A New Kind of Nonstick: Understanding the NoCo™ Technology

A New Kind of Nonstick: Understanding the NoCo™ Technology

Author: Caroline Zavakos  | April 12, 2024 | Time to read: 5 min

steak cooking in titanium always pan pro

A Brief History of Nonstick

The last time we saw a breakthrough in new cookware technology, lasers didn’t exist, women in America couldn’t open bank accounts, and smoking was considered a harmless habit. The year is 1954 and nonstick cookware has just hit the market. The invention made cooking easier — and therefore more accessible — while calling for less cooking fat. Its inevitable success and widespread popularity changed the industry … and the world.

Over the last half century, growing concerns about the chemical makeup of nonstick coatings have been studied, debated, and legislated against. Turns out, like smoking and inequitable policy, the coatings could be harmful to individual and planetary health. (Don’t worry: Our ceramic nonstick has always been made without PFAS, including PTFEs and PFOAs. It’s mainly comprised of a simple combination of alcohol, water, and sand.) Beyond that, nonstick coatings eventually wear out, unlike cast iron, copper, and other cooking materials without coatings that had been around much longer.

Problem, Meet Solution.

Years ago — and possibly for shock value — someone suggested that we should invent the world’s first coating-free nonstick. Oh, and, no big deal, that it should last forever. At the time, the idea seemed impossible. Despite massive innovations in nonstick technology (see: Thermakind™), coatings were as inherent to nonstick as pottery is to clay. It’s just what it was. Laughable as it may have been, good ideas stick for a reason, and what began as a shoot-for-the-moon moment started to take form. Literally.

“When we set out to develop a coating-free nonstick, we knew we were going to have to think outside the box. What we wanted from the product was so different from what we’ve come to associate with nonstick pans,” says Kristina Wasserman, Head of Product.

Not only did it need to work without coatings, but it needed to be built to last, able to withstand super high temperatures, go in the dishwasher, safe for use with metal utensils—all common shortcomings of our current coated technologies.

— Kristina Wasserman, Head of Product

It’s Constructed, Not Coated.

NoCo™ (short for: no coating) nonstick works because of the form it takes. A micro, dot-like pattern that’s invisible to the naked eye is applied to a durable titanium surface, leaving behind a textured, debossed surface. “What’s so special about this dot-like pattern?” you might ask. Well, it mirrors a phenomenon in nature commonly known as the lotus effect. You know when water droplets form on leaves? Rather than losing form, as liquids tend to do, it stays contained and content in its little bubble? That’s the lotus effect. This nature-made pattern creates a hydrophobic surface (well, technically, ultrahydrophobicity), which is why those droplets are able to take shape and maintain it. For anyone who is not science-minded, it’s the fear to adhere.

As it turns out, the hydrophobic lotus effect is a pretty good alternative for traditionally nonstick surfaces. The reason is that each work wildly differently, but the end goal (food not sticking irrevocably to the cooking surface) can be achieved with both. 

no coating nonstick toxic-free pan

The Nonstick Experience

Since the way it works is so different from the coating-based nonsticks the world is used to, the way you use and care for it is different, too. Just like how when coating-based nonsticks hit the market, folks had to adjust to cooking on lower temperatures and cleaning more gently than they were used to to preserve the coating, NoCo™ comes with its own set of guidelines and learning curves. 

In order to activate the nonstick effect, all it takes is a little bit (a teaspoon or more!) of high smoke point cooking oil. The dots maximize the searing surface while the small pockets between them leave room for airflow, which helps keep food from sticking. Just like cooking on stainless steel or cast iron, once a golden crust has formed, the food self-releases, signaling that it’s ready. Easy. In short, you get the durability of a stainless steel, the searing power of a cast iron, and the ease of a nonstick. All in one.

Beyond searing, the titanium Always Pan® Pro has range. Before this technology, it’s unlikely that you’d reach for the same pan to sear a steak as you would to make a fluffy omelet. But this new technology will have you rethinking what’s possible in the kitchen.

Now Nonstick Can Be Heirloom, Too

With this new way of conceiving nonstick, there was a golden opportunity: We could develop the technology with traditionally high-heat, sturdy, premium materials. So that’s what we did. The stainless steel exterior is not only shiny and design-forward, but a tried-and-true kitchen material beloved for its durability. The aluminum core is super conductive, meaning your Always Pan® Pro will heat up quickly and maintain its temperature. And, best but not last, the titanium interior (which is 300% harder than stainless steel) is virtually indestructible, something that coating-based nonsticks simply can’t say. The three materials come together in well made fully-clad tri-ply construction that’s built to last generations.

It is so well-constructed that it’s more likely you’ll replace your car before you replace this new nonstick pan. But beyond that, the materials also open up a world of delicious possibilities. It can withstand temperatures up to 1000°F (although check your recipes for temperature recommendations). You can’t scratch the surface, so feel free to go to town with metal utensils. And when the time comes to remove the inevitable build-up between the dot-like pattern, you can clean rigorously with scours and abrasives. 

Take It for a Test Drive

While it’s fun to explain just how revolutionary this innovation is, nothing can compare to trying it for yourself. It really is a new nonstick experience, one you’ll love the more you learn it — and there’s no need to get a full new cookware set to do so. With a free 100-day trial and a limited lifetime warranty, what’re you waiting for?

Caroline Zavakos

Caroline Zavakos

Caroline is a writer and conceptual creative based in New York. In addition to leading the Copy team at Our Place, she's worked on cookbooks, memoirs, and personal essays. Her favorite food is spanakopita.