Is Non-Stick Cookware Harmful To Health? Read This!

Written by: Hardik Jethva

Last Updated: January 11, 2023

non stick cookware
Different kinds of non-stick cookware placed on a wooden table.

The revolution of nonstick cookware began before time, and it is not too hard to understand why. These kitchen appliances distribute even heat to your food, need only a few drops of oil, and it is extremely easy to clean. Who does not like such benefits? However, with the plethora of benefits on the one hand, the other hand holds an equally popular question, is non stick cookware harmful to health? To answer this, let’s dive deep into the history of non-stick cookware, often known as Teflon cookware.

1How were the non-stick or Teflon cookware birthed?

The history of non-stick cookware isn’t as smooth gliding as its features. This is because it is true that certain types of nonstick cookware were toxic. Teflon was the most famous brand to produce nonstick cookware with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coating, and interestingly this way, most nonstick cookware began to be known as Teflon coated.

The controversies began around the brand Teflon because to achieve the non-sticky exterior, Teflon used to manufacture the coating using PFOA (Polyfluorooctanioc Acid), a chemical that has been associated with kidney and liver damage for many years. The brand was highly binned and criticised for the risk of cancer because it used PFOA in the manufacturing process.

2Why is PFOA considered harmful?

After the presence of a chemical called PFOA was found, the safety of Teflon was constantly under investigation. Additionally, the presence of PFA also increased risk because this is a man-made chemical that is difficult to break down in the environment or in the human body. There were proven risks of Teflon coating and nonstick surfaces as it increased many health issues.

Here are the negative effects that were caused by such harmful chemicals.

  • Such chemicals prove great environmental risks and show symptoms such as body aches.
  • PFOA has been directly associated with cancer.
  • Health problems such as thyroid disorders, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, polymer fume fever, and many other negative health effects were discovered.
  • The research also showed a major effect on child development and deficiency.
  • It has been linked directly to compromising the immune system and it can cause gradual damage to the lungs.

After such negative effects, you might wonder why nonstick cookware is still popular.

3Is non-stick cookware harmful to health in today's time?

The answer is – NO! After learning about much Teflon flu and flu-like symptoms caused by chemicals, let us put your mind at ease by telling you that the concerns around Teflon products are mostly a worry of the past as the nonstick cookware does not use such harmful chemicals in the present. Considering the negative effects of chemical called PTFE and PFOA, the production of nonstick coatings with such chemicals were strictly paused around 2002.

Many countries banned this production and advised users to throw out their Teflon nonstick cookware if they were made before 2013. And this way, the new production of non-stick cookware without any chemicals began. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nonstick cookware is now PFOA-free nonstick cookware and particles of PFOA are removed after it comes in direct contact with high temperature in the manufacturing process. This prevents the Teflon pots and pans from releasing toxic chemicals. There are also labels specifying whether any non-stick pans are PFA-free. Another good thing is that PFA-free cookware is cheaper as well. That way, you won’t be misguided in buying a rather expensive choice. Thus, using nonstick pans and Teflon products is perfectly safe now.

So, nonstick cookware in your kitchen is also non-toxic and perfectly safe to use. However, we would advise you to learn a few ways to use such utensils correctly

4Precautions to take while using Teflon cookware

Teflon-coated cookware has been PFOA-free since 2013, but it is still important to take precautions when using this cookware as it is linked to some severe side effects. There are no chemicals that can be mixed with the food but the coating of this cookware can break in high heat and can contaminate air, which makes the air full of toxic chemicals. That is why we recommend you to take these tips into consideration while using a nonstick vessel to make that perfect Dosa or Uttapam.

  • Make sure your kitchen has enough ventilation so that toxic fumes do not stay packed in the room for you to breathe. Keep the window open for enough airflow.
  • Do not preheat your nonstick pans because high temperatures can release toxic chemicals from the vessel. It is recommended to cook the food on low to medium heat.
  • Make sure you buy scratch-resistant pans. Also, do not use sharp utensils on such pans because scratched Teflon pans can scrape the surface and mix the coating with your food.
  • Use mild dishwasher detergent and a soft sponge to clean the Teflon-coated pots and pans. DO NOT use metal scrubs because if there are cracks on the surface and if they aren’t cleaned properly, they can home bacteria and other harmful toxins. It is also advisable to use drinking water while cleaning these utensils, instead of hard water.
  • Use the nonstick cookware in your home for about five years. Investing in new pans and sets and changing them every once in a while is a healthy choice.

5Smart alternatives to non-stick cookware

You can now relax because there is no harm in using Teflon pans and a non-stick pan. However, if you want to be aware of smart alternatives and other cookware for your benefit, we have got your back. Here we have listed down plenty of utensils which work as natural nonstick alternatives to Teflon products. Let us have a look.

Ceramic Cookware

Despite being non-stick, ceramic cookware is a better and healthier choice than non-stick utensils. Ceramic cookware immediately came in the highlight when people became aware of inbuilt chemicals in Teflon vessels and started looking for PFOA and PTFE-free nonstick pans. Ceramic pots and pans come in a variety of colours, sizes, and they are extremely sturdy. The only thing is you need to take care of such utensils and save them from overheating and over-scratching for smooth ceramic coatings. Also, these utensils are more expensive than Teflon coating.

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron is another non-toxic material with a natural non-stick coating. You won’t have to worry about over-scratching the surface of the cast iron utensil, unlike non-stick Teflon pans, because they are quite thick and sturdy. However, it is recommended to cook the food on low to medium heat on cast iron cookware. Slow cooking is more efficient with cast iron cookware due to its heaviness and ease of control.

Stainless Steel Cookware

There is no doubt that this anticorrosive cookware is the most popular type of cookware for everyday cooking. Stainless steel cookware is made with a combination of chromium and nickel, and such utensils are more durable, scratch resistant and hygienic. Professional chefs use these utensils as the food can be cooked on very high temperatures in these utensils without any health effects. The only con of stainless steel utensils is that they are not necessarily non-stick, and they also require more oil, unlike Teflon nonstick pan.

Copper Cookware

Copper is highly beneficial in cooking because it can regulate heat and respond to high heat very well in comparison to other cookware. There is not necessarily nonstick coating in these utensils, but such cookware does not increase health risks; in fact, it improves health conditions. Also these utensils are also much better than metal utensils.

6What should you do with your non-stick pans?

We gave much information about the brand Teflon, environmental exposure, environmental risks and health issues created by Teflon cookware, its upheaval after 2013 and other alternatives to nonstick cookware. Now the question arises what should you do if your kitchen already has many nonstick pots and pans?

Well, while we recommend replacing Teflon pans with alternatives that we listed above, such as ceramic cookware and stainless steel utensils, we get if you think that cookware with non stick coatings makes cooking more fun and easy. That is why we advise you to use only new pans. Teflon products made before 2013 might contain synthetic chemical. So, buy new Teflon-safe utensils with PFA-free mark. Also, take the precautions that we listed above while using Teflon or nonstick pans.

7Wrapping up

While it is true that there are many concerns about side effects of PFOA exposure in the past, it is safe to say that non-stick cookware now does not integrate such health-degrading chemicals. The demand for non-stick cookware has been increasing daily as people are becoming more aware of this. After all, non-stick cookware is the best for that perfect flip of pancake in the breakfast, soft roti for lunch and crispy Dosa for dinner. A true all-rounder cookware.

However, if you still have doubts and want to make your kitchen toxin-free, there are always better options. The kitchen is the heart of our home, and food is the way to our heart. That is why making sure that your kitchen and food are completely chemical-free is absolutely necessary. Please make sure to let us know your doubts and queries in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you! Happy, toxin-free cooking!


What is the safest type of non-stick cookware?

Any PFOA-free cookware is good to use. However, our research shows that ceramic cookware and cast iron cookware are the safest types of non-stick cookware. These types of cookware do not contain any chemicals and are safe to use for everyday cooking.

Nonstick cookware which isn’t PFOA free is harmful. Although modern nonstick cookware is considered perfectly safe, and there are no proven risks to heath because of non stick coating, as per the American cancer society.

Professional chefs are often reluctant to use non-stick pans because it releases toxic fumes if they came in contact with high temperature. Chefs are generally in a hurry and need to cook at high heat, for this, non-stick cookware isn’t always the best option.

This completely depends on your requirements. If you want to make crispy Dosa, a stainless steel vessel is not a good option because the batter will stick on the surface. However, if you are looking for cookware for daily use, we would suggest stainless steel because there are no risks, even if cooked at high temperatures.

Any cookware coated with Teflon or isn’t PFOA-free should be avoided. Also, while Aluminium cookware is lightweight, they aren’t safe as it can readily leach into food, causing many health risks.

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About This Article

Hardik Jethva
Written by: Hardik Jethva author

Hardik Jethva is an experienced author of the BestCheck family. Working from scratch, he has developed an amazing interest in testing and writing about different products in a transparent manner. His writing skills got more audience for BestCheck. Apart from his professional life, Hardik has his eyes on travelling, meditation, eating healthy food, socializing with people, and car rides.

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Updated: January 11, 2023
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