Stop Using Teflon Cookware – Here’s Why
When nonstick pans came out, they became an instant hit. Easy to clean and reducing the need for oil, they seemed like the perfect solution for every modern chef. But soon, concerns over their safety started mounting and Teflon – the most famous brand of nonstick coating – found itself on the health and safety blacklist. The manufacturers disagreed, but some of the evidence was too strong to ignore. Here we look at the dangers of nonstick pans and the healthier alternatives.
Dangers of Nonstick Cookware
The risks begin when pans are overheated. When a nonstick pan reaches 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius), its coating starts to decompose. At 660 degrees (350 degrees Celsius) and above, the decomposing becomes significant, and toxic fumes get released which can cause polymer-fume fever. This is a condition that mimics flu, and can kill pet birds.
As the temperature increases further, so do the dangers. At 680 degrees Fahrenheit (360 degrees Celsius), Teflon starts releasing at least six different toxic gases; two of them are known carcinogens. It is not clear what the long-term effects of prolonged exposure to these gases are.
These temperatures might seem high, but you would be surprised how fast they are reached when you cook. You just need to preheat your oven with a pan left inside, and the harm is done. One cooking accident can be enough.
The next hazard comes with chipped and flaked cookware. Some of the damages might not be seen with the naked eye, but they are there and are potentially harmful as the chemicals from Teflon get released into your food. With cheaper materials, the cracks develop faster, so you are not only breathing in the fumes, but you are also ingesting chemicals that you were not meant to. Most Americans nowadays have some chemicals from Teflon in their bloodstream, and they are even found in newborns.
Chemically, Teflon is known as polytetrafluorethylene. It was originally a waste byproduct of Freon production, which is the trade name for nonflammable moderately toxic gases or liquids which are used as refrigerants and as aerosol propellants. Freon and Teflon are both produced by the same company – DuPont. Teflon is made from perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been associated with tumors and developmental problems in animals.
Health Problems that are Linked to PFOA
According to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine there are a number of diseases linked to PFOA exposure:
- Diabetes (Type 2)
- Low birth weight
- Early puberty
- Infertility and reproductive disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
- Liver and kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- High cholesterol
What can you do to reduce the risks?
– Never preheat an empty pan.
– If you use nonstick pans, don’t go above medium heat.
– If you see your pan is chipped or otherwise damaged, throw it out. Nonstick cookware should be replaced every couple of years to avoid toxic leaks.
– Use only wooden spoons to stir food, and avoid metal utensils on nonstick pans.
– Heavier-weight cookware is usually better quality and heats up a bit slower, so choose that.
– Use chemical-free cookware. Go for clay and glass cookware, stainless steel and copper pans, and cast iron pots and pans. Cast iron and stainless steel are a good alternative to nonstick pans and are durable.
Alternatives to Teflon
I know how frustrating it is to get your food stuck to the pan, but it is way more frustrating to have one of the above health issues.
So let’s get rid of Teflon and look at some alternatives instead.
Here are a few alternatives to Teflon that you can feel free to use:
Glass works great for baking, for example Pyrex dishes. They’re generally not meant for stove top use.
More and more people choose glass pots because of their simple design, elegant color, as well as the elegant style. In addition, the smooth surface of glass pots makes them easy to clean.
Cast Iron is perfect for oven or stovetop use. Cast iron is my personal favorite because it’s so versatile. While cast iron cookware is free from PFOA, it is important to make sure the cookware you choose meets all the regulations for lead and cadmium levels.
Glass Ceramic Cookware
Corningware is a brand of glass-ceramic baking and stovetop dishes. You may also choose to buy ceramic frying pans, which is much safer than Teflon.
This might be a bit tricky as I find that food tends to stick to my stainless steel cookware but lots of people prefer to use it.
Although it may take some research to find the best non-stick alternatives to your personal taste, I strongly recommend it. If you make most of your meals at home, it is important not to expose yourself to the risks involved in cooking with nonstick cookware.
Read my related articles:
1. Cooking with Aluminum Foil – Is It Safe?
2. 7 Cancer Causing Products to Remove From Your Home
3. 6 Hidden Dangers of Hand Sanitizers
Diseases linked to PFOA exposure