Teflon is something we really need to steer clear of – it contains toxic plastics that actually release fumes as you cook and get into the food we eat. The good news is it's easy and cheap to replace those non-stick pans with pans that last forever and are healthy!
I used to be the queen of Teflon pans – I would buy the $80 ones from Macy's and thought I was getting a superior product! Well, it would be non-stick for a while until that supposedly expensive coating would wear off and then I'd need to drop another $80. Where was the coating disappearing too…funny how that never crossed my mind! ICK!
What is Teflon?
Teflon is a synthetic polymer coating called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) added to metal pans to keep food from sticking.
How is it toxic?
According to the ewg.org, “Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called “Teflon Flu” or, as scientists describe it, “Polymer fume fever”). Ingesting particles that flake off scratched non-stick cookware isn't toxic because solid PTFE flakes are inert.”
Ummm…kill pet birds? Did I read that right? Not good!
It also poses environmental risks when these pots are thrown into landfills. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFCs present “persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree.”
PFC's are in many products we use – they are also inside ovens, in waterproof clothing, and more.
Get the link for the recipe above – Huevos Rancheros, here!
What to use instead?
Aluminum products used to be considered safe, but a growing number of people no longer feel it is safe. Some scientists believe aluminum can be linked to Alzheimer's, cancer, and many autoimmune diseases. Data is inconclusive, but I'd rather avoid the rink since it's easy to use another type of cookware. Read this article for more info.
Chefs love cooking with stainless steel because it browns food better than other cookware. It is a cheap and easy alternative!
Cast Iron – what I use!
I've been using my grandmama's old cooking favorite – cast iron! This cookware literally lasts forever and is virtually indestructible. You can scrape it with steel wool and use metal utensils, and it still performs well. It is nonstick as long as you season it properly and care for it well by never washing it with soap, and coating it with oil after every use. I just rinse it off in the sink, wipe it out with a paper towel, and coat it with coconut oil or olive oil. If food starts to stick to it, I sprinkle kosher salt in it and scrub out the stuck-on food.
It also heats food very evenly, which I like. The only drawback is that it's heavy. Click here to get a starter set of cast-iron pans from Amazon.
Ceramic cookware is much lighter than cast iron but also more delicate. You will need to be more careful to wash it gently and never use metal utensils as they will scratch the ceramic coating. A bonus is that you won't have to season the coating. If properly cared for, they should last for many years. Click here to get a nontoxic ceramic cookware starter set from Amazon.
On Vacation and Stuck with Non-Stick Cookware?
- Cook your food at low temperatures so that it omits less fumes
- Make sure no pet birds are in the kitchen, as the fumes can literally kill them in seconds!
- Don't use the self-cleaning option to clean your oven as the inside of most ovens contains the PTFE's and will omit toxic fumes into your house
- Make sure to use the exhaust fan to eliminate some of the air pollutions
- Wear a mask if you have asthma or respiratory illness