Why Do Pans Warp? – Causes, Fix & Prevention

Pans warping seems to be one of the most common problems in the kitchen. It might not be as common as burnt food and such, but you might have found yourself often warned about it. With that, you might ask: why do pans warp? Well, allow us to help you with that. Today, let’s talk about warping.

What is a Warped Pan?

You might have read lots of caution about pans warping, but often, they don’t exactly tell you what it means or how it looks, don’t they? I can’t even tell you the amount of warnings I’ve read about warping when I was only starting! Well, let’s clear some things up before we continue. You can’t avoid something when you don’t even know what you should avoid, after all!

Simply put, a warped pan is an uneven pan. It usually happens at the base of the pan, but it could also affect the sides. It could be obvious, giving your pan an appearance as if it received a beating. However, it is often subtle like this one:

If you’ve ever wondered why all the contents of your pan can’t seem to stay on a particular spot, you are probably dealing with a warped pan.

That unusual dip or odd bump that appeared all of a sudden? Yes, it’s probably because your pan warped.

Why Do Pans Warp?

We’ve discussed what a warped pan is. Now, let’s talk about why does a pan warp.

Now, many kitchen practices could cause warping, but it pretty much boils down to one thing – rapid temperature change or thermal shock.

If we try to be a little more specific, we’ll go to the atoms. Simply put, heat excites atoms. In turn, this creates more space between them, causing the thing – in this case, the pan – to expand. On the other hand, you could say the opposite happens when the thing – again, in this case, the pan – cools down.

Now, we’ve got that down. Let’s see how this process could play out in the kitchen.

Washing

Washing your pans immediately after using them is one of the most common ways they warp. However, it could be worse. Washing your pans immediately while they’re still hot using cold water is pretty much the best way to make them warp.

Don’t trust us? Check out what Calphalon has to say in the matter.

Pans could also warp in the cooking or baking process. We will be talking about that in a bit. However, it seems it is in the washing process most pans warp.

Cooking or Baking

why do pans warp

Several things in the cooking or baking process could cause pans to warp. However, as you might have already expected, it usually centers on heat.

Heating your pan too fast, too quickly, is one way to cause your pans to warp. Say, putting the heat on high immediately, for example. Now, if you put some cold meat, vegetable, or liquid in there, that is like adding salt to the wound!

Uneven heating is also another way that your pan could warp, and one of the ways to do this is by partnering a large pan with a small burner.

Buying

Buying cheap, soft, and thin pans could also be the reason you have warped pans on your hands.

Now, you might be wondering what pans you should buy. Don’t worry. We’ll fill you in on that in the next section.

How to Avoid Warped Pans

how to unwarp a pan

You now know what a warped pan is. You now also understand why a pan warp. Now, let’s discuss how you can avoid them.

1. Mind the Temperature

Since it all boils down to temperature changes, you’d want to keep a close eye on it to avoid warped pans.

Heat your pan evenly and gradually. You could say that you shouldn’t shock your pans. To add, you might also want to thaw or put your ingredients to room temperature before putting them on the pan. We know that this is not always possible. However, you might want to try to bring the temperature down as much as possible. This way, the coldness won’t clash with the heat that much.

Additionally, you might want to take a better look at your burners and pans. Try to match your pans and burners as much as possible. If some of your pans don’t fit with your burners, then you don’t need to worry. We’ll talk about this in the third point.

Finally, when it comes to clean-up, you’d want to let your pans cool down first before washing them. Don’t let them touch any water as long as they haven’t cooled down yet. That means you don’t want to put them in a sink that isn’t completely dry to cool down. When it’s time to wash them, you might also want to use hot water. You could also use lukewarm water, but try to avoid cold water.

2. Get the Right Pans

Earlier, we said buying cheap, soft, and thin pans could also be a reason for warped pans. You’d want to avoid cheap pans as much as possible. They’re not always that bad, but it’s also a little challenging to find a quality pan among them.

Now, that’s not always the case with pans with thin or soft materials. With these, you want to weigh your options. As you might have already known, copper is one of the softer metals. Now, it doesn’t mean you want to tick copper cookware off your kitchen arsenal just because it’s on the softer side. No! Copper is also a great material for pans!

What we mean is if you’re looking to make dishes that require high heat, you might want to get a pan for that job. There is no perfect pan. They all have their ups and downs. There are right pans for the right job.

3. Keep an Eye Out On Your Pans

Now, if you don’t have the best pan for the job, or if you have a large pan for a small burner, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them. There is still a way to make them work.

For both scenarios, you just want to keep an eye out on the pan. You want to try your best to heat them as evenly as you could, gradually.

How to Fix Warped Pans

Prevention is ideal. However, sometimes, accidents happen. So, you might be wondering what you can do if your pan is already warped. Not always, but sometimes, there is a way to fix warped pans! Let us show you how.

There are a few ways to do this. However, the one we will show you is what we deem will yield the highest success rate.

For this method, you want to get a woodblock that fits the dimensions of your pan. You don’t want to go for one that is extremely small. It would probably suffice, but it might introduce more work. You want something that will fit snuggly on the pan.

You might also want to use some lining to protect your pan. However, this is optional unless you’re dealing with a non-stick pan. We recommend using a towel or something similar to protect its coating.

If the pan is dipped, you want to work on it from the exterior (i.e., the pan should be facing down). If the pan’s raised, you want to work on it from the interior (i.e., the pan should be facing up).

To start, if you’re using a lining, then you want to place that on the affected side. Next, place your wood on it and grab a hammer or a mallet.

Next, hit the woodblock to flatten the affected area. Start gently and gradually add force.

Now, if you overdid it, you don’t have to worry. Just flip the pan over and repeat the whole process until your pan becomes flat again.

Why You Want to Avoid Warped Pans

Now, you might have read the above section and thought if avoiding a warped pan is worth it. Some unevenness surely can’t hurt, can it? We hate to break it to you, but it could!

An uneven pan is not the best kitchen partner out there. Since they are uneven they could render your dishes unevenly cooked. Additionally, they could also be dangerous. A warped pan often wobbles a lot. A little wobbliness is an accident waiting to happen!

Also, a warped pan might not bother you at first. However, sooner or later, it probably will. Do you already have a warped pan? You don’t have to worry. We’ll be talking about how to fix them in the next section.

Summary

Why do pans warp? Well, today, we answered that and so much more!

First, we clarified what a warped pan is. After that, we’ve discussed why does a pan warp. Then, we also talked about how you could prevent or fix warped pans!

We hope we were able to be of service to you today. If you have any other concerns, feel free to drop by our past discussions. We might have the pan-tastic answer to your pot-blems.

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