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Looking for non toxic cookware that performs and doesn’t expose you and your family to some nasty chemicals?
You’re in luck, because over the years we’ve tested a whole bunch of cookware, from sauce to saute pans, to give you this comprehensive guide to non toxic cookware.
As someone who appreciates a good non-stick pan (they do make life easier!), I was dismayed to learn about the health risks the chemicals used to make pans non-stick may pose.
Would I be sacrificing the ease of a non-stick pan if I opted for a healthier option?
Luckily, there are plenty non toxic alternatives available made from a variety of materials, like stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic.
Each has their own strengths and learning curves, but will a little practice your new non toxic will be just as non-stick as the chemical versions.
Whether you’re stocking a brand new kitchen, or just replacing old pots and pans, it’s a good time to consider the toxins that may be lurking in traditional cookware.
This post is all about the essential non toxic cookware every kitchen needs.
What Makes Some Cookware Toxic?
The culprits are the chemicals used to make cookware non-stick.
Traditional non-stick pans get their non-stick coating made from highly water-and-heat-resistant chemical called Polytetrafluoroethylene, or fluoropolymer plastic (PTFE).
You may know PTFE as it’s brand name, Teflon.
The problem doesn’t come from PTFE so much as the chemicals used to make it.
The process of making PTFE traditionally uses another chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is a known toxin.
Specifically, PFOA has been established as an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can mess with your hormones. Yuck!
Many companies have moved away from using PFOA in the process of making their cookware non-stick.
Still, I have a better safe than sorry policy in my household. Especially since PFTE coating (regardless of PFOA use) can break down and release toxic fumes when heated over 500 degrees.
Plus, non-stick coatings will break down over time regardless and potentially end up in your food. This is why it you shouldn’t clean non-stick pans with abrasive sponges or cleaners.
Luckily, there are alternatives that work just as well, so why mess around?
Non Toxic Cookware Options
Your main decision in choosing a piece of non toxic cookware will be the material.
Options include stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic.
Each material has its own quirks when cooking, but each perform just as well as your traditional non-stick pan (if not better in some areas!)
Finally, for those looking for a truly traditional non-stick pan, I have included a PFOA-free option at the end.
Stainless Steel – Non Toxic Cookware
Stainless steel cookware is a classic for a reason, and an easy place to start. It’s great for beginners that just want a few kitchen workhorses they can do all their cooking in!
First, it’s relatively light and comfortable (compared to cast iron!)
Second, fully-clad versions (like the stainless steel cookware recommended below) provide even heat distribution across the entire cooking surface. No more burning!
(Fully-clad just means the pan in made with multiple layers, and fully covered with stainless steel from the bottom to the rims.)
TIP: The key to making stainless steel cookware non-stick is to pre-heat the pan before cooking. Start on a low heat and slowly turn up the heat until you’ve reached your desired cooking heat.
Best Stainless Steel Skillet
Best Stainless Steel Set
Cast Iron – Non Toxic Cookware
People have been cooking with cast iron for centuries. Take part in that great tradition by investing in your own cast iron skillet.
Why cook with cast iron?
For starters, cast iron is very durable. A good, well-seasoned (more on seasoning later) cast iron pan can last generations.
You can cook with cast iron on a stove, grill, or even over an open flame. Bring your cast iron pan camping!
Second, iron has great heat retention. As such, cast iron will gives you the closest you can get to a perfect sear on a steak without firing up the grill.
It’s great for that mouth-watering browning effect on veggies, or crispiness at the end of a deep-dish skillet chocolate chip cookie.
TIP: Follow instructions for seasoning you cast iron pan. Seasoning is just a fancy word for cooking oil into your cast iron. Your cast iron will become naturally more non-stick with time.
Best Cast Iron Skillet
Ceramic – Non Toxic Cookware
Ceramic is like the new, cool kid of non toxic cookware.
Ceramic non-stick cookware hit the market in 2007 and has been improving in performance since, making it a viable contender against traditional non-stick cookware.
What makes ceramic cookware non-stick is actually a material derived from beach sand, so there is no health risk to heating it to high temperatures.
Overall, ceramic cookware offers the lightweight and versatility of stainless steel, but in pretty colors!
Don’t let the colors distract you though, this ceramic cookware can seriously perform.
It boasts some impressive non-stick ability without the hassle of seasoning.
Best Ceramic Cookware Set
PFOA-Free Non-Stick Cookware
For those of you who are not quite ready to give up the traditional non-stick pan quite yet, there are safer options out there.
Specifically, look for non-stick pans that are PFOA-free. This means they left this harmful chemical out of the production process of making the pans non-stick.
How to Use Non-Stick Cookware
Still, please be careful when using any non-stick pan! The non-stick coating can easily chip and degrade over time.
This means cleaning the pan with a soft sponge and non-abrasive cleaner. Avoid harsh cleaning agents like Ajax, Comet, and Bar Keeper’s Friend.
Also, avoid stacking your non-stick pan directly against other cookware. This can easily chip the coating. If you need to stack your pan, place a buffer like a paper plate or potholder in between pans.
(Plus, regardless of how well you treat your non-stick pan, the coating will not last forever. You will need to replace it eventually.)
Best PFOA-Free Non-Stick Skillet
This post was all about non toxic cookware.