Ceramic–The Healthiest Cookware
 Choice

Ceramic Tureen
Ceramic Tureen

Since the 1980s I’ve cherished 100% ceramic cookware. To understand why, let’s consider roasted marshmallows. Some folks like to quickly toast/scorch the outside of their marshmallows, while others carefully slow-roast their soft little pillows until the heat deeply penetrates the core, enhancing the flavor throughout and—careful now—melting the sticky goodness right off the twig.

Because metal cookware quickly absorbs and emits heat (it has high thermal conductivity), a thin metal pot is ideal for bringing liquids to a rapid boil or for stir-frying when you want the outside to quickly cook or sear. In other words, slow heat transfer is not a desired feature in a pasta pot, stock pot or wok.

Ceramics, on the other hand, have a lower thermal conductivity than metal. They slowly absorb and emit heat, and unlike metal pots, they radiate healthful far infrared energy. Ceramic cookery slowly, gently infuses the food throughout and enhances the food’s subtle flavors. To complete the marshmallow analogy, while a marshmallow would quickly scorch in a hot steel wok, in a ceramic pot you could slowly warm it into goo.

So while a pure ceramic pot is slower to heat up, once hot it evenly and gently conveys heat, making it valuable for every cooking application but flash cooking. I also favor 100% ceramic cookware because it is nonreactive and free of metals, so there’s no chance of it tainting the food with metallic or synthetic ions.

Note: So-called “ceramic” nonstick cookware is not recommended. These nonstick coatings are not a true ceramic; rather they’re a chemically based polymer that covers an inexpensive metal pan or pot. With normal use they will pit, wear and degrade and then heavy metals will leach into your food.. A few of such examples include: CeraStone Granite, Thermolon, Scanpan, Suntoza, Scanpan Titanium Ceramic Coated, Ozeri Stone Earth, Pedrini, Neoflam, Terraflavor and Happy Call.

Let’s go back to the 1980s for a second: Brown rice had then been a key dietary staple for me for 15 years. I knew its flavor. Then I had my first taste of it made in a ceramic insert, called an Ohsawa pot that nestles inside a metal pot. What a revelation. Although the difference was subtle, the rice was detectably sweeter and tenderer. I was a ceramic convert!

Traditional ceramics are most often available as dish ware (like the illustrated tureen above), vases or bakeware (like casseroles and ramekins) and valued for both their beauty and  non-reactivity. However, they’re subject to cracking with sudden temperature changes.

Today there’s a new ceramic line of high temperature fired cookware backed by a 50-year performance guarantee against breakage resulting from hot or cold thermal shock. This line of moderately priced 100% ceramic cookware, produced by Ceramcor is available as both Xtrema and Mercola.

20% Off All Ceramic Skillets
I’ve been enjoying Xtrema cookware since 2009. Compared to conventional ceramic and earthenware pots, they’re durable. Though I haven’t slow roasted a marshmallow in one, these pots are non reactive,  enhance the flavors of foods and are a pleasure to handle and use.

Both ceramic and earthenware pots are made from clay and non-reactive. In terms of durability, ceramics are superior to earthenware (and metal is more durable than either). And when it comes to enhancing the subtle flavors of food, earthenware is without par.

Other non-reactive choices are: CorningWare’s Visions pots are inexpensive and made of pyro-ceramic or vitro ceramic. But as these light brown pots that look like glass are poor heat conductors, they have limited applications. Another non-reactive choice is enamel, like Le Creuset.

May you be well nourished,

Rebecca

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94 Responses to Ceramic–The Healthiest Cookware
 Choice

  1. Hi, as Xtreme Ceramcor is not available in my country of Indonesia, but the product of World Kitchen is available.

    I have a special needs child so it is really a concern about the cookware.

    What do you think of their products?
    I am now using Visions which is a glass.

  2. my expensive Xtrema skillet broke after slipping a few inches into my stainless steel sink – what a waste of a lot of money after just a few uses.

  3. Hi Rebecca, thank you for finally saying all non stick cookware is toxic which I have believed a long time though they still try to come out with newer versions. Like you said once the coating is cut or scratched you are exposed to the metal.

    I continue to research the cookware and have found ceramic to be the best. I’m concerned about Xtrema because it’s made in China. As ceramics are made with water would the poor quality of water in China make these pots not safe? Thank you.

    • Ceramic is non-reactive. So no matter the quality of the water mixed with the dry ceramic material, a finished ceramic pot will not leach heavy metals or other contaminants into your food. Not to worry.

  4. Hi Rebecca,
    I have a cast iron Heuck classics dutch oven with lid and just wondering if it is just ceramic coated or 100% ceramic. It is red outside and white inside. Do you know anything about this brand and if it would be safe to use?

    Thanks,
    Faye

      • Thank you so much for the information. I can use it and be safe now. I just need to find a good skillet and then I’m all set. Is there one that you would recommend for me in about a 8-10 in range? It is just me so I need a smallish one.

        Thanks, Faye

          • Hi Rebecca, I took your advice and bought a Ceramcor,Xtrema 10 in skillet. Only got it a couple days ago but I’m not finding much information on how to use. I was wanting to make a dish in the oven yesterday but couldn’t find if it was ok to put the cold skillet in a preheated oven. Would that be ok or does the skillet need to be warm first? All I have cooked in it so far is fry an egg and it kind of stuck a little, not bad and I probably didn’t put enough oil in. I did heat skillet first.

          • Faye, You’re right, use more oil when cooking eggs. As for recipes and information, you’ll find a ton of it on the Ceramcor web page. Enjoy your skillet.

          • Rebecca have you ever fried chicken in the Ceramcor Xtrema skillet. I have looked all over the site and can’t find anything. Been wanting to do this but don’t know where to start.

  5. Hello Rebecca, thank you for your post. I am glad to have someone to turn to for research info and discussion.
    Have you heard that World Kitchen has brought back the original CorningWare Stovetop cookware made of pyroceram, beside Visions? They can be used on stove tops and go from freezer to oven. I was all set to purchase a lot of them before a paragraph in Wikipedia caught my attention:
    “In 2009, the stovetop line of CorningWare was reintroduced by World Kitchen. The cookware is manufactured by Keraglass/Eurokera in Bagneaux-Sur-Loing, France. This is the only factory in the world still manufacturing vitroceramics (aluminosilicate glass) for cookware. At the time it restarted the production of CorningWare, Keraglass/Eurokera was able to abandon the use of arsenic in the manufacture of their vitroceramics, thanks to the modern technology of their newly built oven.”
    Upon further research, I realized that arsenic had been historically used as a fining/clarification agent to reduce the bubbles in glass. I was not able to find any further info to confirm that World Kitchen had indeed stopped using arsenic. The only thing I found was an old 1982 EPA report listing CorningWare as one of the 15 factories in the U.S. still using arsenic.
    I also noticed that pyroceramic is aluminosilicate. Many websites define aluminosilicate as aluminum oxide (alumina) and silicon oxide (silica), while Wikipedia says it’s mineral composed of aluminum, silicon and oxygen. I am unable to find any info explaining how the high temperature tempering of glass may or may not render aluminum inert or so bonded together that it becomes “unleachable”.
    In one of the Q&A section on the product page of “Visions 5L Dutch Oven”, the staff wrote that, “our testing confirms that Visions® products comply with all applicable federal and state safety regulations, including those relating to lead and other heavy metals content.” But it didn’t say if it was in compliance with California’s Proposition 65. And I am not sure if Prop 65 monitors only lead and cadmium or if it extends to arsenic and aluminum as well.
    I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter, Rebecca.

    • Good research, Jeanie. As Corningware so poorly conducts heat, it’s not cookware I use. I understand that ceramics, including pyroceramics, are non-reactive. If you find any additional information, kindly let us all know.

      • Dear Rebecca, Xtrema is also ceramic and thus poor conductor of heat. Why do you prefer Xtrema over CorningWare Stovetop cookware? Is there a reason why Xtrema is so much more expensive that CorningWare Stovetop?

        • CorningWare is an inexpensive type of glass that poorly conducts heat. Ceramic conducts heat evenly and so is an ideal cooking medium; however, it’s a relatively slow heat conductor and so that means initially you need to allow a few minutes longer for the pot to warm up. However, the advantage is that the pot retains heat well and you can then cook at lower temperatures. Also foods don’t dry out as ceramic retains the moisture.

  6. Hello Rebecca and thank you for all the information about healthy cookware. I have seen the Palm Cookware and I would like your opinion, since I don’t know what they used to fabricate their pots. They seem to be Teflon or non stick.

  7. Hello Rebecca,

    Thank you very much for this! Extremely helpful.

    I have a question though, are ceramic and granite the same? I am extremely confused.

    Thank you again!

    Best,
    Dawlat

    • Yes, the manufacturers of non-stick can make it very confusing. Remember that you DON’T want non-stick cookware such as CeraStone Granite. However, Granite Ware® is enamel and non reactive (and not advertised as non-stick).

  8. Dear Rebecca,
    Thank you for all of this helpful information. I purchased a USA-made clay pot and found that you are correct – they are not durable. I came back to your site to read again your advice and to help me make a decision on a different pot. I also need a skillet for eggs and am thinking about taking your advice and purchasing from Xtrema. I would use a link from your site if you had one but I am not finding one; you seem to have significantly redesigned your site. If you post a link I will use it as I do appreciate how fair and thorough your articles are.
    Thanks,
    Kim

  9. Dear Rebecca,
    Thank you for your response.Unfortunately I just have bought the Suntoza cookware sets,before I visit your page.I just want to know is the coat of this cookware really lead-free or not?

  10. hello.
    Thank you for your article.I have a question about SUNTOZA brand ceramic pots.It is Korean.On the box of pots has hinted “there is no PTFE,no PFOA,no lead and no cadmium and it is eco-friendly”.The ceramic coat is glazed and lustrious.I wonder if it is trustworthy and safe to use.I would appreciate if you could help me.By many thanks in advance.

  11. What are your thoughts on the new Pampered Chef RockCrock? It says its made of clay and glazed.

      • They have a good warranty and I can get it for a great price due to show sales. I just needed to know if it’s a safe choice. I’m converting all my cookware over. It does get a bit confusing. Love your page. So to be clear, it is a safe cooking choice?

  12. Do you have the ceramic 10.5 quart Dutch oven? I was looking for a really tall Dutch oven and was considering Le Creuset but ceramic would be lighter which would be nice. In the picture it doesn’t look tall though. I was hoping to find a tall Dutch oven so that when I make a red sauce and it spits it’s not going all over my oven top. Because those sauces spit even when you’re cooking on very very low with even just a metal pot.

  13. Is there anything toxic with Le Creuset? It all is a little complicated. If cooking something that could be done on either that or the 100% ceramic pan which would you choose?

    • Ceramic (like Xtrema) is non-toxic as is a true enamel (like Le Creuset). The so called “ceramic” non-stick pans are a synthetic. Don’t use them. Different pans work best for different applications and are also a matter of personal choice; I, however, find my Xtrema saucepot indispensable.

  14. Dear Rebecca, I recently bought a Victoria enameled iron cast skillet. It’s made in Columbia and sold on Amazon.com and Target.com. My question is whether the Enamel contains lead since it is made in Columbia and does the F.D.A allow foreign products into the U.S.A with lead

  15. Dear Rebecca, does the glaze in Enamel cast iron contain lead or cardium? Such as the brand Le Crueset? And my last question, does glassware such as pyrex, contain lead? Your blog is such a relief to me in this difficult time of deciding what is the safest cookware. Your time and dedication is so greatly appreciated and respected.

  16. Thank you for your article, very informative. What are your thoughts on Titanium Ceramic Coated. They say its PTFE and PFOA free, but wondering if its got other nasties. Thank you.

  17. Hi –

    Any comments on the “green pan” ? It’s being heavily marketed right now for the holidays… it uses Thermolon™, a ceramic non-stick coating – Is it safe to use in your opinion ?

  18. I have a question about Lodge brand enamel coated cast iron pots and pans. What is your knowledge about that brand? Thanks so much.

    • I’ve never used them and don’t know how they stand up compared to some of the older lines; but they look good. Perhaps check out the reviews on Amazon.

  19. Hi Rebecca,
    We don’t use many non-stick, but recently overheated a boiled-dry Scanpan when steaming veggies (long story). Though the fumes are known to be toxic, do you think that there are residual toxins in the steamed food, since it was above the burning PTFE? Should I toss? What are lasting dangers of eating?
    Thanks,
    AMS

    • The studies indicate that the fumes are toxic, not the food. Yet, basically, your food was cooked at high temperature on a layer of synthetic (plastic) polymers and that cannot have been a positive impact on its flavor or healthfulness as (unlike clay, glass or enamel) polymers are reactive.

  20. Hi Rebecca, on the Xtrema testing results from their website…looks like they were tested by a lab in the US in 2008. SInce then they have been tested in China and the reports seem a bit sketchy: just a date and signature, no actual levels ot the metals tested for.
    Why would they test their product throughly (just 1 frying pan, though) the first time they entered the market and then choose do do all following tests in China?
    Thank you for your wonderful website, love the 100% ceramic option, just a bit nervous about Xtrema.

    Luca

    • You’re welcome. The formula hasn’t changed since 2008 and the same ingredient is used in all their cookware, so you’re good to go. But if you’re still nervous, contact the company directly. They’re most responsive. I use my Xtrema pots daily and feel confident in them.

  21. Rebecca, I wondered if you could check out the Royal Worcester egg cookers.They’re “vintage,” which means, I guess, 1950s. I love shirred eggs and was wondering if these would be safe to buy.

    • What I offer is basic information on determining quality cookware then it’s up to you to figure out which brands fit those parameters. You can do it. As guidelines, refer back to the information in my blogs.

  22. Hello Rebecca,

    Would you go with 100% ceramic versus enamel coated cast iron? Also with the 100% ceramic, you can cook steak and chicken on the stove top, correct? I am looking to buy a safe (non-toxic) skillet as well as a non-toxic cookie baking sheet. Would 100% ceramic be sufficient for both?

    • Yes, an all ceramic like Xtrema (not stoneware) works better for searing than a enamel coated cast iron pot (as enamel better withstands high temperatures if the surface is evenly covered, as in a soup). To sear a steak in an Xtrema skillet you’d first heat the skillet at 450 degrees in the oven for 5 minutes then place on the stove, turn on the burner and sear as normal.

  23. Hello, Rebecca,

    Thank you for you well written and easy to understand articles. With that said and with the flood of information out on the web, I am a bit confused.

    So, if I am understanding correctly, a 100% pure ceramic pan would be good for cooking eggs? I am an egg fiend..

    I also sautee a lot (veggies mostly, fried rice and some protein) and I also sear/cook some chicken or beef. What kind of pan would you use for that?

    What type of pan should I cook my stews or marinara sauces in?

    Please excuse the multitude of questions…

    Mat

    • Yes, you may use 100% ceramic pans for all those purposes; however for searing at high temperatures you might consider a stainless or carbon steel pan.

  24. Hi Rebecca,

    Love your very informative site! Just wondering if you would know if the glaze used on Ceramcor is lead free.

    Thanks,
    Sindia

  25. Loved your article. I was curious of your thoughts on USA pans that use americoat. Thanks for all your knowledge and that’d work’

  26. Does the seal on cast iron pots created by their rather exact-fitting, heavy metal lids, makes them better suited to stove-top cooking than ceramic or clay pots which tend not to have the same seal. How does the tightness of the lid closure affect the cooking of the food?

    • It totally depends upon what you’re cooking and if you want the finished dish to be more moist or more dry. There’s no rule. Experiment to determine what works best for you in a given dish.

  27. Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you for your great and informative article. I would like to know what you think about CeraCast Cookware by CeraStone. Your feedback is much appreciated.Thanks.
    Barbara

  28. Hi Rebecca. I so appreciate your advice on all types of cookware. My question is about xtrema which on their site is made in China. On Mercolas site the cookware is made in Germany. The all black cooking pots looked the same. The xtrema with red or green lids had pictures of production in China. How do I know if the materials used are safe? Are the two brands truly the same?
    Thanks for your input and advice.

    • So I asked the manufacturer of Ceramcor, Rich Bergstrom, your question and here’s what he said:
      1. Ceramcor, which is my company makes the cookware for Dr. Mercola. It is the same cookware as our Xtrema cookware and it is made in China. Please have you customer click on this link about the testing of our products.

      http://www.ceramcor.com/product-testing

      2. I have checked the Mercola web site and they don’t sell any cookware from Germany!

      Please have you customer send me this information about Mercola cookware from Germany.

  29. I like your article & agree wholeheartedly with your discussion here.
    Just bought a ceramic (not coated) pot at World Market. Wonder if you are familiar with it yourself? If so, what do you think of it.
    It is 100% ceramic. Also wondering the best way to wash & care for ceramic cookware.

    Thank you,

    Susan Solleder

    • Thanks. As 100% ceramic is breakable, handle it with care. Xtrema excepted, other ceramic is temperature sensitive so don’t subject it to big temperature changes (i.e. putting a hot pot on a cold surface). And most ceramic (unlike Xtrema and a few earthen pots) cannot be used on the stove top.

    • Find the line you like and check their webpage for information. One brand that I know is Ceramcor and, should you order from this webpage you receive a 10% discount.

  30. Hi Thank you for your useful info. May I know if SILIT cookware coating with Silagan safe?

    Thanks
    Jannice

      • Silit says it is cast aluminum, with a “Revolutionary non-stick hard sealing CeraProtect® mineral-based coating”. Isn’t this the bad not-stick coating you are talking about? I am looking for something non-toxic and trying to keep up, but I am confused…

        Thank you!

        • The non-stick coated pans you want to stay away from are those made with plastic-like polymers. Silit doesn’t reveal what their mineral-based coating is made from. We wish they did. However, as it’s non-toxic minerals and not polymers, you may assume it’s safe.

  31. Hello dearest Rebecca,
    I’ve checked the link above, however, I don’t see a regular size loaf pan for baking our allergen-free sandwich bread. I’m currently using a high quality stainless steel loaf pan (no scratches) which I line with unbleached parchment paper with good results. May I ask if you think this is safe, as well as, what type of loaf pan you use for good results, please?
    Thanks so very much.
    Amber

  32. Hi Caroline,

    thank you very much for a well-written and informative article! I am throwing out my toxic Teflon cookware and am now carefully choosing what to go with next. One thing that caught my eye is the Pyrex Pyroflam range (I am in Europe), which is basically vitro-ceramic cookware. I am not sure whether this means that it is truly ceramic or whether there will still be hidden nasties leaching into my food….?

    • Vitroceramic cookware is glass turned into a crystalline material, that
      can withstand sudden temperature changes. However it’s such a poor heat conductor that it’s uses are limited.

      • Hello Rebecca!
        Thank you for the useful article! I am also trying to get some information whether vitroceramic is 100% safe. Still can not figure out if it is lead and cadmium free.

        • It’s a type of glass and therefore non-reactive. This cookware will NOT react with your food. I asked the company if it’s lead and cadmium free and haven’t heard back from them.

  33. I love my vintage Pyroceram Corningware and use it all the time now. I have never had a problem with heat conduction or the “sticking” that so many people complain about. Granted, I don’t cook on the stove top above medium flame when using it (unless boiling water) because modern range burners are capable of higher temperatures than they were in the 50s and 60s. As far as sticking, I think people have been around poisonous “non-stick” cookware for so long, they have forgotten how to use the proper amount of Olive Oil in their pans. I actually like a little bit of sticking, it makes for better fond for pan sauces…

    I would like to give these new pans a try though, they sound awesome! And my Vintage Corningware is already 50 years old, so it’s not going to last forever.

  34. Happy New Year, Rebecca,

    Can you believe, I am still using the Cruset pans that I bought during our class of so many years ago. Two of the four are still good! I’ll look into your cookware suggestions as I need more good ones.

    I’m still working on your good dietary suggestions.

    Have a blessed year ahead.

    Love and peace,
    Caroline