Why does food stick even in a lubricated pan? | Digital Trends Spanish

Science has the answer to one of the most common problems in the kitchen: why does food stick even in a well-lubricated pan? Alexander Fedorchenko, a physicist from the Czech Academy of Sciences has an answer that could undoubtedly be the script of an episode of Beakman’s World.

The answer lies in a physical phenomenon known as thermocapillary convection, which in the case of a hot frying pan with oil, causes part of the lubricant to lose surface tension. In mundane terms, it means that when a pan is heated unevenly, the oil breaks into random structures that leave parts of the surface without lubrication, causing food to stick.

The thesis was demonstrated through an experiment in which it was recorded how a 1.5-millimeter thick layer of sunflower oil broke apart. According to observations, the variation in heat caused on the surface of the pan pushed the less cohesive oil out of the center.

Fedorchenko points out that when a tension break point is exceeded, it is impossible to reincorporate the oil in the same layer. In other words, once the pan glows with oil all over it, it’s impossible to unify it no matter how many times it is tilted.

Luckily, there are several ways to solve this physical phenomenon that impacts the culinary. The simplest, but least healthy, is to cook with more oil. The other requires investing in a better quality pan, as the expert says that one with a more solid bottom allows the heat to be distributed more evenly. The last is to cook with a more moderate flame. Simmer is also better, says science.

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