Are Non-Stick Pans Safe? – Find Out The Truth!
Do you feel nervous when using Nonstick cookware? Well, while they may be toxic, proper use could help ease the tension. According to statistics (2016) on the sales, 90% of the total number of aluminum kitchenware sold included pots and pans that included this particular coating (Teflon being the popular model). Despite the numerous benefits including easy cleanup and low oil and butter consumption, nonstick pans have been highly under fire lately regarding noxious chemical releases.
A number of researchers – from both within the industry and external sources – have come up with contradicting stories. It is with regard to this that a research was conducted at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute to ascertain the safety of nonstick pots and pans. Well, the findings were quite positive and according to Robert L. Wolke, PhD., a professor emeritus of chemistry (the University of Pittsburg and What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained author); they are safe so long as they are not exposed to overheating. The coating begins to break down thereby emitting some noxious gases and particles unnoticeably the moment they are exposed to extremely high temperatures.
Thus, most of these compounds contain fluorine that is blamed for noxious compounds and which form a larger portion of the coating formula – and why foods dot sticking on the surface of the pan. It is good to ask yourself “How hot is too hot?” – in case the risk is triggered by overheating. According to Kurunthachalam Kannan, PhD., an environmental toxicologist based at New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Centre, breaking begins at temperatures way above 500ºF and that is when small chemical compounds are emitted. Teflon manufacturer, DuPoint, puts 500°F as the recommended maximum heat for cooking with nonstick cookware.
Nonstick cookware is used by many people across the world. What you need to understand is that the nonstick coating comes with various advantages. As it were, the cookware is best for sausage turning, pancake flipping an egg frying. If you are worried about some of your foods sticking to a pan, then the nonstick could just be your best choice.
However, nonstick coatings like Teflon are still eliciting a lot of controversies. While some experts link them to health conditions like cancer, others have fully backed the idea of cooking with this kind of cookware saying that they are absolutely safe.
Nonstick Cookware –What Is It?
The common types of nonstick cookware are frying pans and saucepans, coated with a substance PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), which is often referred to the most known PTFE called Teflon. PTFE refers to a synthetic chemical compound containing fluorine and carbon atoms. Invented during the 1930s, Teflon is well-known for its nonreactive, nonstick and nearly frictionless surface. As such, the nonstick feature makes this particular cookware the most appropriate to use and clean. Attributing to the fact that one would require just a little oil or butter, it is therefore convenient for both cooking and frying foods.
Risks Associated With Overheating
In a real sense, Teflon is a harmless and secure compound. Even though, it is good to put in mind that Teflon coating on nonstick cookware tends to break down thereby emitting noxious compounds in the atmosphere when exposed to temperatures way above 300°C (570°F).
The polymer flu fever is associated with brief flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, body ache and headache. The onset is experienced following a 4 to 10-hour exposure with the symptoms easing after between 12 and 48 hours. A number of studies have also pointed out severe adverse effects . But the good thing to note is that in all cases, participants were exposed to fumes emanating from overheated Teflon cookware at 390°C (730°F) for a longer time (4hrs). Even though the health side effects associated with overheated Teflon could be grave, taking precautions should help to ease the effects.
How to Minimize Teflon Exposure Risks
While dealing with any kind of cookware, maybe to our benefit, it is critically important for the users to observe the basic precautions. As such, using nonstick cookware for cooking is not only safe but healthy and expedient as well. There are several ways of reducing risks when using this kind of cookware and they include:
- Avoiding preheating of empty pans – Chances of empty pans reaching extremely high temperatures within a short time and emitting polymer fumes are very high. It is therefore recommended that before placing the pan on fire, ensure that it contains some food.
- Do not cook on extremely high heat – Cooking on moderate or low temperatures is recommended. It is also good to avoid broiling as this kind of technique calls for extremely high temperatures compared to those allowed for nonstick cookware.
- Ensure cooking in a well-ventilated kitchen – Whenever you are in the kitchen cooking, it is advisable to switch on the exhaust fan or make sure the window is open to let out any fumes and allow in fresh air.
- Always use silicone, wooden or plastic paraphernalia (utensils) – Using metallic utensils may cause scratches and scuffs on the surface of the nonstick pans; thus, impacting negatively on their durability.
- Wash by hands – It is advisable to gently wash your pans and pots using hands with sponge, soap and lukewarm water. Steel or scouring pads are not recommended as they may lead to scratches.
- Renew your cookware – It critically important to keep replacing your cookware whenever there are visible signs of excessive scratches, flaking, peeling and chipping.
Nonstick Cookware Alternatives
As a matter of fact, there is actually nothing to worry about regarding the current nonstick cookware as they have been proven as being safe, healthy and much more appropriate. But, in case you are still skeptic concerning any possible adverse side effects, you may try using its alternatives. Some of these include:
- Cast-iron cookware – If well seasoned, cast iron is nonstick by nature. It is durable and has the ability to withstand extreme temperatures.
- Stainless steel – Perfect for browning and sautéing foods. It is long-lasting and resistant to scratch. Being dishwasher safe, you can easily clean it.
- Ceramic cookware – Although new on the market, ceramic cookware comes with amazing nonstick features with the only issue being that the coating is prone to scratching.
- Stoneware – This kind of cookware dates back to thousands of years. Its heating is even and when seasoned, it becomes nonstick. The good part about it is that it is not only scratch resistant, but also has the ability to withstand extremely high temperatures.
At least every kitchen across the globe contains one type of nonstick cookware. While there have been various health concerns with regard to the PFOA compound that was previously used to manufacture Teflon, since 2013, Teflon has come out clean of PFOA. The current stuff has been proven to be totally safe for typical household cooking so long the correct temperatures are adhered to.
You can, therefore, utilize your nonstick cookware on your stovetop by keeping the heat low or moderate. Avoid using it for broiling as this kind of cooking technique requires extremely high temperatures. The most important point to note is that Teflon is actually safe, healthy and the best way to prepare your meals.