I Tried This Viral Salt Hack to Save My Nonstick Pan—Here’s What Happened

Updated: Mar. 01, 2023

There's a viral salt hack that claims to fix nonstick pans that have lost their mojo—but does it really stop food from sticking?

Nonstick pans are a popular tool to have in your cooking arsenal because they’re convenient. They don’t require the same maintenance as stainless steel or cast iron and are efficient for frying up a meal. There are so many things to cook in a nonstick frying pan—bacon and eggs, stir-fry, fish—and the odds are the average American frequently uses one.

But what happens when a nonstick pan gets scratched and loses its nonstick powers? It can be hard to know when to throw away nonstick pans, but if yours isn’t too beat up, you might want to try this TikTok hack that shows you how to restore a nonstick pan.

What’s the Salt Hack for Fixing Nonstick Pans?

TikTok creator Sophie Louise (@s_lou92), who posts helpful cleaning hacks, shared a little-known salt hack for fixing nonstick pans on the popular video platform. As of publication, the video has garnered over five million views and over 600,000 likes on TikTok. Louise began the clip by explaining a quick trick to solve a nonstick pan’s sticking habit. “All you need to do is get some Fairy liquid and a soft sponge—never use a scourer—give it a wash and dry it up,” Louise said. “Fairy liquid” refers to a dish soap brand, so your go-to dish soap will do.

@s_lou92 Frying pan hack if it sticks. #LiftLockPop #moneysavingtips #cleaninghacks #deepclean #cleaningaccount #fryingpan #fyp #foryou #tablesalt ♬ original sound – Sophie Louise

After you’ve cleaned your pan, rinse and dry it off. Once it’s dry, place the pan on the stove and let it sit for a minute or so on high heat to get it hot (Louise says it should get “very, very hot” before you put the salt in). Once it’s ready, pour enough table salt to cover the bottom of the frying pan and shake it, so the salt is evenly distributed. Let the salt cook in the pan for a couple of minutes until it gets golden brown. Louise describes the color as “a bit like brown sugar.” Once the color looks right, you can dump the salt into the sink—Louise notes it can be a helpful cleaning method for some sinks—or the trash. Next, take a damp paper towel and wipe the pan out. Be careful if the pan is still hot to avoid any unpleasant burns.

Now that you’ve completed the hack, you’re ready to cook something. In the TikTok video, Louise cooks an egg with some oil in the pan to demonstrate that the pan, which “used to stick,” doesn’t any longer.

I Tried It—Here’s What I Thought

I had a nonstick pan with scratches that no longer worked well. Before trying this hack, I avoided using the pan for frying eggs or food that was more likely to stick, such as fish or burger patties. To begin, I washed and dried my pan as the clip instructed. I was pretty skeptical that some hot table salt would do anything, but I went in with an open mind and heated my skillet. I turned my burner on high and waited a few minutes for the pan to heat. I knew it would be hot to the touch by sprinkling a few water droplets into the pan and watching them quickly sizzle.

I poured a very generous amount of salt into the bottom of my pan and shook the pan until the salt looked even. As Louise mentioned in the video, it takes a few minutes of cooking for the salt to turn a golden brown. Once it was unmistakably the color of light brown sugar, I removed the pan from the heat and disposed of the salt. I didn’t want to wait for the pan to cool off, so I used a thick wad of paper towels to wipe it out, but you may want to let your pan sit a few minutes before you do this step.

Eggs used to be the worst food to cook in this pan, so I put a small amount of butter (about a teaspoon or two) into the pan and cracked an egg to test it out. My initial expectation was that the egg would still stick to the pan. It didn’t slide around while cooking and looked stationary. However, I could easily lift it out of the pan once it was done cooking.

The same day, to test it out again, I cooked three burger patties (one Beyond Meat and two turkey patties) in the pan. There was no doubt about it—the table salt hack worked! My pan was a pain to cook with; now it does its job. While I’m not going to say that the pan works perfectly every time, it is better than before and appears to have improved.

I don’t believe that the salt hack for fixing nonstick pans will work for every stubborn nonstick pan out there, but if yours has mild to moderate scratches, give it a try and see if it helps!