There are so many non toxic cookware options out there. Which is great because that means we can pick out what works best for us and our cooking needs. However, I find a lot of people want to know what the best non toxic cookware option is that is non stick. Having a non-stick option in your cupboards is so handy when you want to make certain dishes and I am going to share with you my favorites!
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The Dark Side Of Traditional Non Stick Cookware
Traditional non-stick 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 uses Teflon to prevent sticking.
Teflon is the brand name of the chemical, non stick coating and it contains 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 cook’s dream- that is until you read the fine print on the toxins it’s releasing every time you cook with it!
Scary enough, 79% of non stick cookware and 20% of nonstick bakeware have been found to be coated with PTFE. (1) A study has shown that if a surface crack is present in non-stick cookware that is coated with Teflon, there may be up to 9,100 plastic particles released during the cooking process. A broken coating may lead to the release of 2,300,000 microplastics and nanoplastics. (5)
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.
Health Concerns With Traditional Non Stick Cookware
PFOA was initially used in the production of many Teflon products. PFOA has been linked to several health problems (2), including:
- Certain types of cancers, especially kidney and testicular cancer
- Thyroid disorders
- Elevated cholesterol
- Liver Damage
By 2013, due to rising health concerns and regulatory pressure, most manufacturers phased out the use of PFOA in the production of Teflon and similar products. But, if you still have an older cookware set, it is definitely possible that has PFOA is in its non-stick coating. Plus, like I said, what it has been replaced with is most likely not much better.
PTFE is known to breakdown with high heat (which most people are cooking with). Inhaling these fumes may result in “Teflon flu” or polymer fume fever, a temporary flu-like condition with symptoms like chills, fever, and headache that can range from mild to severe in intensity. (6)
GenX, has replaced the PFOA’s due to having a very similar in structure, (they are in the same family of chemicals called PFAS).
However, GenX is nearly as toxic to people as what it replaced, according to an Environmental Protection Agency study.
The EWG analyzed the EPA’s assessment and concluded that even very tiny doses of GenX can pose health risks including: harm to prenatal development, the immune system, liver, kidney, or thyroid. (3)
Bottom line, you need to avoid PFOA’s and PTFE’s. If it says the cookware is PFAS-free (which includes GenX) that will include thousands of chemicals.
The chemicals used to make traditional non stick coatings are known as ‘forever chemicals.” PFOA has been detected in the environment and even in the bloodstream of nearly all Americans. (4) It’s a persistent compound, meaning it doesn’t break down easily in the environment or in the body. In my opinion, safe options must be found for both our health and the environment!
When these chemicals are manufactured they have been found to be released into the air, soil and water (which means they can be found in our drinking water). Plus they can be found in so much more than cookware. Things like home goods, clothing, food packaging, cosmetics and more.
Avoiding these all together is pretty much impossible, but avoiding them when you can will make all the difference. And your cookware is a great place to start!
Related Content: Best Non Toxic Cookware
Proper Care of Non Toxic Non Stick Cookware
Proper care of your cookware will increase the longevity of it. Keep these care instructions in mind when using your ceramic coated cookware:
- You want to use silicone or wooden utensils. Metal utensils can chip the pots and pans.
- Don’t let your pan go from hot to cold to quickly.
- Cook using low to medium heat. DO NOT cook on high heat!
- Use high smoke point oils to cook with (not only for better function & care of the pan but added taste to your food). I like to cook with avocado oil, coconut oil or ghee.
- More than likely you should hand wash your ceramic cookware and not put it in the dishwasher.
These are more general guidelines, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your specific cookware brand.
Best Non Stick, Non Toxic Cookware
UPDATE: After having used several non toxic, nonstick pans, I have a couple more thoughts I want to share.
The first is that from my experience the longevity on the pans is not great. They don’t last that long. For me personally it’s been about a year before I started to get nicks on the pans. I cook a lot, 2-3 meals a day, so they get used a ton.
The second point is that the cost is more in the long run. While you may find a cheaper nonstick pan, I’ve noticed that since they do get scratched easier that I’m having to replace them sooner, which in the end costs more money.
This is easily my #1 pick for anyone that wants a non toxic, non stick cookware set. Caraway Cookware is such an easy transition for anyone looking to swap their traditional cookware. You won’t miss your old toxic cookware at all with Caraway! It’s so easy to use and it’s completely nonstick. I haven’t had any issues with food sticking to the ceramic pots or pans at all. Even my husband was so impressed with the performance. He couldn’t get over how easy it was to use.
I’ve made ground beef, sausage, chicken, eggs, quesadillas, vegetable stir fry’s and more. I love the small fry pan for cooking eggs or quick one person meals. The Sauce Pan I’ve used so much for sauces, oatmeal and pasta. The Sauté Pan is great for cooking larger one pot meals, meat and stir fry’s and the Dutch Oven is great for soups, chili, whole chickens and broth. I really have used them all for different things and they work so well.
Another point I wanted to make is that Caraway Cookware doesn’t feel quite as heavy as some other ceramic cookware I’ve had in the past. They are sturdy but not too heavy. I like being able to still lift the pan with one arm if I need too. As with any ceramic cookware you want to make sure you use wooden, or silicone utensils on the pans, no stainless steel to prevent scratching.
I have been so happy with Caraway Cookware and the overall performance of their ceramic pots and pans. Often you find a cookware and you love how it looks but not how it performs- Caraway does it all. From the sleek design, to the amazing even cooking, easy cleanup and effortless storage- Caraway makes it easy to switch to nontoxic cookware without thinking twice! Check out Caraway Cookware here.
Related Content: Caraway Cookware Review
The Always Pan
This is the newest ceramic cookware pan to me. The Always pan is so unique compared to anything else I’ve used in the past. It does so much and only requires one pan!
The Always Pan is coated in a non-toxic, ceramic non-stick coating. That means no PFOA, PTFE, GenX chemicals or any other toxic chemicals for that matter! Since it is tested to the standard of ceramic coating that means that NO heavy metals are able to pass through it.
Our Place takes it a step further and tests it to the standards of polymeric coating (this is a thin layered coating that provides superior adherence and protection from corrosion). These standards mean that NOTHING can pass through their ceramic coating and that makes it the safest non-stick coating available!
Initially I wasn’t even going to review The Always Pan as I had read where people were talking about it having lead. I looked into it further and read Lead Safe Mama’s full review on The Always Pan and how she had found traces of lead and several other heavy metals in it. You can read about her findings here. She wasn’t able to determine if the trace amounts were in the actual coating or if they were in the substrate of the pan. Meaning, once the coating wear’s off you are left with the substrate. Although they were in the safe range and technically at very low levels, she still had detected lead. I think this is important for people to know and be aware of when making the best decision for them and their family.
Ok, now time to actually share what I thought of The Always Pan. I really loved it! It definitely lives up to the hype in my opinion. It can do it all, from sauté, steam, boil, sear, fry- everything. The goal of The Always Pan is to replace 8 pieces of cookware- so it makes cooking simpler. It comes with a stainless steel steamer basket, a beachwood spatula, and a pourable spout. It’s also much lighter than a traditional ceramic pan coming in at 3lbs. It’s higher sides on the pan make it unique to other pans and easier cooking.
There really isn’t anything I disliked about it- other than the lead findings! It works great for steaming veggies, cooking meat, tortillas- anything. I think this would be a great addition for someone who hasn’t made the switch over to nontoxic cookware or if you want to incorporate this into your overall nontoxic cookware options to try. Check out The Always Pan here!
If you liked this post, check out these past posts:
- Delgado, C. (2022) Why you should throw away your non-stick pan the second it cracks, Popular Science. Available at: https://www.popsci.com/environment/non-stick-pan-plastic-pollution/
- Fenton, S. E., Ducatman, A., Boobis, A., DeWitt, J. C., Lau, C., Ng, C., Smith, J. S., & Roberts, S. M. (2021, March). Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance toxicity and human health review: Current state of knowledge and strategies for informing future research. Environmental toxicology and chemistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7906952/
- EPA: Genx nearly as toxic as notorious non-stick chemicals it replaced (2023) Environmental Working Group. Available at: https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news-release/epa-genx-nearly-toxic-notorious-non-stick-chemicals-it-replaced
- Calafat, A.M. et al. (2007) Polyfluoroalkyl chemicals in the U.S. population: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 and comparisons with NHANES 1999-2000, Environmental health perspectives. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072821/
- Yunlong Luo a b et al. (2022) Raman imaging for the identification of Teflon Microplastics and nanoplastics released from non-stick Cookware, Science of The Total Environment. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S004896972205392X
- Shimizu, T. et al. (2012) Polymer fume fever, BMJ case reports. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4544973/