Teflon versus ceramic cookware

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Is Teflon safe?

Teflon pans are non-stick and make cooking up eggs, fish and steak a breeze. So what is the problem with Teflon?

Teflon is a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). To be clear, Teflon has never been proven to cause cancer. The concern was with PFOA that was used in the production of Teflon until it was voluntarily phased out, though it is still widely used in China. The claim is that PFOA in Teflon was never a major source of exposure. Nonetheless they have removed it and were involved in many legal litigations.

Dangers from PFOA - the forever chemical

PFOA was used in the production of Teflon. It was assumed that it would be entirely burnt off during the manufacturing process, but it didn't. It shows up in the blood of almost everyone. It doesn't break down in nature and was dubbed the "forever chemical".

Exposure to PFOA may lead to hormonal disruptions in the body.

High level exposure to PFOA increase the risk of various cancers (kidney, bladder, ovarian, thyroid, testicular and prostate cancer).

You may have noticed that Teflon now seems to be a word no longer used to market non-stick cookware, because it received such a bad rap. The industry now invents new terms that suggest some proprietary coating, but in the end they are all PTFE coated. Even some really expensive brands.

Teflon by itself is considered to be a safe compound. But it starts to break down with use and heat.

  1. The coating can flake and end up in our food.
  2. Even tiny scratches allow toxic fumes to be released.
  3. Overheating also releases toxic fumes that can kill birds.

PTFE is stable and nontoxic at lower temperatures, it begins to deteriorate after the temperature of cookware reaches about 260°C (500°F). The degradation by-products can be lethal to birds, and can cause flu-like symptoms in humans (polymer fume fever).

So, when used for cooking, I personally do not consider Teflon safe and have removed Teflon coated cookware from my home.

Without PFOA, is Teflon safe now?

PFOA was replaced with GenX. Tested on rats, GenX has been shown to cause similar health issues.

The convenience of a non-stick frying pan may not be worth the risk of using Teflon.

What should you do?

A better alternative are cast iron pans. They do not release toxic chemicals. But they are heavy and high maintenance. Not an option for everyone. Carbon steel pans are not as heavy, but are even higher maintenance.

I prefer ceramic pans. There are no toxins that can leach into the food. There are no toxic fumes. Ceramic pans are non-stick, easy to clean, and don't require special maintenance. When shopping for ceramic cookware ensure that they are PFOA, lead, and cadmium-free.

This is the pan I like best after trying a few brands.

My Christmas wish:

Final though: Modern times immerse us in man-made chemicals. Every change we make will improve our health.


Written by Roxana Soetebeer
Published October 30th, 2021