Pans That Sizzle & Fizzle

Nonstick cookware outsells uncoated pans by about three to one. But Consumer Reports' tests turned up some problems.

The Home Shopping Network ad says, "We have the most amazing cookware set. I've never seen anything like this."

HSN is talking about the T-fal Ingenio set.

"You see that Thermospot technology? So when the pan is hot, this will change color..."

Consumer Reports found the spot did change to solid red at 400 degrees.

Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman of Consumer Reports says, "But the color of the spot doesn't change if the pan gets too hot, so you still have to pay attention."

Consumer Reports tested the T-fal along with more than a dozen other kinds of nonstick cookware.

Many did a better job in this test that assesses how evenly a pan cooks.

The pancake in the T-fal pan turned out a little blotchy.

Lehrman says, "Another concern is how well the nonstick coating on the pans will last."

To test that, pans are heated to around 400 degrees and then scrubbed with steel wool. Some look pretty good even after 2,000 passes.

But the coating on the T-fal wore away pretty quickly. And other pans did even worse.

Lehrman says, "This after less than 400 strokes. These pans are unusable now."

They're pans from the EarthPan II and EarthPan Plus cookware sets.

But interestingly, another EarthPan did better in the scrub test. It's the EarthPan Hard Anodized set-a Best Buy at $170. It also rates very good for cooking food evenly.

There's been concern that nonstick pans with the chemical PTFE can release potentially harmful chemicals when heated. The manufacturer of EarthPans claims its nonstick coating is free of PTFE.

Consumer Reports' past tests of pans with PTFE show under normal cooking conditions levels of harmful chemicals are quite low.

Nevertheless, if a pan with a nonstick coating starts to flake, it's best to discard it.

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