The possibility that toxins from a pan are getting into my food or the food of anyone I cook for gives me the horrors. But the fact is that some pans are toxic and some cookware is safe or at least safer.
So I want to lay out some basic advice so that you can look at the pans and other cookware you use and make your own mind up about what is best for you and your family.
Cookware may be made from many different materials. Some of the materials that pans are made of may be toxic and some of the coatings on the pans are toxic too.
The traditional material for pans is cast iron and other metals like aluminium, stainless steel and copper follow along.
Then various coatings appear on the metal surface of the pan. The non-stick polymers and ceramics appear and make cleaning easier.
And then glass and ceramic cookware gives us more choices.
The first material that rang the alarm bell for me was aluminium. These pans are shiny like we expect metal to be and feel very light in the hand. Sadly the aluminium in the pan seeps into food and this soft and light metal can find its way into the brain. Alzheimers patients have been found to have aluminium in the nerve tangles that are found in their brains. And we are not saying that it causes the disease but it is still worrying.
Recommendation – throw all aluminum pans away as soon as you can.
Stainless steel is often chosen instead. It is usually shinier than aluminium and feels heavier too. It is much safer although it must be admitted that some of the steel can seep into the food. This is a personal call and I do not feel worried about the tiny risk from stainless steel. Maybe because I am used to it – this was my Mother’s fave material for pans!
And this was mine for several years. To be exact I bought Le Creuset Pans for my first home. This is a serious outlay but I had a new credit card so what the heck! They were seriously classy and seriously heavy too. Le Creuset pans are coated with a creamy ceramic layer and so the normal process of iron leeching into the food which you would expect in cast iron cookware does not occur.
What is Healthy Cookware?
Simply really, healthy cookware does not seep into the food and does not release toxic gases as the food cooks.
You can spend ages researching this or just take a pragmatic view and a best guess. I’ve done the latter and use cast iron, stainless steel and Le Creuset pans I’ve acquired over the years.
The only pans I would not use are aluminium whether they are ordinary saucepans or frying pans. Recently when I bought a wok I had to search extensively to find one that was not “polluted” as I regard it, with a non-stick coating.
I hate washing up as much as any man but a coating that gives off a toxic gas should not really be on sale in my view.
If you simply want to find the best cookware then go for ceramic and treat it carefully!
What’s your fave material for cookware? Why do you like it?