PFOA free and PTFE free Cookware
PFOE free cookware – You are looking for something that is nonstick but something that is also not dangerous to your health.
For most people having some sort of nonstick cookware in the kitchen makes cooking certain dishes so much easier. Nonstick cookware is the best option for families when it comes to cooking delicate foods like omelettes and crepes
Nonstick is also super easy to clean and maintain making it a great option for those who have a busy life and don’t have so much time to spend cooking etc
While we like some of the nonstick options out there it is important to make sure you know all the facts regarding the dangers associated with using nonstick and in particular the older Teflon based cookware
What’s the worry About PFOE and PTFE?
The debate about nonstick cookware doesn’t contest its convenience or ease of use. It concerns itself with whether two compounds: PFOA and PTFE are safe, especially when used as cooking surfaces. There are a number of responses to this issue, depending on how extensively the potential harm of these substances is considered.
Some cooks are concerned primarily with potential adverse effects to their own health. Others have to consider the wellbeing of young children they cook for. And of course, there are those who want to understand the consequences of their decisions in the kitchen have on the environment as a whole.
Here, TKJ takes a look at concerns about PFOA and PTFE cookware from different angles. We also consider alternatives that will allow you to enjoy nonstick cookware even if you decide PFOA/PTFE isn’t for you.
PFOA, PTFE and the Differences between the Two
PFOA, short for perfluorooctanoic acid, is a synthetic compound that has many applications. It is known to repel water and oil and is used in the manufacturing process of some PTFE cookware.
PTFE, a distinct substance, is a synthetic polymer. It’s best known by the brand name Teflon, which is a trademark of the DuPont Company.
DuPont is a US based chemical manufacturer where, in the 1930s, an employee inadvertently produced the first batch of PTFE while working on a different project. DuPont quickly started manufacturing PTFE for industrial applications.
PTFE was famously used as a valve and pipe sealant during World War II nuclear experiments known as The Manhattan Project. It is extremely strong and tough but is also flexible, which made it a good option.
So, what’s this got to do with cookware? In the 1950s, a French chemist’s wife encouraged him to try using Teflon on her pots and pans. The couple found a way to bond DuPont’s Teflon to cooking surfaces The started the company Tefal, known as T-fal in the US.
T-fal continues to manufacture popular and affordable nonstick cookware. This has resulted in Teflon becoming a household name. Many people call all nonstick cookware Teflon, like they call all tissues Kleenex.
However, not all nonstick cookware is Teflon or PTFE. And, not all PTFE cookware relies on the use of PFOA when it’s manufactured. Understanding the difference is important.
Potential Dangers of PFOA and PTFE Cookware
Cookware coated with PTFE has been FDA approved since 1960. However, misinformation has resulted in many people being fearful that cooking with Teflon or other nonstick pans can cause cancer or illness.
One of the most commonplace misconceptions is that cooking with scratched or flaking nonstick pans is hazardous to people’s health. While pieces of nonstick coating can flake off into food, this is not the number one risk associated with nonstick pans.
Even the American Cancer Society acknowledges that Teflon/PTFE is not a carcinogen. It is the PFOA used in the manufacturing process that can be hazardous.
PFOA is known to be a toxic, cancer causing agent in animals. It is used in the production of some, but not all PTFE cookware to bond PTFE to the cooking vessel.
PFOA exposure is linked to kidney and testicular cancer, colitis, thyroid problems, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure in pregnancy.
But, cooking with nonstick frying pans is not considered to be a relevant or worrisome source of exposure to PFOA.
We have dived a little deeper into this with our article the dangers of Teflon
Why consider PFOA-Free alternatives?
There are two major reasons to consider PFOA-Free alternatives.
First off, most nonstick pans should not be used to cook at high heats. While PFOA exposure via PTFE cookware is not a major concern, almost all nonstick pans contain fluorine, a chemical that burns off when overheated.
Fluorine exposure can be dangerous to humans and pets–especially birds, who have more sensitive respiratory systems. While the possibility of significant exposure is rare, drastic overheating of nonstick cookware can result in a condition called polymer-fume fever. Symptoms include headache, fever and chills. Pet birds may even die from overexposure.
Prevention involves never heating PTFE cookware over 500 degrees. This means you’ll need to choose a different cooking vessel, like cast iron skillets or stainless steel pans for searing steaks or anything else that requires a high heat. It’s also important to remember that nonstick frying pans should not be preheated–with or without oil.
Furthermore, while cooking with PTFE might not hurt you or anyone you’re cooking for, if it’s manufactured using PFOA, it may be hurting someone else.
DuPont has faced fines from the Environmental Protection Agency as well as a class action lawsuit brought by the community of Washington, West Virginia, where one of their major chemical plants is located. Scientists found increased levels of PFOA in Washington’s drinking water and in the bodies of the people exposed to it.
A court-appointed panel of scientists is engaged in an ongoing investigation to determine whether PFOA is responsible for increased instances of certain diseases in the community.
Until a verdict is reached, avoiding PTFE cookware is the best way to ensure your cooking habits are safe for yourself, the environment and others.
Though PTFE is still the most popular type of nonstick cookware, there are alternatives.
Ceramic cookware is a great option available at a variety of price points. In response to concerns about PFOA and PTFE, T-fal, the original Teflon pan manufacturer even makes a ceramic line of cookware.
Like nonstick pans, cooks have to avoid scratching ceramic cookware and should not store them stacked together. Choosing the right utensils and cleaning tools is important when it comes to maintaining any nonstick pan: ceramic or PTFE.
TKJ picks include Rachael Ray’s Lazy Tools and Norpro’s Pot Scrapers
Decision Making Time
When it comes down to it, if you already own PTFE nonstick cookware, it is safe to continue using as long as you do so safely. Use if for the right dishes to avoid overheating it and treat it with care so you don’t scratch and ruin its surface.
If you’re in the market for a new pot, pan or cookware set, consider your needs and price point. Given newer ceramic cookware’s fantastic nonstick properties and that it is safer and PFOA free, it might be the right time for a switch.