Sol-Gel Maintenance, Cleaning and Cooking Tips

Sol-gel pans are made of metal, usually aluminum, and then coated with a ceramic, nanoparticle coating. As with other nonstick coated pans, sol-gel pans are a healthier way to cook compared to cast-iron or steel pans because you don't need to add as much oil or fat to prevent your food from sticking to the cookware. However, sol-gel coated cookware and other nonstick pans can be easily scratched and therefore require more care and attention than steel or cast-iron pans.

Sol-gel coatings also cook food differently than conventional nonstick coatings and are much more sensitive to heat. When cooking with sol-gel cookware you'll need to adjust your normal cooking methods and pay close attention while cooking until you get comfortable with the sol-gel coated pans.

Here are some tips to increase the lifespan of your sol-gel or other nonstick pans and make the cooking process an easy one:

  • Use a small amount of oil. While you don't need a lot, it is essential to help avoid burnings food on the surface. Also, avoid oils that smoke at low temperatures like extra virgin olive oil. Burned oil will leave a layer of carbonized residue that will require more in-depth scrubbing which could damage the coating. 

  • As with other nonstick coating cookware, avoid using metal spatulas. While sol-gel coatings are non-toxic, damage will reveal the metal base and reduce the pan's nonstick qualities.

  • Use protective layers when stacking pans. If pan protectors are not at hand, even a piece of cloth or paper napkin between each pan will help protect the surface coating.

  • Don't wash the pan immediately after cooking. Drastic changes in temperature can damage to the nonstick coating.

  • Don't put sol-gel coated cookware in the dishwasher. Even if the manufacturer claims that their product is dishwasher safe, a loose metal object like a knife can easily damage the coating while in the dishwasher.

  • Only use medium or low heat for cooking with sol-gel coated pans. High temperatures can damage the pan itself or burn the food, making it very hard to properly clean the pan.

Cleaning Tips for Sol-Gel Coated Cookware

The following techniques and cleaning agents are recommended for gently cleaning sol-gel surfaces. Obviously, if burning has occurred, repetitive efforts and more time will need to be invested to get the cookware clean.

  • Scrub pans with a sponge using hot, soapy water. 

  • If soap and water doesn't do the trick, first try simmering vinegar in the cookware to help loosen remaining food bits. Then try scrubbing again with a sponge in soap and water.

  • Soak dirty pans in hot, soapy water to allow the soap to break down the food particles and fats. Overnight soaking may be necessary depending on the cooked-on foods and degree of burning that may have occurred.

  • If soaking with soap and water doesn't work, try soaking with a diluted mixture of dishwasher detergent and hot water. Then try revisiting with soap, water and a sponge.