Everyone’s done it at one point or another — taken a pan off the stove and put it directly on the counter. But you only have to do this a few times before you start to wonder whether you could actually be damaging the surface. The truth is that it depends a lot on the type of material that the counter is made of. Even different natural stones can react differently to heat. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your counters safe.
Hot Pans Won’t Burn or Crack Most Natural Stone
Most hard natural stones, such as granite or slate, will not burn or crack. Good-quality granite shouldn’t even crack when it’s subjected to significant heat. No stone should actively burn, but cracking is usually the bigger worry because materials can expand (and thus crack) when subject to heat.
Stone can potentially crack along existing fracture lines (which may not necessarily be visible) when subject to significant heat. The danger is more significant with softer stones, such as marble, and when the temperature differential is greater, such as when placing something iced on something that’s already hot).
A Hot Pan May Discolor Stone Like Quartz or Marble
The real reason not to put a hot pan on your counter is that it can eventually discolor the stone. This may seem like burning, but it’s usually more a combination of the grease and smoke seeping into a porous material. Because hot pans can discolor stone, it’s really not advised to put a hot pan on a counter. Stone discoloration can be very difficult to fix and may ultimately require resurfacing, even if the stone has been properly sealed.
Artificial Stone May Crack or Discolor Under a Hot Pan
Not every stone counter is really made out of natural stone. Because of that, it may be that something that looks like a natural stone doesn’t have the strength to withstand temperatures like a hot pan. If you place a hot cast iron on an artificial stone, it could potentially crack or discolor, though it’s very unlikely to burn. If you already have a countertop, you should be aware of the exact material composition before trying to place anything hot on it.
Hot Pans Will Burn or Crack Butcher-Block Counters
Of course, not all counters are stone. There are also wooden butcher-block counters, which are very popular. In trying to avoid placing a hot pan on granite, many people get tripped up and mindlessly put their hot pans on a butcher block instead. A butcher block will absolutely burn or crack and will need to be replaced. Butcher-block counters are great for the preparation of food, and they are very attractive, but they aren’t as durable as natural stone.
A Hot Pan Can Scorch Stainless Steel
Hot pans can also damage stainless steel. Many people think that stainless steel is fine because it’s clearly not going to burn. But while that’s true, stainless steel does discolor over time. If you look at most stainless steel pans, they will have scorch marks across them. If you put a hot pan on stainless steel, scorching can occur, and this may not be removable. Thus, you should work to make sure that you’re never putting anything hot directly on stainless steel, even if it’s not liable to burn.
Hot Pans Are Likely to Crack Tile Counters
Finally, tile counters are a different beast, even if they’re made of natural stone. Because the grout itself can expand and contract, it’s likely that hot pans will crack tile counters over time. If the tiles themselves don’t crack, they are likely to pop out. Although the tile and grout might not be damaged if a hot pan is placed on them once or twice, it can cause damage over time.
So, are hot pans dangerous to your counter? While it largely does depend on the material — butcher-block counters are far more vulnerable than granite counters, for example — it’s usually a good idea to protect your counter regardless. Even if your counter isn’t going to burn or crack, it can still become discolored. The use of a simple trivet on top of your counter can reduce the potential for damage by preventing the heat from being directly transferred.For the best countertop options, visit Wholesale Granite Direct’s showroom in either Richardson or Arlington. Our friendly staff is ready to help you with all of your stone countertop needs. Contact us online or call us at 817-962-2616.