Your Guide to Healthy (And Not So Healthy) Cookware

This article may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra monetary value to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This helps to cover our costs and keep this locate going. Thanks ! I ’ meter pretty argus-eyed about what I put in and on my torso, from local produce to certified organic products. My reason is pretty simple : I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want pesticides or other toxins in my food, and I don ’ triiodothyronine want to contribute to toxins in my environment .
If you ’ re reading this, I imagine you feel the lapp way .
In our journey to keep our diets healthy and free from toxins, it’s equally important to consider the pots and pans we use to cook our food. In this article, we ’ ll cover the types of cooking utensil to avoid, and the healthier alternatives to choose in their stead.

Beyond base hit, goodly cooking utensil besides needs to heat evenly, last a long time, and not break the bank. so, we ’ ll collision on those characteristics american samoa well .

This article covers:

Unhealthy Cookware to Avoid

Safe Cookware… Under Certain Conditions

Healthy Cookware Options

Unhealthy Cookware to Avoid

The three types of cooking utensil that most experts recommend avoiding are copper, aluminum, and Teflon (non-stick coating) .
Growing up, we had a full set of aluminum pots and pans plus a few humble bull pieces for sauces and sautés. The aluminum was lightweight and slowly to use daily. The bull was beautiful, but we had to polish it to keep it looking that way ( with toxins, I ’ megabyte certain ). I truly wish we knew then, what we know nowadays !

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum Pot
Aluminum is a known neurotoxin that easily leaches into our food when pots and pans are scratched by metal spoons and spatulas. The metallic ions are besides released when heated aluminum comes into contact with the lactic acid in milk, or with acidic foods, such as tomato paste, spices, and citrus. ( I squeeze lemon into everything, so that catch my attention. )
While our bodies tend to process aluminum fairly well, many of us take in more than we release, frequently from cooking with aluminum foil and aluminum cooking utensil. Aluminum can accumulate in our brain, bones, and liver ( source ). It can besides compromise the blood-brain barrier, making it easier for contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and chemicals to leak into the fluid that circulates through our brain .

What about anodized aluminum?

Anodized aluminum is a safer option than regular aluminum… for a while. When aluminum is ‘ anodize ‘, it is placed in an acidic solution and exposed to an electric current. The procedure is called electrolysis and it forms a protective layer that makes the aluminum more durable and immune to scratches. Still, the anodization breaks down over time, keeping it in the “don’t buy” category .

Copper Cookware

Copper Pot
Copper pots sure are pretty. They are besides highly conductive, meaning they heat evenly across the surface. This makes them a favorite among chefs. But like aluminum, heated copper can easily leach particles when scratched or when the metal comes into contact with acidic foods .
While our bodies do require a small amount of bull, most of us get enough from our daily diet. besides much copper can besides accumulate in our liver and interfere with our body ’ s ability to detoxify. promote levels of copper can lead to issues with our skittish system, adrenal functions, generative organs, and connection tissues .
It ’ s worth noting that copper cooking utensil is normally coated, making it less likely to leach into our food… when it ’ randomness new. unfortunately, the coat can begin to scratch off after a few good scrubs .

Teflon (non-stick coating)

Teflon non-stick pan
teflon. What a nightmare. It doesn ’ t take much for the non-stick coating to chip into our food. And leaving a non-stick batch or pan on a very hot stove besides farseeing can produce toxic vapors that have been known to kill pet birds. ( Yep, Google it. )
The bad guys hera are PTFE and PFOA. Teflon was developed by DuPont in the 1930s and is the trademarked name for a confection of perfluorochemicals – with PTFE being the main component .

Safe Cookware… Under Certain Conditions

There are a few cooking utensil options that are broadly considered safe…. but there are a few things you should know, before you buy .

Eco non-stick cookware (Is it safer?)

Eco Non-Stick pan
Non-stick pots and pans that are complimentary from PFOA, PFAS, run, and cadmium are marketed as a non-toxic alternative to traditional Teflon. And the alternatives typically are safer .
silent, it ’ s a well mind to see what the company is using in place of Teflon and to check the reviews to see how long users say the coating lasts before it begins to scratch off. It ’ randomness besides good to note what makes up the congress of racial equality of the cooking utensil. In early words, if you scratch through the surface, will you end up cooking on copper or aluminum ? Or is the core made from one of the safe options, such as stainless steel steel or cast iron ? To ensure the healthiest cook coat, choose the latter .
Most non-stick alternatives to Teflon are ceramic coatings. It ’ sulfur helpful to note that a ceramic coating is different than pure ceramic cookware. here ’ s the difference…

Pure ceramic cookware vs. ceramic-coated cookware

Ceramic coat is typically applied over an aluminum, cast cast-iron, or stainless steel core. By contrast, ceramic cooking utensil is ceramic through and through, so it ’ south wholly metal-free. Because there is no coating to scratch off, pure ceramic cooking utensil ( discussed in a moment ) is broadly a better option than a ceramic coat .
While cheaper ceramic coatings may scratch reasonably well, a high-quality ceramic coat will be much tougher. Granted, it can even bit if you drop it or bang it against something. But it ’ ll be reasonably difficult to scratch through to its base from regular use .
There are a set of reputable brands that claim their ceramic coating is scratch-resistant. Again, I tend to find the best proof in their customer reviews. Folks decidedly aren ’ metric ton shy about sharing photos of how their cooking utensil has scratched after a few uses. They ’ ll besides boast about how it ’ randomness lasted constantly under coarse conditions .

To help the coating to last longer:

  • Use wood utensils in place of metal to avoid scratching.
  • Wash by hand instead of in the dishwasher.
  • In place of metal scrubbers, remove any stuck on foods by soaking the pot or pan in water before washing and/or by scrubbing it with a non-abrasive helper such as baking soda or Bon Ami (whose main ingredient is baking soda).

Silicone bakeware

Silicone Bakeware
While silicone is touted as safe by many, it can, and usually does, contain unwanted additives that can leach into our food .
According to Dr. Stuart Yaniger, author of a 2011 Environmental Health Perspectives study, “ …although silicones can be formulated to be free of leachable endocrine gland disruptors, most aren’t, including most aesculapian grades. ” ( source )
Yaniger goes on to say that unless the manufacturer has specifically formulated the product to be free from EA (estrogenic activity) and has had it tested by an independent third party to prove it, you can assume it leaches .
For me, it ’ randomness barely common sense and a bit of ‘ gut ’. The excessively bright colors of most silicone bakeware don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate “ feel ” safe to me and the estimate of heating food in a neon cartilaginous material kind of freaks me out. I stay away from bum silicone products and entirely use those that have been tested to be free from EA ( estrogenic bodily process ). This independent test is muy importante !
In place of silicone, I bake cakes and cookies in ceramic and I roast veggies in either ceramic or a thick glass pan that I’ve had for ages.
By the way, I ’ ve seen it said that you can test whether silicone has plastic fillers or other contaminants by twisting it. If the silicone turns blank where it ’ randomness been twisted, then it has fillers that may leach into your food. If it retains its coloring material, it does not have fillers. Please be aware this test may not be entirely dependable, so take that advice with a ingrain of salt .

Silicon vs. Silica vs. Silicone

Silicon is metallic element # 14 on the periodic table. Your spatula is not made from silicon ; your calculator chips are. ( Hence the name “ Silicon Valley ”. )
Silica is a natural mineral formed when silicon is exposed to oxygen. The most common crystalline form of silica is quartz glass and it ’ s besides the main component of sandpaper, granite, and mud. In its gunpowder shape, natural silica is used to manufacture ceramic cooking utensil and coatings .
Silicone is a man-made substance ( a polymer ) of silica, carbon, and oxygen. It can be manufactured as a liquid, gel, or a rubbery solid. We see this solid, rubbery kind used for bakeware, spatula, and pamper bottle nipples .

Healthy Cookware Options

Safer cooking utensil options include ceramic, cast iron, carbon paper steel, stainless sword, looking glass, and titanium. Each has its own particular benefits and downsides. Let ’ s review .

Ceramic Cookware / Earthenware

Ceramic Pot
Ceramic cookware and bakeware are beautiful. They are excellent at conducting heat and can withstand extremely high temperatures. They can be used on the stove top, inside the oven, and in the microwave. You can even put them in the freezer once they’ve cooled. Ceramic-ware is costly but is a top choice for those passionate about cooking. It also happens to be my favorite option and is even healthier than the other options when it’s been properly crafted. The reason is this…
Pure ( classic ) ceramic cooking utensil is made from a desegregate of clay and earth minerals. once shape, it is glazed and baked in a kiln. Toxic cadmium- and lead-containing glazes were normally used in the past to add a bright orange, red, or yellow, and to give the ceramic a smooth, glazed polish. If the ceramics are not baked long adequate and/or at temperatures that are not high adequate, the contribute can leach into the food .
Most ceramic brands in the United States no longer use cadmium or lead glazes. However, do beware of antique, handmade, and imported pottery that may be labeled for cooking .
When shopping for ceramic cooking utensil, check the pronounce or web site to ensure it has been tested and does not contain metals or chemical coatings. Properly crafted or manufactured ceramics do not leach toxins into your food, their glazing will not chip off, and they are easy to clean .
Also read : interview with Rich Bergstrom, Founder of Xtrema Ceramic Cookware

Cast Iron Skillets

Season a Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron pans have been around for centuries. They are inexpensive, made without toxic chemicals and, when well-seasoned, is naturally non-stick.
Unlike non-sticks made with Teflon, cast iron pans safely withstand highly high temperatures. While it can take longer for the vomit iron to heat up, it holds the heat extremely well and easily moves from stovetop to oven .
Although project iron holds heat well, it does not heat evenly. A pan on the stove top will get hottest where it is directly in touch with the fire, while staying much cool in the areas that are not in lead contact .
Cast iron can also leach trace amounts of iron, specially when cooking tomatoes and other acidic foods. I ’ ve seen countless health blogs say this leach is a good thing, because iron is a critical component nutrient in which we are normally deficient. But while our body does readily break down and absorb iron from plants and animals, it does not readily assimilate iron in this metallic state.

besides, if you suffer from a condition called hemochromatosis, your body already absorbs besides much iron. In that character, you decidedly don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to cook with draw iron .

Cooking acidic foods in cast iron

many cook websites besides say not to cook acidic foods in cast iron, as they can react with the iron and the foods can take on a metallic smack. They say that :

  1. The metallic taste is not harmful; it just isn’t pleasant.
  2. This is more of an issue with newer pans vs. well-seasoned cast iron.
  3. It’s only an issue for long cooking times. Sautéing tomatoes or squirting lemon on your veggies is not a big deal, but simmering a tomato sauce or chili gives more time for the acids to react with the iron.

Knowing that our bodies do not assimilate the iron from pots and pans, I ’ thousand leery to believe the metallic taste is not harmful. Whether you ’ re concerned with the taste or the leach, it ’ s a commodity mind not to cook acidic foods in hurl iron. similarly, keep off using alloy cook utensils and harsh scrubbers with hurl iron to prevent releasing the metallic particles .
besides, constantly keep your cast cast-iron pans well-seasoned to prevent rust and to maintain a ( by and large ) non-stick coat .

Carbon Steel Pans

Carbon Steel Pan
For the most function, cooking with carbon steel is pretty much the lapp as cooking with cast cast-iron, because they have a very similar makeup. Carbon steel is 98-99 % iron and 1 to 2 % carbon paper, while cast iron is 97-98 % cast-iron and 2 to 3 % carbon paper. ( Yep, carbon sword has a touch more cast-iron than cast iron does. )
Like cast cast-iron, carbon steel cookware is manufactured without toxic chemicals, is relatively inexpensive, and can last generations. You will need to season carbon paper steel, as you would cast iron, in orderliness to protect it and make it ( largely ) non-stick .
Both of these cooking utensil options are safe under extremely high heats and can be used both on the stove top and in the oven. ( Both are besides bang-up for campfires, by the way. ) last, both need to be hand washed ( no dishwashers ) and both come with the same admonition about cooking with high acidic foods, such as tomatoes .

Carbon steel vs. cast iron

The main differences are :

  • Carbon steel is not quite as heavy as cast iron (though I wouldn’t exactly call it “lightweight”).
  • Carbon steel heats faster and doesn’t keep the heat as long as cast iron (but you’ll barely notice the difference).
  • The sides of a cast iron skillet tend to be vertical (better for searing, frying, and baking), while carbon steel tends to be angled (better for sautés).

ultimately, the differences between the two are not enough to merit owning a entire set of each. Pick one or mix and match. Either direction, they ’ re both goodly options, so long as you are careful to not scratch them or use them to cook acidic foods .

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless Steel pot
Stainless steel is a blend of metals ( an alloy ) normally containing iron, carbon, chromium, manganese, silicon, nickel, titanium, and/or molybdenum. The reaction of these elements with oxygen, particularly the chromium and nickel, forms a close film that helps to prevent rust and corrosion .
The alloy makes stainless steel pots and pans durable, easy to clean, beautiful, and non-toxic… for about everyone. Those with a severe allergy or sensitivity to nickel should know this…

Nickel sensitivity

broadly speaking, the natural coating formed by stainless steel is quite stable and dependable. however, pots and pans can become damaged from overheating, scratching them with metal utensils, or abrasive scrubs. When the coating is compromised, it is possible to leach nickel into your food .
You ’ ll much see pots and pans described as “ 18/8 stainless steel ” or “ 18/0 stainless steel ”, for example. The numbers indicate the share of chromium and nickel, respectively. so 18/8 has 18 % chromium and 8 % nickel, while 18/0 is nickel-free ( about nickel-free, there may be some trace amount ) .
so if you are medium to nickel, you ’ ll want to choose nickel-free or opt for cast iron, carbon steel, or pure ceramic cooking utensil rather .
Good to know: Nickel is what makes pots and pans shiny. The higher the nickel subject, the shinier the cooking utensil. Stainless sword utensils and bowls tend to have more of a felt stopping point, rather than shiny, because they contain no nickel… or merely a trace come of nickel ( soap 0.75 % ) .

Stainless steel over a copper or aluminum core

On its own, stainless steel sword is not the best conductor of hotness. For this rationality, manufacturers will frequently use aluminum or copper as the base, or sandwiched in the middle, to significantly improve the pan ’ s ability to conduct and retain hotness. several layers of stainless steel are layered on top and ( much ) the buttocks of the cooking utensil. This is considered dependable, because the aluminum or copper will improve the performance of the cooking utensil without ever touching your food .

Glass Cookware

Glass Pot
Glass cookware and bakeware is considered safe, as there are no toxins to leach into your food. The glass is much blended with a little come of ceramic ( besides safe ) to improve its operation. One pro is that glass is cheap, making it easy to replace if you break it. It ’ sulfur besides easy to monitor the food and see when it ’ s done, as it is ( obviously ) transparent .
Like ceramic, cast iron, and carbon steel, most glass cookware can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. Glass bakeware is often beautiful equally well, so it can double as the serving dish. As an total bonus, you can use it to store leftovers in the electric refrigerator or deep-freeze and reheat them in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in the oven – all in the lapp glass piece .
Glass is besides completely non-reactive with foods. So unlike carbon steel or cast iron, you can cook tomato sauce or whatever acidic foods you want without worrying about the taste .

The downsides of glass cookware

One big downside to glass cooking utensil is that it can chip or break easily, so you have to be careful. If you put a hot looking glass baking dish on a wet countertop or cold stove exceed, it can crack. Put it in the electric refrigerator or deep-freeze before it has cooled sufficiently, it can crack. Put it directly from the electric refrigerator into the microwave without bringing it to room temperature first, it can crack. It doesn ’ t take much .
Like ceramic cooking utensil, glass cookware is not non-stick. I use both glass and ceramic baking pans to roast veggies. Whichever I use, I always lay a while of parchment wallpaper on the bottomland and toss the veggies in a bite of olive or coconut anoint. If I don ’ thymine, everything sticks to the buttocks and it takes work to clean .
It does help to soak the pan in water after the pan has fully cooled. If soaking in water international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate adequate ( and this goes for both glass and ceramic ), I ’ ll either spray a little white vinegar on the pan and/or scrub it with some baking sodium carbonate .

Titanium Cookware

Titanium Pot
titanium is a “ bio-compatible ” metallic element, meaning it doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate react with human weave. For this cause, it is wide used in surgical instruments and for orthopedic procedures .
Pure titanium cookware is lightweight, incredibly strong, and affordable. It is also not known to leach into foods. here ’ randomness why .
Titanium naturally reacts with oxygen in the air and water. In doing so, it naturally forms a strong harbor of completely dependable titanium dioxide ( TiO2 ) on the airfoil. So if you do manage to scratch the cookware (with metal utensils, for example), the exposed titanium will simply react with oxygen to re-form TiO2, essentially resealing itself. Pretty cool, right ?
sol while titanium is not wholly scratch repellent, the scratches won ’ metric ton degrade the performance of the cooking utensil and won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate cause metallic element particles to leach into your food .
With sol many upsides, titanium sounds like the best cooking utensil solution overall. And if you ’ re an outdoor fancier, it surely is. Hikers and campers love it because it ’ s so lightweight that it ’ mho easy to carry in a backpack and so durable that you can throw it on the campfire without worry .
unfortunately, pure titanium is not a capital conductor of heating system, so it takes a while for it to heat up and creates hot spots where the pan meets the fire, often burning food in those areas. So despite the naturally non-toxic nature of pure titanium, you probably wouldn’t use it for everyday cooking. It is, however, highly recommended to have on hand for outdoor excursions .

Making up for titanium’s shortfall

Manufacturers do love titanium and well solve for its downsides in holy order to use it in their not-purely-titanium cooking utensil. here are two ways they do it. Both are considered safe options .

Solution #1

The manufacturers layer the titanium over an aluminum core. This drastically improves the cookware’s ability to distribute and retain heat. This is considered safe, as it would be pretty unmanageable ( if not impossible ) to scratch through the titanium and expose the aluminum .

Solution #2

They will besides coat the cooking utensil in a ceramic-titanium blend. While titanium is pretty food-sticky on its own, the ceramic-titanium coating makes it non-stick. I ’ ve seen reviews that indicate this type of coating doesn ’ t stopping point constantly. The exception seems to be when the coating applied using a “ sol mousse ” process, which is reported as more durable, long lasting, and non-toxic .

In Summary

Avoid these unhealthy cookware options:

  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Teflon and non-stick coatings

Choose these wisely:

  • Eco non-stick cookware
  • Silicone bakeware

Opt for these safer, non-toxic cookware alternatives:

  • Pure ceramic pots and pans are my absolute first choice for healthy cookware
  • Cast iron skillets, so long as you take care not to scratch it or use it to cook acidic foods
  • Carbon steel pans, using the same precautions as cast iron
  • Stainless steel cookware, though be careful not to burn or scratch it. (I’m currently replacing my stainless steel with ceramic, one piece at a time.)
  • Glass cookware is great for roasting veggies, so long as the pan is thick and durable
  • Titanium cookware is convenient for camping, but it’s not a great choice for the kitchen

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