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Can Metal Be Used on Stainless Steel Utensils?

2023-11-22

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Have you ever spent your hard-earned money on shiny new cookware, only to have a family member scratch it with a metal spatula? Soo frustrating, right? But if you don’t want to give up the stainless-steel utensils maybe you’re wondering if stainless steel is a good option for your next pan purchase.

Can metal be used on stainless steel cookware?

Yes. Yes, it can. Safely. Usually. This article will dig into more specifics about when steel on steel isn’t a great idea.

Can You Use Metal on Stainless Steel Cookware?

Metal utensils are okay to use on stainless steel cookware as long as it does not have a nonstick coating. Regular stainless-steel cookware is robust, with a coating of strong, bright nickel on top. It can withstand repeated use of metal utensils without causing harm to your pots and pans’ surfaces.

A steel scrubbing brush is the one metal item you should avoid using on a natural stainless-steel pan. These have the potential to scratch the steel.

If your stainless-steel pans have a ceramic or nonstick coating, however, you must use bamboo, nylon, or silicone utensils on the pan. Check out our guide to the best stainless-steel cutlery.

Types of Stainless-Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is made of an alloy of iron, chromium, and nickel, which together provide a very durable surface. It is lightweight, holds heat effectively, and can be used on all cooktops, even induction. All of these qualities combine to make this material ideal for nontoxic cookware that lasts forever.

100% Pure Stainless-Steel Cookware

There is no such thing as 100% pure stainless-steel cookware exist. Stainless steel is a metal alloy composed of many metals, with variable metal ratios in different grades of steel. Steel is commonly blended or coated with aluminum or copper in cookware since it does not transfer heat efficiently (but it does hold heat well!).

Clad Stainless Steel

When deciding which material is ideal for cookware, aluminum, and stainless-steel cookware are frequently pitted against one another. There are obviously notable distinctions between aluminum and stainless-steel cookware, the strongest pans are those that combine the force of aluminum and stainless steel in a multilayer design.

These pans have three or five-ply designs that sandwich stainless steel and aluminum layers together to provide a better cooking utensil. These pans are made of “clad” stainless steel and may be used with metal utensils. There may be some little scratching, but it will not significantly reduce the pan’s life.

Nonstick Stainless Steel

Nonstick Stainless-Steel cookware has all of the features stated above, including an extra nonstick coating that facilitates food release. Unfortunately, this covering prevents these pans from being used with metal cutlery.

Nonstick coatings are classified into three types: PTFE-based, PTFE-free ceramic, and natural seasoning.

PTFE Nonstick Cookware

PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is a synthetic polymer that produces a highly effective nonstick surface. Teflon is the market leader in PTFE-based nonstick, yet nonstick coatings can be PTFE without the Teflon brand name. Because of the possible health concerns of overheating, many people are turning away from this sort of nonstick coating these days.

When purchasing stainless steel, it is important to first check the box to find out whether the nonstick is PTFE-free. (Keep in mind that PFOA-free does not imply PTFE-free!) Unfortunately, the majority of nonstick stainless steel on the market is PTFE-based. As a result, we prefer to purchase ordinary uncoated stainless-steel cookware since we are more convinced that it is non-toxic.

PTFE Ceramic Cookware

Cookware without PTFE mostly use a ceramic coating created by heating a sand-based silicone gel to 800 °F, give or take. Some producers incorporate mineral, titanium, or even diamond particles into the silicone. Some people apply an extra coating or glaze to the surface.

Seasoned with a Natural Patina

Everyone is aware that cast iron and carbon steel may be seasoned by baking layers of oil onto the metal to create a shiny hydrophobic surface. You may do the same with stainless steel pans, but they will no longer be shiny and clean.

So, which coated stainless steel pans are safe to use with metal utensils?

Sadly, none of them.

Whisks, spatulas, and spoons made of steel or metal will scrape, chip, scratch, or damage PTFE, ceramic, or even natural oil coatings. The good news is that a scratched oil patina can be re-season. The bad news is that scratches in Teflon or ceramic coatings cannot be repaired. These scratches will not only render the nonstick utterly worthless; they may also pose health risks.

Ceramic pans can be reasonably non-toxic depending on the glazes and coatings used. A metal tool chipping the sol-gel layer on porcelain may not be harmful to your health (albeit it will damage your pan.)  However, the pan’s metal core will be exposed, potentially leaching aluminum into your meal.

Scratching a PTFE-based nonstick coating, on the other hand, is another story. Scratching a nonstick coating might cause microplastics to be released into your meal. According to research conducted by the Global Centre for Environmental Remediation, the tiniest surface scratch can result in the entry of 9,000 plastic microparticles into your meal! While the health impacts of these microplastics are still being explored, we believe it is safer to avoid this risk entirely.

What if the Manufacturer says You Can Use Metal Utensils on Non-stick Stainless Steel?

Some nonstick cookware is marketed as being safe to use with metal utensils but use at your own risk. Before using metal utensils on your pan, check the manufacturer’s guarantee to determine whether they are prohibited. Steel utensils, according to customers’ experience, tend to scrape and deteriorate with time. As a result, we recommend that you avoid using metal utensils on any nonstick or coated stainless steel cookware.

Conclusion

So you’ve got it. Use metal utensils only if you have a high-quality set of stainless-steel pans, such as this coveted Calaphon set. Choose silicone, wood, nylon, or bamboo for coated stainless steel.

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