What’s That Pan Made Of?

A view beyond the marketing clutter.

We’ve all seen them…..  

The cookware infomercials that mesmerize.

The pans that seem too good to be true.  Eggs just sliding off pans. Roasts turning out perfectly in half the time.   Burnt food washing right off.

Pans that promise to raise the novice home cook (aka you and me) to gourmet chef status (Gordon Ramsay anyone?).

And best (worst) of all, all these pans are endorsed by some celebrity chef or other.

What are these wonder pans made of?  What’s the material and more importantly, what’s the non-stick coating?

Let’s break through the  marketing clutter and find out!

The Product: Red Copper

The Claim: Revolutionary non-stick ceramic cookware made of ultra-tough Copper!

Red Copper 12 inch Ceramic Copper Infused Non-Stick Fry Pan

Here’s what we found:

After scouring their website and FAQ’s for a while, I could find no answer to the actual material that makes up the Red Copper pana.  They claim it’s made of ultra-tough copper. But with a pan retailing at $19.99, I highly doubt that.

Copper by itself is expensive and copper pans are considered the Rolls Royce of cookware.   So you can see why that price point is my first red flag.

After combing through literature and product listings online I found that the ceramic nonstick coating is bonded to an  aluminum pan. So the pans are basically aluminum pans with a ceramic coating. Not copper.

They go on to say that the coating is a Copper-Infused Ceramic.  That means there’s copper in the coating?

Hmmm… I’m not sure I want copper touching my food since it reacts with food.  See my complete guide to Copper Cookware here.

I was confused so I called their Customer Service number.  I asked the rep to clarify what the pans are made of.

He confirmed that the pans are made of aluminum.

“So where’s the copper?”, I asked.

He read out a blurb from the product literature which says its a copper-infused ceramic non-stick coating.

I voiced my concern about copper touching the food and how that isn’t safe.

He put me on hold to go and search for the answer and came back with this explanation:

“The layer of copper is in the middle, between the layer of ceramic and the aluminum pan.”

Further hmmmm…..

It must be a very thin layer of copper for the pan to be so light… and cheap.   And since no copper is supposedly touching the food, the top surface must be just copper colored ceramic non-stick coating.

Is the Red Copper pan safer than a Teflon (ptfe coated) pan?

No more and no less.  It has a ceramic based non-stick coating vs ptfe based non-stick coating and at normal cooking temperatures, both pans are equally safe.  If I take their Customer Reps assurance at face value, then the copper is not coming in contact with the food and is somewhere between the ceramic and aluminum.

What Others Are Saying

Red Copper get an average rating by users : some good, some not too good.  General consensus is that these are affordably priced, average quality pans.  As with most ceramic coated pans, many users found that the non-stick quality did not last too long.  

The Cookware Advisor Verdict.

If you’re in the market for a ceramic coated pan, by all means, buy it.  As a ceramic coated pan, Red Copper is as good (or not!) as any other ceramic coated pan. But as long as you are aware that this is an aluminum pan with a copper colored ceramic non-stick coating.  There is little to no copper here.

I would also advise that if you DO buy it, don’t use metal utensils or egg beaters in the pan as they show in the ads.  That’s definitely marketing gimmicks and no nonstick can withstand that kind of abuse.

But as The Cookware Advisor, I also want to caution you that ceramic coated cookware generally has a much lower non-stick lifespan than ptfe (teflon) coated. Teflon coated pans (in my humble opinion) are quite safe as long as they are used as they are meant i.e. don’t use on high heat and never heat an empty pan.  If that appeals to you, consider a basic T-fal nonstick pan or a more high end (and more durable) Scanpan.  

If you still feel you want to avoid teflon (and I get it, it’s a personal choice), consider 100% ceramic cookware like Xtrema instead of ceramic coated cookware (yes there’s a difference).  This cookware is pure ceramic with no metal and no chemicals and there is therefore no chance of any metal leaching into your food.  

The Product: Copper Chef

The Claim: America’s #1 selling Copper cookware brand.  Copper on the inside and copper on the outside.

Copper Chef Round Pan- 10 and 12 Inch 2 Pack

Here’s what we found:

One of the infomercials for Copper Chef claims that they’ve managed to infuse copper to the exterior of the pan, on top of their ‘proprietary’ core to take advantage of the excellent heat conduction of copper.  

But here’s the thing.  Copper Chef is not copper cookware. While there is no mention on their USA based website about the material of the pans, the FAQs on their Canadian site mention that it is aluminum with copper colored Cerami Tech™ Non-Stick Coating, and a stainless steel induction plate.

So basically an induction friendly copper colored aluminum pan with a ceramic coating.  Not a copper pan.

What Others Are Saying

Reviews online are  mixed.  A lot of users report that it starts off great but quickly falls short of expectations. As with other ceramic coated non-stick pans, the non-stick coating doesn’t seem to last too long.

The Cookware Advisor Verdict

Personally, I’d pass on this cookware.

This is a set of light aluminum pans trying very hard to make consumers believe that it is copper. Copper, if you don’t know, is super expensive and is quite heavy. This is misleading and I feel you can do much better with your money.   There’s no copper in this cookware.

If you really want copper cookware, your most affordable option is a set with a copper core or a triply cookware with copper as one of the plys i.e. layers. Here are some options:

If all you wanted was a ceramic coated non-stick pan, then Copper Chef is as good or bad as any other ceramic coated pan.  Go ahead and buy it. Just don’t think you’re buying copper cookware.

Or you could consider some other options like GreenPan or Ozeri.  Just be aware that the non-stick properties of even the best ceramic coated cookware lasts 6 times less than a ptfe/teflon coated pan.   You might be better of with a good quality ptfe based non-stick pan:

Budget option: T-fal
High end option: Made in Cookware Nonstick pan

The Product: Gotham Steel

The Claim: The Newest Non-stick Cookware Made With Ceramic And Titanium.  Ti-Cerama non-stick technology. Everything slides right off.

Gotham Steel 9.5” Nonstick Copper Frying Pans with Durable Ceramic Coating,

Here’s what we found out:

Contrary to what the name suggests, these pans are not made of Stainless Steel but are aluminum with a stainless steel handle.   Gotham Steel is just the name of the company.

The nonstick coating is a ceramic non-stick that is reinforced with titanium (hence the trademarked name Ti-Cerama non-stick technology). Titanium has been used for years to strengthen non-stick coatings, making the cooking surface scratch resistant and more durable.

Is the non-stick coating on Gotham Steel pans safe?

The Gotham Steel Ti-Cerama coating is as safe as any other ceramic or teflon based coating at normal cooking temperatures.  Read my complete review of ceramic coated nonstick cookware

What Others Are Saying:

When the pans are new, the non-stick works great, which explains some of the glowing reviews.  But the overall consensus is that the non-stick stops working after a few uses and after that everything sticks.   This is generally true of most ceramic coated non-stick pans anyway. The longevity of the non-stick is a fraction of that of a good teflon pan.    

The Cookware Advisor Verdict

Buy with caution.  There are better products out there for your money.  

If all you wanted was a good non-stick pan, stick to a teflon type pan e.g. T-fal or Made in Cookware nonstick pans.  I honestly don’t think anything comes close to the non-stick ability of a good quality ptfe (teflon) coated pan.  And if handled with care, you can get quite a few years out of that pan.

If teflon is an issue for you, consider 100% ceramic cookware (no metal) like Xtrema.  Yes, it’s much more pricey than the $19.99 for the Gotham Steel pan but you get what you pay for and in this case you get a pan that I would call the safest pan in the market.  

Is there any other as seen on TV cookware  that has you baffled?  Let us know in the comments and we will do our best to research and add to this list.

Other Pages You Might Like:

When and How To Use a Casserole Dish
Caraway Cookware – Ceramic Coated “Cookware Without The Chemicals” (New- Jan 2020)
How to Choose the Best Cookware – 7 guidelines

Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

44 thoughts on “What’s That Pan Made Of?”

  1. SKK “Titanium” pans are a scam, when the seller doesn’t reveal that the base material is actually a regular aluminum alloy instead of titanium. The coating does have some non-stick properties. But it wears off from contact with metal and glass, and the porous surface absorbs grease and smells. The pan cannot be scrubbed without removing the coating.

  2. Hi there, really appreciate such a good forum unveiling what is real behind the marketing gimmick about cookware.

    May I hear your voice about enamel cast iron, lava rock and granite cookware?

    Can I have some recommended brands that can get in Asia?

  3. Hi would you be able to tell me what the preseason is made up of on a Cuisinart 14″ carbon steel wok. its model number is CSW26-36HBJ. Im trying to sand off the coating and preseason it from scratch but wondering if its safe to do. your help would be much appreciated. thanks!

    • Hi Michael, interesting question! From what I know, pre-seasoning on carbon steel is generally done with vegetable oil so you shouldn’t really need to sand off anything, it should wash off within a few soapy washes. After which you can proceed to season it from scratch.

  4. *** PLEASE EVERYONE YOU NEED TO SEE ‘DARK WATERS’.. Especially if you “think” Teflon is safe. It is Dangerous, NOT SAFE!

  5. The Scanpan Stratanium Plus coating (used primarily on the HAPTIQ AND TECHNIQ lines) claims to be both PFOA and (depending on the source) PTFE free, but does have a 500F max cooking temp. What the heck is it made out of?

    • Hi Michael, Scanpan’s website indicates that the Stratanium Plus coating is PTFE-type:


      If you scroll down to the bottom of the webpage, the structure shown is typical of a 3-layer reinforced PTFE-based coating. Ceramic Non-stick does not have such a structure.

      The stated 500oF/260oC maximum use temperature is also a give-away that the coating is based on PTFE.

  6. I’ve had relatively new PTFE coated and a ceramic coated pan become quite stick prone when i forgot them soaking in the sink and took a trip for a week.
    I just went back to what I did for carbon steel cookware and cast iron, oil for the former (usually, olive oil, kept below its smoke point), grease for the latter.
    But then, I know the chef’s dirty secret, fat tastes good. The trick is to lower trans-fat and overall fat intake. Few foods are harmful in moderation!

  7. OK, here’s the deal. BPA is temperature sensitive and was used in containers and bottles that needed to be flexible. Obviously, you’re not going to use a pot or pan that isn’t allowed to be heated about boiling water and who wants or needs a flexible cooking pot or pan?
    Just marketing hype, hoping to sucker the rubes in, rather like gluten-free oranges and gluten-free peanut butter (hint; there never was or will be gluten in peanuts or oranges).
    Out of general principle, I avoid brands that put that nonsense on their labels. Largely, because I prefer BS-free labeling.

  8. Why, you’re absolutely right! Since all chemical companies have released harmful chemicals, we should all avoid all chemicals.
    Including food, as that’s nothing but chemicals, but vacuum is chemical free.

    DuPont and 3M paid for their chicanery and paid fairly dearly, even if not enough for it to have seriously smarted, it was at least beyond their insurance coverage.
    So, are you going to remove those PVC pipes and any connectors using Teflon tape from your home?

  9. As a general rule, when you see a recommendation to keep the temperature below 550 degrees F, it’s PTFE, aka Teflon. That’s around the temperature that PTFE breaks down into harmful fluorine gases being released and frankly, harmful only if used in a small, highly confined area. More concerning is, if you’re overheating cookware enough to break down some of the coating, you’re damaging your coating.

    • I have 5 🦜 of various species and their respiratory systems are very delicate so fumes from nonstick cookware could KILL them in short order! Show me cookware that doesn’t release fumes and that I can make a GOOD grilled cheese sandwich in!

  10. I’m seeing Blue Sapphire by Simple &Co… Cookware that says it’s heat resistant up to 550 degrees, oven & broiler safe, and free of PTFE, PFOA, & PFOS free– claims to be sapphire infused technology that is 5x hard wearing, 10xhigh density construction, and 4x excellent heat conductor. Any validity to these claims? When I tried to research it online I saw that must places discontinue selling… Wondering if there’s a reason why?

    • Hi Teresa, I had to look up Blue Sapphire. It seems like a total copycat of Blue Diamond, which is a legit product. The brand image and marketing claims are more or less identical to Blue Diamond. While probably just about legally OK (sapphire, not Diamonds), this immediately tells you that the manufacturer is sailing quite close to the wind. It might be that Blue Sapphire is discontinued because the producers of Blue Diamond have written cease and desist letters on the grounds of stolen brand image.

  11. I honestly can’t believe you’re encouraging people to buy Teflon pans after DuPont has knowingly dumped this dangerous chemical and another *very* similar dangerous chemical in waterways & poisoned people. Those chemicals stay in the bloodstream for a long time & are linked to various cancers so good luck to you if you don’t use that pan perfectly.

  12. Hi Cookware Advisor
    Your site provides lots of great information.
    Have you evaluated the Hexclad cookware sold at Costco? It uses PTFE, but the FAQs say they use a Japanese ceramic coating. I’m also wondering how non stick the pan will be if it’s a combination of steel and non stick coating. Would appreciate your opinion.

  13. Orgreenic Porcelain Ceramic Cooking Fry Pan can not find info reputable. Seems it may be aluminum coated with something. Can you help?

  14. Hello,
    Thanks for this very informative article.
    Is it possible for you to get more detailed info
    about the new Forged in Fire pans as far as materials
    and metals used?
    Thank You

    • hello Elaine, from what I can find out the pan is made of stainless steel with an aluminum encapsulated base for better heat conduction. Encapsulated means the aluminum core is surrounded by Stainless steel.
      As for the non-stick coating, it is a 5 layer coating made by the Whitford corporation and is ptfe (i.e. teflon type) based.
      Hope that helps!

      • Thank you so much for your response regarding the Forged skillet. I have an air doctor air purifier and every time I cook with that pan, the purifier kicks up to high speed and runs on high for at least 15 minutes. I knew there had to be Teflon or something similar to put off dangerous fumes. Glad I don’t have a bird in the house as Teflon fumes can kill birds. Much appreciated

  15. Great article, I always wondered about these copper, titanium and similar pans advertised on TV. Of course I knew it was mostly all marketing, and didn’t really pay attention anyhow since I’ve switched back to cast iron & carbon steel. I especially love my new carbon steel pans, they are much lighter than the old CI and all either one piece seamless or welded steel, no handles to get loose, rivets to trap food. And very non stick. Best part they’ll last forever with just a little extra care. Can’t say that about any non stick coated pan. While the health benefits may be debatable and not fully understood between all the non stick coatings, one thing is for sure that likely none will last a lifetime and end up in the land fill as most are not recyclable either. I’m sure the chemicals in the manufacturing aren’t good either, even if its safe to use at home. But hardly anyone cares about sending trash to the landfill, they just want whats easiest and cheapest even if it means going through multiple pans a year. Its sad to me.

    • Glad you liked the article Stewie, and reminds me to pull out my old carbon steel wok out of the back of the cupboard!

    • Carbon Steel cookware is a great choice. Just watch out when maintaining them by heating them with oil. Smoking oils produce toxic/carcinogenic fumes including aldehydes. Open the windows, or turn the ventilation to full blast, and make sure that there are no pet birds in the house.

  16. The BIG question for us is, are these “Non-stick ceramic coating pans” truly NOT made from or incorporate any Teflon in their construction? If not, then how WELL does this “Ceramic” coating hold up over time? It has been my experience that high temp Ceramic materials does hold up very well in industrial and similar commercial applications. However these ceramic plates we use are 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick bonded to a metal substrate and extremely rugged under Temp. A thin film of Ceramic a couple Mil’s thick bonded to aluminum substrate does not strike me as durable over the long run and susceptible to cracks and degradation over time. Any thoughts?

      • I would question where the 6x myth came from! It was in fact started by one of the PTFE suppliers in the very early days. It probably had an element of truth in it back then, just like it was true that the first iPhone had a miserably short battery life. However, Ceramic Non-stick in general has got better and better over the last 10 years whereas PTFE coatings hardly changed over the last couple of decades. It is probably true that over a period of use, the Non-stick of Ceramic properties fade (but are you saying it doesn’t happen with PTFE?). But then what is left with Ceramic Non-stick is still more easy clean that Enamel on Cast Iron. If you fry with oil, then there will be no problem. And the great thing is, Ceramic Non-stick doesn’t contain fluorinated materials and isn’t made with highly fluorinated processing aids that are now found in all our blood. Yes, the dry film thickness of a typical Ceramic Non-stick is around 30-40 microns. But there again, lower end PTFE starts from as low as 20-25 microns and the better stuff goes up to 40-45 microns. So the thicknesses of PTFE and Ceramic aren’t worlds apart. The ludicrous thing is that with PTFE you’re cooking on an organic polymer (i.e. a plastic)! One day, people will very likely look back and laugh at what these crazy people did since 1958 (when the first PTFE coated pans were launched in the US) up to 2007 (when Ceramic Non-stick came onto the market). Non-stick is made for people who want convenience. On the other paw, if you want 99.9% durable, then seasoned Cast Iron or Carbon Steel or uncoated Stainless Steel will be your best options.

  17. What do you think of the Bella 12×12 electric skillet. “Non-stick ceramic coating and 8x durable” “Healthy Eco-coating PTFE & PFOA free” “30% faster cooking” “BPA free” “Cast aluminum base” are statements on the box. Your input is greatly appreciated! I plugged it in and turned on the heat, smelling chemicals within 15 seconds. Let it heat up to a higher temp and now will wash it. Is it a keeper or a return?

    • Hello Mert, I’m personally a fan of electric skillets though have only used a ptfe/teflon coated one, not a ceramic coated one such as this one.
      As for all the statements on the box, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the marketing literature, your own experience will decide if it does indeed cook ‘30% faster’ or is ‘8x more’ durable. Generally, yes, a ceramic coating is more durable and scratch resistant vs teflon. But generally also, ceramic coatings have a MUCH shorter non-stick life than teflon coated pans. So as long as you’re aware of the limitations of ceramic non-stick coatings, this skillet should be as good or not as any other ceramic coated nonstick pan/skillet out there.

    • This looks on the face of it like a reasonable product at a fair price. It’s interesting that Bella’s website claims just 20% faster cooking times.


      This is 20% faster vs standard Non-stick (by which they presumably mean PTFE). Ceramic Non-stick is more thermally conductive vs PTFE.

      With Electric Woks and Skillets, the smell on first use can simply be the oil around the temperature probe/socket getting hot and causing some smoke. This is quite normal for this type of small domestic appliance.

      One good point about an electric skillet vs a normal fry pan is that cooking temperatures are better controlled and, therefore, the coating won’t suffer accidental overheating. If the Ceramic Non-stick is from a good supplier and, if applied at the correct thickness, then the longevity and stain resistance should be good. However, some of these products, especially at the lower price points, can be let down by the quality of the Ceramic coating that’s used, which if cost is tight, might also be applied too thinly. I’m not saying that this is the case for Bella, but time will tell.

  18. This site is very supportive of Made In Cookware. What makes its non stick PTFE coating better than any other mfger? Dupont’s newest generation non stick coating is called Autograph 2 . What makes this different from the previous Teflon? Thanks.

  19. What about a pan by Copperhead collection. The tag says it has a ‘CERAMICAL – titanium’ coating created by PFLUON “(non-stick coating)”. Also states “Environment-friendly product, excellent scratch resistance and stability, suitable for cooking at high temperature.” and “Oven and broiler safe up to 450°F.” I just got a 6″ and ordered an 8″. Only used once but it performed great. It is aluminum with a teflon non-stick outside sides for easy cleaning. Cheap but attractive and heavy.

  20. I’m really interested in the CopperChef Wonder Cooker. I like the idea of non-stick and really appreciate Skip’s info about it but I love all the ways I can cook with this product. Do you research any of that or just the evaluation of the product in general? I really appreciate your site and the quality of information.

  21. I was just given the Bulbhead Red Copper 5 Piece Square pan as a gift. I have two autistic sons. From reading this, it sounds like this pan wouldn’t be safe. I am concerned about the copper, and even the aluminum, leaching. Would you pass on this pan, especially with two autistic children?

    • hi Courtney, I don’t think I would have any safety concerns with these pans, there is no copper or aluminum touching the food. My objection is more to the way they are marketed as ultra tough copper pans whereas they are average quality, non-stick coated aluminum pans.

      Hope that helps. Beyond that, it’s really your call, you have to feel comfortable with whatever you decide.

      • Thank you for responding so quickly! I guess I was concerned that the aluminum (or copper if there is any) could somehow leach into the top coating when heated. I don’t know how these things work, so that was my main concern. I know the aluminum is buried down there a bit, and I wasn’t sure if just because it doesn’t touch the food, leaching wasn’t still a problem. You know way more about cookware than I do, looking at your site! Thank you for your help.

    • In addition to providing a non-stick surface, the coating on a frying pan is there to act as a barrier against migration of any materials from the metal of the pan into the food. This is a requirement of the US FDA. If the coating did not fulfil this “Zero Migration” requirement, it wouldn’t be allowed onto the market. Accordingly, you needn’t be worried about Aluminum leaching into the food provided the coating is undamaged – i.e. no deep scratches. There is virtually no copper in these coatings (just a few ppm). The coating manufacturer just uses copper colored pigments that don’t contain copper. I also don’t like the marketing story that’s used to promote these copper colored pans. But in terms of food contact safety, there is nothing wrong with the coating. Performance-wise, the coating is mid-ranking in terms of non-stick longevity.

  22. I have tried several different TV ceramic pans (Orgreenic, Gotham Steel, Copper Chef, and a few others whose name I can’t remember. I definitely abuse these pans, using metal utensils, steel wool for cleaning, cooking on the grill and under the broiler, dumping water into a hot pan and so on.

    They developed micro-cracks after about a month or so of this abuse, and that made food stick. I then tried seasoning the pan as if it were a cast-iron pan. I poured oil in to cover the bottom and heated it to almost smoke (about 400 degrees F). I then let it sit until it cooled, and poured off the oil and rubbed it down with paper towel. The non-stick came back and stayed until I threw it in the dishwasher.

    General comment – the $20 pans stood up to a lot of abuse and I could bring back the non-stick with a little effort. They were not as good as my $80 Celphalon pan, but I can get four new pans for the price of the one expensive pan. However, the thing I dislike about these low-end all-aluminum pans is that they tend to warp. Gotham Steel warped the least of my low-end pans, but it still warped. The warping means that the pan does not sit flat on the electric stove so does not heat evenly.

    The bottom line – I like these pans and use them for a lot of my every-day cooking. Just don’t expect a $20 pan to perform as good as a $50 pan.


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