Which is the Safest Cookware?

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I often get asked “what cookware should I use?” It’s a great question because apart from being aware of the pesticides on produce, the mercury in fish and the chemicals generally in our food, it is important to realize that your choice of kitchenware can make a difference too, because they can contain chemicals which can leach into your food, Teflon in particular but also aluminum and lead and even PVC Plastic.

Here are my guidelines

  1. Avoid non stick pans, pots, bakeware and utensils because they contain Teflon. Although non stick kitchenware is very convenient, Teflon is made from perfluorinated compounds which have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems.
    http://www.ewg.org/research/pfc-dictionary
  2. If you use non stick kitchenware and the coating is coming off, you should not use it. Get new ones.
  3. If you use non stick kitchenware and the coating is intact, avoid heating them above 450F because above this temperature, they release toxic gases.
  4. Avoid aluminum pots and pans as it may cause aluminum to leach into food. Although the dangers of ingesting aluminum are disputed by some, I think it is silly to use them as we don’t know they are safe.
  5. Avoid ceramic dishware that is cracked or chipping because the glazes used in ceramic dishware often contain lead and cracked or chipping glazes may be more likely to leach lead into foods and liquids.
  6. Avoid dish racks made of plastic-coated wire, substituting instead stainless steel dish racks

So I suggest using glass bakeware and stainless steel or cast iron pots and pans. Stainless steel and glass mixing bowls are great too.

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  • Thanks!! Every form of cookware has pros and cons. Stainless steel is probably the best choice for everyday cookware due to its low cost and high durability. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

  • Li Shamas

    can you recommend a few brands?

  • EdnaJ

    What do you think of enameled cast iron, like Le Creuset? Also, do you think a stainless steel or clay-pot rice cooker would be healthier? Thanks!

  • I didn't know non- stick pans are related to cancer. Sheesh! I've always cooked my breakfast on those. Thanks for the warning.

  • Visitor

    Thanks.. I was feeling weird about about throwing out my trusty T-Fal nonstick pans, but not any more…

  • copasetic

    To #4, this has also been a concern with Stainless Steel.  There are quite a few articles about both metals, as they aren’t fully absorbed by your body and can lead to health issues later.  Your “coming off” idea is prudent for any surface I think except cast iron.  If cookware starts to pit, chip or peel can go into the recycle bin, the sandbox for your children, or the sculpture scrap heap. :-)

  • John

    I use non-stick stainless….I used to dislike cooking with it, but now I buy grass-fed butter (full of heart-healthy CLA) and put a dab in my skillet, and I don’t have a sticking problem. I don’t like cooking with olive oil anymore because when the heat would invariably get too high, I would get dizzy over the stove from the changing of chemical structure w/olive oil.

  • bigdog

    So T-Fal is not recommended Dr. Lipman. I’m going to buy a new set of cookware. Have had Macy’s “Tools of the Trade” for 20 years now. Stainless steel. Was looking into T-Fal…Can you compare the two for your readers.

  • safecook

    for me its the original cookware — the one made from natural clay — a mineral rich potent and inert raw material from nature. all these metals ones are 100% reactive. man has always cooked in clay, all the way up until just 2-3 generations ago and that’s when all these crazy health problems began. i got some from MEC clay cookware. they have some of the best natural cookware.

  • safecook

    the enamel is like a paint like substance. if you don’t like to eat paint then avoid enameled cookware. whether you like it or not some of it does get into food. just a little bit at a time but that’s enough to make organs dysfunctional over time. with cookware ,remember its just not the food and the pot, its also the heat that is a cytalist to all reactions. 100% unglazed natural clay is the best. choose the one that has no additives even mica (sodium silicate). there are some nice brands out there, I’ve been using MEC clay cookware and love it. am so much more healthier now.

  • Irina

    Good day, thank you for the info. I was googling MEC clay cookware but cannot find anything. Is this a brand and where may I find it? Thank you

  • Irina

    Good day, thank you for the info. I was googling MEC clay cookware but cannot find anything. Is this a brand and where may I find it? Thank you

  • George

    I have learned that It is not advisable to use metal utensils on stainless steel cookwares, because they will scratch and the nickel particles will leach into food and that is very dangerous to peoples’ health. Myself, I only use bamboo utensils, because they are eco-friendly and very safe and they do not scratch on stainless steel cookwares.

  • HealthyCook

    Yes, its a brand, its Miriams Earthen Cookware. I love their pots, really good and very healthy. the best ones I have in my kitchen.

  • Nancy

    Why is there a really bad metallic taste in the water if you boil water and a little baking soda with it?Is it the aluminum leaching into the water?

  • Anonymous

    We have birds (two conures and a lovebird). The fumes emitted by overheating teflon cookware are DEADLY to our pets! We choose cast iron and glass cookware.

    And everyone needs to watch: “The Age of Aluminium” on YouTube.

    What about the oven linings of barbecues? Many are made with aluminum. Is it a good idea to be cooking with such devices, especially at high temperatures? I enquired on a famous barbecue site, and the principal author responded that he was not aware of any such concerns. If we don’t research an issue, is it then NOT a problem?

    Despite the oft times ridicule of my team mates, I choose to drink beer after our soccer games from glass bottles instead of cans. This avoids most of the BPA and aluminum issues (There is a small amount of BPA in the bottle caps.)

    Many communities in the United States and Canada are currently debating the fluoridation of their water supplies. It is at the referendum level. This should be a choice. However, what is often not discussed is the fact that fluoride ions in our drinking water increase the likelihood of aluminum ingestion. On that basis alone we need to apply the “precautionary principle”.

    Thanks,

    Greg Shea (Lake Cowichan, BC)

  • Anonymous

    We have birds (two conures and a lovebird). The fumes emitted by overheating teflon cookware are DEADLY to our pets! We choose cast iron and glass cookware.

    And everyone needs to watch: “The Age of Aluminium” on YouTube.

    What about the oven linings of barbecues? Many are made with aluminum. Is it a good idea to be cooking with such devices, especially at high temperatures? I enquired on a famous barbecue site, and the principal author responded that he was not aware of any such concerns. If we don’t research an issue, is it then NOT a problem?

    Despite the oft times ridicule of my team mates, I choose to drink beer after our soccer games from glass bottles instead of cans. This avoids most of the BPA and aluminum issues (There is a small amount of BPA in the bottle caps.)

    Many communities in the United States and Canada are currently debating the fluoridation of their water supplies. It is at the referendum level. This should be a choice. However, what is often not discussed is the fact that fluoride ions in our drinking water increase the likelihood of aluminum ingestion. On that basis alone we need to apply the “precautionary principle”.

    Thanks,

    Greg Shea (Lake Cowichan, BC)

  • Pili

    Hi! I don’t know if u going to answer but I bee really concerned about this subject. I buying a glass pots, I have them in order. Please let me know if this are good or not? Thanks

  • K

    Stainless steel utensils if used for cooking leak chromium and nickel into the item being cooked. Stainless steel itself is made by adding chromium and nickel to iron. Cast iron is the best. Stainless steel however is better for storing oil and water (over plastic bottles) and better for serving dishes over ceramic ( due to the lead as you said).

    Still this is a fantastic article. And i have learned more than i shared. Thanks a lot. :) I

  • K

    Some kind of glass coookwares are not good too. Its best to use iron for cooking vessels and steel for serving vessels and wood/bamboo for spoons big and small.

  • Mike

    Iron isnt good too, it can oxide fats and turn them rancid. This is a big risk for heart disease.

  • Anonymous

    Avoid cooking all together and everything is dangerous. Come on really?

  • amelia campbell

    Is Aluminium dish rack sage to use?

  • The Xtrema cookware above uses a nano-ceramic coating and seems to be pretty safe, but not sure about the less expensive brands. Sometimes you get what you pay for. But I would say it’s probably safer than Teflon for sure!
    http://mybestcookwarereviews.com/

  • The Extreme cookware above uses a nano-ceramic coating and seems to be pretty safe, but not
    sure about the less expensive brands. Sometimes you get what you pay for. But I would say it’s probably safer than Teflon for sure!

  • Itachi Madara

    Thank you!

  • Mickey

    myy 80 yr old mother has been cooking in glass pots for over forty years now…..she is healthy as a horse!! Do your own research and don’t believe everything you read here…..who are these experts?

  • Yana

    Is it safe to use visions cookware? They site says that: Please note that to satisfy requirements concerning consumer warnings on packaging at time of sale and/or advertisement in the state of California (so-called California Proposition 65), only traces of heavy metals (including lead) are permitted in any of our products. The current limit for presence of leachable lead in order to satisfy California requirements is no more than 0.100 ppm (1 tenth of one part per million) when obtained under test conditions. At no time have our results exceeded those which are permissible under the guidelines mentioned above (which are believed to be the most stringent in the world). Also note that tests for the presence of heavy metals are conducted for World Kitchen by internationally certified, third-party laboratories under strict conditions, by trained technicians, and using atomic absorption spectrophotometry analysis following carefully monitored preparation. These steps are necessary to minimize any possibility of contamination or false reading during preparation, testing or analysis.

    What do you think? I heard glass is best to use…

  • alicem94

    The healthiest cookware to use is MEC pure clay. The reason why is because its 100% natural and its non toxic. No chemicals and other toxins get into your food.

  • alicem94

    The healthiest cookware to use is MEC pure clay. The reason why is because its 100% natural and its non toxic. No chemicals and other toxins get into your food.

  • Sam

    Choosing the right cookware can be difficult. I’ve been using MEC pure clay pots and its been a life changer. It is the healthiest way to cook because its 100% natural and it’s non toxic. Also because no chemicals are getting into your food.

  • Sam

    Choosing the right cookware can be difficult. I’ve been using MEC pure clay pots and its been a life changer. It is the healthiest way to cook because its 100% natural and it’s non toxic. Also because no chemicals are getting into your food.

  • Sara A

    Stainless often contains aluminum and iron can leach too. So far cermacor is the only product I can find that seems to be safe since no one seems to know what they’re talking about.

  • Raemond Pedraja

    NO NO NO… you are the kind of naive person that i just can’t stand. The kind who spouts about stuff that they just don’t know anything about. I know that you’re probably good intentioned, but i can’t stand your completely idiotic “logic”. I meet SO MANY people like you who are the “Oh it’s all natural, so it’s healthy” type…. pay attention ; Aluminum, iron, chromium, lead, copper, (all elements) are 100% natural!!! Even cyanide, arsenic, lectin, (all poisons) are 100% natural!!!! Oh My Freaking God!!! Just because something is 100% natural DOES NOT MEAN IT ISN’T TOXIC!!!!! Teflon may be artificial, but lead is a naturally occurring substance, so is aluminum etc. And everything is made up of “chemicals”, clay (including red clay) is made up of (very little) organic and (mostly) inorganic compounds (read:chemicals). Clay is mostly the result of silicate rock being weathered by carbonic acid, resulting in deposits of iron oxide and such. WATER, SALT, GOLD, SUGAR are ALL considered chemical substances. Chemicals are not the devil, chemicals are the building blocks for all of the material world. So what’s not a chemical substance? Light, heat, electricity etc.

    I’m not trying to be mean (i’m really not), i just find it hard for the world to progress when people don’t even know what they are talking about, and yet they talk about it with such conviction and self belief. Like i said, you’re probably well intentioned, so i wish you the best in finding what is healthiest for you. ( i will probably look into clay pots now, as i don’t like my current cookware)

  • Steven Offord

    No, enamel in this context is vitreous enamel, ie: glass. Similar to a ceramic glaze. The only hazardous kind I have herd of was yellow imported from Asia and contained cadmium yellow pigment. Reputable manufacturers such as Le Cruset will be as safe as glass.

  • Carlos Warner

    I have never read so much malarkey as I have here.
    Let’s address the idea that Stainless Steel would “Leak Chromium and Nickel” into you food first.
    Alloys are a solid solution with a crystalline structure. Atoms within a crystal lattice cannot be removed from that structure without significant input of energy. The temperatures achieved during cooking are not even close to what is required to start affecting alloy crystal structures. The melting temp of 304SS is 2550F. Yes some migration will begin to occur before melting but at ~500F (max) no changes to the crystalline structure will occur, thus, no “leaking of metals from the alloy”

  • Carlos Warner

    Reamond,
    Thank you for your words of wisdom here. Reading all the false information I was reading here was getting my ire up too. I am a chemist and understand your frustration completely.

    Here is someone saying that “the only safe way to cook” is in an unglazed earthenware clay pot. One problem with that claim I see is as with all natural products, elemental composition and consistency will change with time and the source of raw material.

    Your “Natural” pot could have lead, cadmium, selenium, arsenic, and others.

  • myri

    A friend of mine is a ceramic artist and I’ve learned a lot from her. In the US almost all ceramic glazes sold are food safe. If they are not, they are sold for decorative use purposes. Ceramic cookware that is glazed is Stoneware and fired to high temperatures and completely food safe. Even low fire dinnerware if produced by local US artists and companies are food safe, lead free. The problem lies with IMPORTED dinnerware of any kind, most dangerous from China, which has plenty of lead. Specially those of very bright colors: Red, Orange, dark pinks, Purples and other bright colors. The shiny blacks contain manganese (toxic). These companies in China mass produce millions of ceramic ware daily and those millions come out exactly, exactly alike, for that to happen, do it fast, sell cheap and make a profit you have to use toxic chemicals. Completely food safe, well made ceramics by local artists is 100% better. You will see little variations in the final product, making them each a unique work of art and positively all food safe.

  • NancyNurse

    I can’t find Cermacor pots and pans anywhere? Can you please advise? Thank you… also, would you know if a non-stick pan would be toxic-free at these lower temperatures?

  • NancyNurse

    Would these clay pots be more non-stick than stainless steel?

  • laurakraber

    Amazon sells them and also on Ceramcor.com; non-stick pans are probably safer when they are new before the coating starts to come off and also at lower temperatures.
    -Be Well coach, Laura

  • NancyNurse

    Thank you, Laura… which would you personally prefer? The ceramcor or a quality non-stick pan?

  • Yvonne Xu

    I read it somewhere that glass cookware also contain lead.

  • laurakraber

    I avoid anything with teflon.

  • Jeannie Montgomery

    and Alzheimer’s if they have any aluminum in them. It’s wise to be educated in how we prepare our food, the very thing we nurture our bodies with relies on it. Nearly all modern day cookware can be detrimental to your health.

  • T. Pope

    I work as a chemist for a cooker manufacturer and get asked this question all the time. All pots and pans will leach substances because of the acidic nature of foods. Non-stick is only harmful when it starts to break down by which time it is no longer non stick and you throw it away anyway. Glass and enamel pots contain borosilicate glass that leaches borax, a mutagen, stainless nickel and chrome both carcinogens. Clay contains lots of heavy metals as they are prevalent in nature. Ceramic pans contain metal pigments. The argument is futile, all of them are safe when made to the correct standards for grade and acid resistance, any substances that do leech are already present in similar amounts in the food you are cooking anyway. My preference is non-stick for frying, cast iron enamelled for stews, and a good set of stainless pots. It is more important to consider the food your cooking than the pot you cook it in.

  • wellness cook

    Enamel and glass are two different things. Pure glass is made from sand and cannot be used for cooking. The thing they call glass today is made from leaded silica and has many additives to help it withstand thermal shock. One of the chemicals included is petalite, an ore of lithium. Enamel and ceramic glazes are a combination of many different chemicals, most of which are toxic and inorganic oxides. A comprehensive list of these chemicals can be found by doing a simple google search. Here is one:

    https://miriamsearthencookware.com/2016/02/23/some-of-you-have-asked-what-makes-up-glazes-ceramic-clay-other-man-made-clays-here-is-the-answer/

    It’s best to avoid glazed, enameled cookware because a lot of these chemicals are reactive and easily leach into food. Metals are no good either because they’re highly reactive too. Pure clay cookware is the Safest, which is why I use only Miriams Earthen Cookware.

  • Steven Offord

    Yes, sand, a generic term for many minerals within a particular particle size bracket. The sand used in glass making is silica sand. Ordinary glass will not stand the thermal shock or temperature extremes of cooking; that is why cooking vessels are made from borosilicate glass. The most familiar brand of this is Pyrex. There is a persistent myth around the internet that Pyrex has lead in it. Lead crystal glass does.The material fancy liquor decanters and glasses are made from. This glass will not stand heat. Borosilicate cookware was developed from a previous use of borosilicate for gas and oil lamp glasses and lead acid battery jars. These had lead in and perhaps this is the source of the myth. Borosilicate cookware such as Pyrex NEVER has had lead in and is perfectly safe. Phthalate is a softening ingredient in flexible PVC such as inflatable children’s toys and is a volatile endocrine disrupter,( it mimics hormones). It too would not stand being used in cookware. Some glazes also contain lead and pots glazed with these are not recommended for food storage or cooking. In Europe we have strict certification of glazed cookware to ensure it does not contain soluble toxic ingredients. I have heard that in the US there have been some imports from Mexico with lead glaze and in the UK there was a warning not to buy yellow enamel ware from India as it contained cadmium, which is extremely toxic.

  • Tara HSM

    I loved your comment.

  • Tara HSM

    Reading all comments i just have one conclusion: Let’s stop cooking food. We can go back with our primitive brothers and try to eat raw food. Now it seems everything is bad, even the aluminium, stainless, ceramic. I appreciate all the information, but please, don’t go to the extremes.Humans are being using these materials for millenniums.

  • Terri

    Are you associated with Miriam’s Earthen Cookware?

  • wellness cook

    Yes, I only cook in MEC pure-clay all the time.

  • Maria

    T. Pope what do u think about Woll Diamont Plus?

  • Jae Earnest

    I’ve also noticed that the stainless steel cookware has an aluminum base. Dear goodness, talk about population control……….

  • Tee Bako

    I agree 100% with the clay pots, its the most natural way of cooking, however after some research I bought myself a set of Vital Nutrition cookware, i think they call it waterless cookware and they are made with titanium and surgical steel, they have the same properties as a clay pot but with the ability to control the temperature.

    http://www.vitalnutritions.co.uk

  • Shorty20122012 .

    Stainless steel leeches nickel and chromium into food:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284091/

    Explain this if stainless steel cookware is safe? This is an actual source for information unless most of these articles I find on Google pertaining to cookware types.

  • Lazy J

    You sound like expert but you are not. Read this NIH study:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284091/

    “Stainless steel cookware can be an overlooked source of nickel and chromium, where the contribution is dependent on stainless steel grade, cooking time, and cookware usage.”

    “All tomato sauce samples that were cooked in the presence of stainless steel using typical cooking procedures showed significantly elevated Ni and Cr concentrations. “