Tip Tuesday: Do You Know What's in Your Non-Stick Pans?

Usually a cook's favourite kitchen item; non-stick pots & pans.  They heat up fast and clean like a dream.  But did you ever wonder how those magical pans work?  And what do they use to make them non-stick?  Well, you might be surprised!

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) is a synthetic compound with many applications, the most well know is Teflon.  So what's the worry?  Well at low temperatures, Teflon is stable and nonreactive.  But when you heat it up toxic fumes are released at high temperatures.  These fumes can kill pet birds and can even cause flu-like symptoms in people!

The non-stick coating is made with PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) which is a carcinogenic chemical.  And when heated it too can emit toxic fumes while you cook.

What's considered 'high heat' you ask? Well, here's what they say: “At temperatures above 500ºF, the breakdown begins and smaller chemical fragments are released,” explains Kurunthachalam Kannan, Ph.D., an environmental toxicologist at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center. DuPont, inventor and manufacturer of Teflon, agrees that 500 degrees is the recommended maximum for cooking.

Now, you say you don't cook at that high heat, so I must be OK, right? Well check out this little test that Good Housekeeping did comparing a lightweight, medium weight and  heavier non-stick pans under various cooking conditions.  You might be surprised by the results, I sure was!

Scrambled eggs 218° F
Cooked on medium for 3 minutes in a lightweight pan
Empty pan, preheated 507° F
Heated on high for 1 3/4 minutes in a lightweight pan
Chicken-and-pepper stir-fry 318° F
Cooked on high for 5 1/4 minutes in a lightweight pan
Pan preheated with 2 Tbsp. oil 514° F
Heated on high for 2 1/2 minutes in a lightweight pan
Bacon 465° F
Cooked on high for 5 1/2 minutes in a medium-weight pan
Hamburgers 577° F
Cooked on high for 8 1/2 minutes in a heavyweight pan
Steak 656° F
Cooked on high for 10 minutes in a lightweight pan

Click HERE to read the full article.

So, I now must confess....I do (did) have non-stick pans in my kitchen!  AHHH!  But I'm happy to report they are now gone!  There's enough toxic things in the world that I don't need to be inhaling nasty chemicals while I'm making dinner.

Forget convenience, I say ditch the non-stick and scrub those pans!  Use your stainless steel fry pan or a cast iron one.  And yes, if you can't live without non-stick, why not check out some safer alternatives?  We just picked up some Original Green Pans - which are ceramic coated and still non-stick.  Stay tuned for my review on my new Green Pans next week.

Do you use non-stick pots & pans?  What's your favourite pan to cook with?  


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 photo credit: JPC24M via photopin cc

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I have just bought a new set of non-stick ware. As a chef one knows that non-stick ware is for light cooking, anything over 400 and you use cast iron. If you heat non-stick over 500, 1 - you're mad, 2 - you are destroying the non-stick, 3 - you shouldn't be in the kitchen.

    Good article though.



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