What is a Non Reactive Pan? 4 Best Ways to Check

What is a Non Reactive Pan

Last Updated on July 14, 2023 by Emily Anna

If you are interested in cooking and making delicious food, you must have heard about non-reactive pans. This pan may be recommended when cooking, especially acidic foods. 

So, what is a nonreactive pan?

 A nonreactive pan is a type of pan that does not affect the food being cooked. Some pans chemically react with the acidity in the food ingredients, while this pan does not undergo any chemical reaction. 

While some pans have materials that undergo an automatic chemical reaction at high heat or when making acidic foods. On the other hand, a nonreactive pan does not react at all with acidic food. This type of pans mainly include stainless steel.

But how do you check if a pan is nonreactive or not? This article will help you understand this with four different examples.


How to tell if a pan is Non Reactive

 There are simple ways you can determine whether your pan is nonreactive or not.


Pans made of stainless steel, glass, metal cookware with an enamel coating, and ceramic materials are nonreactive. This means they do not react with cooked food.

 On the other hand, pans made of aluminum, cast iron, and copper pans are reactive, which means they can react with acidic or alkaline foods and alter their taste or color.

Acidic test 

Place a small amount of acidic food, such as lemon or tomato, in the pan. Check after a while if the taste and color of the food have changed. Then, it means that the pan is made of a reactive metal.

Color change

If your pen is discoloring over time, it may be reactive. Nonreactive metals, on the other hand, do not discolor in this way. Furthermore, a reactive pen can affect the properties of food, changing its taste and color, which can harm one’s health.


 Non Reactive pans are more expensive than pans made of reactive metals. So if the pan you’re buying is cheaper, there is a high chance that it is not a non reactive pan.

 Examples of nonreactive pans

Stainless steel, ceramic, and glass are nonreactive materials. Coated and seasoned cast iron is also similar category cookware unless it’s cracked or scratched. However, non-coated cast iron, aluminum, and copper are reactive materials.

Stainless steel pans

Stainless steel pans are nonreactive, making them especially suitable for cooking acidic foods. They are durable, ideal for cooking, and lightweight.

Ceramic pans

Stainless steel pans are nonreactive, making them especially suitable for cooking acidic foods. They are durable, ideal for cooking, and lightweight.

Glass pans

Pans made of glass are also an example of nonreactive cookware. You can use them at any temperature, as they neither impart chemicals to the food nor alter its taste.

Cast iron (seasoned)

Cast iron is also nonreactive if correctly seasoned. If cast iron is not seasoned, it acts as a reactive metal. After seasoning the pan, cast iron acts nonreactive, which does not react chemically with acidic food.

Anodized aluminum pans

The surface of anodized aluminum pans is also non-reactive, so it does not allow any chemical reaction.

Benefits of Using a Non Reactive Pan

Non Reactive pans do not cause any chemical reactions with acidic foods. Using them does not discolor or change the taste of the food, and no metal is added to it.

 The food also does not stick to the surface, making it easy to clean pan. These items are durable and perfect for quick cooking. Further, they are versatile and can cook all types of food on almost all electric and gas stoves.

Generally, if acidic foods like eggs or lemons are cooked in pans, they can change the taste of the food and darken it. However, non reactive pans do not allow any chemical reactions that change the taste and color of the food.

How to Care for Your Nonreactive Pan?

After getting a nonreactive pan, the most important thing is how to take care of it. You can take good care of it in just a few minutes. Properly season the pan when using it for the first time. Lightly heat the pan and apply a thin layer of oil to it. After the pan cools, wipe off the excess oil with a tissue.

Avoid acidic or alkaline foods such as lemons, citrus, or tomatoes. Wash it with any normal soap or detergent after cooking. Remember that it cleans quickly with any regular detergent, so avoid using harsh detergents that may scratch or crack the surface.

 Also, avoid using any harsh scrubbers to clean the pan that will cause scratches. Instead of using metal spoons, always prefer wooden or silicone utensils. Using them will protect the surface. After washing, dry the pan thoroughly with a towel and always store it in a dry place.

FAQs on What is a Non Reactive Pan?

Are Non-Stick Pans Nonreactive?

Yes, non-stick pans are non-reactive. They are made of materials that don’t react such as ceramic, glass, and Teflon.

What is a Reactive Pan?

Pans that quickly react chemically with food are called reactive pans. Such pans respond quickly to acidic foods such as eggs, lemons, and tomatoes. Due to this, small amounts of metals are added intermittently to the food, which is harmful.

Is Stainless Steel Non Reactive for Cooking?

Among nonreactive pans, stainless steel comes first. It does not react chemically with acidic foods, is easy to clean, and is perfect for quick cooking.

How Do You Know if a Pan is Non-Toxic?

Always choose third-party tested pans free of PFA, PFOA, cadmium, and lead. Cookware without Teflon coating, such as cast iron, ceramic, glass, and enameled, are non-toxic for cooking.

 Cracked and scratched pans are also toxic to health, so take proper care of the pan and prevent it from getting scratched.

Are Teflon Pans Reactive?

Teflon pans are non reactive due to their polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) material coating, which prevents chemical reactions. Therefore, they do not react with acids, alkalis, or other ingredients.

What Should You Not Cook in Stainless Steel?

Avoid acidic foods like lemon, egg, and tomato sauce in stainless steel pans. Making acidic food in stainless steel adds metals like nickel to the food, so it’s best to avoid it.

Is Cast Iron a Nonreactive Pan?

Generally, cast iron is a reactive metal, but its surface becomes nonreactive if correctly seasoned. So, if you want it to work as nonreactive, do its proper seasoning.


Many people need clarification about what is a nonreactive pan. Pans that do not react chemically with acidic foods are called non-reactive pans. For example, stainless steel is the most frequently used nonreactive pan.

 Coated cast iron, enameled, ceramic, and glass are also nonreactive metals. Using this type of pans does not change the color and taste of your food, nor does it leach metals into the food. They are easy to clean, quick to cook, durable, and easy to maintain.

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