Things are changing quickly and today we’re seeing a growing demand for non-stick cookware as a replacement to the tradition iron cast skillets. I can’t even think of any home that doesn’t have a non-stick pan. I mean, they make the best pancakes, omelettes, sautés…, but have you ever stopped to think of how harmful some of the coatings used on these sets can be?
We have certain brands that are using harmful chemicals when manufacturing their products, and examples of these are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) artificial chemicals. Now don’t panic because today we have a solution for you, considering that the only safer way out is knowing what to avoid the next time you’ll be looking for a non-stick cookware set to make your life easier in the kitchen. In this article, we will look at what these two chemicals are and the safer non-stick coatings that you can trust.
What Are These Chemicals?
This is asynthetic compound commonly used in the manufacturing of stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, and today some also use it on non-stick cookware. In as much as their chemical compounds are different, PFOA is also used to manufacture its sister compound, PTFE. The effects this chemical has on one’s health is alarming considering that once it gets into contact with the body, it does stay there for quite some time. Exposure to this chemical leaves you susceptible to diseases such as liver damage, increased cholesterol levels, thyroid, colitis and many more.
This is a silicone-based plastic compound which has fluorine and carbon. In each PTFE molecule you’ll find four fluorine and two carbon atoms, a combination that is sometimes used to make cookware surfaces non-stick. It’s well-known for its unmatched strength and durability, and that’s why it’s also commonly used on automobiles and electronics. Compared to PFOA, PTFE is considered to be fairly safer, but still, there are certain health concerns and so you should avoid non-stick pans with this compound as well.
PFOA Free and PTFE Free Cookware
Having highlighted the dangers that come with these two chemicals, here are some of the best alternatives that you can give a try:
- PFOA-Free Cookware Alternatives
Generally, one is less exposed when the non-stick pan they’re using is made of PFOA and can only became a hazard over time. It’s in the cooking process that the layer will burn off, making the fumes harmful as you breathe them in. That’s why most brands like Teflon no longer use it and in case you’re in Canada or US, it’s unlikely that you’ll come across a PFOA cookware.
What happens now is that it’s used in the manufacturing process of PTFE which is later used on non-stick cookware, but in the end you’ll have minimal traces left because it’s not used as the main component. At the same time you can avoid getting exposed to such fumes by cooking with other alternatives like stainless steel pans or cast iron skillets.
- PTFE-Free Cookware Alternatives
PTFE still remains to be one of the leading compositions of non-stick layers used in cookware, but that doesn’t mean that there are no effective alternatives that you can give a try. One of these options is ceramic cookware considering that it’s also readily available at different stores near you. We also have big names like Teflon now diversifying their range of cookware which now includes a portfolio of ceramic cookware.
If you’ve dealt with non-stick cookware before, ceramic shouldn’t be a problem because they call for similar maintenance habits. When cooking or cleaning, avoid using objects that will scratch on the surface which could minimize on the durability. Such pans can also be scratched when you stack them up together during storage, therefore ensure that they’re carefully stored separately.
Features of a Good Non-Stick Cookware
Now the presence of either of the two harmful chemicals doesn’t mean that we don’t have good quality non-stick pans on the shelves. Quality here is defined in terms of the layers used in the coating, how thick the layers are and also quality of the coating used. Depending on what your budget is, you can get yourself a fairly affordable non-stick pan with up to three layers, but to get the best, you might want to consider high-end brands which usually feature 6 or 7 layers.
Another way to approach this is by looking at how the non-stick layers have been installed. Manufacturers usually do this by either spraying or just rolling these layers on the cookware surfaces. Pans with sprayed layers tend to stick around longer than when the coating is rolled. So if you’re looking for something durable, go for those products that are sprayed and the best way to identify them is with the smooth and even finish they have.
Still on durability, there has always been a question of whether PFOA Free and PTFE free pans are durable. This is very simple, what dictates the durability of any cookware has nothing to do with the non-stick layer used, but the thickness of the pan itself. That’s why you’ll find that a tradition cast iron oven could last more than some non-stick brands that we have today.
When you have a non-stick layer over a low quality material, the cookware won’t last because it’s the thick material underneath which will protect the coating from heat. For example, it’s proven that aluminium options with PFOA free finishing can still last longer than say a stainless steel cookware with one.
Something to mention about these chemicals is that they’re mostly released into the human system when you use a non-stick cookware on heat over 500 degrees. This means that you can still be safer when making light meals that only require low or medium heat. So if you need to fix something that calls for overheating the pan, you have other options like those made of cast iron which will come in handy. What this also means is that if you’re reading this and your non-stick pans are not PTFE or PFOA free, you can still use it safely and another way to do so is to avoid scratching the non-stick coatings.
However, if you want a new cookware set, consider some of the alternatives aforementioned. One thing that cuts across any cookware is maintenance, so whether you’ve decided to stick to your non-stick collection or have opted for PFOA Free and PTFE Free cookware remember to equally invest in the right cooking and cleaning essentials.