Our world is full of toxic chemicals – there are over 80,000 man-made chemicals around us that are in bedding, drugs, cookware, food, toiletries, home-cleaning products, kids toys, etc. These can wreck havoc with our bodies, minds and souls.
My quest for non-toxic living led me to researching the best pots and pans to use. I had been using the non-stick pans and I decided that a change was needed.
Here are some questions that pop up when you are looking for a low tox option.
Why is non-stick so bad?
PTFE is the coating that is used in non-stick cookware. This is part of the larger umbrella of PFCs (Per or Poly-Flouro Chemicals) that are also found in waterproof textiles (like swimwear), wrist-watch bands, etc.
In cookware, when heated, this has proven to emit a noxious gas that could be carcinogenic. There have been studies where birds have died due to exposure to these fumes.
Used over time, these chemicals leach into your food and into your body, and could cause kidney and testicular cancer, disrupt hormones, cause early menopause, cause obesity, etc.
Besides the obvious health issues they cause, these chemicals also pollute the environment and are unsafe for all life.
What else do we need to steer clear of?
Aluminium has also proven to be toxic. It leaches chemicals into our food when heated. Some cookware has an aluminium centre and it is coated with ceramic. These are safe if you don’t scratch or damage them, however, if it is damaged, it could leach chemicals into your food. Aluminium is linked to cancer and neurological issues.
Any non-stick cookware. Teflon had stopped manufacturing cookware with PFOE in 2013, however, that doesn’t mean the present non-stick cookware is any safer.
Ceramic coated cookware. Some brands that manufacture and sell this type of cookware state it is non-toxic. However, don’t be fooled. Look for a reputed brand.
These could contain lead and cadmium. Lead poisoning could begin with symptoms like headaches, stomach pain, etc.
What are the options then?
Ceramic – I looked extensively at x-trema ceramcor (this is ceramic cookware), but getting it shipped from the US to Australia didn’t make economic sense. If you are in America or the UK, this is easy to source and buy.
Cast iron – I then looked at Le Creuset – I wasn’t totally sold on it as it had an enamel coating. I recently got one though after I looked at the safety studies that the company has published – these prove that it is safe to use.
I also own a fantastic Aussie made pan from Solid Teknics. This is made with AUS-ION™ wrought iron (formed low-carbon steel) and nöni™ ferritic wrought stainless. This half the weight of cast iron and has the best of both worlds – cast iron and stainless steel!
Don’t use cast iron if you have hemochromatosis though. This is when your body contains high levels of iron.
I’ve also got myself a carbon steel pancake pan from Victoria’s Basement. I was appalled at how messed up it got the first few times I cooked on it, but then it settled down and is my go to pan for eggs, pancakes, dosas, etc.
To keep your cast iron and carbon steel pans in good nic, wash them with warm water (not hot) and use soap sparingly (or don’t use soap at all). Then wipe dry and apply a bit of olive oil before storing. I keep a little bowl of olive oil on the counter just for this purpose.
Stainless steel – This is a safe product to use depending on how well your steel cookware has been made. The low-grade stainless steel might leach nickel into your food. Also, acidic foods like tomatoes can leach chemicals even more than other food can.
Look for the stamp that says 18/0 for a safe grade of stainless steel (this means there is no nickel in the cookware.
Clay – I also own a little know brand called ‘La Tapa’. This is an organic cookware that is handmade in Colombia with mineral-rich clay. I was sceptical at first – clay? Wouldn’t it break easily? However, clay pots and pans have been used around the world in many cultures for 1000s of years. I’ve had mine for around 4 years now and I’ve only broken one.
I’m glad to say, I LOVE this cookware. It’s heavy, but has a wonderful non stick surface when used and washed correctly. Dishes taste so wonderfully different when I make it in these pots.
Go here for more info – http://terraviva.com.au/
Glass – I have a Luminarc VITRO casserole that converts to a steamer. It is made with glass and is extremely solid (read heat and shock resistant). You can use it on the hob, or the oven and keep it in the fridge as well. It is non toxic and has no plastic in it whatsoever.
It isn’t non-stick, but you learn how to deal with that by using it wisely.
Stoneware – I got myself some Pampered chef from the UK – one of the best investments ever! I still use my large bar pan till date (and it’s been over 5 years that I’ve got it). So if you’re worried about it breaking, please don’t. If you handle it carefully and look after it according to the instructions, it will stand you in good stead.
Pampered chef also have stoneware muffin trays, bread pans, pizza trays, etc.
This is an American MLM company, so it’ll be difficult to source in Australia. It is easy to get hold of on ebay though. Some of the products listed there are second hand, but worth the buy.
There are other stoneware oven pans available – I bought a pizza pan in T K Maxx. So shop around, you might get lucky.
Things are changing everyday, so I will keep updating this list when possible.
Chronic exposure to aluminum and risk of Alzheimer’s disease: A meta-analysis. Neurosci Lett. 2016 Jan 1 ;610:200-6. Epub 2015 Nov 27. PMID: 26592479
Guarneri, F., Costa, C., Cannavò, S., Catania, S., Bua, G., Fenga, C., & Dugo, G. (2017). Release of nickel and chromium in common foods during cooking in 18/10 (grade 316) stainless steel pots. Contact Dermatitis, 76(1), 40-48.