Why pans warp and how to fix warped pans

If you are a regular in the kitchen and all things cooking excite you, then warped pans would be a sight to loathe. Warping is when pans become bent or out of shape because of heat or dampness. Sometimes you may put oil on the pan and it flows to one side making food cook unevenly. Let’s not even start with the burning due to poor distribution of heat! One word. Horrible!

Warping in frying pans is caused by a couple of reasons: not using the correct size burner, using pots made of thin metals and rapid heating and cooling.

Poor quality pans

As the name suggests, anything that is of poor quality is bound to get damaged even with the slightest of pressure. When you purchase a pan, make sure to get a quality one despite the need to save money. Sometimes cheap is expensive and you may find yourself buying countless pans at cheap prices when you would have bought one and closed that chapter. Due to high temperatures, the pan may warp easily because of the material or if it may happen to be dropped, it may become bent very easily.

Not using correct size burner and rapid heating and cooling

Warping may result if the burner is smaller or larger than the pan hence focusing the heat at one point causing that part of the pan to expand. When the pan cools and constrains, the pan takes up the new shape. This happens mostly in the middle of the pan causing it to rise and make the food cook unevenly. The rapid heating and cooling may cause warping also for e.g. when the base gets hotter than the pan walls causing it to change shape because heat is being distributed unevenly.

Using pots made of thin metals

Copper and aluminum if constructed thinly warp very fast in the first weeks of using them. Carbon and stainless steel which are harder metals may resist warping though may warp in the right circumstances. When purchasing the pans make sure that the thickness of the pans is reasonable like 5.8MM for best even heat distribution and the pan will most definitely resist warping.

In short, warping may occur because of the material the pan is made of, it’s make and maintenance because despite a pan being All Clad, which is the most expensive pan, if put under poor maintenance, it ill eventually give in and warp. So how can one prevent warping?

How to prevent warping

  • Be sure to purchase pans made from quality materials and have a reasonable thickness.
  • Check for pans that match your burner and fit them perfectly to distribute heat evenly.
  • Avoid running a hot pan under cold water immediately after getting it off the pan.
  • Do not use thin pans in the oven which make the pans to buckle.
  • Avoid overheating thin empty pots to avoid warping and cause the coating to chip off.

How to fix/unwarp a warped pan

Skillet pans

Skillet pans are those that have slanted sides and are good for stir-frying and quick cooking.

  1. Warm the skillet pan on low heat for 7-10 minutes.
  2. Place the skillet on a flat working bench. Place the skillet over a towel to protect the surface.
  3. Set a block of wood on the skillet (assuming the middle part is warped) to avoid damage then hit the block of wood with a hammer to shape the bottom of the pan.
  4. Move the block around the pan to create an even surface.
  5. Turn the pan over and do the same on the skillet cooking surface. The wood helps to avoid direct contact with the pan and reduce chances of scraping the pan’s coating.
  6. Ensure the pan is maintained well to avoid another case of warping.

Cast iron pan

Cast iron pans are quite stronger but have a problem with distributing heat evenly. So, imagine that then your cast iron pan gets warped! The following is how you unwarp it:

  1. Place it on a hard surface and place a towel on it and put the cast iron pan upside down on the towel.
  2. Make sure to heat the cast iron before hammering to soften it.
  3. Place another towel on the pan. Hammer on the warped section turning to check it it’s even and correct any bumps that may have been created by the hammer.
  4. Do not hammer without the towels since it may mark the pan or hammer a soft surface.

Most pans will get unwarped by using the wood to shape it. Just remember not to do it directly on the surface of the pan and heat before the whole process under low heat to make the pan softer to shape.

Frying pans that do not warp

There is really no pan that may not warp despite it being from a certain brand. How you care for a pan matters a lot and the quality of what you purchase. Yes, good pans are expensive but worth it.