Ask yourself why does my pan smoke so much? Imagine cooking a delicious meal for your family or friends.
As you cook, you start and notice the beginning curls of smoke coming from your pan and around your food.
You don’t know what caused it, how to get rid of it, and why it even happens, but you know that you need to find out to finish dinner.
Pan’s smoke is due to either being too hot, leftover residue on the surface, or damage to the surface. Occasionally, seasonings or oil can also cause smoke.
To fix it, you’ll have to lower the heat, fully clean your pan after each use, discard broken pan seals, or change seasonings with the temperature of your pan and food.
Why Does My Pan Smoke So Much?
Are you wondering, “why does my grill pan smoke so much?”
A smoking pan occurs because of a process known as “pyrolysis,” a reaction that causes food to cook by removing the oxygen from it.
Pyrolysis must happen to make food brown and is what causes the caramelization on popular dishes.
Without pyrolysis, food wouldn’t be quite as tasty, but it is the main process that causes the smoke from your pan.
Between the oil and the food itself, the smoke is the oxygen escaping to completely cook through your meal.
Note: If your food won’t caramelize, it may not have enough oil or the temperature of the pan may be too low!
While there are ways to help lower the risk of smoke during cooking, there is always the possibility of still having a tiny bit of smoke due to this process.
However, it should never be more than a small wisp—if there’s enough smoke to cover your food, you may have reached the flashpoint.
Smoking Point Versus Flash Point
The smoking point of an oil is when it gets too hot for the pan but doesn’t have the possibility of damage.
If your oil reaches around 455 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 degrees Celsius, you are at risk for smoking.
If you see more smoke than normal, you should remove your pan from the heat and wait for it to cool down. Depending on how long the oil has been heated, it will take longer to cool it down to a safe temperature.
The flashpoint is when oil gets over 616 degrees Fahrenheit or 325 degrees Celcius and is at risk of catching fire.
You will reach the smoking point before you reach the flashpoint, so it’s critical to care for a smoking pan before it becomes too hot.
If you are worried about reaching the flashpoint of your pan, some oils have a higher smoking point that is better to use.
Note: oils that have a low smoke point and shouldn’t be used in frying are seed oils (flax, pumpkin, walnut) and regular olive oil.
Types of Oils With High Smoking Points
When choosing your oil for cooking several options can make it harder to reach the smoking point. In order, they are the following:
- Avocado oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Light olive oil
- Coconut oil
If you are worried about a fire, these options are a good place to start with less chance of smoking.
Note: Peanut oil has a high smoke point, and people with peanut allergies can safely consume refined peanut oil. Unrefined (also called crude) peanut oil should be avoided.
Pan Types and Why They Smoke
Most pans will smoke when using them due to pyrolysis.
Each type of pan may also have a special reaction to their design that makes them more or less susceptible to smoking while cooking.
If you’ve recently purchased a pan, it will most likely smoke the first time you use it, even if it is seasoned.
This is because of a factory coating that many pans have to keep them fresh in the store.
If you have an unseasoned pan, meaning that it hasn’t gone through the process of being washed, oiled, and heated before use, you have a higher chance of smoking.
Note: You can wash your pan thoroughly before using it to reduce the amount of smoke that may appear.
Cast Iron Pans
This type of pan will smoke because of heat. Even though cast iron skillets and pans have special processes to make them a better option when cooking, they will still smoke if too hot.
One way to eliminate the risk of it smoke is to pre-heated your cast iron pan in the oven, making it hot even before you put it on the stove.
Stainless Steel Pans
These pans will still smoke due to the high heat.
Similar to cast iron pans, stainless steel is known for getting hot quickly and being able to retain that heat over the entire bottom of the pan.
However, because of this, they are also at risk for smoking more than other choices. Cooking food at medium-high to low-medium will help alleviate this problem.
There are two reasons why non-stick pans will smoke: high heat and the coating.
For high heat, non-stick pans will act similarly to the other options. They need to be kept around medium heat to keep from smoking.
And, just like the other choices, you need to remove them from the heat and lower the stove’s temperature before you can continue cooking.
However, the second option is much more fatal. Non-stick pans have a coating that keeps them from sticking—it is the whole reason why they have such a large market.
If this coating becomes scratched, burned, or damaged, it can create problems when cooking. If you see the coating of non-stick pans either when cooking or washing, discard the pan.
This coating is toxic and flammable, so it’s best not to keep it around when damaged.
How to Solve Your Smoking Pan Problem
When your pan starts smoking, you should follow these steps to either halt or slow down the rate at which your pan is smoking.
Step #1. Check the level of your stove.
If your stove is higher than medium-high heat, it may be too hot for the pan.
Normally, pans should rest between medium to medium-high. They should never be at a high temperature for too long.
Step #2. Turn down the stove and remove it from heat.
Remove the pan from the heat if possible, turning down the stove’s temperature as well.
Wait for a couple of minutes for the pan to cool down before returning to the heat.
Step #3. Cook normally while keeping the temperature down.
Continue cooking the food as you normally would while keeping the stove’s heat low. This will stop the pan from getting too hot and smoking again.
If you continue to see smoke, it may be your seasonings or your oil of choice.
Step #4. After cooking, completely wash and dry your pan.
After the pan has completely cooled from cooking, wash and dry completely.
When washing, only use a small amount of dish soap and clean the entire pan.
Rinse off all of the soap before drying fully before the next use.
Smoking Pan FAQ
A smoking pan is a possibly dangerous situation. Here are some quick answers to common questions.
Why Is My Pan Smoking?
Pans smoke due to being too hot (around 445°F or 230°C), having leftover residue from washing and/or seasoning, or if there is damage to the surface.
If your pan is smoking, remove it from heat and let it rest before putting it back on the stove at a lowered temperature.
How Can I Stop My Pan From Smoking?
To stop your pan from smoking, take precautions before and after cooking. Wash and dry your pan thoroughly before each use.
If you see damage on the coating or bottom of the pan, discard it for safety.
When cooking, use medium-high to medium-low heat. If possible, use an oil with a high smoking point.
What Oils Are Best to Stop Smoking?
Oils with high smoking points are the best for cooking if you’re worried about a potential fire.
These oils are avocado oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, light olive oil, and coconut oil. Most of these are available at any grocery store near you.
What Is the Difference Between Smoking Point and Flashpoint?
The smoking point is around 445°F or 230°F, which is when oils will begin to smoke.
This stage is before the flashpoint. The flashpoint is when oil reaches around 615°F or 325°C and is at risk for a fire.
To stop a smoking point from becoming a flashpoint, remove any smoking pan from heat and let it cool before returning to a lowered temperature.
How Do Different Pans Smoke?
Why does my pan smoke so much? New pans will smoke due to a factory coating or from being too hot.
Cast iron pans will smoke if too hot, but you can reheat them in the oven before using them to stop the smoke.
Stainless steel pans smoke because they hold heat better than other pans. Non-stick pans will smoke for two reasons: high temperature or a damaged non-stick coating.