I finally rounded out the best nontoxic cookware! I have received this question so much within the last 6 months that I knew I needed to write a blog post. It’s crazy how many toxic chemicals can be lurking in cookware. It might not seem like a big deal but over time these chemicals add up and produce a toxic load!
So What’s In The Average Pot or Pan?
I’m sure you’ve either used nonstick pots or pans or heard of them. These pans may make it easy to cook your food with but unfortunately they carry dangerous toxic exposure as well! Nontoxic cookware usually contains this chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA. Science has shown that it can stay in human bodies for long periods of time. It has even shown to cause cancer in lab studies done on animals.
While cancer is nothing to bat an eye at, it also can cause infertility, liver damage, plus delayed development just to name a few other things. Of course PFOA isn’t the only ingredient you want to avoid in your cookware. Things like aluminum, plastic, lead, teflon, and cadmium. These all pose a serious risk to our health and should be avoided.
When living out a natural lifestyle one of the foundations is cooking your food. It’s no secret that when you cook your own food, you’re getting more nourishment usually then when going out. However, if the cookware we constantly use is leaching out harmful toxins we may be doing ourselves a disservice. As I mentioned earlier it’s the toxic load over time that really adds up. These chemicals are literally getting into the food we’re eating and then absorbed by our bodies.
So What Is Safe?
There are some great options out there now when it comes to nontoxic cookware! I will say some of the cookware definitely are a little pricier than non-stick- however the investment is worth it. These pots and pans are going to last you a lot longer than many conventional pots and pans and won’t carry the toxic burden.
This was the first type of nontoxic cookware that I switched over too and I still love it. It really has been around forever and that’s one of the reasons I love it. It does take a little bit of time to get used to it but once you’ve worked with it you figure it out. I really love the Lodge cast iron pans. They’re easy to find at Target or you can order them on Amazon. They’re also budget friendly! I use this pan for cooking eggs, meats, frying- really the list is endless. A couple tips when using cast iron. Make sure and slowly add heat. I found this works best instead of blasting the food with heat. It helps to not burn food. Cast iron retains heat very well. Also, make sure you season it regularly. This helps to create a type of natural nonstick surface. If you’re unsure how to season it, The Wellness Mama did a whole blog post on it here. When you season a cast iron it’s basically adding a good oil to keep it hydrated and then baking it. I avoid cooking acidic foods in cast iron because it can break down the seasoning or patina that’s been made on the cast iron. Cleaning cast iron can seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually not. You don’t want to use soap with cast iron- it can damage the seasoning and dry it out. Instead, use some salt to clean it. I just shake salt on top and then take a scrubby and scrub away. Then rinse with water. Then you want to dry it and rub in a cooking oil. *The one caution I would make is that cast iron has been known to leach iron so if for some reason you have an abundance of iron you might want to switch up your pans every now and then. I’ve been the opposite more anemic so I welcome all the iron I can get! Check out Lodge Cast Iron here!
This is another option. It is unique because it comes in many varieties and types. In other words not all stainless steel is created equal. Stainless steel is made up of a combination of metals. Some of the most common metals are chromium and nickel. The chromium is what helps to protect against rusting and is nontoxic for the most part in the body. Our bodies do need chromium in small amounts but it’s not that much and if you eat a fairly healthy diet you may already be getting more than you need. Nickel on the other hand is used to give stainless steel that extra hardness and to give it that polished look. However, it isn’t great for our bodies. There is virtually no reason for us to consume nickel. Your best bet is to buy food grade stainless steel. When shopping you will see numbers like 200, 304, 316 and 430. These numbers represent the series of stainless steel. For example, a 300 series may corrode easier then a 400 series. Whereas a 400 series is going to be the strongest and have almost no nickel. Of course the 400 series will cost more! I wouldn’t buy anything less than a 304 for overall quality. You will also see numbers 18/8, 18/10 or 18/0. The first number represents the amount of chromium and the second number the amount of nickel. It’s also important to not use harsh cleaners when cleaning stainless steel because it can cause damage to the lining. When the lining is damaged the heavy metals can leach into the food a lot easier. Personally, although this option is safer than many I still prefer not to cook with it all the time because of the possible metal content leaching into food, especially if the food your cooking is acidic. Also, many stainless steel cookware has a layer of aluminum in between the stainless steel. So it’s important to note that if your stainless steel was to get scratched you need to stop using it. You may also see copper sandwiched in the in-between layer as well. They do this because both aluminum and copper are heat conductors. From what I’ve read and researched since the aluminum isn’t coming into contact with the food and is protected by stainless steel it’s fine to have it in the cookware. *Some people already have high levels of heavy metals in their bodies and cooking with stainless steel wouldn’t be a good idea. However, many people might be fine. I know a lot of people who use it only for certain things and then other foods that might be more acidic they use different cookware. One more important tidbit is that commercial kombucha is brewed in large stainless steel vats and since kombucha is acidic it is soaking up all those heavy metals. Even though it’s housed in glass it’s best to steer clear of store bought kombucha and make your own at home. Check out this great set of stainless steel cookware here!
This has been my newest cookware option that I’ve started to use for the last several months and really have come to love! It is different than both stainless steel and cast iron. From the glaze on the cookware to the core it’s made with 100% ceramic. Ceramic is awesome because it’s completely inert- meaning it won’t leach any harmful toxins. All of Xtrema has been tested for heavy metal content and is free from glues, polymers, coatings and dyes. If you want to see their testing results check them out here. Plus, it’s dish washer safe- something all the mamas can get behind! It heats very evenly too. You can even take a dish from the fridge to the stove or oven- it’s very versatile. It also can withstand high temperatures. It’s easy to clean Xtrema cookware too, just use warm soapy water. You can also use baking soda or an abrasive scrubby if you need to. The best way to heat an Xtrema is to turn the heat on low or low medium. Since it’s so great at heat conduction you don’t need or want to crank the heat up to high. Doing this would result in foods sticking or burning. It’s best to turn the heat on a couple minutes before you start cooking and then add a little cooking oil once it’s heated. I like avocado oil, ghee or coconut oil. Don’t add the oil to a cold pan, wait until it’s heated up or it will cause foods to stick. Personally, I love cooking with Xtrema! I have their 8-inch Versa Braiser. It’s nice because it has a lid and can be used for cooking meats, quiches, casseroles etc, but also can be used for cooking eggs with. *Beware, there is a lot of deceptive marketing around ceramic cookware. It may say ceramic but it is coated with a nonstick chemical. The only company I’m aware of that is a true ceramic, with no additives is Xtrema. Xtrema
There has been a lot of confusion I’ve noticed about this type of cookware. It is cast iron but then has been given a coating of enamel. This enamel is a type of glass. It is completely safe. There has been some controversy about the enamel being made of clay and therefore having lead but from various tests performed on it, there has been no lead detection reported. A common brand you may think of is Le Creuset. Their cookware is made in France. One might think that porcelain enamel is similar to cast iron and that is true but it does have it’s differences. Porcelain Enamel will not rust where regular cast iron can if not seasoned properly. Also, porcelain enamel won’t leach iron because of the coating, where cast iron will. Porcelain enameled is also nice to have for acidic foods like chili or spaghetti sauces. Acidic foods as I mentioned above can strip cast iron of it’s seasoning, especially when simmered for a long period of time. For cleaning you can use some mild dish soap on it and a scrub pad of some kind. For stubborn stains or food that’s stuck you can boil some water in it with a few tablespoons of baking soda. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight. *Personally I love having a porcelain enamel skillet on hand too. It’s great for using with acidic foods or making stir frys, soups, or stews. I would stick with Le Creuset. To my knowledge they are the only ones that have been tested for lead content and come back negative. The only small trace amounts that were found were on the outside of the lids and pots where there was some color but not inside. Also, I’m a skeptic of things made in China as they have been known to have higher metal content and most of the other porcelain enameled is made there. Check out Porcelain Enamel cookware here!
This is a great budget friendly option that’s available almost anywhere cookware is sold. One of the most common glass cookware is called Pyrex. It is inert, meaning it doesn’t add or take away from the food. I have several casserole or baking dishes whatever you like to call them. I use them for both casseroles and special desserts. I also have a round glass dish with a lid that’s great for soups or stews that I use a lot. For making breads I like to use a glass bread loaf pan too. *Glass is a great option for those starting to detox their cookware and looking for accessible and budget friendly options. I have even seen really good deals on Pyrex glass sets at Costco! Check out this Pyrex set here! Check out this great set by Anchor Hocking here!
When it comes to baking you can use a lot of the cookware I mentioned above but there are a few other options too. For the ones mentioned above you can use cast iron to bake breads, or porcelain enamel for desserts such as crumbles, cobblers or pies. Also, glass cookware is a great option for baking too, as well as stainless steel. Stainless steel is especially nice for cookie sheets or cake pans! These are a great option for stainless steel cookie sheets! If you’re still concerned about the possible metal leakage just use some parchment paper. I love this brand that doesn’t leach any toxic chemicals. I use parchment paper when baking always because it makes clean up so much easier and is sometimes essential when making cakes. You can also get stainless steel muffin trays. Another option I haven’t talked about is stone cookware. They have stone baking sheets, loaf pans and cake pans. I personally haven’t used them. I know that you have to be really careful when cleaning as you can’t use soap or get them wet. They’re also heavier too. Rada is a good American made brand that is lead free. *When it comes to bakeware think about what you use the most and swap that out first. As I mentioned earlier, you can always buy some nontoxic parchment paper and use that as a protectant too. I also like these nontoxic paper muffin liners.
I have never used silicone for cooking or baking other than some silicone muffin liners. However, I stopped using them because I started to wonder if they were actually safe. I had read a lot of information saying there just isn’t enough research out there yet and I agree. Until more long term studies come out, I’m going to stick with using silicone when food isn’t heated or cooked.
I do think it’s important to switch out your cookware because this is something you use all the time and the accumulative affect is great. Even if you could replace one item every quarter, by the end of the year you would have a whole new cookware set!
What nontoxic cookware option do you love?