Why Does My Pan Smoke So Much – All You Need to Know!

Pans smoke when they are too hot when there is leftover residue on their surface, or if the pans have been damaged. Moreover, they also smoke when they are not used properly. Smoking can be a result of improper seasoning. 

Imagine you are cooking a very delicious, tasty meal for your family and friends. All of sudden, you start to notice curls of smoke coming from your cooking pan and surrounding your food. You have no idea what caused the smoke and how you can get rid of it so that you can finish cooking the dinner. 

Cooking pans are very useful cooking utensils. You can easily use them to create a variety of recipes. Moreover, they make the entire cooking process very easy. If you use them improperly, you will reduce their life and durability. 

If you use them incorrectly, pans will smoke. Smoking pans release harmful and toxic free radicals that contaminate your food. It is unhealthy and dangerous. There is a chance that the pan might catch fire. 

Let’s see what causes pans to smoke and how you can keep your pans from smoking.

why does my pan smoke so much

Why Does Your Pan Smoke So Much

Your pan smokes due to a process called pyrolysis. Pyrolysis removes oxygen from the food and cooks it. It must occur to make your food brown and caramelize it. Without pyrolysis, your meals would not be as tasty as they are.

However, pyrolysis is what causes the pan to smoke. Between the food and the oil, the smoke coming off the pan is basically the oxygen that is escaping to cook your meal thoroughly. There are ways by the help of which you can lower the amount of smoke as you cook.

However, there is a possibility of having a tiny bit of smoke while cooking. This smoke shouldn’t be more than just a wisp. If the smoke is covering your entire food, then you have reason to worry as you have reached the ‘flashpoint’.

Flash Point vs Smoking Point

Let’s see the difference between smoking point and flash point.

  • Smoking Point

When oil gets too hot for the cooking pan but doesn’t cause damage to it, that point is called the smoking point. If the oil reaches around 445 degrees F, there is a risk of smoking. If you start seeing some smoke around the pan, remove it from heat and allow it to cool down to a safe temperature. 

  • Flash Point

When the oil in the pan reaches a temperature over 616 degrees Fahrenheit and there is a risk of it catching fire, you have reached the flash point. It is important that you don’t allow the pan to reach the flash point and take care of the pan way before that. 

smoking pan

Oils that have High Smoking Points

When you are cooking it is better to use oils that have a high smoking point to keep your pans from smoking while cooking. Here are some of the oils that have a high smoking point. 

  • Coconut Oil
  • Light Olive Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Avocado Oil

These oils are a great option if you are worried about creating a fire. Though peanut oil also has a high smoking point, if you have a peanut allergy you can certainly not consume that. 

  • Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is rich in oleic acid which is good for heart health and cutting away bad cholesterol. The smoke point of avocado oil is 520 degrees F. It is perfect for grilling, pan-frying, sautéing, and deep frying. 

avocado oil
  • Canola Oil

The smoke point of canola oil is 400 degrees F. It is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your health. 

  • Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been a popular choice for health freaks for ages and rightly so. It has a slightly lower smoking point of 350 degrees F as compared to other oils. It improves HDL, helps you burn fat, and kills the harmful bacteria in your body. 

  • Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil has a smoke point of 400 degrees F. It is a great source of Vitamin E and is extremely beneficial for deep frying since it is very healthy. It has a very low amount of saturated fat so you can use it without thinking about the number of calories you are consuming. 

Oils with Low Smoking Point

There are oils that have a low smoke point and will cause a lot of smoke even at low temperatures. You shouldn’t use them for frying. Here are a few of them.

  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Walnut Oil
  • Regular Olive Oil
olive oil

Types of Pans & Why They Smoke

Most of the pans smoke due to pyrolysis. However, pans smoke due to varying reasons as well depending on their design and condition.

  • New Pans

Seasoning a pan is an entire process in which you wash the pan, oil it, and then heat it for a bit before using it. If you have just bought a new pan, it will smoke when you use it for the first time, even if you have seasoned it. 

This is because pans have a layer of coating on them to keep them fresh in the stores. If you are using an unseasoned pan, it will have a higher chance of smoking. Wash the pan thoroughly before using it to get the protective coating off and reduce the amount of smoke that might appear.

  • Cast Iron Pans

Cast iron pans smoke due to heat. Although cast iron pans undergo various processes to make them a good option for cooking your meals, the pans will still smoke if they are too hot. A great way to eliminate the risk of smoking is by preheating the pan in your oven.

The pan will be hot even before you put it on the stove and there will be no smoke.

  • Stainless Steel Pans

Stainless steel pans smoke at high temperatures. Similar to the cast iron pans, these pans heat very quickly and can retain heat over the bottom of the pan. However, due to this, they are at a higher risk for smoking than other options.

If you cook food in the stainless steel pans at medium heat, it will alleviate the problem. 

pan on fire
  • Non-Stick Pans

There are two main reasons why non-stick pans smoke.

  • High heat
  • Protective coating

Non-stick pans smoke when they are exposed to high temperatures. Therefore, keep them on medium heat to prevent smoking. If they start to smoke, remove them from the stove and allow them to cool down before you continue cooking.

When the non-stick coating on the pan gets damaged, scratched, or burned, it will create problems as you cook. Once the coating gets damaged, it is better to discard the non-stick pan. The coating is flammable and toxic and shouldn’t be kept around. 

Tips to Keep Your Pan from Smoking

Let’s see what you can do to keep your pans from smoking.

  • Check the Heat Level

The first thing you should do is check the heat level of your stove. If it is higher than medium-high, it might be too hot for your pan. Usually, pans should be used at medium to medium-high heat. Never keep the pans at a high temperature for a long time. 

frying beef in steel pan
  • Cook on Medium Heat

Cook the food on medium heat instead of high heat to keep the pan from smoking. If you see smoke, it might be due to the oil or seasoning that you are using. Turn down the temperature of the stove and take the pan off as well. 

Allow the pan to cool down for a few minutes and then return it to the stove. 

  • Wash the Pans Thoroughly

Once you are done cooking, you need to wash the pans thoroughly. After washing the pan with dishwashing soap, dry it completely. Make sure that there is no food residue left on the pan that might cause smoking the next time you use the pan.

FAQs for Why Does My Pan Smoke So Much

How do I get rid of the smoke while cooking?

Immediately take the pan off the stove and allow it to cool. Ventilate the kitchen. If the smell of smoke still persists, leave a bowl of vinegar and baking soda overnight to get rid of the smoke smell. 

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