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The One Thing You Should Never Do After Cooking

hot pans

Do your pots and pans wobble around on your stovetop? Does your pan seem to have hot and cold spots, resulting in half-burnt, half-doughy pancakes? If so, you’re likely dealing with warped cooking pans!

But how did they end up that way, and how can you prevent it from happening again in the future? I’ll be answering those very questions in today’s blog post! :-)

hot pans

The Problem: Your Cooking Pans Are Warped

Apart from woks and other curved cooking pans, most brand new cooking pans have a flat bottom surface. This allows the pan to sit evenly on top of a stove burner, which promotes even heat distribution and even cooking.

However, many cooking pans eventually get warped out of shape. And instead of a pan that sits evenly on your stovetop, you wind up with a pan that wobbles around, tipping unhelpfully while you attempt to cook in it.

Assuming the pan was never dropped, crushed, or damaged in any way, you may feel a bit mystified as to how your pan ended up this way! And as surprising as it might sound, it likely has a lot to do with the way you clean it!

hot pans

The Solution: Never Rinse A Hot Pan!

Warping often occurs when a hot pan meets cold water, usually when someone takes their pan straight from the stove to the sink and rinses it off. Metal expands when it is heated up (not enough for us to notice, but enough to make a difference), and it shrinks slowly and uniformly back down as it cools off.

hot pans

But when that hot pan meets cold water, the metal may experience “thermal shock,” shrinking so rapidly it ends up warped out of shape. This is why you should never rinse a hot pan, and instead let it cool to room temperature before rinsing it off.

hot pans

But warping isn’t the only issue that rinsing a hot pan can cause. It can also affect the way the pan conducts heat, creating hot and cold spots that will make it much harder to cook anything evenly.

hot pans

And while I understand the desire to clean up quickly after dinner, the damage to your pan is just not worth it! Patience is a virtue, especially when a little patience can save your cooking pans. :-)

More Useful Kitchen & Cooking Tips

Do you have any tips for protecting your cooking pans?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Food & Recipes

  • When I first started cooking my mother told me to speak to my father about pots and pans. He was a welder and told me how metal reacts in different ways and what not to do and one was never put cold water in a hot pan. When I went back in the kitchen my mother was smiling. She cooked for 70 years with the same pans and they got handed down. I have been cooking for 49 years and have never had a pan warp. I do what others suggested if what I’m cooking is messy to clean up and that is fill it with hot water and swish it around. Sometimes I even add a couple drops of dish detergent and for some jobs even turn the heat back on for a few minutes to release the goo. Clean up is a breeze after that. Such good suggestions, please keep them coming.

  • I found new cookware that is better! You can read up on it called “Made.In”. It also was in Opra’s magazine. I’m not a cook per se but I really like it. I needed new cookware so I googled ‘cookware’. I just ordered a couple pieces so far. And very reasonable! Not any more than the others…. It’s gotten very good reviews! It’s got 5 layers of metal & if you take care of it, it Will last a lifetime! They have carbon steel, stainless steel and non-stick cookware. They tell you how to season your cookware & have recipes, etc…. some of the big restaurants & chefs are cooking with Made In. AND their customer service is top notch! I’m very happy with it! They will take returns if you’re not happy.

  • I had my pots and pans set since marriage 27 years ago. Since my kids (and husband) started cooking, I am noticing them warping now. Is there a way to correct the warp by chance?

  • I imagine that many people rinse hot skillets and pans with cold water because the steam helps any cooked-on food release more easily. I typically clean my skillets once they’re cooled (and emptied of leftovers) by adding cool tap water and bringing it to a boil over the stove for a few minutes. I let the water cool again, pour it down the sink along with any released food, and use a plastic scraper on the rest. Just don’t forget about your skillet as once the water boils off you’ll have even more of a burnt-on mess on your hands (not that I’ve ever done that, ahem)!

    Most of my skillets are cast iron and my baking pans are stoneware so warping isn’t an issue. But baking soda is great on stainless steel (just make a paste with water and rub it in with your fingers), and copper-mesh pads can be used on most metals (but not non-stick) as copper is softer and will scrape off food and stains without leaving scratches.

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