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A Pot (and Pan) Dilemma

A Pot (and Pan) Dilemma

Years ago I quit using nonstick pans when I found out the coating used to make them—polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly known as Teflon—was found to degrade at high temperatures, releasing fine particles from the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) into the air, which could be potentially toxic when inhaled.

Even the “green pans” are coated primarily with Thermalon, which is mostly silicon dioxide. While in theory silicone is safe to cook with, it is not clear if other components of these pans are problematic.

I stocked up on cast iron and stainless steel, but I will admit that I missed those nonstock surfaces. I researched and researched until I felt good with these nonstick pans and put them on my Christmas list last year. I received two and use them everyday. Are they the absolute safest? It’s hard to say, so let me give you a few more options.


Cast iron. While iron can leach into food, it’s generally accepted as being safe.

Enamel-covered Cast Iron are fine too.

Stainless steel is made with varying amounts of nickel and chromium. Try cooking food at a medium to medium high temp to minimize sticking. If cooking acidic food, remove the food after cooking and store it in a non-metal storage container.  An advantage is that these pans can be washed in the dishwasher.

Lead-Free Ceramic. Are ceramic pans safe? As long as the paint or cookware coating is lead-free. They are nonstick too!

Copper pans lined with another, non-reactive metal are safe.

The good news is Teflon has done away with their toxic coating and you will be okay when buying brand new nonstick pans. Always take care of them though! When you start to see wear, it’s best to get rid of them. Check out for recycling options before sending them to the landfill.

I am not an expert when it comes to these pans, but I hope I made you think about what you are cooking with in your kitchen today.

Have you researched the best pans to use? Share your thoughts with us!

This guest post is written by Courtney, a crunchy mama of 3 boys, who is passionate about healthy living and keeping her home green. Check out her blog at

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