Debate abounds about non-stick (coated) cookware and it’s safety. It’s used by millions of people around the globe for many years, but could it be contributing to the build up of toxins our bodies carry?
1. History of non-stick coating
The slippery substance that pans are coated with is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is a polymer. A polymer is a large molecule made up of smaller molecules of the same type.
This substance was invented accidentally in 1938. In 1956 a French engineer figured out how to adhere to aluminum, and non-stick cookware was born. (Source: Howstuffworks.com)
2. Is your non-stick cookware safe?
Its safety is still debatable, and mainly stems from the substance perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which is used in the making of PTFE. PFOA is known to increase incidence of certain tumors, and remains in the body a long time. We can be exposed to PFOA in drinking water, ski wax, dust, carpets, the workplace and probably a bunch more places. All of us are carrying around some level of this substance in our bodies (Source: Cancer.org) and you may have also heard that some birds have been killed when exposed to off gassing non-stick pans.
However there is a very low level of PFOA exposure when we use coated pans, as the final product (PTFE) that coats the pans does not contain it. This is great to know…that we aren’t necessarily poisoning ourselves every time we cook! Heating the pan on high heat without food in it can increase off gassing and using scratched pans is not a good idea. Even though exposure may be minimal, I do think it’s important to limit any toxin exposure that we can!
3. What Should You Do?
The concentration of questionable chemicals floating around in my body (and that of my family) is something I want to avoid. A small report by Environmental Defense showed 137 chemicals found in the cord blood of newborns, most of these cancer-causing or neurotoxic. (Source: Theglobeandmail.com )
There are lots of ways to reduce your exposure to chemicals, and it’s important for your fertility and wellness. Since we’re talking pans today, I’ll try to stay on topic!
At the minimum, non-stick pans need to be kept scratch-free (no metal utensils or abrasive cleansers) and cannot be overheated without food inside. You also should not use non-stick cooking spray on them.
Personally it seems impossible to keep these pans scratch-free, and I find other pans just as easy to clean. We also want you to be cooking with nice saturated fats like coconut oil, ghee (available on Amazon), butter and pastured lard, so why bother with the non-stick?
I recently replaced the last of my non-stick pans and here’s what I got: Cuisinart stainless steel and Calphalon hard anodized aluminum.
I got these at pretty good prices at TJ Maxx. (they are also available on Amazon)
Don’t feel you have to run out and replace all your pans at once, but do get knowledgeable about your toxic exposure in general and get less and less of it over time. A great resource on the topic of toxins is Donielle’s book Naturally Knocked Up, available on Amazon.