While many types of cookware, like stainless steel, are intended to last a long time, most need to be replaced eventually. Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials for cookware, as it's durable, sleek and conducts heat well. If you use your stainless steel pans regularly, you'll likely start to notice signs of wear. While stains and light scratches can mean your cookware is well-loved, there may come a time when it's best to replace them.
Find out when to part with your stainless steel cookware and what alternatives you should consider.
How Long Do Stainless Steel Pans Last?
Stainless steel pans have a reputation for being able to last a long time. Realistically, how long stainless steel pans last depends on how you use, clean and store them. Several other factors regarding quality can also affect the life span of your stainless steel pans. High-quality pans that are well cared for can last for decades, while low-quality pans or pans that aren't properly maintained may only last a couple of years.
Here are a few factors that can affect the longevity of your stainless steel pans:
- Grade of steel: The grade of steel refers to the percentage of chromium and nickel the steel contains. This can affect the durability, corrosion resistance and finish of the pan. It's typically best to find a stainless steel pan with a combination of these metals.
- Thickness: Thicker steel pans are typically more durable and can retain heat more effectively. Thicker pans are also less likely to warp. In general, thin stainless steel pans won't last as long.
- Pan construction: Stainless steel can either be impact-bonded or fully clad. Fully clad pans have exterior layers of steel and a core layer of aluminum or other heat-conductive material. This construction is often more durable than impact-bonded pans that have multilayered exteriors.
- Exposed layers: Stainless steel pans with exposed layers or unsealed rims are more likely to rust, and the layers may even split. Pans with sealed rims are more likely to last longer.
- Brand: Also consider the pan's manufacturer. Some stainless steel brands have better reputations for lasting longer than others. While brand-name pans may be more expensive, they typically last longer due to higher quality.
How to Know When to Throw Away Stainless Steel Pans
When stainless steel pans begin to show signs of wear, they become less safe to cook with. At this point, you should throw away your pans and get something newer. So what should you look for? Here are several signs that will tell you when to throw away stainless steel pans:
Replace your pans when they start warping. Warped pans bend and develop curvatures, which prevent them from sitting flat and heating evenly on a burner. They also become less stable and easier to knock over, which is another cooking hazard.
If the handles are loose on your pans, you may need to replace them. Some handles can be tightened with a screwdriver, while others are molded to the side of the pan. If your handle is loose and can't be fixed with a screwdriver, replace it. Loose handles are another cooking hazard, as they're more likely to pop off when in use.
Scratches and Pitting
Scratches and pitting expose the core layer of the pan, which can leach metal into your food. Stainless steel pans have a protective surface, and scratches break down the surfacing to reveal the inner layers that shouldn't be cooked on.
Rust and Discoloration
Over time, stainless steel pans can stain and show discoloration. While it doesn't always affect the pan's integrity, be sure to watch for discoloration due to rust. Rust in your food can cause health issues, so it's best to replace of your pans when they start rusting.
When a stainless steel pan's layers start separating, it's time to replace or recycle it. Layers often separate around the rim, especially if they are exposed. Separated layers can be hazardous when cooking, especially if they're sharp because you could cut yourself. Separated layers also become more prone to rust, which can get into your food if you're still cooking with the pan.
Stainless Steel Pan Alternatives
While stainless steel pans can be beneficial, offering durability and sleek aesthetics, If the cookware is not properly taken care of or develops scratches and wear over time. When certain metals get into your digestive system, you may face health risks. If it's time for you to replace your stainless steel pans, you may consider switching to an alternative, like ceramic cookware.
Pure ceramic pans, like from Xtrema Cookware, contain no metal core. These ceramic pans are solid ceramic clay, eliminating the potential for metals to leach into your food. Ceramic clay is a natural and organic material, which means it's safer and healthier to cook with. Using a stainless steel alternative can make a big difference in the way you prepare food.
How to Make Cookware Last Longer With Ceramic Cookware
While ceramic cookware is already durable and scratch-resistant, there are several ways to make your cookware last longer, including:
- Using less abrasive utensils: You can use most utensils on ceramic cookware without damaging it, though less abrasive utensils can help extend the longevity of your cookware. For example, opt for wood, or silicone utensils over metal to help prevent scratching the coating.
- Using pans properly: Xtrema ceramic pans are fired at temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which means they can be used in various cooking applications. It's important to pay attention to a pan's limits so you can use them properly and avoid damaging them in applications they aren't intended for.
- Storing cookware carefully: Storing cookware carefully can help prevent damage and extend your pans' life span. Rather than stacking pots and pans directly on top of each other, put a protective layer between stacked cookware to prevent them from scratching each other. For example, pot protectors or kitchen towels can help protect your cookware.
Purchase Ceramic Cookware From Xtrema
Is it time to replace your stainless steel pan? Begin your healthier cooking journey with non-toxic ceramic cookware from Xtrema. Our pure ceramic cookware is intentionally designed for everyday kitchens like yours. Choose from a wide variety of artisanally crafted and sustainable cookware that will last a lifetime. With a highly durable and resistant design, you can cook confidently while using our products. Plus, you'll gain versatility and the ability to use our cookware in various cooking applications, from the stovetop to the grill.
Learn more about our products and start cooking with ceramic cookware today.