What kind of cookware do you use on a daily basis? I use a cast iron skillet for sauteing, but what do you use in place of non-stick stock pots, sauce pans, and for just quick warming something up on the stove?
Carefully evaluating the best options for your cookware choices is very important, as they will be in daily use in most homes. The chemical Teflon in non-stick surfaced cookware is being considered to be a potential health hazard when overheated. It is designed only to withstand low to medium heat, but more often than not, the pan will get overheated and you will be exposed to the fumes from the Teflon.
According to Safe Mama: The EWG links the chemicals used in nonstick coatings to cancer, stroke and high cholesterol. It’s a lot of information but a basic breakdown of the chemicals can be found on the EWG website.
What are the alternatives? Look for cookware that is void of this family of chemicals known as PFC’s (Also called PFOA, PFOS, C8, PTFE, and Teflon).
I am delighted to share with you all my most recent find!
Hard Anodized Aluminum
Cuisnart offers a full line of hard anodized eco-friendly cookware, which are an exclusive PTFE- and PFOA-free nonstick surface that’s ceramic- rather than petroleum-based. The electro-chemical anodizing process locks in the cookware’s base metal, aluminum, so that it can’t get into food. This particular 10 inch griddle pictured was my Christmas present. It has been used daily since I received it on Christmas because it is so completely functional and multi-purpose. It works splendidly for pancakes, frying hamburgers, toasting buns, crepes, omelets and for general frying. The pan side height surprised me at first for how short it was, but it is perfect for allowing the spatula or spoon to carefully flip items with great success. No more fuss with stickiness on my stainless steel frying pans! Clean up is amazingly easy. Green Pan Cookware is another non-stick hard anodized option, which is becoming available at some Target stores.
Cast iron is another safe alternative if you have the time and energy to put into fully seasoning them to prepare a non-stick surface. It is durable, heats evenly, and supplies valuable iron to your body. They are definitely the most reasonably priced pans available. For more tips on seasoning and cleaning, check out the comments on this post. is the most commonly available brand.
Le Creuset 9-Piece Cookware Set is recommended as the safest option.
For all other uses, I have a simple stainless steel cookware set that has served me very well after I learned to clean them properly. You have to have a good green scratchy to keep them stain free! It is important to note that stainless steel has no non-stick properties so it is best for general cooking.
UPDATE (March 2010) There have been some recent concerns about stainless steel according to Weston A Price Foundation:
“COOKWARE: Glass, cast iron, carbon steel, titanium and lead-free crock pots (slow cookers) and enamels are best. Obtain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) data from the manufacturers for evaluation if possible, especially in the case of enamels and slow cookers.1 The FDA alleges that the risks from lead in slow cookers are acceptable, but consumers may want to find products that have been proven lead free and not just meeting “FDA standards.” Hamilton-Beach claims its crockpot is lead free. Aluminum and teflon are well known for their health dangers. Less known is the fact that stainless steel exposes people to accumulations of carcinogenic nickel, and often cobalt and chromium, as well. Although some high-grade stainless steels are supposed to be risk free, they may be so only in water at near-neutral pH. None of the 300 and 400 series stainless steels evaluated are stable in tomato acids and salt.2Series 316 corrosion-resistant stainless steel is the best (used in Saladmaster brand cookware). It is resistant to tomato juice and vinegar, but corrodes with exposure to citric acid and salt (so add salt after cooking). Sadly, Corning glassware is no longer in production, but eBay is a good source. There are many high-end enamel cookware products, including Le Creuset” Read the full article about metal poisoning here.
As mentioned in the above quote, enameled cookware is recommended as a safe alternative. Check out the Chantal 7 Piece Enamel-on-Steel Cookware Set for the preferred safe option. Crafted with naturally stick-resistant, non-porous enamel surfaces around a carbon steel core, Chantal enameled cookware features a long stainless handle with a patented air pocket that will stay cool during stovetop cooking. An alternative to non-stick surfaces, non-porous enamel surfaces prevent any transfer of metals into foods so as not to affect flavors. The enamel-on-steel construction enables the pan to withstand temperatures from the freezer to the broiler, allowing for storing leftovers or make-ahead meals in the refrigerator or freezer. The core of carbon steel, on the bottom and all the way up the sides, is designed to heat faster and more evenly than common cookware. No polishing or seasoning is required. Suited for magnetic induction cooking, Chantal Enamel-On-Steel cookware works well on gas or electric burners, too. Metal utensils are safe to use with the cookware, and it is safe to clean in the dishwasher.
Safe Cookware -Which Type is Safest for Cooking? – also provides helpful information on ceramic and copper options.
Pristine Planet - a good source for comparison shopping for safe eco-friendly cookware.