Nonstick cookware has been popular for decades because of its simplicity and ease. This cookware is typically coated with a substance called Teflon. The whole point of a nonstick pan is easier cleanup after you’re done cooking. But how safe are these pans? After doing some research, we think you might want to reconsider nonstick.
The biggest issue with a nonstick pan is the toxic fumes emitted at high heat. Teflon is a synthetic polymer and its scientific name is polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. Research has shown that toxic fumes from a Teflon pot or pan at high temperatures can kill pet birds and cause people to develop flulike symptoms. But what happens if you ingest a piece of Teflon from your pan? Fortunately, nothing. PTFE flakes are considered inert and therefore nontoxic.
What Can You Do?
You may have seen some pots and pans on the market recently called “green.” The truth is, not enough research has been done to know if they’re safe. We like using cast iron pans and stainless steel cookware for stovetop cooking and oven-safe glass for baking. Yes, they will be harder to clean but your health is important.
Some alternatives to nonstick include the Earth Pan II line from Farberware which uses a product called “sandflow” and is made without PTFEs. The company suggests that metal utensils not be used on these pans.
Calphalon puts out and anodized aluminum pan which means that the services have been sealed which protects the aluminum and prevents any potential health hazards.
Lodge puts out a set of cast iron pots and pans that are worth taking a look at. They come pre-seasoned for easy use and, because their handles are stainless steel, you can go from the stove top into the oven without changing pans.
For baking, there’s nothing like the Pyrex glass dishes your mom or grandmother used. This all-glass cookware should definitely be part of your nontoxic kitchen.
There’s also a new nonstick ceramic coated set of pots and pans made by WearEver that is supposed to have good heat conduction and be toxin-free.
Dump It All?
What can you do if you have an entire kitchen full of nonstick cookware? Does it mean you have to throw it all out and get new pots and pans?
No, it doesn’t and here are some ideas to help you cook safely with the nonstick cookware you have:
- Don’t preheat your nonstick cookware at a high temperature. Use a lower temperature to cook your food safely.
- Always use an exhaust fan over your stove.
- If you have any parts of your oven that are nonstick, don’t use the self-clean feature because it heats at too high a temperature and can release toxic fumes.
- Never put nonstick cookware in an oven that’s hotter than 500°.
- When you have an opportunity, buy the nonstick alternatives.
While nonstick pots and pans can be convenient, there may also be some health risks that you will want to keep in mind before buying your next set of cookware.
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