for a manufacturer to mention the shorter lifespan of ceramics compared to PTFE if it weren't for that. Therefore it is at least an indication that ceramic coatings wear out faster than common PTFE coatings.

The most common reason for ceramic pans to wear out: Oil gets too hot and decomposes. While we want that with iron pans, it means that ceramic pans have an extremely reduced shelf life. We therefore recommend that you only use highly heatable oils. Extra virgin olive oil, in particular, quickly creates a layer in the pan that makes everything stick and is difficult to remove.

Update: We now strongly advise against buying a ceramic pan. Our own tests have shown that a ceramic pan loses its non-stick effect within a very short time due to burnt-in oil. With one of our test pans, the non-stick effect was already over after three times. That can't happen. The many reviews of ceramic pans on Amazon also give a good picture. It is therefore better to use classic PTFE-coated pans or a well-burnt iron pan.

Manufacture of ceramic pans

Ceramic is actually just an umbrella term for inorganic, fine-grained raw materials that are mixed with water at room temperature and shaped and then fired under high heat.12

The first known patent for a ceramic non-stick coating came from William A. Groll, the current head of product development at All-Clad Metalcrafters. A company known for their high quality pans.

In it he describes how the ceramic coating is applied13:

  • First, the surface of the metal that has already been shaped into a pan is smoothed. Then the pan is electropolished. These steps are necessary in order to have the smoothest possible metal surface afterwards and thus to improve the non-stick effect
  • In the procedure explained in the patent, the ceramic layer is then sprayed on in a pressure chamber. This happens at temperatures between 260 and 480 ° Celsius.

Other methods are described here:

  • B.Y. Jeon and S.M. Kim, Composition and process for ceramic non-stick coatings, 23.06.2014, EP patent 1,835,002. Available at https://www.google.com/patents/WO2000056537A1
  • L.J. Gazo and S. Sridharan, Ceramic Substrate for Nonstick Coating, 09/28/2000, WO Patent App. PCT / US2000 / 006,500. Available at https://www.google.com/patents/EP1835002B1

Our readers often ask these questions about ceramic pans:

What are ceramic pans good for?

Not much in our opinion. From our own experience and our tests and from reviews from users, it can be seen that ceramic pans work quite well at the beginning. Over time (and often after 6 months) the non-stick effect is so bad that the pans are ultimately unusable. You can read why this is so in the section "How long do ceramic pans last?"

Why is everything sticking in my ceramic pan?

Over time, oil that gets too hot collects in the ceramic layer and causes the surface to stick. This is why you should never use olive oil or other oils with a low smoke point in ceramic pans. The exact explanation can be found in the section "Ceramic vs. Teflon pans"

How do you clean ceramic pans?

The ceramic layer is very hard, but also very brittle. Therefore, there are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning. You can find detailed instructions here in the section "Cleaning ceramic pans"

Take a look at our favorite Teflon pan * and our favorite iron pan * now!

As always, if you have any questions, comments or criticism, we look forward to your comment, which you can write under this article.

  1. Grudge, W.A .. Stick resistant ceramic coating for cookware, August 22, 2006, U.S. Patent 7,093,340. Available at https://www.google.com/patents/US7093340
  2. Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office Stuttgart. Leaflet:Manufacture and labeling of food contact materials made of ceramics,November 2014. Available at http://www.untersuchungsaemter-bw.de/pdf/merkblatt_bg_keramik.pdf
  3. Thomas Gilmore, Gerald F OMalley, Wayne Bond Lau, David R Vann, Adam Bromberg, Aaron Martin, Andrea Gibbons, and Evan Rimmer, A Comparison of the Prevalence of Lead-Contaminated Imported Chinese Ceramic Dinnerware Purchased Inside Versus Outside Philadelphia’s Chinatown, Journal of Medical Toxicology 9 (2013), no. 1, 16-20.
  4. Jasmin Gueta, and Ruti Levy. Neoflam Files NIS 5M Libel Suit Against Consumer Show, June 30, 2012, accessed from http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/neoflam-files-nis-5m-libel-suit-against-consumer-show-1.421689
  5. Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office Stuttgart.Leaflet:Manufacture and labeling of food contact materials made of ceramics,November 2014. Available at http://www.untersuchungsaemter-bw.de/pdf/merkblatt_bg_keramik.pdf
  6. Gudrun Nagl.Fats / oilsand their properties, P. 7, available at https://www.edugroup.at/fileadmin/DAM/Gegenstandsportale/HLFS/Mikrobiologie__Chemie_und_Biotechnologie/Fette_Ehaben_Reaktionen.pdf
  7. E Choe and DB Min, Chemistry of Deep-Fat Frying Oils, Journal of food science 72 (2007), no.5, R 3
  8. see operating instructions: https://www.wmf.com/media/wmf_upload/ Betriebsungsanleitungen/de/BAL_399941_Pfanne_CeraDur_Profi_print.pdf
  9. Hemschemeier, Susanne Katharina. Sterilization process, retrieved from http://www.chemgapedia.de/vsengine/vlu/vsc/de/ch/16/bio/sterilisation/sterilisation_enh.vlu/Page/vsc/de/ch/16/bio/sterilisation/steri_steri_enh. vscml.html
  10. Quotation from the operating instructions for Berndes ceramic pans: http://www.berndes.com/media/files/pdfs/pflegeanleitung_keramik.pdf
  11. see Chemours website: https://www.chemours.com/Teflon/en_US/NIK/performance.html
  12. H. Salmang, R. Telle and H. Scholze, Ceramics, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2006, p. 2.
  13. Grudge, W.A ..Stick resistant ceramic coating for cookware, 08/22/2006, U.S. Patent 7,093,340. Available at https://www.google.com/patents/US7093340