I believe that one of the most important things you can do to keep your family safe is to detox your kitchen. Getting rid of foods that contain different contaminants and hard to discover allergens is important, but a big area of major concern is your cookware. This is because oven and stovetop heat often can activate more dangerous chemicals in your cookware and put into your food. Using nontoxic cookware is a critical step in keeping your family safe. Let’s look at some of the top dangers and what you can do about them, to help keep your kids safe.
Teflon: The Dangers of Nonstick Coating
While using nonstick cookware seems like a great time saver, that nonstick coating can actually make you sick. These pans are coated with a chemical called PTFE, commonly known as Teflon. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), when heated, Teflon releases chemicals that can be very toxic, especially at high heats. It can also cause flu-like symptoms (the “Teflon flu”). The American Cancer Society reports that one of those chemicals, PFOA, has been linked to tumors and cancers, and the IARC, a research division of the World Health Organization, has labeled it “possibly carcinogenic to humans” – that is, a cancer causing substance. PFOA has also been linked to thyroid disease in a 2010 study. New Jersey saw PFOA contamination of their water at unsafe levels, prompting at least one Congressman put forth a bill calling for the CDC to examine the health risks of this toxin.
Aluminum: The Alzheimer Link and More
Another very dangerous chemical that many people use in their kitchen for cooking and storage is aluminum, which can leach into food, especially when heated. Studies have shown a link between Alzheimer’s and aluminum. In 1989, the respected medical journal the Lancet reported that “people who were exposed to high levels of aluminum in municipal water systems were at least 50 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those drinking water with low levels of aluminum.” However, in 2014, Professor Chris Exley of Keele University and his team linked it to cognitive decline and Alzheimers. Professor Exley has also just recently found some of the “highest levels of aluminum ever recorded” in the human brain as well. Could aluminum be linked to this too?
Aluminum has also been linked to DNA damage and aging of cells, breast and prostate cancer, osteoporosis, and can damage or irritate may other systems. Also hotly debated on this front is the safety of anodized aluminum cookware, however these are normally covered with a nonstick coating, so you should avoid these as well. Remember to avoid all sources of aluminum in your kitchen, including tin foil, pans, pots, cheap utensils and more.
Another popular option is silicone bakeware. While it is FDA approved, we all know that approval means very little in terms of actual studies done for toxicity, and there aren’t many studies done to date specifically on its safety. However, there are caveats if you are buying silicone products. According to LifeYourWay.net, they may contain toxic coatings for oils and many silicone mats are made of fiberglass covered by silicone. You also want to make sure you use food grade silicone. There is much debate over whether or not silicone is safe when heated. To me, this choice has too many “unknowns” about cooking food in it but I do use silicone utensils and sometimes for cold storage.
Note that “silicone” should not be confused with either silicon or silica.
The Problem with Stainless Steel
Stainless steel in of itself is a good choice, unfortunately, it is often mixed with other chemicals that can leach into your food when heated, such as nickel and chrome. According to Ray Peat, nonmagnetic stainless steel contains nickel. Not only is nickel allergenic for many of us, but it is also related to lung health issues and nickel dust is possibly a human carcinogen. No doubt if you have sensitivities or allergies, you should avoid these pans. Nickel is not added to other stainless steel items like mixing bowls, so you can continue to use those items.
Ceramic Coated Cookware
I’ve been asked about this and so I wanted to address this topic. A few companies have come up offering a green solution to this problem: ceramic coated cookware using technology like Greblon or ThermolonTM . The first one is GreenPan, who claim to offer nontoxic nonstick cookware. Pans are coated with ThermolonTM, which is a ceramic nonstick coating. According to Mother Nature Network, Thermolon contains silicone and aluminum so I would avoid them.
There has also been a complaint and research that all brands of ceramic coated cookware do not last. That is, the ceramic coating fades with use (about 6 months), and that means that probably that coating is leeching into your food. According to Rebecca Wood, cookware that has a ceramic coating achieves that by first dipping a metal pot into plastic, creating a surface that degrades over time, which can then leach toxic substances. She advises avoiding them but making sure to buy 100% ceramic cookware.
Another brand is OrGREENic, which claims to be a nonstick ceramic pan that has to be seasoned, has had a number of complaints and has even been called a scam. Others have said that ceramic pans do not need to be seasoned. There was little positive information on this pan and I’d avoid it altogether.
For years, I’ve used cast iron, but I want to be upfront: this cookware is not without some of its issues. For example, there is some controversy as to whether or not cast iron leaches iron. According to TheKitchn.com, research shows they do leach, especially when cooking acidic foods. Now it’s true that well-seasoned pans leach less but honestly, do you have time for seasoning? I don’t. I don’t know what is going on with my cast iron right now because it’s just too difficult to find the time to work with them. You also have to be sure you don’t use a brand that mixes with metals.
Additionally, cast iron can be extremely beastly to clean. You don’t want to scratch them, you can’t use microfiber or you’ll mess up the coating, you can’t soak them overnight or they’ll rust, and you should not overdo it if you do use soap. It’s depressing when I’ve slaved over a large dinner and there are tons of crusty cast iron pans to clean.
I like Lodge pans as they have a great deal of variety and are readily available, but be aware that they do use a highly refined soy-based oil to season their pans so you may want to re-season them after you buy if you are allergic to soy.
The Solution? Ceramic Nontoxic Cookware by Xtrema
The nontoxic cookware solution I like? Ceramcor sent me a piece of their Xtrema Ceramic Cookware to review and I was absolutely thrilled. In fact, I could find nothing negative about Xtrema in terms of toxicity. This is not ceramic coated, but cookware that actually is ceramic. For this cookware, you want to make sure the cookware is made from clay, water, and various inorganic natural minerals found in the earth.
These pans are free from metals, such as lead, cadmium, nickel, and aluminum, and other toxic heavy metals as well and they don’t leach any chemicals into your food. They are flexible for your stove top, in the oven, under the broiler, in the microwave on the grill in a microwave oven, in a convection oven, and in the toaster oven. You can safely cook acidic foods like salsa and tomato sauce since the acids won’t eat away at the lining. When cooking with should utensils, you should use nylon, wood or silicone tools so that you don’t scratch the surface.
The cooking experience was awesome. The Xtrema 10″ 100% Ceramic Versa Short Handled Skillet with Cover comes with silicone handles, ensuring you don’t burn your hands, whether you are on stove top or baking. It comes in several fashionable colors. It’s big and deep and it’s bigger than a family of four needs!
Food cooked easily and quickly and came out delicious. Nothing leached, nothing burnt, nothing too difficult to clean. I absolutely recommend you try this cookware! It is ceramic though, so even though it’s dishwasher safe, I recommend you hand clean to ensure you don’t chip it.
As for me, I LOVE it!! I picked a beautiful blue and it fits my new kitchen look just right. Interested in more options? You can purchase now from my affiliate shop:
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