The Low Down on Nontoxic Cookware

If you’re like Rusty and I, we value fresh, quality food ingredients. We don't think twice about driving across Austin TX to shop the best selection of organic groceries. And we will not skimp on the safety of our cookware. Bottom line -- healthy meal prep should be a priority!

 


> > Cookware quality can affect your health



yummy charcuterie board on iron stainless steel platter

With so many people making food safety and nutrition a priority, it’s no surprise that using safe, nontoxic cookware is just as essential to maintaining a healthy eating routine.


As the nation's first healthy home builder, clients often ask the JS2 Partners team for recommendations on nontoxic cookware for their brand new kitchens.




So here you have it -- the lowdown on nontoxic cookware!



 

> > What to avoid when choosing healthy cookware for your kitchen


Wooden spoons on white marble for use in a healthy kitchen

Cooking is essentially chemistry! We transform food from single raw ingredients into delectable, savory meals through the use of heat, mechanics (think elbow grease) and chemical reactions.


During the food transformation process (aka - cooking), traditional nonstick cookware is subjected to heat and chemical reactions, which has been determined to cause leaching of hormone-disrupting chemicals and heavy metals into your food, under the right conditions.


Certain materials are more prone to leaching, and keep in mind that this concern applies to dishes and bakeware, too.



 

Avoid PFC's

at all costs


The original nonstick pans were coated with PFC compounds like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8) or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PFC's are highly toxic when released via heat.


These perflourinated compounds are most often labeled as:

  • Teflon

  • PFOA

  • PTFE


unhealthy PFAO Teflon PTFE residues, scratched kitchen cookware

A small amount of backstory is important here >> Dupont developed PTFE in 1938 and patented it as Teflon. Upon introduction to the market, Teflon was touted as a game-changer.


Everyday meal planning such as cooking eggs on the skillet was suddenly a breeze, since there was no need to scrub the pan later.



Soon everything from ironing boards to couches came covered in Teflon. But, we all know convenient doesn’t always mean safe.


Teflon has come under a lot of scrutiny both publicly and legally, over the last decade, with health reports attributing scary diseases and chronic health issues to repeated exposure to these PFC chemicals. PFC's can be absorbed in the body after they flake off the pan into food and via airborne emissions breathed into the lungs from cooking with high heat.





Birds were found to be especially susceptible to toxic airborne emissions from PFE's, proving fatal even after just a single indoor exposure. Sadly some bird owners learned the hard way after cooking with Teflon pans, ironing on Teflon-coated ironing boards or using space heaters with Teflon coated parts near the heating elements.


PFOA, otherwise known as C8, was Dupont’s attempt to slightly modify the nonstick chemical, which turned out to be just as terrible to human and animal health.


The movie Dark Waters is based on real events where PTFE chemicals were literally poisoning entire communities of people living close to the Dupont manufacturing plant in West Virginia. The movie was integral in disseminating information to the public regarding the dangers of PFE chemical emissions in the home.


As the healthy home builder, our team at JS2 Partners must be extra careful to source materials which are free from Teflon-based stain treatments and water repellants, such as those frequently found in flooring products, shower glass and upholstery.




Steer Clear of Aluminum

in the Kitchen

Aluminum cookware is lightweight and cools quicker to the touch than other elements. Our grandmothers and mothers used it, and aluminum foil remains a global kitchen staple. Yes, aluminum is great! But be careful how you use it, as aluminum can leach if it touches acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar or citrus juices.



tomato based foods are not okay to use in aluminum. use glass instead.

The medical community is finding aluminum to be much more toxic than originally thought. Some studies suggest that aluminum exposure may be linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, neurological problems and a primary factor in autism.




Aluminum is also the active ingredient used in many vaccines in order to induce a rapid immune response, thus it is also a potent immuno-stimulator.


A good rule of thumb is to avoid aluminum in the kitchen unless it’s not coming into contact with food.


And don't ever use nonstick foil, even if it doesn't touch your food. Heating nonstick foil can release dangerous fumes due to the integrated layer of Teflon.




Safety of Porcelain Enamel

is Questionable ??



poster porcelain enamel pans safety is questionable lead cadmium

Porcelain enamel pans have been around for decades and are typically manufactured out of iron, and finished with an enameled ceramic coating. Due to the various manufacturing processes over the years, it’s hard to know which products are safe due to the potential for heavy metals to leach into food during the cooking process.


Modern day porcelain is generally considered safe, since the use of leaded coatings has been phased out over recent years. Some high-end brands now claim to do contaminant testing, so look for porcelain enamel cookware that is labeled free of lead and cadmium.


Older porcelain enamel cookware are certainly suspect. We say when in doubt, don't use it for food prep or cooking purposes -- There are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest on how to repurpose those collectible dishes handed down by grandma, such as making holiday-themed home décor and fun floral centerpieces.




Cooking With Stainless Steel

Consider This



stack of stainless steel bowls for cooking

Tried and true, stainless steel lasts a long time and is a good option for certain cooking conditions, though there are some concerns with nickel and chromium leaching.


Leaching increases with longer cook times, high heat, and cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes.

Look at the bottom of your stainless steel pots. Find the number 18 and see what follows it. Typically these will say 18/8 or 18/10.



Stainless steel is an alloy, meaning a mixture of metals. The number 18 represents chromium and the second is the amount of nickel content in the alloy. The lower the second number, the better. In fact some manufacturers now offer nickel free stainless cookware, which will say 18/0.


Stainless steel bowls are versatile and handy! Just be mindful to avoid mixing acidic ingredients in the bowls.




 


> > Best Nontoxic + Safe Cookware



yummy dinner plated on safe cookware and dishware by JS2 partners healthy home builder

  1. Glass dishes, best for oven-baked casseroles, meal prep + storage

  2. Ceramic cookware, best for stovetop

  3. Cast iron skillet, best flavor

  4. Silicone pan, best for confectionary baking




Glass is Great

Nontoxic + Versatile


Glass is the winner! It's the safest, most versatile material in terms of being nontoxic, heat proof and impervious to chemical reactions. Plus glass lasts a lifetime if you’re careful not to break it. Use glass to mix or store just about anything.


Glass baking pans cook evenly in the oven and are easy to grease to avoid sticking. Check out glass bento boxes, which we use for our kids school lunches and as glass storage containers. Plus glass makes for inexpensive food storage in the pantry, fridge and freezer. There's even cool dish and bowl sets for meal serving.


Look for brands that verify the glass is free from lead. Trustworthy brands that are safe for oven use are Anchor Hocking and Pyrex.


There are a few don'ts when it comes to glass - avoid using handheld electric mixers in glass bowls, and don't place glass on a hot stovetop.



glass is healthy  and safe for storing food and spices, white backsplash



Ceramic Coated Pots and Pans

Best for Stovetop

lots of pots and pans assortment of colors pretty kitchen splash of color

In response to the public’s concern about the original non-stick surfaces, many new types of nonstick cookware have emerged, such as surfaces with safe mineral-based coatings.


These types of nonstick ceramic coated cookware use Thermalon, a sand derivative containing silicon dioxide instead of Teflon. Ceramic-based compounds are proven to be much safer than the original non-stick surfaces and do the non stick job quite well.



The downside of the technology is the lifespan of these pans averages around 1-2 years, depending on how much you cook at home. Personally, we love cooking with ceramic pots and pans and find the small cost of ceramic sets to be an important investment in the grand scheme of one's health.


Make sure your ceramic pots & pans are clearly labeled. Look for no lead, cadmium or other harmful heavy metals and confirmation that they are PFOA- and PTFE-free.




caraway pot and pan set nontoxic ceramic

Our Favs!

for safe nonstick ceramic pots + pans:








Cast Iron Cookware

Excellent Flavor + Healthy


When it comes to flavor, cast iron cooking is exceptional. Cast iron skillets and pans are a great choice for cooking and will last a very long time.



iron skillet casserole healthy cooking cookware ideas

Don't use soap and water to clean a cast iron skillet.


Instead opt for a quick rinse of hot water followed by immediately reheating the pan with a few tablespoons of oil and a generous scoop of course salt.




Wad up a generous amount of clean paper towels to scrub the bottom of the pan and remove any remaining food with the heated oil and salt mixture.


Avoid acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, since the pH of the iron pan will interact with the acid, giving food an unpleasant metallic flavor.


Iron offers a great bonus, as you'll get a beneficial dose of nutritious iron with each meal, a mineral that is essential for healthy red blood cell formation.




Silicone Pans

Easy Nonstick Cookies and Muffins


Bakeware such as cookie sheets and muffin pans are now available with safe non stick silicone coatings.


Stick with reputable manufacturers, such as USA Pan, to ensure the silicone is virgin and not contaminated with recycled materials. No one wants a muffin that tastes like recycled detergent bottles.



Ready to conquer the kitchen?


 


> > You Can Feel Confident About the Safety of Your Cookware!



Our kitchens are places to connect with friends, unwind after a long day, express our creativity, and most importantly, enjoy many a meal in good company! Make sure your healthy home is equipped with an arsenal of cookware that is safe, nontoxic and fully functional to meet your unique cooking needs.




healthy home builder kitchen dinner cooked for family with safe cookware


{ All information above is accurate to the best of our knowledge, which we are excited to share with you. We learn a lot through trial and error and conduct our own research. JS2 Partners Healthy Home Builder does not receive any affiliate compensation from the manufacturers listed above }



Thanks for reading!! For more healthy home tips, visit JS2partners.com/blog.



 

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