Safe cookware versus toxic cookware? Yep, it’s a thing.
So how do you cut through the noise and find truly safe cookware options? Today I’m going to help you answer that question and give you the best options to keep your family safe.
The problem is that some types of cookware can release harmful chemicals into the air and food. So while you may be buying organic produce, you might also be adding chemicals right back into your food with your cookware. Eeek!
The (big) problem with Non-stick
Non-stick cookware (think pans and baking sheets) are often coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon (Teflon is the trademarked name by Dupont).
In addition, a second chemical, a type of perfluoroalkyl substance (PFASs), which is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) can be used in the manufacturing of PTFE (the Teflon we talked about above) and can remain in the cookware.
While PTFE is known to only be harmful through its fumes, PFOA (also known as C8) is potentially harmful if released into food (or water) and ingested.
When PTFE (Teflon) is heated it begins to release toxic fumes from a number of chemicals. These fumes can kill pet birds and has been dubbed “Polymer Fume Fever”.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) experiments show that when Teflon coated cookware was exposed to a low 325 degrees Fahrenheit (pre-heated oven) household birds died.
At 464 degrees fahrenheit oxidized Teflon particles were recorded.
And at 680 degrees, six toxic gases were released, including two animal carcinogens, one animal kidney toxicant, and one known to be lethal to humans at low doses (source).
Keep in mind that according to the same report 750 degrees is the surface temperature of a PTFE-coated pan after heating for 8 minutes on conventional stove. So we aren’t talking about extreme and abnormal uses. This is typical household use.
As for PFASs, which includes PFOA (also known as C8), these long-chain chemicals have been found to cause liver toxicity, disruption of lipid metabolism and the immune and endocrine systems, adverse neurobehavioral effects, neonatal toxicity and death, and tumors in multiple organ systems, in animal studies (source).
Additionally long-chain PFOA specifically have been associated with testicular and kidney cancers, liver malfunction, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, lower birth weight and size, obesity, decreased immune response to vaccines, and reduced hormone levels and delayed puberty (source).
I know I just threw a whole lot of jargon at you, but the bottom line is the chemicals in Teflon and non-stick cookware have been linked to many harmful effects in animals and humans, including cancer.
My take and what I do
So here’s my take. Part of Living Filtered is trying to eliminate as many of these harmful chemical exposures as possible.
I know it’s impossible to get rid of all chemicals, toxins, and toxicant exposures but that’s all the more reason to eliminate those things that can be swapped out for safer options.
I don’t cook with non-stick cookware, instead I use the options below, stainless steel being my favorite.
For those of you who are ready to swap those potentially harmful pots and pans here are some safe cookware options.
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Safe cookware options for your family
Safe Cookware #1: Stainless Steel
My absolute favorite option is stainless steel cookware.
It’s available everywhere and a high quality set will last a lifetime.
This set by Calphalon is the exact set I use, and used to use in my restaurant as well. It’s durable, heats evenly, and can take a lot of abuse.
The main downside with stainless steel is foods like eggs will tend to stick so you may consider an enameled option like a Le Creuset pan for non-stick needs.
Safe Cookware #2: Enameled Cast Iron
Next up is my second favorite type of safe cookware, enameled cast-iron.
A set like this five piece Le Creuset set or this 20 piece set cooks like a dream, is beautiful and much easier to maintain (though it is still pretty heavy). The main downside is it’s expensive, like really expensive. But if it’s in the budget I highly recommend this heirloom cookware.The chemicals in non-stick cookware have been linked to cancer. Choose these safer options instead.Click To Tweet
Safe(ish) Cookware #3: Cast-iron
The next option is going to be good ol’ cast-iron.
It’s durable, cooks meat like a boss, frys like a pro….but there is one reason to avoid making this your daily pan of choice.
Cast iron, does leach iron, and while we do use iron in our bodies, we don’t get rid of excess iron the way we do other nutrients.
That means, if you are a normal person with healthy levels of iron, you shouldn’t be adding extra iron on a daily basis from any source, including your cookware.
Excess iron is problematic, as I mentioned the body can’t get rid of the extra iron, and it can actually cause oxidation in the body, the very thing we want to avoid.
So my conclusion is this. Cast iron doesn’t have the issues we see with Teflon pots and pans, and given that we do use iron in the body, I’m okay with occasional use of cast iron cookware. However, I would NOT recommend cast iron as your daily cookware of choice.
Cast-iron is also very budget friendly option, so if you are interested in picking up a piece consider a set like this pre-seasoned one from Lodge.
Safe Cookware (Bakeware) #4: Glass
If baking is your jam then I recommend choosing glass bakeware like this Pyrex 5 piece bakeware set and this pie plate set. And just for fun this mini pie set is perfect for holiday gifts…I mean who doesn’t love (organic gluten-free) pie as a gift?
So basically I bake a lot and glass always come through. You really don’t get any safer than glass, plus it’s budget friendly.
There you have it. Now you know why non-stick cookware has no place in a healthy kitchen and you have a variety of safer options to choose from.
For more kitchen swap ideas check out my post, 5 Kitchen Swaps to Keep Your Home Toxin-Free.
If you want to see more cookware options check out the Filtered Living Shop for more of my recommendations for safe kitchen options.
Do you have a favorite type of cookware that you want to share? Or did I miss something on the topic? Please let me know if the comments below.
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