Which nontoxic cookware and bakeware are the safest? This is one of the most popular questions I get asked, both on Instagram and in my Facebook group.
What if I told you there is no such thing as nontoxic cookware? As I’ve said prior, it’s impossible to avoid all chemicals completely. However with cookware, we can make choices to purchase and utilize cleaner options.
The best options for cookware is going to include stainless steel or cast iron. These are by far, cleaner choices than nonstick pans.
For baking, glass and stainless steel work best. Avoid those nonstick cake pans with Teflon coatings! Stainless steel will be a better choice than nonstick coatings which are often found on baking pans from popular brands such as Williams Sonoma, etc.
Is there a clean, nontoxic, nonstick pan? The short answer is no. Nonstick pans, regardless of their coating, contain a higher level of chemicals and the risk of being exposed to more toxins, in comparison to stainless steel and cast iron. Clearly, Teflon is the worst choice for cooking because of its coating, and it can give off fumes that are harmful to breathe in.
Is there still risk with stainless steel and cast iron?
With the decreased toxin exposure from using stainless steel, there is still risk of nickel or aluminum leaching. With cast iron, there is still risk of exposure to heavy metals. There is risk with everything. But utilizing my favorite options below will help you decrease your toxin exposure.
All this being said, I have a few favorites that I often recommend to families for “safer” cookware. Here’s a list of my favorite nontoxic cookware.
Stainless Steel Cookware & Bakeware
Pyrex Stainless Steel Baking Dishes (This set of dishes is just one of many!)
360 cookware offers a great option for a slow cooker. Pyrex Baking Dishes are my absolute favorite. They even come with Tupperware lids, so when your food has completely cooled, you can throw on the lid and store it in the fridge instead of transferring it to another storage container. Team Far has amazing bakeware. They have muffin tins, cake pans, etc. Their cookie sheets rock, and we use them daily.
Cast Iron Cookware
Stargazer tests their pans for heavy metals. You can even purchase a pan unseasoned, and do it yourself. Otherwise, they use grape seed oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil to season their pans. While seed oils are not the healthiest, since much research on them differs, you can buy them unseasoned and season them yourself. These pans will last for generations. They are by far, my favorite. I realize not every family can afford to purchase Stargazer cast iron, because they often run on the more expensive side of cookware. However they are well made. The runners up that many families love, are Smithey or Finex. Lodge Cast Iron can be considered but does use soy to coat their pans. Although the soy is GMO free, we know that soy is an endocrine disruptor, in any form. So if you can afford it, go with Stargazer. Add them to your long terms goals list, if needed.
Additionally, cast iron cookware with an enamel coating can be more harmful than without. Antique cast iron isn’t safe either. These need to be considered before deciding to use this as your choice for cookware. Cast iron does leach iron into foods, when utilized for cooking. This is something additional to be considered.
A study done by the Dietetic Association published in July 1986 found measurable iron levels in foods when cooked with cast iron. “Researchers found that cooking in an iron skillet greatly increases the iron content of many foods. Acidic foods that have a higher moisture content, such as applesauce and spaghetti sauce, absorbed the most iron”. Applesauce increased in iron content from 0.35 mg. to 7.3 mg. Spaghetti sauce jumped from 0.6 mg. to 5.7 mg. of iron. It was demonstrated that food cooked for longer periods of time absorbed more iron than food that was heated more quickly.
I have a lot to say about Greenpan. When considering every nonstick pan that exists, there is no clean option. Looking at their testing reports, whether they are made from ceramic, nonstick coatings, etc. they all contain some level of chemicals. Greenpan has faced lawsuits for their false marketing of being completely nontoxic. But are they the best choice for a nonstick pan? Yes...according to their testing reports. It is made with a thermolon coating, which in short, is a ceramic coating that keeps the food from sticking. Greenpan does have some complaints that fall along the line of being scratched easily, which leads to food sticking. It is important to note that the cookware instructions identify the importance of staying at medium heat or below. Unrefined and organic olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil are great for cooking in general, and great for a nonstick pan. The company doesn’t recommend using spray oils, which can lead to sticking.
So, are they safe?
Greenpan’s testing reports do disclose leaching if aluminum, at 0.27ppm. Although this may sound concerning, this detectable amount within drinking water, which is 0.6ppm. Some heavy metals were detected from their reports, but it’s hard to know how much. Cooking for over two hours on a pan with acidic juices is where the leaching was detected. Greenpan does not have a Prop 65 warning label, which means cadmium and lead are not detected in concerning amounts. Caraway, however, does have testing reports where cadmium is detected, making it a less safe option. Unfortunately cooking on ceramic isn’t totally safe. This is why I disclose that there is no such thing as a nontoxic, nonstick pan. For more information on what’s considered safe from the Ecology Center, read the recommendations here.
Greenpan has testing reports that don’t fully disclose things in detail.
Since we get exposure to heavy metals on a daily basis, I suggest that your family settles on a detox option. TRS by Coseva is my favorite option for a zeolite detox. They have been 3rd party tested for safety and all their testing reports for their zeolites are available via their website. It is even deemed safe for breastfeeding and pregnancy, since the zeolites trap the heavy metals and excrete them from the body. It's a spray you take daily, starting with one spray a day. You increase the amount of sprays over time. TRS also removes plastics, pesticides, and even mold from the body. Additionally, detox baths and smoothies are important to rid the body of excess toxins and heavy metals.
Ultimately, there is no truly safe cookware option when it comes to finding and utilizing nontoxic cookware. But switching out your Teflon cookware for these healthier options, is a step in the right direction for decreasing your daily toxic load.