Is Teflon and Non-Stick Cookware Dangerous

by updated 2012/12/15

Between 1999 and 2003 there were a lot of news reports about studies showing that the chemicals known as PFO’s, PFOA’s and PFC’s were being released from cookware and getting into people’s bodies. Many groups came out with warnings suggesting that non-stick cookware be replaced by regular stainless steel or cast iron pots and pans. I have known about this warning for quite some time, but I am not surprised that cookware coated with the chemical commonly known as Teflon is still the vast majority of cookware in use today. The chemical coatings are inexpensive so non-stick cookware is less costly than stainless steel. The non-stick properties of Teflon make cooking some types of food so much easier that it is unlikely that most people will ever go back to using traditional pots and pans.

One of the reasons Teflon is still in wide use in cookware is that has been difficult to determine what the real source of these chemicals in the people’s bodies is. In addition to non-stick cookware, the chemicals are found in many consumer products including shampoo, food grade paper products, carpets, lubricants, rug cleaners, garden tools, and even zippers. PFOA is released as water and air pollution during the manufacturing of carpets, clothing, and paper. These chemicals have been found in tested air, water, and food in every U.S. city where testing has been done. In addition, studies have found the chemicals are in 90 -95% of the blood of people living in the U.S.

DuPont, the main manufacturer and user of these chemicals claims that its non stick coatings are safe. Of course the company has a huge financial investment and interest in the continued use of Teflon. It is also true, however, that some experts have called for caution in sounding an alarm about the use of these chemicals in non-stick cookware. Because of the many different sources of PFO’s in the environment, these scientists say it is impossible to know exactly how the chemical gets into the blood of virtually every person in the developed world.

In addition, some studies have shown that if Teflon coated cookware is not used at high temperatures, very little of the chemical is actually released into your food. The problem I see with these studies is that they only measure the toxic fumes given off when the cookware is heated to temperatures over 500 degrees. This sounds like a high temperature, but I think the direct contact with your gas or electric burner can easily achieve these temperatures. Many frying pans also get scratched with use and particles of the chemicals get into your food.

Another reason some experts urge caution in condemning the use of non-stick cookware is that in order to use the alternatives, you must use a much higher amount of oil or butter. These fats are known to be unhealthy for you, especially when heated to high temperatures. So, short of steaming or boiling all of your food, what should you do?

In my case, I simply stopped using non-stick pans a couple of years ago and my advice would be, especially for frying, and sauteing…. Do not use Teflon pots and pans, do not use non-stick cookware of any type. I don’t fry much food, and when I do, I use a stainless steel pan, and lower temperatures. I am less worried about the little bit of extra butter or oil I use than I am about having the chemicals from non-stick pans accumulating in my body. However, even in our household, we still have a few non-stick pans because not everyone in the family is willing to give up on their convenience. I suggest that you look at your cooking habits and see if you can at least reduce the use of this cookware. Certainly any pots or pans that are used for steaming, boiling, and sauteing, can be stainless steel. When you do fry something, you can use lower temperatures and get by with a good quality stainless steel or cast iron frying pan.

Related Posts:

Non-Stick Cookware Safety

Safe Non-Stick Cookware

Plastic Makes You Fat

Will Sig
1 Betty

I didn’t know that teflon is one of unrecommended cook stuff. It is still being used at my home…I have to tell my mother about this.

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2 Will

The problem with getting most people to stop using Teflon pans is that it really is so much easier to cook on and clean than regular pans. I think that is the reason this post has almost no comments. This is another example of just getting the information out for people to make up their own minds on using the pans or not.

Like most things, different people will make different decisions. I do my best to never use Teflon pans anymore. But other members of my family do. In the end, people choose different ways to try to live healthier. The point is not that everyone should do any one thing, but that we should all try to do what we feel works for us. Some people will try to do every single thing they can to eliminate perceived health risks from their lives. Other people will do nothing, believing that life is a crap shoot no matter what you do. Most of us aim somewhere in the middle and hope for the best.

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3 bertie

“we should all do what works for us”
i think that statement underlines the problem – we trust in the system – the system has been hijacked by powerful companies for the good of the shareholders, not us.
if we are right about Teflon then everyone is in danger, if we are wrong than we are not – easy as that, there is no other rational choice.
Do you have a relative or a friend who has died of lets say cancer – is it normal, that is would it happen without these chemicals in our lives?
if it isnt normal then you are right to be worried and do something about it – if you trust the system will take care of you and protect you, and such deaths have nothing to do with household appliances and the chemicals in our systems then just let this drift by and carry on as normal.
What is the difficulty?

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4 Will

Hi Bertie – I looked at your website and am shocked that seaweed harvesting is so big that it is damaging the marine ecosystem. We humans really seem to do it all when it comes to overusing our natural resources.

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5 bertie

Thanks for your interest Will. Its a little strange – the entire norwegian coast where seaweed grows – is subject to trawling – in fact i even have a clip from the norwegian news media nrk – saying that unless the seaweed trawlers are allowed acess into the bird reserves the industry might collapse. They now trawl in over 90 bird reserves.
Because the big organisations rely on Scientists none of the bigger organisations supposedly caring for the sea even know about it – i wonder what else is hidden behind the cloak of “science.”

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6 Medical Oddities

I always get skeptical when using teflon and non-stick surfaces to cook. It just bothers me, so I use regular metal pans and pots all of the time.

Medical Odditiess last blog post..Liberty Medical Supplies

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7 Paula from Only Cookware

I’d love to see a really good study on this. Unfortunately too much money is involved so it’s not likely to happen. I still use non-stick but then I still eat eggs and fish and everything else that they said was bad for us.

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8 Matt M

Eggs and fish are great for us (well, not the crap eggs you get at the grocery store, they’ve lost almost all their nutrition by the time you get them and are very stale, although most folks have never had a fresh egg so wouldn’t have a clue what a stale vs fresh egg is like).

Non-stick cookware is not fine. If there’s the possibility that over-heating it adds crap chemicals to the body (and more importantly, the kid’s bodies) then scratching and eating chunks of it aren’t exactly going to be healthy.

Most of us that are long past puberty grew up in an age here much of this was still new or didn’t exist while our kids have been exposed their entire lives. Still, though, we say “But I’m fine”, even though our body was long developed while mom was still cooking on real cookware using real ingredients.

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9 Will

Hi Matt – There have been studies that show something like 98% of Americans of any age have surprising levels of chemicals contained in these sorts of plastic coatings in their blood.

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10 Leah

on the subject of toxic cookware, does anyone know if White plastic electic kettles are toxic as well?

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11 matthew

thought you might be interested in hearing from an actual scientist.

yes plastic kettles are bad as are all plastics which are heated or exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

the trouble chemicals are called pthalates (also known as plasticizers).
as for teflon… 600 degrees is not easily reached by the conventional cook top while cooking. you would have to leave an empty pan on a high heat for a fair few minutes to get to this temperature.

to give you an idea, aluminium melts at 659 degrees celcius (a common frying pan material) and 500-600 degrees is the temperature that the non stick surfaces become dangerous.

we encounter many carcinogenic chemicals throughout our lives. and to be honest you are much better off healthwise using non-stick with less butters and oils while cooking. I’d personally recommend circulon, due to its increased durability.

I cant comment on bits of the non stick surface itself being ingested, I have not seen any studies on acid digests of the material, though intuition tells me that i wouldnt want to eat too much of the stuff once it scratches off.
hope this helps,
Matt

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12 Bertie

“I cant comment on bits of the non stick surface itself being ingested, I have not seen any studies on acid digests of the material, though intuition tells me that i wouldnt want to eat too much of the stuff once it scratches off.”
A little point here Matt, first of all ptfe is supposed to be non stick, so by its very definition, getting it to stick to any surface let alone aluminium is impossible. Therefore the passage of any material over its surface must carry with it particles of ptfe.
So if you are using ptfe coated cookware, you are eating it too.
Ptfe is now in dental floss, – every time you use this it also leaves particles of ptfe in your mouth.
http://www.synpart.com/ptfe-dental-floss.html
if you are interested in seeing how much is in use, just type ptfe dental floss into google.
I think most of us are “eating” ptfe on a regular basis in one way or another.

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13 matthew

yup your right, with any polymer, small chains are bound to break off. it is not due to its inability to bond to other materials though. its its own inability to cross-link to itself between polymer chains.

the pfte polymer is remarkably stable, though it is not impossible to get it to stick to another surface.
any pfte ingested would come from pfte breaking of its-self at a molecular level, not breaking of the aluminium pan if that makes sense (hence my comment about it scraping off).

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14 Matt M

“we encounter many carcinogenic chemicals throughout our lives. and to be honest you are much better off healthwise using non-stick with less butters and oils while cooking. I’d personally recommend circulon, due to its increased durability.”

What about low heat cooking with olive oil and other oils that are made up of mono’s (lumping all fat together and avoiding it is almost as bad as eating it all since we need and use fats in our bodies to break down and help digest other things like vitamins, not to mention isn’t our brain built out of fat or something like that)?

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15 Will

Yes that is correct. Not all fats are bad for you. In fact some people with lots of knowledge on the subject recommend regular eating of healthy fats. I am not all that knowledgeable in that area but I can refer you to Linda Prout’s website. She is very big on making healthy fats a regular part of your diet.

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16 Will

Hi Leah – Good question. Can you post the brand and model of kettle you have? I would love to research that. My first opinion is that any plastic that is heated and then comes in contact with food is not a good thing, but I would like to specifically look at the item you are asking about. I am working on a series of posts that discuss cooking food in “safe”, (not) plastic containers.

Thanks! – Will

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17 Janet

I recently (belatedly) read the May/June 2007 Mother Jones article about Teflon. I found your site by searching for “How to tell if carpet was treated with Teflon”.

I am being offered some very slightly used carpet which I need badly. I think I can assume that this carpet was treated w/ Teflon. So my question is how safe is it? Is there a 1/2 life for the Teflon. I assume it breaks down and gets vacuumed and tracked away.

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18 test

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytetrafluoroethylene

As of August 2008, the EPA’s position was that it “has no information that routine use of household or other products using fluoropolymers, such as non-stick cookware or all weather clothing, poses a concern.”[19]

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19 Luc J

I read this article with interest. I’ve been asking myself that question in the past. Still, I don’t want to go back to the good old frying pans, teflon is simply too easy.

I suppose that one important thing is that you use kitchen utensils that don’t scratch your pan, this way little of the product is mixed with your food. That’s how I proceed anyhow, and I tell myself that it’s OK then.

Another issue I wonder about is the type of furnace. We’re using induction at home, also incredibly practical. But I wonder, if people worry about the 2 watt fields from a cell phone, what about the 2000 watt magnetic field coming from an induction plate?
.-= Luc J´s last blog ..NoHands Mouse – Avoid RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome =-.

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20 Will

@test – That EPA statement is political speak gobbilty goop. The bureaucrats and govt. agencies always seem to be the last ones to acknowledge dangers.

@Luc – I know nothing about the furnace. But even with the big wattage, it is a long ways from your brain. A cell phone could not get any closer to your brain without surgery!

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21 Horace

What brand of tinfoil do you prefer when you make your hats?

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22 Lyka from Air Ambulance Services

Everyone’s talking about the danger of this and that. Once read about the risk you’ll get using plastic cups etc, the risk you get using plastic wares in heating food. Whew! Still using teflon, no matter what.

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23 Sara

Totally agree with the article. I stopped using non stick pans a few years ago. I found non stick (even the very good makes) would start smelling when heated, especially the frying pan. I think it is even more important to avoid with children in the house since chemicals getting into children have consequences that we probably won’t know until years later. Also switched to stainless steel and wooden kitchen accessories in general and pyrex bowls and containers instead of plastic. It is no more difficult to cook and store food. I doubt people will change their habits though, unless there is 100% proof of the dangers (which I doubt would ever be published even if there was) or unless someone like Jamie Oliver made a programme like he did about the standards of meat.

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24 Will

Lyka – The evidence has become even stronger since I wrote this. Teflon and other hormone mimicking chemicals are being shown to have adverse effects never before thought of and at such low levels as to be astounding.

Very smart Sara. I tell people that after the more obvious few things like not smoking, the 2 biggest things you can do for your health are:

1. Stop drinking soda

2. Stop cooking anything in or on plastic.

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25 Marco Girgenti from Starving to be Fat

I agree about stopping soda drinking. I already have two friends who suffered from acute UTI from making soda their daily liquid intake. They work in Saudi, water is gold, so that’s why…

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26 matt

it seems that even if you use the cook ware as directed it depends on the stove settings and kind of stove your cooking on , but even the temprature on electric stoves when used correctly dont always agree with the cook ware and seems to distroy the cook ware after a few months of use . why is this ? and why do wemen want to defend something that can be very harmful to there family ? like osbestist at one time that was a great product too until law suits and cancer came along. people wake up use what has worked for hundreds of years are you willing to risk your families health over a couple more minutes of cleaning a pan.

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27 Lisa

Hi,

Is there any information on the harms of these chemicals? If they’re already in our bloodstream andin our drining water, is Teflon really gonna make much of a difference? And what harms do these chemicals cause?
I love my teflon pots & pans — so I would like to know more about this before giving them up!

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28 Will

Hi Lisa – Thanks for your question. You can read this article for some more information: http://willtaft.com/health/non-stick-cookware-safety/

Your question makes me think others would wonder the same thing. I think I will write a post specifically on the issue of “if we are already exposed, will it make a difference now?”

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29 Kathy

Hi Will,
My husband & I have gotten to the point where most of what we use is our old trusty cast iron and stainless cookware. However, we have travelled south this winter, and the condo we are in only has some beat up non-stick fry pans. So, we’ve been on the lookout for other alternatives. Today, my husband came home with some new and inexpensive pans for us to use – and they were all stickered “Made without PFOA” and the name on them was one I did not recognize (“Xylan, Whitford’s Famous Nonstick”). It doesn’t appear to be a very high quality – kind of thin. But, since it said made without the PFOAs, we thought we’d take a chance.

We’re a bit between a rock & a hard place – we traveled in one car, so there was only so much we could fit in the car to bring down for the 4 months.

Have you had any experience with these types of pans and their claims to be non-PFOA? Thanks for the good work on the site! It’s really informative.

Cheers,
Kathy

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30 Will

Hi Kathy – No I don’t know about those pans, but I would be careful. I am not sure but they might be a resin/plastic formula, although one seems to be a ceramic coating of some type. Not sure which one you have. More info is here.

I actually found some pans several weeks ago that are working great so far. I will be posting about them this week.

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31 Gelina

I too was not entirely aware of the risks, or reported risks. I have heard whispers. I would like to ask; does the CEO of Teflon eat from his/her own products?

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32 Kathy

That’s a good question, Gelina! LOL!

Anyway, I did check out the link that Will posted above about the non-PFOA cookware that I had mentioned. I could not tell from the website exactly which pans we bought. BUT… It turns out that they lasted all of about … hmmm… one meal before they got scratched up! Hard to believe.

Plus, the way they cooked was really weird. I was trying to sautee some chicken in olive oil, and I couldn’t get the oil to spread well. Then, I attempted some eggs in them, and they still stuck. There was something about the way they cooked that turned us off.

So, we’re still looking for a good alternative that isn’t harmful.

Will, did you ever post somewhere about the pans you were trying out? We’d like to hear about your results.

Cheers,
Kath

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33 Will

Hi Kathy – Yes here is the post where I wrote about the pans we bought. We still love them and use them every day so I highly recommend them. A bit expensive but they seem like they will last forever. We found them on Woot for 89.00 for the 4 piece, (3 pans and a lid), set which was a steal. The Amazon link in the post is a bit more, but still a good price.

If you look at my comment, (the 4th comment down that mentions my concern about the Aussies possibly cooking babies), there is also a link to the manufacturer site for some information.

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34 sohbet

I agree about stopping soda drinking. I already have two friends who suffered from acute UTI from making soda their daily liquid intake. They work in Saudi, water is gold, so that’s why…
.-= sohbet´s last blog ..Ahmedinejad yeni yýl hedefini açýkladý =-.

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35 Kathy

Thanks Will!
Checking it out now…
:)

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36 Valentino

Its simple as 2+2.
Just imagine how many billions of dollars some rich guys will lose in case millions of people will stop buying cooking oil.
Of course, they don’t need teflon innovation to spread among community. And we all know that the best way to provoke people not to do anything, its to let them think that their valuable health in danger. :-)

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37 Connie Immordino

Will,
Check out Moneta’s Ceramica cookware. I just love it. I cook constantly with it and leave it out as it looks so beautiful all the time. Best of all it is non teflon.
It is made in Italy, but I found a website that has it here, http://www.gocookware.com.

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38 Will

Hi Connie – Those look good also, but are even more expensive that the ones I have.

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39 Tangil Smith

Hello Will,

I was unaware of the teflon stories until I joined Princess House. I love your article and your website; you speak on a variety of health awareness and I love it. Keep up the good work!
.-= Tangil Smith´s last blog ..SAVE IN THE FIRST 9 DAYS OF APRIL =-.

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40 Karina

Hello I have a different question , I own a parrot I’ve had him for over 10 years about 5 years ago I received a set of teflon cookware I cannot say that my parrot hs been losing his feathers since I received these pots, but what are the chances that this is what is causing him to be bald all the time? I have had him at the vet and he wasnt able to fix this issue I am about to invest in to some stainless steel cookware just to see if it will work. Is there anyway that the teflon is poisoning my bird from the fumes?

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41 Will

Hi Karina – From what I have read the effect of Teflon on birds is more respiratory in nature rather than feather loss. But there is a lot of information online about birds and Teflon. In any case, changing your pans to Stainless or ceramic is a great idea for anything living or eating in your home. Thanks for your comment!

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42 rexusdiablos

Wow, that’s fairly alarming. Thanks for educating me on this matter.

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43 cjc

I am having trouble understanding why no one here is aware of the original “green pan” being sold on HSN? It’s not real expensive and looks better than the stuff you have, IMO..light interior color allows you to see your food better, too, and it comes in a stainless steel exterior option if hard anodized is not desired. Also, the stuff on Amazon states the non-stick will wear off, which doesnt make me want to invest in it…And the Moneta cookware is beautiful, which doesnt hurt…It is a bit pricey, though.

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44 Will

Hi cjc – I don’t watch the Home Shopping Network so don’t know of those pans. The ones I bought are ceramic, (no non-stick coating to wear off). We use them everyday and so far not a scratch. They still look like they did when purchased months ago. I did look on the HSN forum to see what is being said about the Green Pan and found this: http://forums.hsn.com/hsn_postst13404_Todd-English-Green-Pan.aspx

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45 cjc

I own the Green pans and have since their inception a couple years ago. They have great ratings on the website but I guess those unlucky enought to get the duds go to the forum to complain. I think the problem is they were not honest enough to tell you the non-stick will possibly diminish with time like the manufactures of yours stated. They are the original ceramic coated non-stick pans, however, that the others are patterned after. The stainless is pretty nice, all thing considered, combining looks and functionality…I am wondering if there are any I can use safely on my GE profile white top stove that wont either scratch or stain it. I am also looking for the safest health wise…I thought stainless was it, but apparently there is some question about the nickel in it being unsafe, so i dont know…I guess the other option from what I am reading is ceramic coated steel, not the non-stick variety, but I am not sure it is safe for my cooktop..what to do, what to do… I already have to give up my cast iron skillet because of the way it absorbs heat i understand it can damage a ceramic cooktop big time… Any ideas?

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46 Connie Immordino

I decided last year I would never use teflon again and found a great product put out by a company in Italy called Moneta. They put cookware out with a ceramica lining that is amazing and wonderful to cook with and clean.

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47 cjc

Connie,
Where is the best place to get it at the best price?

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48 Connie Immordino

I got it here in the US on a website, http://www.gocookware.com

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49 Will

Hi cjc – Connie’s link seems to be for another brand, but they might be good also. I got the SafePan set on this Woot deal. Other than that, the best price I have seen is at the Amazon Link posted in this article.

Here is that link directly:

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50 Will

And cjc – I am not sure about those cooktops. I know my parents have one and need to be careful of the kind of pans they use on high heat so they don’t damage the cooktop. We have a gas burner stove which I love to cook on!

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51 cjc

Yeah, I wish I had read up on it before buying..I would have opted for gas myself. Thanks!

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52 Connie Immordino

That is not the same as Ceramic…If anyone is really into cooking these are really the best. The heat is even at a low heat and everything cooks just perfect. They are worth the extra money.

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53 Will

Hi Connie – I guess with the limited technological information on the site there is no way to know. The gocookware people call the coating “Ceramica”. Also the testimonials refer to it as a “ceramic coating”. So I am assuming they are ceramic coated pans similar to the SafePan. Maybe a bit higher quality so that might justify the much higher cost. The bottom line is that using stainless, or any of the ceramic coated pans referred to here is a better choice. People really need to get away from the plastic coated pans and avoid exposure to the chemicals Mr Samsel references in this post.

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54 Ann

Could you tell me if some of the coating got off into your food, is this dangerous to your health.? I was canning and some got into the salsa, just wondering if it is safe to eat. Thank you in advance for your comment.

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55 Will

Hi Ann – I get this form of question quite often. I am not the best one to answer definitively as I have no specific scientific or medical expertise. Having said that, I limit my own exposure. I do that not because I believe I will become ill if I eat a few specks of Teflon, (in fact I am sure I have eaten a few in years past). I just think that with all that we are exposed to these days, limiting exposure to the chemicals in plastics and other places may be the best plan. If we control what we can, then our overall exposure is lessened and I think that is a good thing. Hope that helps. I would probably eat the salsa, but that is just me. I can’t decide for you. I would definitely get some non-plastic coated pans though so this is not even an issue for you in the future.

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56 George Cooper

I’ve worked with PTFE (teflon) for many years in a manufacturing enviornment. Whenever our machinists had to work with teflon they were required to remove any cigarettes or cigarette making equipment out of the workshop. If only a microgram of PTFE found its way into a pipe or cigarette then when it was burnt and the smoke inhaled it would cause the instant death of the smoker and anyone who happened to inhale the smoke!

Make of that what you will, but, we never repeat never allowed ourselves to remain in any room where PTFE may have been burnt for any reason.

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57 Will

Really, instant death? When you think about using the material for cooking on open flames, that is very scary. I wonder is something happens chemically when PTFE actually burns, rather than just gets very hot?

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58 Anna2004

Hi Will,

Just read your article about the non-stick fry pan.
Have you ever heard about diamond coating cookware?
Is it similar to teflon or better? (Means safier)

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59 Robin

I have read quite a bit on the diamond coating cookware. Don’t use it if your trying to get away from Teflon. It uses Teflon in the coating. Read a long report on how misleading the company is about the diamond coating cookware. Not good!

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60 Will

Thanks for that Robin. Seems to confirm the review I linked to. I am still very happy with our Safe Pans.

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61 Will

Hi Anna – This reviewer’s opinion is not great, but I don’t know the specifics of the process myself.

http://www.naturalnews.com/021059.html

According to him, these use PTFE which is the same as Teflon.

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62 Jason Smith

OMG !!! What’s wrong with our society that we continue to accept these known toxins in the products of our lives. Throw it all out and buy iron or ceramic if you care about yourself and your family. Stop being a cheapskate and pony up for new cookware.

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63 Will

Hi Jason – The thing is that if people have information and knowledge at least they can decide for themselves. I don’t like that much of the information we should have in making our choices, is withheld. I just heard an interview with the developer of genetically modified salmon and he feels that labels should not be required on his fish because if the fish was labeled as a GMO, sales will be terrible. I, on the other hand, think a label should be required so people know what they are buying. It has nothing to do with safety, his fish may be perfectly safe to eat, but it has everything to do with disclosure.

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64 Mary Ann

Will, thanks for this statement! I agree 100% and have been saying the same about GMO fish! I want to know if something in the stores has been messed with genetically and I believe consumers have a right to know. Of course sales wouldn’t be good….no one wants to buy those products! What happened to real, natural foods? Why does everything that is sold have to be enhanced somehow….same with adding coloring to farm raised salmon?

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65 John

If anyone has any doubt about how dangerous this is then check out the Dupont Teflon website. This confirms the dangers especially for birds, apparently over the years thousands of pet birds have died from fumes releases by this substance.
http://www2.dupont.com/Teflon/en_US/products/safety/key_questions.html

John

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66 Peggy

Can you give me the names of some makers of NON teflon waffle makers?

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67 Connie Immordino

I had written a while ago and you should all look at the Moneta Ceramica line of cookware. There are no chemicals in the product and it is so easy to clean. We have been using them from three years and I have thrown out all my other cookware except some pyrex that I have kept.
My husband and I actually went to the factory in Italy to see how they were manufactured. Truly amazing. We decided to bring the line into the US as they are sold no where in this country, but are the largest seller of cookware in Europe. They are always way ahead of us when it come to product design and chemical awareness.

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68 Kathy

The biggest concern for me is not that teflon coatings will harm me when I’m cooking, but that the water supply is poisoned in communities where non-stick coatings are manufactured (See link below) . I can’t justify using a Teflon pan when I know it’s making whole communities sick.
I’ve switched to EarthChef ceramic non-stick. It works great and it’s durable so I’m not tossing scratched-up pans in the landfill every year. There’s lots of great alternatives to Teflon.
http://www.health-report.co.uk/teflon_poisoning_denied.htm

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69 Will

Hi Kathy! You could not be more correct. Take a look at the link below. It is more of the same, but it is so important for people to know about this. Yes there are concerns for your own health, but the communities around these manufacturing sites have really paid the price. Thanks for your comment and the link!

http://willtaft.com/environment/toxic-ignorance/

.

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70 Karen

People like me who have parrots/birds know that anything with teflon is DEADLY to our birds. The toxic fumes given off when heated to a certain level or a pan left on the stove has killed many of our precious birds in a few seconds. Imagine what it is doing to us? NO non-stick stuff in my house.

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71 Will

Karen – In Teflon toxicosis, bird’s lungs hemorrhage and fill with blood and they suffocate. In humans, these fumes can cause polymer fume fever, symptoms of which mimic the flu. Nice stuff.

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72 Bertie

The fumes from burning ptfe (teflon) can and will induce pulmonary edema if in sufficient quantities (Heart attack)
2 of the gases given off by ptfe when it is overheated are in section 2 of the war chemicals register.
Ptfe is now used in fireworks.
One of the gases perfleuroisobutene is known for its toxicity to birds. If the coating on a frying pan is enough to kill household pets, then what happens when several kilos are burnt at the same time over towns and villages in fireworks.

Finally this link may be of interest
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI-E0r1Wm68

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73 Will

Thanks for that Bertie. Interesting video, thanks for letting me know it is you in the video! I corrected the links you submitted so the comment should be good now.

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74 Bertie

- from my reading of material related to chemical substances on the net it appears that governments do not run research projects on chemical products to ascertain if they are dangerous or unhealthy.
You get sick from a product, you then have to prove that it was that product yourself.
Yes i know of an instance of someone inhaling accidentaly ptfe which had been overheated, they had a heart attack in 3 minutes – but youre not going to get enough from a frying pan – sure it may(or may not) give you cancer over a very long period, but how are you going to prove it?
The best thing individuals can do is to be aware and steer clear. It may take a long time, but it will and is spreading.

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75 DR.

A little of subject here but, I think and from what I read the world is over populating and manufacturers know they cant make teflon free cookware for a price most people can afford. we are running out of precious metals,oil,water and natural gas.Our resources cant keep up with our society and the way we live.Thats why I noticed as I get older it seems products are getting watered down to be able to manufacture more products with a smaller amount of materials and cheaper more dangerous chemicals to keep up with the population. like others said here before teflon is cheap.We are suffering the consequences of having 7 billion people on this earth.if it wasnt for fossil fuels most of us wouldnt be here. And people would live a life with few chemicals in their bodies.

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76 gene

I’d love to see a really real study on this. One day coffee good for you then it is not they say a glass one day will keep you healthy then it is not. It’s hard to rely on the experts when one says one thing and the other says another

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77 Will

I feel your pain, Gene! Even for me, and I really try to read as much as I can, it can be hard to know what is actually good and what is bad for you.

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78 Kerri

I read a really interesting section in a book the other day regarding this same issue, hence why I started researching it more (and came across your blog). Check out “What Your Pediatrician Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Your Child; A More Natural Approach to Parenting”" by Susan Markel, MD with Linda F. Palmer. On page 90 it talks about a study with Teflon-coated pans and the effects on birds in the home. “Pet birds have died in kitchens where nonstick cookware was being used. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that pans with nonstick coating can turn toxic in 2 to 5 minutes when heated on a typical household stove, producing toxins that even DuPont acknowledges kill hundreds of birds each year. Once the bird inhales the toxic fumes, death is almost instantaneous. DuPont and other companies have agreed, in response to government pressure, to eliminate use of PFOA by 2015. You might want to eliminate it from your home sooner” (90).

Very interesting! :P

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79 Bertie

just like to point out that pfoa is a chemical used in the manufacture of teflon. This chemical has been linked to cancer and has possibly mutagenic properties.
du pont and other companies manufacturing ptfe non stick pans have decreed that they will change this chemical for another which seems to have similar properties.
here is a report on pfoa
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/28/AR2005062801458.html
This is another report you may find interesting reading.
http://www.apfn.org/apfn/teflon.htm

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80 Tyler

This makes perfect sense! I mean it is 2011 and some people still don’t know that we should not be cooking our food in plastic coated pans? Never microwave in plastic either. The plastic chemicals leach right into your food and then into your body when you eat that food. Especially do not feed food heated in plastic to children!

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81 Jan

Hi Will
I have a passion for nutrition and all things healthy so love your site. We gave up using teflon pans a few years ago. It is pretty easy to cook in a normal stainless steel frying pan, keep the heat on medium, give a good spray with a good quality spray of cold pressed olive oil, start frying and then carefully splash some water around the pan so that the veges start to steam – you can’t do the meat this way but if you quickly brown the meat and take it out, then cook veges, add noodles, sauces etc and then add the meat back to finish cooking. You only need enough water to cause a bit of steam, otherwise you end up boiling the veges.

I also cook steak with a medium heat and good spray of oil or a bit of olive oil and it still tastes great. If you have good quality stainless steel pans (thanks Mum!) put some water and a bit of detergent in to soak them while you are eating and they clean up just fine.

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82 Haaritha

Any info/harms in cooking in aluminium wares

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83 Anthony Vincent Samsel

I am a retired Hazardous Chemical Materials Consultant formerly with Arthur
D. Little, Inc.,Cambridge, MA. writing to all persons using non-stick
cookware, persons involved in the manufacture of PTFE & Flouropropylene
copolymers and products made from Flouropoymers such as Wire & cable,
Non-stick cookware, appliances etc.

It has been known for many decades that the products of thermal
decomposition from Flouropolymers are very dangerous to human health.
Unfortunately manufacturers of these products have been very diligent to
hide and conceal the truth of that danger from the public.

In 2003 the publication known as “The Analyst”, a trade magazine, published
a paper written by David A. Ellis et al, at the Department of Chemistry,
University of Toronto in Canada. In that paper the authors identified some
of the products of thermal decomposition from the plastic polymer PTFE aka
Teflon and other trade names. The list of compounds is shown below.

The authors did not consider gases such as carbonyl fluoride, hydrogen
fluoride, & perfluoroisobutylene which are also released. Only the novel
decomposition products were considered
and these were found released starting at at 250 degrees centigrade.

It should be noted that inhaled Carbonyl Flouride Gas breaks down
immediately when it comes in contact with the moist surfaces of the nose,
throat and lungs. The decompostion product is Hydroflouric Acid.

Hydrofluoric acid causes permanent scaring of tissue. In the lungs it causes
Bronchiolitis obliterans a condition often misdiagnosed and classified as
Asthma (mild scaring) and COPD (severe scaring). The results are cumulative
with exposure and worsening symptoms are irreversible.

Here is a section of the paper quoted below:
” The use of F NMR and mass spectrometry for the elucidation of novel
fluorinated acids and atmospheric fluoroacid precursors evolved in the
thermolysis of fluoropolymers
authors: David A. Ellis et al
department of chemistry university of Toronto ”

Thermal decomposition of PTFE begins at 250 degrees centigrade or 482
Degrees farenheit.
The following are some of the decomposition compounds cited in the scientific paper:
” Table 1 Chemical names, formula and acronyms of structures shown in Fig. 1
Structure Name Compound formula Acronym (PF-PerFluoro)

(I) Trifluoroacetic acid C2HF3O2 TFA
Pentafluoropropionic acid C3HF5O2 PFPrA
Heptafluorobutyric acid C4HF7O2 PFBA
Nonafluoropentanoic acid C5HF9O2 PFPeA
Undecafluorohexanoic acid C6HF11O2 PFHxA
Tridecafluoroheptanoic acid C7HF13O2 PFHpA
Pentadecafluorooctanoic acid C8HF15O2 PFOA
Heptadecafluorononanoic acid C9HF17O2 PFNA
Nonadecafluorodecanoic acid C10HF19O2 PFDA
Heneicosafluoroundecanoic acid C11HF21O2 PFUnA
Tricosafluorododecanoic acid C12HF23O2 PFDoA
Pentacosafluorotridecanoic acid C13HF25O2 PFTrA
Heptacosafluorotetradecanoic acid C14HF27O2 PFTeA

(II) These compounds are largely unreported in the literature. For
simplicity we have elected to name them as the ether of the
corresponding perfluoroacid.

(III) Dichlorofluoroacetic acid C2HFCl2O2 DCFA
(IV) Chlorodifluoroacetic acid C2HF2ClO2 CDFA
(V) Difluoroacetic acid C2H2F2O2 DFA
(VI) Monofluoroacetic acid C2H3FO2 MFA
(VII) Hexafluoropropene C3F6 HFP
(VIII) Chloropentafluoropropene C3F5Cl CPFP
Fig. 2 19F NMR showing the production of TFA. Fluoroformaldehyde,
tetrafluoroethene, and HFP are also shown. Many of the other signal
identities have yet to be established.
As published in the Analyst, 2003″

Toxic thermal decompostion products are cumulative at all exposure levels
and should be avoided. They can be found in the blood and all major body
organs . They have a particular affinity for brain tissue and may be asignificant cause of dimentia including Alzheimer’s disease. Do not believe the
manufacturers they have lied for decades and are protected by certain
Washington lobbyists……

The use of PTFE & flouropropylene copolymers in heated appliances and cook
ware should be banned. The known health effects and multiple associated diseases are well documented in the scientific literature. Now is the time for action, for you and your family.

Best regards,
Anthony Vincent Samsel

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84 Anthony Vincent Samsel

A word of CAUTION to all !

Not all Ceramic cookware is safe ! The so called ” Green Friendly Non-stick ceramic cookware” MAY NOT SAFE ! Look at the US Patent and you will understand.

Currently the vast majority of ceramic cookware being manufactured are not just ceramic coated for a hard abrasion resistant surface, but rather they are a combination of nano ceramic particles mixed with a fluoropolymer. ALL Fluoropolymers release toxic chemicals when heated beginning at 250 degrees C or 482 Degrees F. Their toxic effects are cumulative at all levels of exposure and resultant damage to your lungs is NOT reversible.

Non-stick finish composition
Document Type and Number:
United States Patent 7772311

“Products having non-stick finishes of the present invention include cookware, bakeware, rice cookers and inserts there for, water pots, iron sole plates, conveyors, chutes, roll surfaces, cutting blades, etc.”

“The principal components of the composition of the present invention are the fluoropolymer as non-stick component and ceramic particles as the abrasion resistant component.” They are coated with a liquid suspension of ceramic particles & Fluoropolymer and then high temperature heat treated to cure or harden the finish.

Anthony Vincent Samsel retired, Hazardous Chemical Materials Consultant, Arthur D. Little, Inc., Cambridge, MA

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85 Anthony Vincent Samsel

A final note on new green ceramic non-stick cookware. Ceramic Epoxy Fluorosiloxane coming out of Hong Kong is not any safer. The surface is a harder finish, but the material still thermally degrades releasing deadly fluorochemicals and as with all siloxanes, like baking silicone mats they release Formaldehyde. I don’t use any of this stuff I value my families health. Here is an excerpt from the New patent explaining what it’s made of:

“A non-stick coating composition comprising; a colored base layer for bonding to a substrate and a transparent top layer superimposed on and bonded to the base layer; the base layer composed of 70 to 85% by weight of a first matrix comprising the condensation reaction product of a silica sol and methyltrihydroxysilane and from 15 to 30% by wt of a colorant, with about 5 to about 20% by wt of the first matrix being substituted by hydroxy-terminated polydimethylsiloxane having a molecular weight of from about 400 to 6000; said base layer having a distinct lower portion composed principally of the first matrix and colorant, and a distinct upper portion composed principally of said hydroxy-terminated polydimethylsiloxane and said first matrix and colorant, and the top layer composed of a second matrix comprising the condensation reaction product of a silica sol and methyltrihydroxysilane with from about 5 to about 20% by wt of the second matrix being substituted by hydroxy-terminated polydimethylsiloxane having a molecular weight of from about 400 to 6000, and with from about 0.3 to about 12% by wt of the second matrix being substituted by fluoroalkoxysilane.”

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86 bertie

i guess that is about as conclusive as you can get.
And this stuff is also on clothes,carpets,dental floss,lines heart replacement items, is used in dentistry, printing inks, water pipes and more. I have been assured that ingestion is harmless and that those who report ilness are mistaken as there is not enough on any cookware to cause problems if overheated.
Those reports of death that ive read all occured because there were ‘large amounts’ of ptfe involved, the reports of dire ilness from smokers in a factory using ptfe materials were due to very large amounts in the air landing on their cigarettes, presumably it got outside whilst they were having a quick one or coated the cigarettes in their pockets.
Perhaps the question to ask is not who is right, but who has the most to loose.
Another is “how much is it going to cost you to avoid ptfe if at all possible?”

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87 joy deb

Thanks you all for adding values..I started use of clay pots and pans.What i actually do ..i ordered required pan & pots to make in high temp than the normal pots are being made(clay pots).High heat make the clay blackish and light in weight….I must welcome good suggestion or scientific reviews.

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88 Nessa

there are so many scientific facts about the harmfulness of cookwares such as non-stick, glass, cast iron and aluminum. people who ignore these facts are the ones who are lying to themselves and don’t care about their health. the only safe cookware that’s not only safe as far as chemicals and actually keeps all the vitamins and minerals of your food intact after it’s cooked are cookware’s made of 316Ti surgical stainless steel with titanium. this is the same metal that the medical industry found safe to use in contact with the human body. these cookwares are usually sold through in-home presentations and are kind of pricey. the only company that sells them at a very reasonable price and also has a life time warranty is Nutriply. check out their website for more information. http://www.nutriply.com it has certainly change me and my families life for the better.

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89 Paula

Will,
Other than the plastic baby bottles, I hadn’t heard about any of this. Since my son isn’t a baby anymore then I didn’t give it much thought. I have been loyal to my T-Fal for years. I have even been known to reuse plastic Cool Whip bowls for refrigerator storage. It’s definitely past time for change in my home. This has got me thinking about the bristles in our toothbrushes, the plastic scouring pads and plastic scrub brushes a lot of use for scrubbing our dishes, all my plastic juice pitchers. Everything is made of plastic these days right down to all the condiments containers. For me it’s not a matter of turning loose of the money to buy new (everything), it’s a matter of finding the means to basically start all over in the kitchen. Money is tight around my house especially since the economy went south. What are we to do?

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90 Paula

What about the ice maker and tray in my freezer, my cats food and water containers? Isn’t the inside of Microwaves teflon (plastic coated)?

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91 Will

Paula – The main thing is so not cook or microwave in plastic. Hot food contacting plastic is what I would watch most. Also reusing cheap plastic bothers me just from a common sense level. I don’t drink out of plastic bottles if I can help it. I never cook on plastic coated pots and pans. I never drink soda. Life is something that needs to be looked at overall. I do, or don’t do, some of these things and some people think I am extreme. But I am not perfect and because I am making a really great effort in some areas, I don’t beat myself up if I am less than perfect in others. Find what positive changes are easiest for you to make and stick to them 100% of the time. Then know you have made an improvement and don’t worry too much when you have to do something that you think is not the best approach.

As just one example of a change that can be made in your kitchen. Over time try to use glass canning jars to store and freeze food, eventually eliminating most of the plastic you use now. Buy a non-plastic pan or two and use those as much as possible. Make changes gradually and it will be easier on your mind and your wallet.

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92 HC

My nonstick pans actually make me physically ill. Especially when cooking quesadillas and grilled cheese. I can smell the fumes coming off of the pans and I get a huge stomachache.

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93 Ben

First thought: “I’m never using teflon products again!”
Second and rational thought: “But then again, what doesn’t give you cancer now-a-days?”
my laziness prevails, teflon wins!

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94 Kathy T

I wanted to shout out a huge THANK YOU to Anthony Vincent Samsel, who added so much to this discussion in July. Sorry I’m so late on commenting about that… But that was really helpful stuff! And Will, please keep up this great dialogue. You offer so much value to our lives here.
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95 Will

Thanks Kathy – I just wrote an update yesterday that is getting some good comments. Anthony added some great technical notes to that post also.

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96 James Alexander

This is alarming the build up of toxic substance from non stick surfaces should definately be avoided but I disagree than using extra fats and butter is necessarily a better option from a health perspective. Far better to use a good quality heavy based pan which you should never wash, just wipe clean with paper, which will over time build up a non stick surface naturally.

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97 Angel Collins

I have no idea that using Teflon pans can be harmful to your help. As a matter of fact, we are still using teflon pans at home. This is a very usefull article. Thanks for posting!

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98 Stella

I don’t use non-stick, plastic, microwaves, and try to use most, if not all natural products. Unfortunate that most people are ignorant, but when I was growing up in an environment with limited technology and all natural farm food and products in Europe, early 80s, cancers were unheard of… Maybe limited to those working in factories, inhaling fumes all day long. Times have changed, and cancer is most talked about, which I believe is the direct result of chemicals, and radioactive waves over a prolonged period of time. Evidence is there but large companies keep the info limited to the public.

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99 Mary

I’m definitely big on storing (and especially heating) things in glass. We do have one non-stick pan and a non-stick griddle, both from All-Clad. Their website claims that “All-Clad’s nonstick surfaces do not have harmful PFOA gases.” They are anodized aluminum. I’d like to know more about the basis of their claim, if anyone knows how their process differs.
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100 Anthony Samsel

Answer to Mary’s question:

The industry is very deceptive when it comes to non-stick cookware. The non-stick surface may say that it does not not contain PFOA or PerfluoroOctonoic Acid but the non-stick material used is just another Fluoropolymer. All Fluoropolymers are dangerous when heated and release toxic materials.

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101 Mary

Hmm, that isn’t too reassuring. I will have to contact All-Clad and see what they say (and report back if I find anything out). I also have a Sanyo rice cooker that has a non-stick surface that is a titanium coating. I believe that is safe, I would certainly hate to find out anything to the contrary, because I love that thing.
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102 Munchygut

I never use Teflon but it’s not because of the potential health problems of the material. I don’t use stainless steel either, everything sticks to it and it’s easier to burn foods with it. Properly seasoned and cared for cast iron cookware is non stick and provides a consistent cooking experience. They also last forever. Some of mine are third generation dating back to the 40s.

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103 astra

Hi everyone. I don’t mean to come off as the old fuddy-duddy here, but i have to wonder if part of the attraction of teflon and other similar really is a bit of laziness. I, for example, grew up in an eastern european household, and my grandma owned ONLY cast iron. Cast iron EVERYTHING, pots, pans, griddles, teapot. I too, over three years ago now, got rid of EVERYTHING i owned, and a month and an item at a time, replaced it ALL with cast iron versions, everything made by Lodge. I can tell you all here right now, putting my hand on my heart, i do NOT have a non stick problem, and i, too, eat omlettes, and grilled cheese sandwiches, and all the things you would imagine to be your worst sticking nightmares. I use either olive oil, or olive oil nonstick spray. I can even do pancakes, and even crepes on my cast iron, and my very last wish object that i am about to acquire is a cast iron wok by Lodge, and then my happiness (and my kitchen) will be complete once again. So folks, please, for your own sake and the sake of your kids and grand-kids, get all that garbage out of your home and your life, and go cast iron…there’s a reason it’s been loved and revered for centuries! Have a great day everyone! P.S. for those of you who have heard that tomato foods can’t be made in cast iron-they can-just buy one enamel coated pot and use and save it exclusively for tomato foods. Lodge has an enamel coated collection as well. I have the regular black pots and pans and one red for tomato soups and sauces.

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