Even once you’ve tossed out your Teflon, it can be hard to figure out what to replace it with. Read on to discover the safest cookware materials. Plus, our personal picks for the best non-toxic cookware you’ll find this year.
Buying organic ingredients is fantastic, but what about the cookware you use to prepare them? Whether it’s a spatula or your favorite frying pan, the items that you use to cook your food can affect how safe your meals truly are. Use this non-toxic cookware guide to learn what materials may be causing you harm, and the cookware to use instead.
Your Non-Toxic Cookware Guide
Can cookware really be toxic?
It seems totally backward that toxic materials or chemicals can be used to make the items that we use to prepare food every day. Unfortunately, several popular types of cookware for sale today contain materials that are detrimental to human health. In particular, many non-stick coatings contain harmful “forever” chemicals like PTFE. Not only can non-stick coatings break down and chip off into food in the cooking process, but toxic fumes are also released from these coatings when they are subject to high heat. Exposure to the fumes can cause sudden, flu-like symptoms. And studies suggest that long-term exposure to PTFE is linked to cancer. While many argue that non-stick cookware containing these chemicals is still safe to use at lower temperatures, why not choose non-toxic cookware that’s chemical-free, to begin with?
What is the safest cookware for your health?
As awareness about the dangers of certain types of cookware has grown, so have the so-called “green” alternatives. But, as with anything, be aware of greenwashing. In particular, many companies selling non-stick pans may celebrate the fact that their product is PFOA-free. However, the same dangerous chemicals are often simply re-named and still used for these products. To avoid the headache and ensure that your cookware is truly toxin-free, use our non-toxic cookware guide to find items made with these natural materials.
When it comes to safe and all-natural, ceramic is one of the best non-toxic cookware options on the market. While other materials on this list are made from metals that require extractive mining processes, 100% ceramic cookware is of naturally occurring clay. While non-toxic cookware sets made from ceramic are an investment, this material is free of chemicals or toxic coatings and is considered one of the safest materials for cookware. Ceramic cookware needs to be used at a lower heat than other materials, but the result is a surface with non-stick qualities that heats evenly and is resistant to scratches and stains. Ceramic is also non-reactive, which means that it’s safe to use with acidic foods like tomatoes, and it will never impart flavors into your food.
A lighter-weight cousin to cast iron, carbon steel cookware is commonly used in professional kitchens. And now, this non-toxic cookware option is gaining popularity among home chefs, too. Carbon steel cookware is made of two materials: iron and carbon. This blend is what makes carbon steel weigh less than cast iron as well as heat up faster. This type of cookware gains its non-stick properties from proper seasoning rather than dangerous chemicals. And when cared for properly, a carbon steel pan can easily be used for messy tasks like frying eggs or searing meat, with little residue left to clean up.
One of the original all-natural cookware materials, cast iron is incredibly durable, nearly impossible to damage, and once again, a pure, chemical-free material. Cast iron is made from- you guessed it- iron. This type of non-toxic cookware is certainly heavier than other options, but this is easily outweighed (see what we did there?) by its durability. Cast iron, when well cared for, can last for generations. And, while it will never be entirely non-stick, proper seasoning creates a surface that’s ideal for searing foods while still remaining smooth enough for delicate tasks. Cast iron can impart flavors, and small amounts of iron, into foods. These qualities can be beneficial to those needing more iron in their diets, but cast iron should be avoided by people who need to limit their iron intake.
Choosing the Right Cookware For Your Kitchen
Our Picks For The Best Non-Toxic Cookware of 2022
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. We’re happy to recommend a few non-toxic picks that have been tried, tested, and loved by the Bambu staff.
Our Favorite Non-Toxic Frying Pan: BK Black Carbon Steel Pan
An affordable alternative to non-stick frying pans, this carbon steel pan is a great choice for those looking for their first piece of chemical-free cookware. We love that this non-toxic frying pan is easy to season, clean, and works perfectly for many cooking tasks. The cast-iron handle makes for an attractive pan that can easily move from the stove to the table.
A Long-Standing Favorite: Griswold Cast Iron
Although no longer in operation, keep your eye out for Griswold cast iron pans at garage sales and antique stores. These vintage pans are now around 100 years old and continue to showcase extreme durability and cooking performance that sets them apart from modern cast irons. Griswold cast iron pans are a favorite choice of Bambu founders, Jeff and Rachel and are ideal for searing and sauteeing.
Best Non-Toxic Cookware Sets: Caraway Kitchen Set
This bestselling brand is known for its non-toxic cookware sets- and for good reason. Caraway non-stick cookware sets are made from ceramic-coated aluminum and free of the chemicals that make other non-stick items so toxic. We love these non-toxic cookware sets because they are ethically manufactured, shipped in plastic-free packaging, and contain everything a home chef could need.
Overall Best Non-Toxic Cookware: Xtrema Ceramic Cookware
When it comes to the best non-toxic cookware, Xtrema is the gold standard. Crafting their cookware from high-quality 100% ceramic material, Xtrema’s cookware is as safe as it gets. You’ll never need to worry about chemicals, coatings, or unsafe fumes. And, with everything from teapots to dutch ovens, you’ll find cookware to fit any need on their website.
The Gold Standard for Non-Toxic Utensils
Once you’ve decided on the best non-toxic cookware for your kitchen, be sure to use to right cooking utensils. Although it’s not discussed as much as cookware, many kitchen utensils are also made using less-than-clean materials. In particular, plastic utensils leech harmful, cancer-causing chemicals into food. Even silicone, a common choice for spatulas, has not been proven safe. Instead of these synthetic materials, look for non-toxic chemicals made from renewable, natural materials, like bamboo. Certified organic bamboo utensils like these are proven food-safe and free of glues, lacquers, and chemicals. And while metal utensils can scratch or damage many of our choices for the best non-toxic cookware sets, bamboo won’t.