The subject of what type of cookware is safest to use for health has been a much-debated one, especially in recent years. Despite being popular options for cookware, even materials like Teflon and PFOA have been revealed to have harmful long-term effects on health.
So, then, what is the safest cookware for your health?
Unfortunately, there is no single option in cookware that will perform functionally and conveniently without having safety hazards.
The best you can do is to choose certain cookware materials over others, as some materials are more harmful than others. This article aims to educate you in that regard—hopefully it’ll help you.
Cookware Materials That You Need to Avoid
These are the cookware materials you should avoid.
Aluminum cookware is popular because it’s convenient and lightweight, on top of being easy to clean. Daily exposure to aluminum is common. However, in certain amounts, it can be toxic—the bad news is that researchers don’t yet know exactly what that amount is.
This might be even harder to hear, but some studies have linked aluminum exposure to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions.
Non-stick is a popular option for cookware and is usually made from PFOA or PTFE. PFOA, also known as C8, is the compound perfluorooctanoic acid, while PTFE is polytetrafluoroethylene. The latter is now patented as Teflon, which you have probably heard of.
Unfortunately, non-stick of these kinds or other traditional types are not completely safe. Standing near Teflon that has been heated to very high temperatures lead many people to suffer from “Teflon flu,” which occurs when you inhale the fumes from it.
Relatively Safer Cookware Materials
Now that you’ve been warned about aluminum and non-stick, here are a few options that are relatively safer.
Ceramic-based compounds such as Thermalon seem to be safer than traditional non-stick compounds. Thermalon is a sand derivative that contains silicon dioxide instead of PTFE. Be warned, however, about the concern with nanoparticles and heavy metals that these materials raise.
One report has linked titanium dioxide nanoparticles to certain types of malignant lesions. As we don’t yet definitively know whether Thermalon releases titanium dioxide nanoparticles, use with caution.
2. Porcelain Enamel
Porcelain enamel cookware is usually cast iron with a type of enameled ceramic coating. The main conclusion to be drawn from studies about porcelain enamel is that only some brands are safe. What you should be concerned about is whether traces of cadmium or lead are found in it.
Cookware from cheaper brands tends to have high amounts of lead in them. So, if you’re looking for budget options, beware. Ultimately, porcelain enamel is still a relatively safer option in comparison to PTFE or PFOA. However, there are better options, which you will find below.
Safest Cookware Materials
Now that we’ve read through the less favorable options, here are the types of cookware you should be gravitating most towards.
Note that there is no one perfect cookware material. There hasn’t been one that has tested as perfectly safe, yet. But with what’s already on the market, here are your best bets.
This is an option you should consider as bakeware. At the present time, there are no studies linking stoneware to toxicity.
Although it takes some getting used to, stoneware is widely regarded as a great alternative to conventional bakeware such as aluminum baking sheets. It’s ideal for grilling vegetables and cooking baked goods such as cookies. Stoneware even includes crockeries like bread pans.
Although it’s difficult to clean, it can still add good flavor to your food and create an amazing cooking experience. Plus, they’re super durable—basically, they’ll last your entire life if you just know how to take care of them.
This may come as a surprise, but ceramic cookware has been known to score high points when it comes to the safety of use. Ceramic is known not to infiltrate food contents that are put on it.
Heating ceramic cookware evenly is easy, and they are safe for the dishwasher, oven, microwave and stove. Something else to love about ceramic is how easy it is to clean.
You can even use scrubbing pads without worrying about damaging the surface. However, be warned that ceramic does tend to break very easily, so you’ll have to be careful with it.
3. Cast Iron
Cast iron is a great option for cooking meat and pan-frying as it tends to be non-stick. It can heat your food evenly and assist the food in retaining its flavor. Plus, you can use it in your oven and stovetop.
This thing does leak into food—however, as this adds a little bit of iron into your diet, that’s actually a good thing.
It’s important to season your cast iron cookware properly before using it, as that’s what helps the surface to be non-stick. Just be sure not to scrub cast iron cookware with Brillo pads.
4. Corningware & Glass
Corningware is another great option for baking, although it’s not well suited to other cooking operations. This one is also great for refrigerator storage. It’s relatively cheaper too and is known for not being toxic.
Glass cookware works great for stovetop cooking without introducing toxins into your food. However, you are, of course, more likely to break it. Plus, it’s more expensive.
5. Stainless Steel
This is another popular choice in safe cookware as it’s readily available and one of the most inexpensive options.
Stainless steel products always mention the chromium and nickel levels in stainless steel alloy. Look for the number 18, followed by a forward slash (/) and another number, e.g., 18/0, 18/10 or 18/8.
The 18 represents chromium, while the second number represents nickel levels. Keep in mind that the lower the nickel level, the better.
Some manufacturers of stainless steel cookware are now selling nickel-free cookware.
However, be warned that there are a few concerns regarding chromium and nickel leaching. This is especially likely if you are cooking at high temperatures, cooking for a long time, or are using acidic ingredients such as tomato.
Cookware is something most people use on a daily basis; it’s important to make the right choice when purchasing them.
The bottom line for deciding which cookware to use rests on research, and ultimately, a combination of the safest materials. In general, it’s best to avoid traditional non-stick. Also, avoid cooking at very high temperatures whenever you can.
Of course, some cookware takes some getting used to, but with time, you’ll learn how to cook with different types of cookware if you just keep at it. So, I hope this article helped you, and I wish you good luck with finding the right cookware for yourself.
Is ceramic cookware safer than stainless steel?
Yes, it is less reactive than stainless steel! Ceramic pans are significantly less likely to scratch and flake, which can release metal particles that can then be ingested by humans. They are also more stable up to high temperatures and don’t react negatively with acidic foods like vinegar or lemon. Ultimately ceramics offer a cleaner cooking experience in both the flavor of food you end up producing as well as the safe cooking practices that it promotes.
Is Teflon still dangerous?
No. Teflon is no longer dangerous because of the PFOA content. The newest generation of products does not contain this chemical and instead use a new non-stick coating that was approved by the FDA for its safety.
Is stainless steel 304 toxic?
No, stainless steel does not contain any dangerous toxins such as lead or cadmium that could contaminate food. The surface of a stainless steel pan is non-reactive which means it will not react with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or citrus fruits to create carcinogenic compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Are Cheap pans safe?
Some people believe that buying cheap cookware is a good idea, but this can come with some risks. Cheap pans may not be made from stainless steel and could contain lead or cadmium which are toxic compounds. They might also have coatings on the surface to make them non-stick such as PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) which emits fumes when heated creating possible health hazards such as flu-like symptoms in humans and respiratory irritation in pets. The safest way for you to ensure your safety while cooking at home is by using stainless steel pots and pans!
If you are looking for safest cookware under $100 please check this post.
Can I use any cookware on electric stove?
No, it is generally not advised to use any kind of pots and pans on electric stoves. The heat from the stove will cause the sides and bottom of the pan to get too hot. So it is extremely dangerous if you accidentally touch them. For cooking purposes, we highly recommend using induction cookware or conventional pots and pans that have silicone handles.