Sunday, January 24, 2010

Safe cookware and kitchen items

I wanted new cookware for Christmas this year, so I did some research about the dangers of non-stick cookware and other materials commonly used in the kitchen items. I decided to replace all of my non-stick cookware with safer alternatives. All common non-stick cookware, both inexpensive "Teflon" cookware as well as non-stick pots and pans from Calphalon and Anolon contain the chemical PTFE, which is known to kill birds when pans are heated and the gasses are released into the air. Owners of exotic birds have long known about this danger and don't use non-stick cookware as result.

I always thought the danger from Teflon was it coming in contact with your food, or possible bits of it coming off and being ingested. It turns out, the more dangerous aspect are the gasses it releases when heated at normal cooking temperatures. Manufacturers say it is safe at moderate temperatures, but pans can quickly several hundred degrees when heated on the stove. I decided it wasn't worth the risk.

So I replaced most of my pots and pans with a Cuisinart Contour 13-Piece Stainless set. I still have an older RevereWare set of copper bottom pans that I use too (I hear the quality has gone down in recent years though). I also got a couple of enameled cast iron pans from Paula Deen for things like quesadillas and grilled cheese, and Lodge for one-dish meals on the stove or in the oven (these pans are like Le Creuset, but a lot less expensive). Everything I found said enameled cast iron is safe, but it is definitely very heavy and even from these less expensive brands, it isn't cheap. I have enjoyed it though, and may get more items like this. Regular cast iron is also supposed to be safe, and actually adds beneficial iron to your foods, but it can't be used on smooth top stoves like mine.

I am also trying one of the Cuisinart GreenGourmet skillets, which is a new type of SAFE non-stick ceramic(?) technology. It has pretty good reviews and is INCREDIBLY non-stick now, but some of the reviewers said that over time it starts sticking badly. I've only used it a few times, but have really liked it so far, and found it very easy to cook with and clean.

I replaced my non-stick cake pans and roasting pans with Pyrex. Non-stick cookie sheets have been replaced by aluminum ones from AirBake by WearEver, and I bought this aluminum clad steel meatloaf pan set to replace my old non-stick one.

I also got rid of all the plastic Rubbermaid storage containers that contained BPA, and am replacing all the melamine resin kids dishes and cooking utensils with safer alternatives, when I found out that melamine and formaldehyde(!) may leach from them even at fairly low temperatures. Fortunately, the Little Missy is old enough to use our regular plates and bowls now, so that wasn't difficult to stop using. And nylon cooking utensils are inexpensive and considered safe.

How concerned are you about the safety of the cookware, dishes, and other items in your kitchen that come in contact with your family's food?


  1. We use our cast iron skillet everyday on our smooth top stove and haven't had any issues.
    And thanks for listing what kind of cookie sheet you got, I sold our nonstick ones at the yardsale and haven't looked at what i was going to replace them with yet!
    and if you ever needed to buy baby plates/bowls again, all the ikea stuff is a-okay and of course very affordable! :)

  2. Re: "We use our cast iron skillet everyday on our smooth top stove and haven't had any issues."
    Good to know! I ditched our only cast iron skillet when we got our stove because it says not to use cast iron on it. Maybe they just don't want you scratching or dropping it on the stove top. Who knows. I'm sort of in love with my enameled cast iron though now. :)

    And I do have some of the IKEA baby cups and bowls, and some of their small stainless utensils meant for desserts and things. I love IKEA. :-)