How can I reuse or recycle … old frying pans?

Frying panA couple of months ago, John read something about how poisonous Teflon is when it gets scratched and starts flaking – and immediately our two old frying pans were cast from the pan cupboard onto, well, the dining table where they’ve sat for the in-between weeks waiting for me to take a photo of them for use on here. I’m not the promptest girl in the world.

Researching it now, I can’t find anything to support the poisonous claim – most sources say flakes will pass through the body without being absorbed but super-heated (237°C – the sort of hot hot heat you might use to fry up a thick steak) Teflon can give off dangerous fumes (particularly for birds in the vicinity – so no more letting the budgie cook up bacon unsupervised).

Either way though, these frying pans are a pain to cook with in their current state given they’re half non-stick, half-stick. So any suggestions for bringing them back to life? (Is wire-wooling off the remain Teflon an idea?)

And failing that, reuses? recycling suggestions?

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34 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … old frying pans?”


  1. GirlGenius says:

    Seeing as you have two, that’s one each for any domestic arguments you may be having in the future :)

    Otherwise, take the handles off (there’s usually a screw underneath) and use them as bird baths or saucers under pot plants.

    If you have a BBQ, use them to put cooked food in to keep warm.

    Take the handles off and use them in the oven as a water bath (when cooking souffles etc, recipes often say to put the ramekins in a dish of water)

  2. Froogle says:

    You could like make a bird feeder out of them. Or a bird bath.

  3. ott says:

    Teflon will kill birds very quickly. You’re not supposed to feed birds anything cooked in non-stick anything.

    I fear the bird feeder/bath ideas are just going to end up killing.

    I’d suggest potpourri and water, throw it right back on the stove.
    -or-
    Melt old wax from burnt out candles in it, (on top of another pot with water, same as melting chocolate), get cotton string and recast candles.

    If you wire wool off the teflon and get a second life out of it either way, let us know.

    • Anonymous says:

      Umm Teflon only can potentially kill birds when heated to above about 550 degrees Fahrenheit and even then its only a certain chance. You might want to do some research before spreading around these rumors.

      • Bill says:

        Did you finish your research? Teflon has found to persist in the environment and has been found at levels of 4ppm in polar bears who do very little non stick cooking. This insidious chemical has been called the DDT of our time. Every human in NA measure a blood level of this chemical now. The ingredient is also particularly troublesome for males- causing testicular cancer and disrupting male hormones. Think this doesn’t affect women? In female rats pups of exposed mothers being “found dead or presumed cannibalized”. Just because it is common doesnt mean it is safe

  4. john b says:

    Buy some ping pong balls and put a net across the kitchen table, take one old pan each – hey presto table tennis!

  5. Hazel Edmunds says:

    Wire wooling off the Teflon DOES work – I did it with a griddle type pan and it’s now the best pan I’ve ever used!
    While I’m here I’d endorse the “don’t use it for the birds”

  6. steve says:

    If you wirewool off the teflon & you are left with a bare aluminium pan, this is the worst thing to cook with a real health hazard, you should not use any sort of aluminium pot or pan unless it is teflon coated.

  7. brian says:

    I’ve got some old saucepans that I use in the shop to store misc. hardware and screws that don’t fit in my organizer boxes.

    I’ve also considered drilling holes in the bottom and using them as flowepots…

  8. Mitch says:

    You could send them accross the pond to be re-coated @ http://www.frypanman.com

  9. Sandra says:

    Perhaps a silly suggestion, but I would totally buy/make a fake fried egg, attach it, and hang it on my wall.

    Because I am just THAT COOL.

  10. louisa says:

    LOL! I’m making that this afternoon! Will post a picture when I’m done!

    -Louisa

    • louisa says:

      Here we go.

      John wanted to plastinate a real egg but I figured knitting it would be more fun. I used some leftover wool from old projects, some stuffing from an old cushion and some cardboard from a cereal pack for the base of the egg.

      It’s just sitting in the pan at the moment – I need some velcro to stick it in properly — and I need to knit the accompanying sausages, of course :)

      Knitted egg in a frying pan

      (There is a bigger, close-up shot of the egg on my personal blog)

  11. M says:

    A) I believe that if the naked pan is filled w/water and left to sit there to be used as a bird bath…plus, exposed to the outdoor weather/environment; that it would rust and corrode — poisoning the birds/animals — leaving a mess that could kill or damage an unvaccinated kid if they were to some how get the rust into their broken skin.

    The extreme heat of the sun could also somehow put toxic Teflon and/or paint fumes in the air…as quickly as eggs can fry on the hood of a scorching car.

    B) I agree with Mitch about getting them (old Teflon pans) recoated through http://www.frypanman.com

    However, I think I’ve seen materials advertised in catalogs, etc, to be able to recoat damaged old Teflon pans yourself. This option is probably cheaper than having someone else do it for you.

    C) In the meantime–while I search the net to see if these do it yourself recoating materials are attainable–I will continue using my flaky, old Teflon pan to boil potpouri (on low-med), hard boil eggs, put nut shells in while I’m eating nuts…and to also place potato peels and apple cores in while I’m peeling for fries or sauce.

    • Chris says:

      Most Non-stick frying pans are aluminum. Aluminum does not rust the same way iron/ferrous metals do, and is not likely to be a safety hazard.
      Aluminum corrodes the same way that copper does (ie. the surface oxidizes into a dull gray finish).

      I refer you to Wikipedia:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum

      • Anonymous says:

        Another thing to look out for is putting acids in any aluminium containers, as it will remove the oxide layer, releasing the pure aluminium. This is a neurotoxin.

    • Anonymous says:

      Additionally, the sun would not heat up the teflon enough to cause it to depolymerize and give off gas. No worries there.

    • douglas hanlon says:

      there is no danger in getting rust on a scapeand there is surely no vacination for such a thing.I bet you take anti biotics for a cold too!Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and vacinations are for viruses…rust is niether.A rusty nail going past your skin into the muscle below can give you tetnus but it isn’t the rust that does it ..where did you study medicine?rusty water will not kill animals.
      teflon will not kill you or birds unless you put them in a cage directly over a teflon coated pan and make them breathe the fumes when heated above 237f.
      victim of the public school system are ya?

  12. kim says:

    Have you ever thought of selling them as metal scrap???

  13. Gulia says:

    Use to mix cement in it.

  14. JEFF says:

    Aluminum pans have been used for years and there are no studies proving any type of a health hazard.

  15. Chad Mathes says:

    Have the pan teflon recoated, it will be like NEW again. Go to lubecoat.com and ask for a form on recoating pans.

  16. Mike Whitehorn says:

    Everything on earth has been linked to alzheimer’s desease and breast cancer at one time or another. I’ve used aluminium (English spelling) pots for years and it has never affected… eh! what was I saying? Buy new pots and recycle your old ones at the local tip.

  17. Rachel says:

    I think the best idea is to take them to the metal man. Well done Kim, far too many people are hoarding these days!!

  18. Tessa says:

    I think Louisa’s knitted fried egg is just great. Such ingenuity, and such originality. A true artiste.
    How about some newly-elected government making it compulsory to collect in all our obsolete old pans, – and melting them down to recycle them through the Royal Mint to make lots of new pocket money.

  19. Sophie says:

    Hi!
    I know that re-using is better before recycling, but I have 3 old saucepans that I really don’t have any other uses for (small house, not a lot of hoarding room!) and am not going to use again. A couple are a bit scratched on the insides so am not sure that a charity shop will accept them- I contacted Ipswich Borough Council to ask if they know of anywhere to recycle them and they just suggested I throw them in the normal landfill rubbish! Not exactly eco-friendly!
    I’ve looked up local scrap metal places- they seem fairly hard to track down and only take metal from businesses, not small amounts from individuals it seems.
    After all this…does anyone have any suggestions of places that will actually recycle them (not re-coat or whatnot)?
    Many thanks!!

    • louisa says:

      Naughty Ipswich Borough Council!

      I don’t know what the situation is in Ipswich but up here in Yorkshire, there are separate bins for metal at the local tip so if nothing else, you could take them there and they’ll go into the metal scrap system.

      Haven’t had much luck finding UK based re-coating companies – anyone know of any?

  20. susan says:

    Calphalon recycles old Calphalon pans if you buy a new Calphalon pan.

    Which doesn’t help the majority of us.

  21. Aran says:

    For new pans, to replace old beaten up ones. I just found GreenPan. Verry interesting.

  22. The pan could be used for non-food stuff such as wax for batik or even to boil water for a steam pudding as the food does not come into contact with the surface of the pan (compromised surface).

  23. Prime8 says:

    Use it as a planter to plant succulents in. Check out this website for some photo’s of similar old repurposed hardware:http://ranchoreubidoux.com/2011/06/19/our-rusty-rapport/



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