“Back in the day,” as they say, while Teflon® cookware may not have been seen as an actual gift from God, it was certainly considered a miracle of modern technology – a non-stick cooking surface that could be cleaned with a paper towel! (Or so the advertising of the day would have had us believe.) Today however, many people believe that the use of cookware made with harmful chemicals the way that Teflon® is presents a risk that is not worth taking.
As with so many things. There are two sides to this story.
Does Teflon® cookware cause cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, the short answer is “No.” While the non-stick coating is manufactured using at least two known carcinogens, PTFE and PFOA, neither of these chemicals survive the manufacturing process, “and [are] not present in significant amounts in the final products”.
Further, since Teflon® has been in use for more than 70 years, extensive research has been done on the safety of the product. According to the vast majority of this research, including this article by a toxicologist at the University of North Carolina, “Assuming you use your cookware appropriately, i.e. not heating it excessively and unattended, always heating the pan with something in it, not scratching off the Teflon and consuming it for dinner, using non-stick pans is relatively safe for humans.”
Why take the risk?
Having said all of that, the question remains, “Relative to what, is Teflon® safe for humans?”
Whether you consider the potential danger greater than the potential benefits or not, there is a determined movement away from non-stick cookware in the name of safety, as well as being more environmentally conscious, or “eco-friendly”.
Beyond the cost involved to replace every piece of non-stick bakeware and cookware in their home, which could be significant, many consumers are simply unaware that there may be a problem – or what their alternative might be. With those things in mind, here are some choices for non-toxic cookware for your home. (Click here to find out more.)
What Kind of Cookware is Non-toxic?
- Stainless Steel Cookware – Stainless steel is a must-have in the kitchen when it comes to boiling, sautéing and baking. Pans made out of this non-toxic metal retain heat so smaller baked items tend to cook evenly. Stainless steel is also easy to clean; scrubbing pans down with steel wool will keep layers of oil from accumulating on the surface.
- Glass Cookware – Glass is totally eco-friendly, nontoxic and durable—a great material to choose when stocking your kitchen with chemical-free cookware. However, you can’t use glass pans for everything—certain items like baking tins are hard to find in glass, and some dishes like pies don’t always cook evenly in glassware. Glass pans generally work best for savory dishes such as pot pies, baked pasta and quick breads. Some excellent brands include beautifully crafted pieces by Emile Henry, and more affordable pans by Pyrex.
- Ceramic Cookware – Ceramic is an organic material that has been used for baking dating back to ancient cultures. Today, you can find nicely made ceramic bake and cookware in a variety of colors.
- Green Non-Stick Cookware – Several businesses have developed new technologies to provide the convenience of nonstick to cook and bakeware without PFCs or other types of toxic coating. One company, Green Pan, uses a patented technology called Thermolon to make their pans non-stick and heat resistant up to high temperatures. Orgreenic makes similar products that have aluminum bases and special coatings made of a combination of ceramic and a newly-developed nonstick material that is apparently eco-friendly.
While the risk of using non-stick cookware is “relatively” small, depending on your circumstances and the potential health risks to members of your family, it may be time to transition to non-toxic cookware for your home.