Dr. Mercola Discusses Cookware Danger

by updated 2012/06/10

Safe CookwareFor 5+ years I have been saying that all the evidence I can find points to danger in using non-stick, plastic coated cookware. Lots of people agree with me, but some commentators have called the warnings bogus or hysterical. You can read my articles spanning from several years ago to this year at that link, above. Nothing has changed my opinion on the subject. I still absolutely never use non-stick cookware. I have a few pans from the SafePan company in Australia that I love but those have been unavailable recently and their website is gone.  I did find some other [easyazon-link asin="B004AMUELO"]Ceramic Coated Cookware[/easyazon-link] that seems good.  Just ordered one pan though as the color is a bit much.  I also own several stainless steel pans that I feel are safe.

Today I saw that Dr. Joseph Mercola is getting on this subject in a big way.  Of course he is selling his own brand of ceramic cookware and that seems to be the main motivation behind his push on the dangers of Teflon.  Some people don’t think highly of Mercola because his website is really a big selling tool for all of his products.  But I don’t feel that way.  If you look closer and really read and listen to him, I think you will see that, even though he makes big money selling products, everything he sells he really tests and believes in.

Mercola always explains his reasoning behind offering the products he does and that reasoning is very much in line with my thinking.  His offerings are expensive, but they always seem to be of higher quality, and even though his cookware is too expensive for me, I expect it is of great quality.

Mainly this caught my attention because it is another example of me feeling a bit vindicated by the passage of time.  Often I find myself writing about something that is not readily known or accepted by the majority of people.  Because my “audience” (you) is small, my message does not reach the masses.  My posts get read by a fair number of people but do not seem to attract many Facebook Likes, Google Pluses, Diggs, or Stumbles. Those tools are what really get a message out so if you like or agree with a post on this site, please consider using one of those tools to spread the word.  Given this small audience it can be frustrating to re-visit an issue after a year of two and feel nothing much has changed.

Once in a while though a topic eventually gets picked up by bigger media or websites and reaches masses of people.  That is what is now happening with the non-stick cookware problem.  I suspect that plastic coated cookware is really on the decline and I am happy to feel that by continuing to write about the dangers over the years, I may have played a small part in the surge in sales of safer pots and pans.

Will Sig
1 John

Thanks Will for enlightening the issue! In my house there are a variety of steel pans with a metallic coating at the bottom. I feel that many use non stick because they can use less oil in cooking. I think that even aluminum and steel pans offer this advantage then why go for non stick. Even ceramics coated cookware is lot better!
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2 Anthony Samsel

Ceramic pans can be confusing and not all are safe. Thermalon Ceramic pans should be avoided.
A Word Of CAUTION about THERMOLON.
United States Patent 7,727,637

CERAMIC PANS using the Thermolon process involves an admixture suspension of silicone dioxide particles in a Silane, with a ceramic powder and an anion emitting material such as Neodymium, Lanthanum etc. An oxidized aluminum pan or other oxidized aluminum substrate is sprayed or dipped with the admixture and heat cured.
Methyl Trimethoxy Silane is one of many Oligomers used in the manufacturing process and gives the product it’s slip and non-stick property.

However, as with all organic polymer compounds product degradation is possible once heat is applied and critical temperatures are reached.
At 150 degrees C or 300 F decomposition begins. The higher the temperature and length of time heating determines the rate of degradation. Toxic fumes are emitted.

Formaldehyde is one of the thermal degradation products. It is an acute toxicant and cancer hazard as well as a skin and respiratory sensitizer and eye and throat irritant.

CERAMIC PANS using ceramic and polymer admixture. Another type of ceramic non-stick cookware being manufactured is not just ceramic coated for a hard abrasion resistant surface, but rather 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.

CERAMIC PANS using Zirconium Nitride. If your non-stick surface is a light golden yellow -tan color your ceramic pan is probably Zirconium Nitride which is an inert ceramic coating. However, if your non-stick pan is not ZrN I would question its safety as some ceramic non-stick pans use Titanium or other ceramic powders mixed with Fluoropolymers or Silicone for a non-stick coating.

There is a lot of FALSE ADVERTISING used marketing these pans. The manufacturer will say something like non-teflon or Teflon free or not Teflon when in fact it may still be a Fluoropolymer just not Dupont’s brand name Teflon coating or the non-stick may be a Silicone product.

Bottom line: Manufacturers should be disclosing their process. I believe that Dr. Joe Mercola should also disclose the process and materials used to manufacture his pans to avoid CONFUSION as to product safety.

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

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3 Will

Thanks Anthony – You always have a lot of great technical information to add each time I post on this topic.

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4 hedles

Here are the answers re Mercola (Xtrema) cookware:

Is the ceramic Zirconium Nitride based? NO

Does the ceramic or the glaze contain any Titanium? NO

Does the Nano-Glaze contain any Fluoropolymers to produce the non-stick surface? NO

Does the Nano-Glaze contain any Silicone to produce the non-stick surface? NO

These were from Bob Bergstrom – Sales Manager
Ceramcor, LLC- Xtrema Cookware

7 Dec 2012

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5 Catherine

When it comes to pots and pans or baking trays, yes it does make a difference. But, you don’t have to go crazy, just don’t get the super cheap stuff. TJ Maxx (or Marshall’s?) actually carries Cuisinart cookware, which is really good and much less expensive there. As for utensils and other cooking tool, the only ones I pay premium prices for are garlic presses and bottle openers.
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6 J.R.

OK Will,
I have been all over this website and read and read and read. SafePan sounds great BUT they are out at Amazon and SafePan’s website is “We are upgrading our system, store is temporarily closed. I am tired of cooking on Teflon and want to but either a 10″ -12″ stainless steel frying pan and a smaller “2 egg small frying” pan. I don’t have a problem with cleaning them if it’s safer for me and my kids. I was looking at Wolfgang Puck 12″ Stainless Steel pan. I was also curious to find out which ceramic pans that you recommend. I need to get rid of these pans, yesterday. I have seen a presentation on the pans that Zig Ziglar used to sell, and I think that they are worth every penny—–BUT they are way too proud of those pans for my current budget. Please stir me the right way. Thanks you.

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7 Will

Hi J.R. – I am going to do some research on this. I use 3 of the Safe Pans and highly recommend them. But as you say Amazon is sold out and the Safe Pan website has been down for a while. I don’t know what happened there. There is another pan sold on Amazon that looks good but they are a bright green color. Not what everyone wants. The pans Dr. Mercola is selling sound good, but they are VERY expensive. I’ll write an article when I figure out what I think is the best value in a safe ceramic pan.

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8 Binky

I find a cast iron frying pan is very good and lasts forever. I do however have a non-stick grill. I don’t think they make them any other way.

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9 Jan

I think that I am very happy with my stainless steel pots and pans. We threw out the Teflon coated one some time ago and replaced the plastic jug with a metal one. What I have been unable to find are any cake pans or biscuit tins that are not Teflon coated as my old ones are extremely daggy now and need replacing, even when I use them I have to line them. I have started to use a Pyrex lasagne dish for cooking roasts and if you make the gravy in it afterwards it is very easy to clean. I think Pyrex is hardened glass?

Thanks for keeping the discussion going Will. And Binky my grill is non stick as well and my sandwich press, now I am wondering how safe they are, maybe Anthony can shed some light as I am not sure if they are Teflon coated or not!
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10 J.R.

Will,
I appreciate you taking the time and trouble for us newbies to all of this. I have a glass cake pan that is awesome to bake in but like Dr. Mercola says on his site…they could blow-up? Wow, for right now I might just get one piece at a time possibly the 12″ frying pan which is what I use to do most of my cooking in.
They really aren’t that expensive (Dr. Mercola’s pans) compared to the high-end stainless “water-less” cookware that I thought I might buy after I win the lottery. Plus I really like all of the health benefits that come with anything that is a step above “Teflon type” coated pans. I had a girl come in one time, that I was dating, and she couldn’t believe how much cookware I had for a guy! ha-ha
Anyway, I will be waiting for your report as I have a bunch of pots and pans to replace and I’d like to do that without breaking the bank if you know what I meant.
So, thank you again for your time, trouble and expertise.

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11 Tony McGurk

We have a non-stick frying pan but I’m not sure if the coating is teflon or something else. We got rid of all our aluminum ones after hearing a report on them & now have all stainless pots. I can’t convince my wife to ditch the non-stick frying pan though. The thing I like best about stainless is that you can scrub any burnt or stuck on stuff with steel wool & it won’t damage the pot.
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12 Benson Rivera

Thanks for posting some helpful tips! It’s better to use stainless cookware rather than ceramics. When using ceramic wares, you must be sure if it is safe to use like in microwave.
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13 Fred

I agree with you that there are a lot of pots and pans out there that are coated with dangerous material. I had some sets in the past that the coating would come of into the food. Now you know that is bad, but it is true that even if it doesn’t flake off, there is leaching of the chemicals into the food when it is heated. This can never be good. I love stainless steel cookware.
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14 Lindy CO

I have been concerned about Teflon and the barely-disguised similar coatings since we got our parrots and learned that Teflon fumes will kill birds. It doesn’t take a scientist to understand toxins in the air.
And so, I got rid of all of our non-stick except the Foreman Grill.
Last year, I realized my oversight, and tossed that too, but this year, being a fan of HSN’s 30-day return policy, went looking for a roaster and bought the Wolfgang Puck Versa pan and then, when hubby burned up our crockpot (didn’t do well when the burner beneath accidentally turned on!) I ordered the Wolfgang Puck
version of a crockpot. ??? What was I thinking? I was infatuated with the timer.
So, now, what to do. Is it really dangerous?

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15 Anthony Samsel

@Lindy CO: Yes, all non-stick cookware is dangerous when heated and needs to be avoided. I have Parrots also and would never risk their health or my own with these products. Please note that the heating surface or hot plate on coffee makers are also coated with non-stick fluoropolymers and will kill birds and cause damage to you as well.

Best regards,

Anthony Samsel

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16 tamra

Has anyone looked at the ceramic scanpan made in Denmark. It does have PTFE but it says it has this Green tek that they designed , just wondered if anyone has looked into this
THANKS!

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17 Anthony Samsel

PTFE is Teflon and is not safe. Read Will Taft’s article: “Is Teflon and Non-Stick Cookware Dangerous”and my ‘comment(s) ‘ posted in the article

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18 Will

Here are a couple of the links Anthony refers too Tamra. PTFE is one of the things you want to avoid.

http://willtaft.com/do-not-use-teflon-cookware/

http://willtaft.com/non-stick-cookware-safety/

Where did you see that Scanpans contain PTFE though? I looked at their site and found this:

All SCANPAN® products are 100% free from PFOA and PFOS, from production to final product.
As a part of our on-going product development, we developed a few years ago in cooperation with our suppliers a new coating – Green Tek. This coating is from raw material to final product completely free from both PFOA and PFOS and form, in conjunction with our patented ceramic titanium technology, an exceedingly resistant non-stick surface.
Prior to Green Tek, PFOA supported the polymerization of PTFE. However, during the production process PFOA exuded, so that the final product was PFOA-free.
PFOS has never formed part of the production process of SCANPAN® products.
At SCANPAN A/S, we are proud once again to lead the way when it comes to innovation and technology.

It is a bit confusing but they appear to be claiming the pans are now free of all plastics but I am not sure. PFOA is an acid used in the production of PTFE I think. Maybe Anthony will be able to add something to this.

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19 edith

youre right will plastics are bad bad bad anywhere
there’s 100% clay -unglazed, only BURNISHED (rubbed hard with wet clay to
harden the surface) sold on the internet – muriam something its TESTED
each batch and guaranteed orange plain clay

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