Ditch it: Teflon

Just in case you didn’t know, teflon is bad news.

It’s been bad news for a long time, but the booming industry is taking its time making cooking ware safer.  In a 2006 article, it was announced that manufacturers had to remove “a harmful chemical” from the goods.  “Although the chemical would still be used to manufacture Teflon and similar products, processes will be developed to ensure that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) would not be released into the environment from finished products or manufacturing plants.”

Furthermore: “PFOA — a key processing agent in making nonstick and stain-resistant materials — has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals and is in the blood of 95 percent of Americans, including pregnant women. It has also been found in the blood of marine organisms and Arctic polar bears.”

Cancer. Birth defects. And it’s IN YOUR BLOOD.  Yeah, this sounds like a great trade-off for eggs that slide out of the pan with ease and grace.

Major manufacturers had until 2010 to reduce PFOA emissions in the production process and have until 2015 to remove PFOA “trace amounts” from finished products.  Pardon me while I use my outside voice for a second: ON WHAT PLANET IS IT OKAY TO GIVE PEOPLE NINE YEARS TO REMOVE A CARCINOGEN FROM SOMETHING THAT LITERALLY EVERYONE USES? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?

Instead of Teflon

Instead of toxic non-stick pans, you can use:

  • Cast iron
  • Stainless steel
  • Glass
  • Ceramic

Do your research and decide what’s best for you.  I WORSHIP my cast iron skillet – I got it at a flea market for $26.  You want to buy OLD and USED if you can.  The older it is, generally the better quality it is, plus it’s already seasoned for you.  I have achieved perfect nonstick perfection a couple times, but then I always end up cooking something that sticks and requires me to re-season it. It’s a labor of love!  I also recently picked up a stainless steel pot at an estate sale for $1.50.  My mom also picked me up a glass loaf pan to replace my nonstick one.  I have one more nonstick pot to replace and then I will be a teflon-free lady!  I cannot wait.

What are your pots and pans made of?


26 thoughts on “Ditch it: Teflon

  1. I’ve replaced most of my non stick stuff too…just a frying pan/wok to go! Am also trying to replace my plastic Tupperware with glass containers…

      1. A word on Pyrex. Within the past few years the company was bought out (by Corning, I believe) and they moved manufacturing to China, and changed the formula. Since then, there have been a plethora of reports about Pyrex cookware EXPLODING! Yikes! Anyhow, it’s just another reason to look for used items rather than new. I have a wonderful Pyrex collection that I bought entirely at thrift stores. Probably cost me under $20 for all of the pieces put together.

      2. That’s awful!! 😦 I would love a used set. I got a set in 2009 when I got married, so it’s probably the cheap China stuff 😦

  2. As far as I’m aware, the only non-stick item we have is our frying pan. Are all the pots and pans in America non-stick? We use stainless steel pots but I’m not aware if we can actually get any other kind here. I’ve been on the lookout for the ceramic frying pan so hopefully one day my mother will decide to remove the toxic frying pan from circulation. It’s well past it’s sell by date anyway.

    I also think I have her nearly convinced to replace plastic containers and clingfilm with cleaned out jars from other foods! She nearly contemplated it last night when she was storing leftovers in the fridge so fingers crossed we move in that direction soon enough. I hate clingfilm 😡

    I was reading about a woman who has replaced her toilet paper with fleece sheets also. Was wondering what your thoughts would be on that. 🙂

    1. I love the idea of cloth toilet “paper” but haven’t been able to make that leap personally. I admire the people that do it!

      I also hate clingfilm. I use aluminum foil if I need it, and one roll has lasted me a year so far… I use it rarely. I also have some wax paper which has also lasted a year and is still going strong. I love re-using jars!!

      And yeah, most pots and pans here are coated in Teflon. It’s hard (and expensive) to buy stainless steel or other non-toxic cookware. Super lame!

      1. I don’t know if I could do the cloth toiler paper either, although it’s not overly different from cloth menstrual pads, is it?

        I hate both things to be honest; I’d much rather store my goods in glass jar or at least bpa free containers. We haven’t started re-using jars but baby steps! I’ll get the parents there eventually 🙂

        Ah okay that explains things. It’s funny, I don’t think there’s such thing as saucepans coated in Teflon in Ireland. Everyone just uses either cheap metal or stainless steel pans. Although because Ireland is quite a backward country, y’all will probably be phasing them out when we’re bringing them in!

        Our grandparents were far more intelligent than we gave them credit for, don’t you think? 🙂

      2. I agree 100% that our grandparents were on to something. This culture of more, more, better, faster is going to kill us all, because we make things without any regard for wellness of the people or the environment. /end rant.

    2. OK… believe it or not, I’ve actually experimented with the cloth toilet paper thing. And, well… I’d say my response is mixed.

      First of all, if you have babies and are washing cloth diapers anyhow, then I say go for it! If you’re already washing loads of diapers, a few reusable TP rags aren’t going to add much to your laundry load and you’re already dealing with the “yuck factor.”

      If, like me, you’re not a diaper washer, then the story gets a bit different. Let’s just say that it takes a LOOOOONNNNNGGG time to dirty enough cloth TP to justify a load, and the idea of washing them by hand… well, no thanks.

      I tried a number of different systems, and finally concluded that the best option was: For number 1 only: use a quick water rinse and have a small dedicated towel to dry off afterwards. For number 2 though, I wasn’t able to get myself sufficiently clean with just water, and the idea of using a bare hand to “assist” … eeeewwwww! I think you’d need a pretty significant amount of water pressure to achieve a meaningful degree of cleanliness with water only (think bidet). So my current system is that I use a water rinse for number 1 and TP for number 2. It’s a compromise, but it’s still rather amazing how much less TP you use this way. And hey, every man I’ve ever been intimate with just uses the “3 shakes” method for number one, and this couldn’t POSSIBLY be less sanitary than that is! 🙂

      1. That’s very true about the three shakes hahaha. I would do a similar compromise. I don’t think I could deal with number two cloth or rinses. HOWEVER I do think that cloth diapering might change that, since I’ll probably be using cloth wipes for babies anyway. I have a lot to think about with regard to toilet paper, apparently.

  3. We have one small frying pan with teflon, and a small bunch of cooking utensils which look like it, but I don’t know what they actually are. The rest is an assemble of older pots and a big pan, all without non-stick-stuff. I like using good plastic containers every now and then (e.g. when my bag is really full with books etc for university a slim and lightwight sandwich box is awesome and keeps me from using tons of paperbags), but my husband dislikes them so much he even considered FREEZING stuff in our repurposed jars. The idea scared me a little; any experiences about the explosiveness or whatever of frozen glass? Yeah, and our freezing compartment is too small for most jars to be put in with the opening up …

    1. I do freeze in re-used jars. I leave plenty of space at the top for expansion and have never had an explosion! I freeze broth and soup that way. I am not sure about doing it with the jars on their sides though.

    2. I’ve had good luck freezing in glass as long as it’s either Pyrex or an actual mason jar – this sort of glass is tempered so it’s more resistant to changes in temperature. As Caitlin suggests, you need to leave plenty of space at the top, and I generally don’t clamp the lid down tight until it’s already frozen. It’s also REALLY important to let the stuff cool down before freezing it. Sometimes I put it in the fridge until it’s cold and then put it in the freezer. I’ve been using this method for over 5 years and have only lost 2-3 jars – all because I either used the wrong kind of glass, didn’t leave enough space or didn’t let it cool first. Good Luck with it!

      1. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about Pyrex, but I don’t know if we have that kind of stuff over here, and how expensive it would be. Hm, I might try small jars used for jam one day, as jam is usually filled in hot (I think?), so they should be pretty resistant to temperatur changes.

  4. I love that everything is coming full circle and it is now realized we should be cooking with what our grandparents and great grandparents cooked with, cleaned with, fed their families and such. My next step is ditching the rubbermaid. I only buy aluminium foil and even use real butter. Still weaning the Heart off margarine. Baby steps, but he’s already grown by leaps.

    1. Margarine is definitely on the ditch list! Real butter all the way. Grass-fed if you can get it 🙂 I use ghee, which is clarified butter with no casein and no lactose so I can eat it. It’s expensive but I use it very sparingly. Good for you!! I love that we are going back to the way our grandparents lived as well… it’s a wonderful comfort.

  5. Have you read the book “Slow Death by Rubber Duck?” It’s a real eye opener! I wasn’t a real fan of teflon even before reading it because it always flakes off and damages so easily, but after reading that book there’s NO WAY I’ll ever use it again. Did you know that if you heat teflon too hot it emits fumes that are so toxic they will kill any bird unfortunate enough to have its cage located in the same room?!? Yikes!

    Teflon also shows up in other places that you wouldn’t expect like waterproofing sprays & certain “dry lubricants” that are often used for bicycles and other equipment. So it pays to read your labels carefully!

    I have a nice collection of cast iron that I totally LOVE. One of the tricks is to give it a quick re-seasoning each time you use it, and to avoid cooking anything acidic like tomatoes in it. I also try to avoid cooking things that are too liquid in my cast iron, and use the stainless steel for those things instead. You also get much better results if you clean it out (no soap or detergent) while it’s still hot.

    1. Good tips on cleaning while it’s still hot… I still have a lot to learn about my cast iron. Thank you for the information!! I haven’t read that book either but it sounds like I should. Teflon’s gross 😦

  6. The only teflon we ever had was a skillet that we got rid of years ago. We have a motley assortment of cookware: two cast iron skillets, an enameled cast iron dutch oven, stainless steel pots, and a small ScanPan skillet, which are a PFOA-free non-stick. The ScanPan is especially great for cooking eggs.

  7. As EcoCatLady mentioned, nonstick Teflon will kill your pet birds if the temp reaches a certain point. You can’t detect any noxious emittance, but birds have a much more efficient respiratory system and the fumes can kill them. I tossed everything nonstick in the 80s when I became aware of this via Bird Talk magazine as I had (and still do) pet birds. I assumed as well that ultimately the heating of the Teflon couldn’t be good for any of us.

    1. That’s what started it for me too, the fact that heating too high can affect animals. I figure it’s gotta be pretty bad for everyone to heat it up. I couldn’t afford to switch all at once, so I am replacing my pieces one by one… only one to go though, and I use it pretty rarely. Soon I will have a Teflon-free home!

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