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!
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So What's In The Average Pot or Pan?
Now if you are wondering why you would want to avoid conventional non-stick cookware, allow me to share some facts with you. It might seem like one more thing to consider when it comes to living a natural lifestyle, but let me assure you, it's an important one!
Non-stick cookware or even many stainless steel cookware may seem great initially but when you dig a little deeper it's easy to uncover the toxins lurking in them. The most common nonstick cookware out there is Teflon. It has been trademarked as Teflon and contains the chemical Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It's a popular choice for most people when it comes to cookware because it's non-reactive, non-stick and stain resistant. It basically is a cooks dream- that is until you read the fine print on the toxins it's releasing every time you cook with it!
A deeper look into Teflon from the EWG back in 2003 and it's claims that Teflon was safe under certain circumstances was debunked by research stating that in fact, Teflon did know that it releases harmful fumes for a very long time and can cause illness. Read the full article here.
While Teflon was first made using the chemical Perfluorooctanoic (PFOA), in the 1950's, they started adding Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) acid, or C8 to it to help alleviate some of the lumpiness from just using Perfluorooctanoic (PFOA). However, this produced an even greater toxic substance overall. It has been linked to many diseases, from cancer, liver disease, thyroid issues and growth issues. Not only that, but it accumulates over time in the body. It is present in the air, and water. Those who worked and lived in the area where it was made were exposed at high doses that created significant health issues, from birth defects in babies, to cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, and high cholesterol. (McGarvey)
It has been suggested that there is a significant dose response relationship between PFOA levels and ADHD.
This substance is not something you want to be cooking with! Research shows that it takes only 5 minutes for a pan to heat up to 750 degrees. Once heated it then releases toxic gases. Not only that but as soon as the pan is scratched it also releases toxins into your food. Even birds are affected by the chemicals at the lowest temperatures, completely dying. (EWG)
As you probably know, most people aren't cooking with low temperatures but exceedingly high temperatures! Creating a recipe for toxic chemicals to be released into the air.
The thing is Perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) isn't just found in cookware but in SO many other products. So the accumulative affect is great. From irons, microwave popcorn bags, floss, baking cookware, curling irons, hair straighteners, carpets, sofas, waffle makers, rice cookers- just to name a few. There are so many safe alternatives to these products that will help keep you and your family safe from this ingredient. One of them is making the switch to safe cookware!
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. 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, veggies, 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 non-stick 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.
While I used cast iron for many years since trying new brands such as 360 Cookware and Caraway, I have stopped using my cast iron that much. The one thing I don't like about cast iron is how heavy it is and how you can't use soap on it. I don't always feel it gets as clean. *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!
I have found the best of the best when it comes to stainless steel cookware! It is 360 Cookware! I have a whole review on this waterless cookware line. Check it out here. Now, I’ve always wondered about the safety of stainless steel cookware when it came to leaching metals into food. I wasn’t so sure about it. However, after looking into 360 I’m convinced this is one of the safest options out there when it comes to nontoxic cookware. A 360 cookware pot or pan has a layer of T-304 Surgical Grade Stainless Steel first, then the next layer is Aluminum Alloy- which helps to conduct heat throughout the cookware, and then the third layer is T-400 Series Stainless Steel. Since the aluminum alloy is in the middle it never comes in to contact with your food. Many companies are using scrap metal and not stainless steel and calling it stainless steel. The scrap metal could be from anywhere and often is from China. You end up not knowing what your stainless steel actually contains. I also love that it’s surgical grade stainless steel! This is what they use in your body if you were having surgery for something particular- next level that they use the highest quality.
360 is unique because not only is it U.S. made surgical stainless steel, but it’s also manufactured in the U.S. So everything is sourced and made here in the United States- so cool! I love knowing exactly where they’re sourcing the product and how it’s being made. 360 doesn’t spare any detail when making their product- it truly is unlike any other stainless steel cookware!
If you’ve looked into cookware in the past you may have been met with the idea that the more layers the better when dealing with cookware. Unfortunately, this isn’t the truth. More layers isn’t better but the thickness of the layers is what you want to consider. 360 has one of the thickest layers overall at .11″. Ensuring you can feel safe about what you’re cooking your food in! Can't recommend 360 Cookware enough, it's really one of the best options out there for those of us concerned about toxic chemicals! Use coupon code: gurlgonegreen20 for 20% off! Check out my full review of 360 Cookware here.
Caraway Cookware- Probably My Favorite Cookware!
I have a whole review on Caraway Cookware here. Not only do these ceramic pots look sleek, but they perform so well too. They are made using a mineral based coating that doesn’t leach into your food while cooking. They also emit 60% less C02 than traditional non-stick coatings. They first start with an aluminum and stainless steel base and then cover it with the mineral based coating- the aluminum is completely covered and does not leach into the food. The mineral coating is free of lead, cadmium and teflon. As with most ceramic pots and pans it is a mineral-based coating made of silica, oxygen, binders, and color pigments.
People used to be concerned about the mineral coating chipping but I’ve found high quality ceramic pots and pans don’t do that. It’s the poor quality, usually inexpensive ones that tend to chip or wear off after a short amount of time. As I like to say- you get what you pay for!
Caraway Cookware is definitely high quality. Very durable and stain resistant. I haven’t had any issues with stains or discolorations. It really continues to look as good as the day I got it! Something I really love about the cookware. It’s also very easy to clean. All you need is some warm soapy water and a scrub pad and it cleans things up really well. You can also check out my favorite non toxic, non stick cookware here!
While I love the concept of Xtrema I find it very hard to work with overall after years of working with it. There is a large learning curve and for an everyday pan it was hard to get the hang of it. It is different than cooking with either stainless steel or 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, no matter how long you're cooking or the heat level. 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. It heats very evenly. You can 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. 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. Xtrema
There has been a lot of confusion I've noticed about this type of nontoxic 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 for a nontoxic cookware option 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 non toxic cookware budget friendly option that's available almost anywhere cookware is sold. One of the most common glass cookware is called Anchor Hockings. 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 really love Anchor Hockings because it's made in the U.S.!Check out this great set by Anchor Hocking here!
Bakeware- Stainless Steel, Stone and more!
When it comes to nontoxic cookware and 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. I really love these stainless steel cake pans. They feel sturdy and don't have the nonstick coating. I also get asked about nontoxic donut pans a lot. This is the one I have and love! *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've personally been using 360 Cookware and Caraway Cookware the most! I have different pots and pans from each cookware company and find I use some of the pots for certain things. I really love 360 Cookware because of the nutrients it leaves in my food and the flavor profile that is left. With Caraway Cookware I like the ease of use and knowing my hubs can quickly whip something up.
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?
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