Safer Alternatives to Teflon


fry-pan

We’ve probably all heard about the dangers of plastics, especially about the problems with heating foods in them. (If you’d like more information on why plastics are harmful, click here). While there’s been speculation for some time that the nonstick coating, Teflon, might be problem, recently, a study in the Human Reproduction journal confirmed some very real concerns with the product. This study established a link between PFOA, the chemical in Teflon, and reproductive health in women. According to Enviroblog (the blog of the Environmental Working Group), “PFOA is [also] linked to birth defects, increased cancer rates, and changes to lipid levels, the immune system, and liver.”

So, if Teflon is bad, what should we use?

On The Stovetop:

Stainless Steel. Stainless is considered very safe. Used properly and coated with a little oil, it is possible to reduce sticking in a stainless steel pan. Because stainless alone is not a very even conductor of heat, it’s best to go with a tri-ply version that has an aluminum or copper core, like these:

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Steel Cookware – great ratings on Amazon at a reasonable price.

All-Clad Tri-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe Stainless Cookware – All-Clad has been the industry standard for quality, long-lasting stainless cookware for years. If you want to go higher-end and make a one-time purchase, this is the way to go.

Ceramic. Ceramic cookware is fairly new to the scene and offers nonstick properties without the peeling, flaking surface. I have a set of ceramic lined stainless skillets and have been very happy with how well they perform.

Zwiling J. A. Henckels Spirit Ceramic Skillets

WearEver Pure Living 3.5Qt Pan

Cast Iron. When properly seasoned, cast iron is virtually non-stick. These pans may also be good for your health because they increase the iron that is absorbed into your food as it cooks. Instructions on seasoning and cleaning cast iron pans (which is easy to do) can be found in a variety of places; here’s one.

Lodge Cast-Iron

Porcelain Enameled Cast-Iron: If you’re not interested in seasoning your pan or in cleaning it with salt, porcelain enameled cast-iron is an excellent option. These pans, like standard cast-iron, should last a lifetime. There are several manufacturers of porcelain enameled cookware, two are below.

Tramontina Enameled Cast-Iron

Lodge Enameled Cast-Iron

Baking

Glass or stoneware are your safest bets for baking. Both Pyrex and Kitchen Aid are good options.

I use a combination of stainless steel, cast iron and enameled cast iron at my house. I’ve stopped using Teflon altogether. I’ve heard some arguments that regardless of the dangers, so little of the “bad” chemicals are released during cooking, that Teflon is essentially safe. I say, why chance it? If there are other options available that work as well, if not better, I feel safer using those.

Photo Credit: Chris Campbell

Comments

  1. It’s nice to see more people pointing out the dangers of common cookware! Salad Master is widely recognized as the highest quality and safest stainless steel, but it’s quite expensive.

    Some people suggest that cast iron isn’t such a great alternative. I don’t remember the exact reasons, but it’s something to look into. I used to use cast iron and switched to baking in glass, even for meat. However, if you bake with glass, it’s important to do so at a low temperature. Not only will this preserve the nutrients in the food, but Pyrex glassware has a not so nice reputation of exploding on people and causing serious injury.

  2. Though this may be a little late, thanks for posting this. There are far too many people who do not know of the dangers of this cookware. I know that there are lots of pet birds who have died from it. The lungs become full of fluid, and the bird effectively suffocates to death. It’s shameful that there are no warnings on the packaging of these pans.

  3. I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how unsafe teflon pans are. The alternative I love most is All Clad. They simply make the highest quality items. Don’t have the full set though – too expensive! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the tips. Haven’t heard of the “Green Pan” Will have to check it out. I mostly used stainless, glass and some times cast iron.

  5. I always make fun of my father for using Cast Iron, but it looks like he was right. I like stainless, but you really have to watch it for sticking.

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