A non-stick surface on a pot is rather like a piece of plastic film. As synthetic coatings are less durable than the underlying metal, they eventually wear off and will contaminate the food. Don’t be seduced by advertisements for “green,” “healthy” or “ceramic” nonstick cookware. Also here’s why you’ll want to pass on aluminum pots. And don’t despair; there are safe, non-reactive alternatives.
1. Non-stick cookware is coated with a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene. The best known brand name is Teflon by DuPont. If heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit the polymers emit noxious fumes that are lethal to parakeets and certainly not healthy for humans. Once overheated, the coating starts to break down at the molecular level and toxic particles and gases, some of them carcinogenic, can be released.
So long before the pan is scratched, if it gets overheated, it’s reactive. Even though I never intend to boil a pot dry, I did so just last week. Had that pot been nonstick, its temperatures would have exceeded the safety limit. And don’t be fooled by Swiss Diamond Cookware; the polymer used to make it is PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene); the same toxic chemical that in Teflon.
2. Non-Stick Ceramic Coated Pans and Knives To make the so-called ceramic coatings, a metal pot is dipped into a plastic (chemically based polymer) solution. As these synthetic, plastic-like coatings are softer than metal, the surface degrades with normal use. The life expectancy of a nonstick ceramic-coated pot or knife is about one year. Once the synthetic coating wears thin, pits or scratches, toxic metals like lead and cadmium can leach into foodstuffs. And the coating itself may contain toxic metals like arsenic.
My recommendation: Do NOT use ceramic-coated cookware. However, superior 100% ceramic cookware is non reactive; furthermore it withstands erosion and temperatures exceeding 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Also see Healthy Cookware; Food Tastes Best when Cooked in Clay; and 100% Ceramic: A Great Choice for Cookware.
3. Aluminum cookware is reactive and taints your food with aluminum. When ingested, aluminum is deposited in various bodily tissues and can cause illness and even death; it’s also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
When new, Anodized Aluminum is non-reactive as the electrochemical anodizing process “locks in” the aluminum. I’ve read, but am yet to see studies, that older, or heavily used anodized aluminum pots may release aluminum.
Cast Aluminum pans are more stable than thin aluminum pans, but they are reactive and therefore not recommended.
As much as possible, avoid cooking with Aluminum Foil. A potato, for example, bakes just fine in its own jacket and doesn’t need to be foil wrapped.
May you be well nourished,