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This post was updated on May 2018 and contains referral links.
A little over 5 years ago I started our path into becoming a green family. At first it was overwhelming because I felt there was so much to research, learn and replace. But to make things easier I prioritized what was important and finding non-toxic cookware was very high up on that list.
Our bodies absorb everything we put inside and on them so making sure you’re not ingesting toxic chemicals, especially when you have children, should be your first priority. The problem with cookware and what makes it dangerous is that you use it with very high temperatures.
If you’re cooking with a material that contains toxic chemicals, it could very well start leaching those toxic chemicals into your food and that’s where the danger lies. The chemicals I worry the most about are endocrine disruptors. They have been linked to all sorts of health issues, from asthma to cancer, obesity and hormonal issues.
The problem with endocrine disruptors is that they have an accumulative effect on our bodies so we might feel the effects of it right away but over time we will.
Before you start worrying, there is safe cookware you can use and that can handle high temperatures without contaminating your food with toxic chemicals. On this post we will go over the 5 types of non-toxic cookware you should be using in your home.
First things first, if you have anything with teflon you should immediately throw it out, especially if it has scratches on it because teflon break down and ends up in your food when heated to high temperatures, which means they are leaching chemicals into your food.
Johns Hopkins Medical Center says the chemical PFOA, used in manufacturing Teflon, is now found in the bloodstreams of nearly everyone in the U.S. Early studies suggest that high PFOA blood levels in humans are linked with cancer, high cholesterol levels, thyroid disease and reduced fertility. You can read more about the dangers of teflon on this post.
Unfortunately, teflon is not the only thing you should worry about… There are 2 other very common materials used in cookware that should be avoided:
Aluminum, which is found in most cookware, has been associated with estrogen-driven cancers and Alzheimer’s Disease. This heavy metal leaches when heated and it gets absorbed into your food. We also avoid aluminum foil for this same reason, you can read more about that here.
Copper cookware, which usually also has nickel coating, releases these both toxic heavy metals into your food. Too much copper can be poisonous and has been linked to mental issues. Copper is so dangerous that most of this type of cookware has a coating but if that coating starts to disappear you will start ingesting this dangerous chemical with your food. So toss that out too!
If you want to learn more about other types of cookware that are toxic read this.
So, what should you use? Your safest bet is to use real ceramic cookware. Currently there is only one brand I trust and it’s Xtrema Ceramic Cookware. But more on that later…
The first thing I did after my research was to get rid of my teflon pans and replaced them for ceramic coated frying pans. You can find ceramic coated alternatives (just make sure they are not made out of aluminum) in Amazon and even discount stores like Marshall’s or TJMaxx.
Keep in mind these pans are not all made out of ceramic but just the coating, so although they are not perfect they are a lot better than teflon coated ones and more affordable than pure ceramic ones. If you’re on a budget, replace teflon with this, but if you can afford the non-toxic cookware I would skip these.
Non-toxic cookware options:
This the ultimate non-toxic and safest cookware option out there. It’s what we have now and have been using for over 4 years. Not all ceramic cookware is made the same way and some pans just have a ceramic coating (which is not ideal) so I personally stick to Xtrema Ceramic Cookware because they are 100% Natural Ceramic material.
The healthy ceramics found in Xtrema are non-reactive, meaning there are no chemicals, toxins, gases or other harmful materials that can leach into your food as it cooks. Xtrema ceramic cookware can handle highly acidic foods without staining the cookware or absorbing tastes and odors and they are even dishwasher safe.You can read more about how they make their pans and the benefits of ceramic cookware here.
I also love their transparency in the materials they use and how they make it. They test EVERY SINGLE BATCH for toxic chemicals so you can rest assured that you won’t have to worry about toxic chemicals. You can find their testing results here. During my research I talked to a lot of companies and the reason I chose Xtrema cookware is because they were very transparent and had done a lot of testing on their cookware.
I absolutely love them – not only does it NOT leach any chemicals into your food, these pans cook your food so well and evenly that our food even tastes better. Our favorite way to cook veggies is in these pans: I fry them in grass-fed butter or ghee and add a little himalayan salt at the end and they taste amazing. If you get these pans, try to cook your veggies this way – you will love it.
They are also very easy to clean and the food doesn’t stick on them. The only downside is that they are a bit heavy and they could break if you drop them (we haven’t had this problem but I don’t let my kids handle them). They are also oven safe so by buying these you won’t have to invest in extra bakeware. Plus they retain the heat so well that they will keep your food warm for quite a while.
We currently own 5 of these:
- one egger: I use this daily for my breakfast
- 1.5 Qt.: for cooking smaller meals
- 11″ Wok: for cooking veggies and meats
- 5.5 Qt.: for cooking soups and bigger meals
- 12″ Divided Pan: this is our newest addition and the one pictured above. I am obsessed with this one since I can cook most of our meals in just this pan.
Now keep in mind that I didn’t buy all this cookware at once since it’s pricey but I got 3 at first, using the discount code at the end of this post, and then bought on sale the rest.
This is another great option for cooking, even more so if you want to add extra iron to your diet. At the same time this is not something to use in every day cooking because it leaches iron.
Iron is something we need in our bodies so if you’re iron deficient is a good idea to cook frequently in cast iron pans, but if you’re not, then cook with them only a few times a week as too much iron is also not good for you.
The maintenance and cleaning of it is not easy as other pots and pans so we just have one cast iron pan to cook steaks in and a dutch oven cast iron to bake our bread in. Keep in mind that cast iron pans need to be seasoned, you can find how to do that here.
These are also oven safe and there is an entire Facebook group dedicated to cast iron cooking. I suggest you join this group if this is something you’re interested in doing.
You can find cast iron pans in thrift stores for very discounted prices or ask your older neighbors, some of them might have some around that they are not using anymore.
Enameled cast iron:
This is a step-up from cast iron because the inside of the pans are coated, so you don’t have to season them and the food doesn’t stick to it. You probably heard about Le Creuset, this is the most famous brand of enameled cast iron pans.
The only downside for me with these pans is that Lead Safe Mama found that some of Le Creuset pots had lead. Most of the lead was on the outside coating, where your food is not supposed to touch anyways but why risk it? If you have already a set like this I would just make sure your food doesn’t touch the outer part and if you don’t have it, I would skip it and just get the ceramic cookware and regular cast iron.
This is what we had before changing our cookware, we had a stainless steel set from Ikea and we never had issues with it.
Stainless steel is made out of a combinations of metals, including carbon, chromium, nickel and/or manganese. This means that if you buy a low quality set some of these metals might leach into your foods and you don’t want that. Hence it is important to buy high quality stainless steel pans like this one or this one.
These are not the only high quality stainless steal brands but they are trusted ones. If you already own a stainless steel set and want to find out if it’s made from high quality stainless steel, do the vinegar test.
I’m not an expert and I didn’t want to risk it by getting a stainless steel set. Most high quality sets are even more expensive than the Xtrema cookware ceramic ones so I decided to stay safe and stick to the ceramic ones.
Glass is great for baking savory dishes and very affordable plus it’s non-toxic. Unfortunately you can’t use glass on your stovetop so this is only useful when you decide to bake your food in the oven.
Make sure you use glass that doesn’t have any coating or decorations as sometimes toxic chemicals can be hiding on those.
It is shocking once your start researching non-toxic cookware to realize most of what you use leaches questionable and/or harmful chemicals into your food. You would think that something as important as safe cookware would be the norm but the reality is that it’s not. Bottom line, the safest pots and pans are made all from ceramic.
Replacing all your cookware is not something most people can do overnight so I would suggest the first thing you replace is your teflon pans and then start replacing your pots and pans one by one. If you’re getting married soon I would suggest you add Xtrema Ceramic Cookware on your wedding registry and set up your non-toxic kitchen from the get-go.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with this, think about how many pots and pans you really need, make a list and either buy them all at once and start buying them little by little, depending on your budget. It’s better to take small steps in the right direction than overwhelm yourself and not make a change.
Have you found other non-toxic and safe cookware? I’d love to read about it in the comments.
Want to save 10% off your Xtrema Cookware purchase? Click here for your special 10% discount code on any Xtrema Cookware purchase.