One of the more predominant pieces of cookware on the market is a pan with a non-stick coating. With the natural stickiness of some foods like eggs, sugars, and rices, many opt for this type of coated cookware to make cleanup easy after preparing a meal. We have all seen how some nonstick pans are so good at their job that you can have an egg slide around in the pan as if gliding on air! But are non-stick pans safe?
Unfortunately, although nonstick cookware may be extremely convenient, it might not be a healthy choice for our body. This article serves as a guide on commonly used nonstick pots and pans and their health impact as well as presenting the many benefits of a safe and healthy option.
What Makes a Pan Non-Stick?
Most conventional non-stick cookware are coated with series of chemicals that most people commonly refer to as Teflon. The chemicals that make up Teflon, also known as PTFE, is synthetically made, and it is designed to be non-reactive with food and water or oil resistant. Unfortunately, its original intent is not synonymous with what happens in reality. A nonstick coating can wear off over time, which causes the chemicals to easily leach into food.
Up until recently, manufacturers used chemical compound PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) in the creation of PTFE, until it was banned in the US due to health effects and pollution concerns. Nonstick chemicals are not only dangerous to the body, but they also pollute the environment. Other countries soon followed suit with the ban, working to phase out the usage of PFOA in cookware coatings.
Since then, companies create Teflon using other chemicals like GenX. Unfortunately, these chemicals are proving to be just as or even more dangerous than PFOA. For example, the chemicals that consist of GenX can negatively impact the liver and other organs, and consistent exposure to toxic GenX chemicals through cooking can lead to liver failure. Many non-stick pans may claim to be PFOA-free, but they unfortunately usually contain these other harmful chemicals in its production.
Ceramic coatings for nonstick cookware are a silicone coating that coat a metal, like cast iron or anodized aluminum. This coating has recently become popular as an alternative compared to using a Teflon nonstick pan; however, there are a number of risks that come with cooking in ceramic-coated cookware, as well. Ceramic coatings are either made from a synthetic chemical that resembles the properties of ceramic, or it is made from ceramic itself: a combination of different metals, inorganic substances, and a small percent of natural clay.
Also, as previously mentioned, the most common material underneath this coating is aluminum. If the coating receives any scratches, the aluminum can expose and leach into your food when heated.
The Dangers of Non-Stick Cookware
As the consumed chemicals and metals (leached from nonstick pans to your food) slowly build up in the body, a variety of health problems may arise as a result. This is due to the body’s increased strain while filtering out these toxins, and the inability for the body to completely remove all of the toxic waste. Over a long extended period of time, a body’s vital organs become worn and begin to fail from these accumulated toxins.
Teflon-coated nonstick pans can act as a more immediate and dangerous health hazard. When cooking with high heat (and in some cases, even medium heat), this nonstick coating can release toxic fumes into the air and into food. When exposed to these fumes, the body can experience flu-like symptoms or worse, depending on the amount of exposure over time.
Additionally, research shows these chemicals may aid in causing cancer!
Although you may not see health issues after eating out of nonstick cookware immediately, the buildup of toxins over time are what create long-term health effects.
One major issue that comes from using nonstick pans is the inability to dispose of them in an environmentally safe way once they have reached the end of their lifespan. After disposing a nonstick Teflon pan, it usually ends up in a landfill, and the earth absorbs this harmful chemical. From there, the chemical can end up in growing plants and in nearby flowing water, polluting the world’s water supply. In many instances, the dumping of chemicals like Teflon have been linked to areas with increased sickness from exposure to a polluted water supply. You can read more about the toxic dumping of these chemicals here.
The Safest and Healthiest Non-Stick Cookware
Because so many pans leach their material into food when exposed to heat, the safest pan material has to be inert, or non-reactive, and unable to leach.
Thankfully, there is such a material!
Pure primary clay is 100% inert. Primary clay is different from ceramic in that it is pure, sourced from an unindustrialized land, and has no chemical treatments for refinement. One of the only brands that has this pure clay with no additives whatsoever is Miriam’s Earthen Cookware!
Miriam’s Earthen Cookware (MEC) makes pots and pans from a pure primary clay. There are no additives, chemicals, or metals at any point in the production process, ensuring no toxins enter your food. When cooking with this cookware, you can rest assured that you are receiving no toxins in your body as a result of the pot.
If you would like to verify this for yourself, try this leaching test at home: Alkaline Baking Soda Test
And here is more good news! When finished the right way, pans that are made of primary clay become naturally nonstick, meaning food doesn’t easily stick to the pan/pot and they are super easy to clean!
Miriam’s Earthen Cookware’s unique method of finishing their pots and pans harnesses the innate properties of primary clay to make their pans naturally nonstick.
Look at this picture below for reference: when have you cooked rice and have been able to see the bottom of the pot, with no rice sticking to it? Or what about eggs? Have your non-stick pans really been nonstick, and for how long? Look at this 3 year old MEC pan, and how well it has released the eggs.
The positive features don’t end there, either: there are numerous other health and environmental benefits of Miriam’s Earthen Cookware in addition to being healthy & all-natural non-stick pans and pots!
Have questions?: If you have any questions on the non-stick properties of Miriam’s Earthen Cookware, email us, and we will get back to you ASAP!
Would you like to try one for yourself? Head on over to the MEC online store and get this natural solution to toxic non-stick pots and pans – that is great for you and the planet.