Can This TikTok Hack Really Save Your Worn-Out Nonstick Pan?

·4 min read

All you need is one ingredient you definitely already have on hand.

<p>Dotdash Meredith</p>

Dotdash Meredith

Nonstick pans make cooking messy foods that are prone to sticking, from scrambled eggs to quesadillas, a much easier task. The coating on the pan allows you to fry, sear, or sauté without omelet fragments or pieces of fish sticking to the surface, making your masterpiece easier to serve and clean up.

But many home cooks can share tales of frustration with a nonstick pan that worked well until … it didn't. Then what? Can your nonstick pan be salvaged, or should you toss it? When is a nonstick pan no longer safe to use? 

Recently, a video was making the rounds on TikTok claiming to have the easy fix for fixing a sluggish nonstick pan using an ingredient that everyone has in their kitchen: salt.

What Is the TikTok Hack for Restoring Worn-out Nonstick Pans?

Creator Sophie Louise, who posts popular cleaning tips to her platform, shared a nonstick pan resuscitation hack involving salt that took social media by storm. 

In the video, she cleans the pan with some dishwashing liquid and a soft sponge, then dries it and places it on the stovetop over high heat. She covers the bottom of the pan with an even layer of table salt. The salt begins to brown as it heats up after a few minutes. At this point, she removes the pan from the heat, tilts it to remove the salt, and wipes the pan with a clean, damp kitchen towel to remove all traces of salt. Next, she cooks an egg in the clean pan, and the nonstick surface appears to work like new.

Does the TikTok Hack for Restoring a Nonstick Pan Work?

A good clue for whether or not one of these social media hacks will actually work is if the creator shows a before and after in the video or not. In this case the "after" looked like it couldn't be argued with—the pan was as nonstick as could be! The only problem? We never saw a "before."

Luckily, my go-to nonstick pan for eggs has been claiming some of my scramble for itself lately. I've been thinking it's time for a replacement, but figured I'd put this hack to the test as a last-ditch effort. I washed my pan, filled it with salt, cooked, wiped it out and saw almost no improvements.

<p>Devon O'Brien/Allrecipes</p>

Devon O'Brien/Allrecipes

For whatever reason I was NOT ready to give up at this point and decided to try one more time, following the steps in the video exactly. But after I did the final step of wiping out the pan I thought maybe I should treat this like recovering a cast-iron skillet and rubbed a bit of neutral oil into the freshly-cleaned pan. I wouldn't call this a miracle cure, but it did work a lot better than trying the method without oil.

<p>Devon O'Brien/Allrecipes</p>

Devon O'Brien/Allrecipes

To figure out if there was really something to this hack, we had to do a little more research.

Why Do Nonstick Pans Lose Their Effectiveness Anyway?

Nonstick pans can lose their effectiveness when the coating is worn or scratched off, in which case it's time for a new pan. But another culprit in the case of a non-nonstick pan is cooking spray. It may be great for lubricating other types of pans, but when it comes to using them on nonstick, the problem is the ingredients in the spray aside from the cooking oil. One of the ingredients, lecithin, will eventually build up in a pan after multiple cooking sessions, essentially creating a barrier that blocks the nonstick coating and prevents it from working.

How Does Salt Help Restore Worn-out Nonstick Pans?

In this TikTok-famous cleaning method, heating the pan and "exfoliating" it with the salt helps loosen up the leftover residue from past-used cooking sprays. And I suspect, following it up with a little oil helps give that nonstick surface an extra boost, just like it does with cast iron cookware.

The Bottom Line

We give this hack two our of five stars. On the first try, we didn't see any improvement. It wasn't until trying a second time and adding oil that we saw any improvement at all, and it still wasn't great. There is a chance this could help your pan if you did it regularly for maintenance, but if your nonstick pan is still sticking or has any scratches, it's time for a replacement.