Is It Normal For My Pans to Start Smoking?

Are you cooking something in a pan and it has started smoking? Now you must be wondering why it happened and if it is safe for you to continue cooking in that situation.

Cooking in pans is very common nowadays. It is one of the fastest ways of cooking. However, one should be attentive while dealing with pans. They can start smoking or smelling in various situations.

It’s not that poisonous to smoke a pan but maybe it’s not healthy for you to cook in a pan that has started smoking even before cooking. Teflon-coated nonstick pan is an exception.

As we move forward, we’ll be discussing the precautionary measures we can adopt to avoid smoking. Along with that, we’ll talk about the reasons and solutions for the smoking of pans.

Can a pan start smoking?

It’s an incident that frequently happens in kitchens. Our pans can start smoking before and after cooking depending on the situation.

We often notice that there are clouds of smoke in the kitchen around the stove over the pan especially during cooking. 

It happens even before starting cooking with no oil or something in the pan. It is a rare incident but still, it happens.

Can a pan start smoking?

The Pan Handler

This smoke may or may not be dangerous according to the condition under which you’re cooking. For instance, if you are grilling meat, smoke will add an extra flavor to your meal.

But if you’re gonna cook in a pan, especially a Teflon-coated nonstick pan, and it has started smoking before you put oil in it, it is now toxic to cook in that pan.

Also Read: Why Do Chefs Set Pans On Fire?

What are the reasons for a pan to start smoking?

There are multiple reasons for a pan to start smoking. There can be two situations;

  • Smoking with nothing inside the pan
  • Smoking of pans during cooking

Smoking with nothing inside the pan:

Sometimes, when we place the pan over a stove it starts smoking in a few minutes. There are several reasons for this kind of smoking. Such as;

  • If you’ve not seasoned your new pan properly before use.
  •  You’ve not washed or dried the pan after use and now using it again.
  • If the pan is nonstick and you’ve preheated it for more than five minutes at a high temperature. 

Smoking of pans during cooking:

When you’ve started cooking and now your pan has begun to smoke, several rationales can be behind this. For example;

  • You’re cooking at a very high temperature.
  • The cooking oil you’re using has a very low smoking point.
  • Something inside the pan has been scorched.
What are the reasons for a pan to start smoking?
The Pan Handler


Pyrolysis is the main process that leads to smoking during cooking. In this process, cooking items are chemically deoxidized

Due to the removal of oxygen, moisture becomes less and less, and food starts burning ultimately. 

Also Read:

Reasons for smoking different pans?

The smoking of pans also depends on the type of pan we’re using. Different pans behave differently to the heat and temperature. We’ll talk about different pans one by one.

Nonstick pans:

Nonstick pans can smoke due to the high level of heat as well as the worn coating of the pan. If a nonstick pan is smoking because of heat we can just keep the temperature low.

Reasons for smoking different pans?

On the other hand, if the pan commences eliciting smoke due to the damaged coating it’s way more problematic to deal with than other pans.

Cast iron and stainless steel pans:

The main factor contributing to the smoking of cast iron and stainless steel pans is overheating.

 If the temperature exceeds the level bearable by these metals, they’ll readily start smoking.

Reasons for smoking different pans?
The Pan Handler

 This smoking of pans can cut in the normal process of cooking. It will either overcook the food or leave it uncooked.

Also Read:Can You Eat Pan-Fried Food Daily?

What precautions can we take to avoid pan-smoking?

If the smoking of a pan is not required in the cuisine, we need to take precautions to keep it away.

There are considerable measures we can take in this regard. Such as;

  • Always heat the pans at a low temperature to avoid smoking.
  • Correctly wash your pans and don’t leave soap or oil in the pan.
  • Use oils with high smoking and flashing points.
  • Don’t put highly wet meat or vegetables in the pan.

Low heat:

If we keep our stove at its maximum during the whole cooking process, it will cook the food unevenly and lead to the burning of the food.

In this way, burnt food will start clinging to our pan and smoke will start coming out. If one wants to avoid this situation, one should keep the stove at a low or moderate temperature. 

What precautions can we take to avoid pan-smoking?

High smoking and Flashpoints:

Most of the oils start smoking above 450°F(smoking point) and become ignitible at above 616°F(flash point).

We should avoid cooking oils with low smoking and flashing points. We should go for oils such as avocado oil, soya bean oil, etc.

Remove water from the vegetables and meat:

If there’s dampness in the food, it’ll smoke when we put it into the pan. We should extract water as much as we can.

Each type of food needs a different temperature to be cooked. If there’s wet food we can increase the temperature. It’ll cook the food even better.

Also Read:Can I Make My Own Caramel In A Non-Stick Pan?

How dangerous is the smoking of pans?

Cooking difficulties:

If your pans have started smoking highly they will intervene in the cooking of food. Except for the grilled chicken, the smoky flavor would be undesirable.

Smoking will make way for the burning of food. It is even more unappealing. Smoke can change the color of the food which will not be good for the presentation of food.

How dangerous is the smoking of pans?

Health issues: 

Although smoking of the pans is not that dangerous it can cause some health problems. The most common health issues caused by smoking of the pan are as follows;

  • If the smoke of the pan is due to Teflon coating it can cause Teflon flu. 
  • Eye irritation is more common in those people cooking food in the kitchen flooded with smoke.
  • Lung issues such as suffocation can be caused to some extent.  
  • Also Read:What’s The Verdict On High Heat And Nonstick Pans?

What can we do if our pans have started smoking?

We should avoid smoking our pan in the first place, but if we have caused it in some way we need to deal with it.

Whether Pan is empty or contains something, different scenarios will probably require different approaches to be adopted.

There are several ways to stop the smoking of pans once it has been caused:

while cooking something:

As we know, overheating is the primary reason for smoking. We need to turn off the stove and put the pan aside. Let your pan cool down for a while. Now you can cook food on moderate heat.

What can we do if our pans have started smoking?
Campfires and Cast Iron

After completing the cooking process, rinse your pan properly with soap and water and let it completely dry. 

If even after these measures your pan is either too old or there’s an issue with the oil. Go for oils like grapeseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.

For empty overheated pan:

After turning off the stove, take the pan away. Put it aside so it can cool. To prevent any more hazards, it can be simply covered with a lid.

An explosion could occur if there is even a single drop of water added to the smoking pan. To maintain it safe for future usage, one must carefully wash it when it has cooled.

Also Read:Why Trouble Cooking With EVOO On Stainless Pans?


Subsequently, we can conclude that the smoking of pans is quite a common phenomenon in every kitchen. Chefs often encounter smoke during cooking.

In this article, we’ve discussed all the reasons for the smoking of pans. High heat, oil with low smoking and flashing points, and unseasoned pans are most likely to cause smoke.

Moreover, we’ve also let you know the precautions you can take to keep a distance from the smoking of your pans.

In addition to that, we’ve discussed the risks we are bound to face due to smoke as well. There are some problems like cooking issues and health issues.

Lastly, we shed light on the tips to stop smoking the pans once it has been commenced.

Also Read:Does Induction Pan Have To Have Flat Bottoms?


What is meant by the seasoning of pans?

Seasoning is the very first preventive measure for our pans to last long. In this process, we cover the inner side of the pan with some oil and heat it black.

Distinguish between the smoking point and the flash point.

The smoking point is the temperature at which an oil starts producing smoke, mostly above 450°F

On the contrary, the temperature at which the oil becomes flammable(likely to catch fire) above 616°F is the flash point of the oil.

Which oils have high smoking points?

Many cooking oils have high smoking points such as;

Coconut oil(350°F)

Avocado oil(520°F)

Grapeseed oil(420°F)

Olive oil(410-455°F)

Canola oil(400-450°F)

Is it normal for my pans to start smoking?

No, smoking pans are not normal. It could be due to high heat, leftover food, or oil reaching its smoke point.

Why do my pans smoke when cooking?

Pans may smoke due to overheating, burnt food remnants, or using oil with a low smoke point.

How can I prevent my pans from smoking?

Avoid high heat without cooking oil, clean pans thoroughly, and use oils with higher smoke points.

What is the smoke point of cooking oil?

The smoke point varies; for instance, olive oil smokes at a lower temperature than canola oil.

Is smoking from pans harmful?

Inhaling smoke from pans is not ideal. It can release harmful compounds and affect food flavor.

Can I use high heat with all pans?

No, some pans have lower heat tolerance. Follow manufacturer guidelines for each type of cookware.

How do I clean a smoking pan?

Let it cool, soak in warm water, and scrub off residue. Use baking soda for stubborn stains.

Is there a difference between smoke and steam when cooking?

Yes, smoking indicates burning, while steam is water evaporating. Smoking is undesirable.

Why does my non-stick pan smoke?

Overheating, using high heat with an empty pan, or cooking spray build-up can cause non-stick pans to smoke.

Is smoking a sign of a damaged pan?

It could be. Check for scratches, warping, or peeling non-stick coating that might affect performance.

Can I use butter in high-heat cooking without smoke?

Butter has a low smoke point; use oils like canola or grapeseed for high-heat cooking.

What happens if I continue cooking with a smoking pan?

Extended exposure to smoke can impart an unpleasant taste to food and may release harmful fumes.

How can I lower the heat without affecting cooking time?

Move the pan to a cooler burner or briefly remove it from heat to control the temperature.

Is there a way to reduce smoking while stir-frying?

Use oils with higher smoke points and ensure ingredients are dry before adding them to the pan.

Can I season a smoking cast-iron pan?

Seasoning involves applying oil and heating; if smoking excessively, re-season with less oil.

Are there health risks associated with smoking pans?

Prolonged exposure to smoke may release harmful compounds, so it’s best to address the issue promptly.

What oils are suitable for high-heat cooking?

Oils with high smoke points, such as avocado, grapeseed, or peanut oil, are suitable for high-heat cooking.

Why does my stainless steel pan smoke even with oil?

Stainless steel can develop hot spots; adjust heat and use more oil to distribute heat evenly.

Can I use cooking spray to prevent smoking?

Cooking spray can contribute to build-up; use it sparingly, or consider other high-heat oils.

How do I choose the right cooking oil to avoid smoking?

Consider the dish and cooking temperature; use oils with suitable smoke points for the task.

Should I be concerned if my pan smokes occasionally?

Occasional smoking may happen, but frequent smoking warrants investigation into cooking methods and pan condition.

Is it safe to cook with a smoking wok?

A wok may smoke due to its design; ensure you use oils with high smoke points and proper cooking techniques.

Can smoking pans trigger a fire alarm?

Yes, excessive smoke can trigger alarms. Ventilate the area and address the issue promptly.

How can I reduce smoke when broiling in the oven?

Use a drip pan to catch excess fats and avoid high-smoke-point oils.

Are there specific foods that cause pans to smoke more?

Foods with high sugar content or marinades can contribute to more smoke; monitor heat and use appropriate oils.

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