For centuries, cast iron, copper, and enamel ruled kitchens, and it is only recently that modern pots and pans took their place.
However, research has proven the side effects brought about by the chemicals used to produce non-stick pans, which is why people are bringing out their grandmother’s pots and pans in an attempt to refurbish them.
But is refurbished cookware as good as new? Keep on reading to find out.
Refurbishing old pots and pans may be your best defense against chemically polluted pots and pans.
If you’re using them, though, make sure you don’t try and extend their lifespan when you really should throw them out.
Why Do People Opt for Non-stick Pans?
Now, you’re probably wondering why we’ve only mentioned non-stick pans and not any other types.
It’s simply because nobody wants their food to sticking to their cooking utensil, which is why people almost always opt for non-stick cookware.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, around 70% of pans used in 2018 were non-stick.
If that doesn’t tell you how popular they are, then we don’t know what will convince you.
However, you must understand that despite their popularity, non-stick pans are not very healthy and can only last you a few years.
When using a non-stick pan, make sure you don’t crank up the heat too high.
These pans run the risk of releasing chemicals at temperatures around 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
The chemical coating on these pans deteriorates with high heat, which can also significantly reduce their lifespan and adversely affect its performance.
Because of the chemical coating, non-stick skillets do not conduct heat as efficiently as cast iron does.
Even though many of the latest cooking utensils are oven-safe, they are not as efficient as cast iron.
In fact, they aren’t even an investment, as, despite their high price tag, they’re meant to only last you a few years at max.
When Should You Throw Away Non-Stick Pans?
There’s no timeline that you need to following when it comes to disposing of your non-stick pans.
The recommended period varies depending upon the amount of use as well as the level of care it has received.
For moderate users, we suggest you replace your pan within three to five years as per DuPont’s calculations.
With the right amount of care, you can make it last slightly longer than five years.
However, any more than 5.5 years and using it could prove to be dangerous to one’s health.
Those who use their non-stick skillets a lot more frequently should also switch them out just as often, with three years being the maximum usage limit, no matter how good a condition the pan seems to be in.
Replacing the pan also becomes crucial in case of chipping or damage.
Using a chipped pan increases your chances of developing cancer due to exposure to the chemicals in the pan.
You can avoid having to purchases a new pot every few years by refurbishing old cookware.
If you have a cast-iron pan lying around, then clean it up for reuse.
With the right amount of care, it works just as well as a non-stick pan and provides more usage without any of the side effects.
Don’t worry. Even if you’ve never undertaken a DIY refurbishment process before, it’s not too difficult to pull off.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to turn old pots and pans into new ones.
How to Refurbish Old Cookware?
Step by Step Guide
Before we dive into the care and refurbishment process for tin, copper, and enamel, let’s talk about cast iron first as it is one of the most widely used types of cookware and has been for ages.
- The first step is to get rid of the dust, rust, and grime. To do that, you need to scrape your pan with steel wool until there are no more visible spots.
- Then, rinse the pot with warm water. You could also use a diluted soap mixture if you like. The soap water not only takes off the scraps but also cleans and deodorizes the pan, getting rid of the rusty smell.
- After cleaning, drying is the most crucial step in the refurbishment process of the pan. Using tissue paper, you must completely dry out the pan to avoid new rust spots from forming. To completely get rid of all moisture in the pan, you must place the skillet on the burner to allow the heat to dry out the moisture completely.
- Then, soak a couple of paper towels in vegetable oil and apply a thin sheen of oil on the surface of your cast iron pan.
- Place the pan in the oven face down with an aluminum foil at the bottom of the oven to catch any dripping.
- Take it out and place it on a cooling rack.
Your cast-iron skillet has successfully been refurbished and is now ready to use.
The process requires a lot of elbow grease, and you may need to perform this process as often as need be.
But it is cheaper than having to buy a new pan every few years, as cast iron can last you for generations.
Enamel dishes are reminiscent of the 1950s. They are essentially cast iron pots and pans with an enamel coating on top.
Unlike non-stick pans, an enamel coating is non-reactive and alleviates concerns many have when using regular pans.
Refurbishing them involves a few simple steps.
Do proceed with care and do not use harsh, abrasive chemicals for the cleaning as that may cause the enamel to chip, which renders the pot useless.
- Clean the rust using soap, water, and a mesh sponge.
- Then rinse the pot with warm water.
- To get the ultimate shine and to get rid of the rusty smell, use a mixture of lemon and baking soda and apply it all over the pan.
- Let the paste rest for thirty minutes and scrub off whatever remaining rust spots are visible.
- Rinse the pan with warm water, and you should be good to go.
If there are still some stubborn rust spots that won’t go away despite the scrubbing, then you can use steel wool to help you tackle them.
However, be gentle on the pan as a chipped enamel surface is just as bad as a chipped non-stick pan.
A word of warning here: Do not use lemon and baking soda mixture for your cast iron skillets.
The acid in lemon juice can potentially react with the iron, producing undesirable results.
When cleaning enamel pots, do watch out for chipping on the inside of the pan.
Even though a hairline crack is acceptable, a scratched coating is not.
We strongly advise you not to use a chipped pan as it is potentially dangerous.
Copper pans are the least frequently used for daily use.
However, they are beautiful utensils and were quite popular back in the day.
They are good at heat retention and come with a stainless steel or tin lining.
As long as they aren’t chipped, scrubbing them new requires minimal effort.
- Scrub the whole pot with salt and lemon. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle salt on it. Then run the lemon wherever there is rust or dust on the pan.
- You may need to reapply salt a couple of times, but the mixture works like magic and will leave your copper pot looking brand new.
If the lining on your pan is chipped, we suggest you get it re-tinned before use.
How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware?
Caring for cast iron cookware primarily involves the same steps as refurbishing does.
Before we dive into the step by step process, make sure you avoid rust formation on your pans.
As long as your pan is rust free and well seasoned, you don’t have to worry about anything.
- Wash the cast iron cookware with soap and water.
- Use a mesh sponge to scrub away rust, dirt, and grime regularly.
- Rinse with warm water.
- Dry out the pan using paper towels. Water is a cast iron pans worst enemy. Make sure there is no moisture remaining on the cookware. Otherwise, you may need to repeat the care procedure every time before use.
- Dry out the remaining moisture by placing the pan on a burner.
- Once dry season the pan with a light coating of vegetable oil applied with the help of paper towels. The layer should be so thin that no pools of oil must be visible to the naked eye.
- Let the pan cool to room temperature before storing it in a cool, dry place until reuse.
Is Refurbished Cookware Worth It?
While new cooking utensils hold an appeal of their own and require significantly less maintenance, they prove more costly in the long run, both health-wise and financially.
Refurbished cookware, on the other hand, is less harmful to health and will last you forever when treated right.
With a little bit of elbow grease, your cast iron cooking utensils can outperform any non-stick pan from even the high-end brands.