“Yes it’s true, yes it’s true, I’m so happy to be stuck with you.”

Chemical bonds. Metals. Proteins. And how to keep meat from sticking to the pan.


chemical bonds are why food gets stuck to the frying pan1-Minute NomNom


Why does that piece of food seem so stubbornly stuck after you have fried something in a conventional pan? And why does it get stuck in the first place? It has everything to do with chemical bonds! According to the Royal Society of Chemistry

“Sticking is caused by chemical bonds forming between the food and the material of the pan – almost always a metal. These bonds may be relatively weak van der Waals forces or covalent bonds.”

This is particularly so for protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs and cheese. They are most “happy” (i.e. likely) to stick to pans because they form a special type of covalent bond called a dative covalent bond (or coordinate bond).protein rich foods are more likely to form chemical bonds with metal frying pansCovalent bonds are often formed by the sharing of a pair of electrons by two atoms, which are usually non metals. In a dative covalent bond, non-metal atom from the food donates a lone pair of electrons, and binds itself to a positively charged metal ion in the metal pan.

To prevent sticking, you can use non-stick pans (such as those made with a Teflon® coating). Another way is to constantly stir, shift, and/or flip the food so that it does not stay in one place long enough to form these chemical bonds.

Woks have a patina that prevents chemical bonds between the metal and the food as the metal bonds with the oil first

The third way is to heat some oil in in the pan before we cook the food; the metal reacts with the oil first – creating a layer called a patina – instead of the food (this is what we see in a wok too – see the 1-Minute NomNom “Hei, wok’s up?“).



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Bond with us by liking me to discover more! All you need is a minute a day to explore the world’s marvels through the phenomenon of food!

photos: in order- depositphotos/belchonockmissisyaChinese_elements



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