Is Nonstick Cookware Like Teflon Safe to Use? (2023)

People around the world use nonstick pots and pans for their everyday cooking.

The nonstick coating is perfect for flipping pancakes, turning sausages, and frying eggs. It can be useful for cooking delicate foods that might otherwise stick to the pan.

But there’s controversy around nonstick coatings, such as Teflon.

Some sources claim they’re harmful and linked to health conditions such as cancer, while others insist that cooking with nonstick cookware is completely safe.

This article takes a detailed look at nonstick cookware, its health effects, and whether or not it is safe to cook with.

Nonstick cookware, such as frying pans and saucepans, gets coated with a material called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly known as Teflon.

Teflon is a synthetic chemical made up of carbon and fluorine atoms. It was first created in the 1930s and provides a nonreactive, nonstick, and almost frictionless surface.

The nonstick surface makes Teflon-coated cookware convenient to use and easy to clean. It also requires little oil or butter, making it a low fat way to cook and fry food.

Teflon has several other applications. It is also used to make wire and cable coatings, fabric and carpet protectors, and waterproof fabrics for outdoor clothing such as raincoats (2, 3).

However, over the past decade, the safety of nonstick cookware has been under investigation.

The concerns have centered on a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which was previously used to produce nonstick cookware but isn’t used today.

(Video) 4 Types of Toxic Cookware to Avoid and 4 Safe Alternatives

The investigations have also looked into the risks associated with overheating Teflon.

Summary

Nonstick cookware is coated with a material called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. The safety of nonstick cookware has been under investigation for the past decade.

Today, all Teflon products are PFOA-free. Therefore, the health effects of PFOA exposure are no longer a cause for concern.

However, PFOA was used in the production of Teflon until 2013.

While most of the PFOA on pots was normally burnt off at high temperatures during the manufacturing process, a small amount remained in the final product (3, 4).

Despite this, research has found that Teflon cookware is not a significant source of PFOA exposure (3, 5).

PFOA has been linked to a number of health conditions, including thyroid disorders, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, and testicular cancer. It has also been linked to infertility and low birth weight (6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

What’s more, it was found in the blood of more than 98% of people who took part in the U.S. 1999–2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (11).

The PFOA Stewardship Program, launched in 2006 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), spurred the elimination of PFOA from Teflon products (12).

This program involved eight leading PFOA companies, including the maker of Teflon. It aimed to reduce the health and environmental risks associated with PFOA exposure by eliminating PFOA use and emissions by 2015.

All companies met the program targets, so all Teflon products, including nonstick cookware, have been PFOA-free since 2013 (12).

(Video) The Truth About Nonstick Cookware: Teflon

Summary

PFOA is a chemical that was previously used to manufacture Teflon. It has been linked to health conditions such as kidney and liver disease. However, all Teflon products have been PFOA-free since 2013.

While PFOA has been removed from Teflon products, there are still other components, namely PFAS (per- and polyfluoroaklyl substances), that are not fully understood.

These and other ingredients in teflon products may pose a health risk. Research is ongoing to more fully understand the nature of those ingredients and how they impact the human body.

Much is still unknown about the safety of the fluoropolymers that are used currently. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission just put out a statement on the potential risk of PFAS in products, as the EPA just warned about them in drinking water (13, 14).

The FDA has published information on what is known so far on the safety of PFAs and research is ongoing to more fully understand the nature of those ingredients and how they impact the human body (15, 16, 17).

Generally speaking, Teflon is a safe and stable compound.

However, at temperatures above 500°F (260°C), Teflon coatings on nonstick cookware start to break down, releasing toxic chemicals into the air (18).

Inhaling these fumes may lead to polymer fume fever, also known as the Teflon flu.

(Video) Nonstick Pan Safety ANSWERS

Polymer fume fever consists of temporary, flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, headache, and body aches. The onset occurs after 4–10 hours of exposure, and the condition usually resolves within 12–48 hours (19, 20).

A small number of case studies have also reported more serious side effects of exposure to overheated Teflon, including lung damage (20, 21, 22, 23).

However, in all of the reported cases, individuals were exposed to fumes from overcooked Teflon cookware at extreme temperatures of at least 730°F (390°C) for extended periods of at least 4 hours (20, 22, 23).

While the health effects of overheated Teflon may be serious, using commonsense cooking practices will help you avoid exposure.

Summary

Above 570°F (300°C), Teflon coatings may begin to break down, releasing toxic fumes into the air. These fumes can cause temporary, flu-like symptoms known as polymer fume fever.

If you follow basic safety precautions, cooking with nonstick cookware is safe, healthy, and convenient.

You can minimize your risk when cooking by following these tips:

  • Don’t preheat an empty pan. Empty pans can reach high temperatures within minutes, potentially causing the release of polymer fumes. Make sure you have some food or liquid in pots and pans before you preheat.
  • Avoid cooking on high heat. Cook on medium or low heat and avoid broiling, since this cooking technique requires temperatures above those recommended for nonstick cookware.
  • Ventilate your kitchen. When you’re cooking, turn on your exhaust fan or open up windows to help clear any fumes.
  • Use wooden, silicone, or plastic utensils. Metal utensils can lead to scuffs and scratches on the nonstick surface, reducing the life of your cookware.
  • Hand wash. Gently wash pots and pans with a sponge and soapy, warm water. Avoid using steel wool or scouring pads, since they can scratch the surface.
  • Replace old cookware. When Teflon coatings start to visibly deteriorate with excessive scratches, peeling, flaking, and chipping, they are ready to be replaced.
Summary

There are a number of ways to reduce your risk when cooking with nonstick cookware, including cooking on low-to-medium heat, using ventilation, and taking care of your cookware.

Alternatives to nonstick cookware

(Video) The Truth About Non-Stick Pans: Ceramic vs. Teflon

Modern nonstick cookware is generally considered safe. The American Cancer Society states that there are no proven risks to humans from new PFOA-free nonstick cookware (24).

However, if you’re still concerned about any of the potential health effects, you can try an alternative.

Here are some great Teflon-free alternatives:

  • Stainless steel. Stainless steel is excellent for sautéing and browning food. It is durable and scratch-resistant. It’s also dishwasher safe, making it easy to clean.
  • Cast-iron cookware. When it’s seasoned properly, cast iron is naturally nonstick. It also lasts a long time and can withstand temperatures well above those considered safe for nonstick pots and pans.
  • Stoneware. Stoneware has been used for thousands of years. It heats evenly and is nonstick when seasoned. It is also scratch-resistant and can be heated to very high temperatures.
  • Ceramic cookware. Ceramic cookware is a relatively new product. It has excellent nonstick properties, but the coating can be easily scratched.
  • Silicone cookware. Silicone is a synthetic rubber that is mainly used in bakeware and kitchen utensils. It does not stand up well to direct heat, so it’s best suited for baking.
Summary

Most modern nonstick cookware is safe if you use it correctly. You can also choose from several nonstick alternatives, including cast iron, ceramic, and stainless steel.

Nonstick cookware is found in many kitchens worldwide.

The nonstick coating is made from a chemical called PTFE, also known as Teflon, which makes cooking and washing up fast and easy.

Health agencies have raised concerns about the compound PFOA, which was previously used to make Teflon. However, Teflon has been PFOA-free since 2013.

Today’s nonstick and Teflon cookware is considered safe for everyday home cooking, as long as temperatures do not exceed 500°F (260°C).

So, you can use your nonstick cookware on the stovetop at low-to-medium heat, but don’t use it at maximum heat or for hotter cooking methods like broiling.

At the end of the day, Teflon cookware is a convenient way to cook your food that is safer for everyday use than it was previously. However, research is ongoing on other substances used in the making of Teflon, and emerging evidence suggests there may still be safety issues.

FAQs

Do nonstick pans still use Teflon? ›

Most nonstick pans are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as Teflon.

What is the safest type of non stick cookware? ›

The Four Safest Types of Non Stick Cookware
  • PTFE-Coated Cookware. PTFE-coated cookware is the other main non stick option on the market. ...
  • Carbon Steel. While Carbon Steel isn't naturally non stick, it can become non stick very easily. ...
  • Ceramic Cookware. ...
  • Cast Iron. ...
  • What Is the Best Non Stick Cookware That Is Nontoxic?
Mar 9, 2021

What is the safest cookware for your health? ›

The safest cookware materials are cast iron, stainless steel, 100% non toxic ceramic, glass, and enamel-coated cast iron (cast iron with a glass coating). These nonstick and non-toxic cookware are not only clean and eco-friendly but also completely safe for our health.

Is a nonstick pan losing nonstick still safe? ›

If the coating is flaking off in pieces, toss it.

Once it's started chipping it will likely continue to chip because of the way the nonstick layer is bonded to the pan.

Why do chefs not use nonstick pans? ›

The fragility of nonstick pans is the reason that they're rarely found in professional kitchens. Some restaurants don't use any nonstick pans, while others keep a few carefully guarded nonstick pans for egg dishes and delicate fish.

What has replaced Teflon? ›

Teflon alternatives
  • Ceramic. Ceramic cookware is a close alternative to Teflon, and is generally considered to be safe. ...
  • Stainless Steel. This is a cost effective, low-tech option. ...
  • Cast Iron. I will admit that I was not in love with the idea of cast iron when we got our first frying pan.
Dec 26, 2018

What is better than non stick cookware? ›

Ceramic-coated, cast iron, and stainless steel are the top three non-stick pan alternatives. Sure, cast iron and stainless steel don't seem like Teflon alternatives at first. But, with a bit of patience and a few simple tricks, you can prevent sticking.

When should you throw away non stick pans? ›

Nonstick Pans Do Not Last Forever

A good rule of thumb is to replace them approximately every five years. Look at your pans frequently. When they start to appear warped, discolored or scratched, be sure to stop using them.

How toxic is non stick cookware? ›

Is Chipped Teflon Coating a Health Concern? The use of PFOA in the manufacturing of Teflon-coated cookware has been completely stopped. But, even when PFOA is used, it poses little or no harm to your health. Teflon on its own is safe and can't harm you when you ingest it.

What cookware should you avoid? ›

Dangerous Cookware to Avoid

Anything coated with Teflon (think non-stick pans) or similar chemicals should be avoided in the kitchen. Teflon is made of a specific type of Perfluorocarbon (PFC) that makes the surface of cookware resistant to sticking.

What cookware does not have chemicals? ›

Our Top Non-Toxic Cookware Picks:
  • Best Overall: Caraway Home Cookware Set.
  • Most Versatile: Our Place Always Pan.
  • Best Set: Green Pan Valencia Pro 11-Piece Cookware Set.
  • Best Budget: GreenLife Soft Grip Set.
  • Most Durable: Xtrema Versa Skillet.
  • Best Stainless Steel: All-Clad d3 Cookware Set.
Oct 11, 2022

Are ceramic pans safer than nonstick? ›

Ceramic coating is considered safer than PTFE coating because it does not contain toxic chemicals such as PFOA, or release fumes when heated to higher temperatures.

Should you wash a nonstick pan right away? ›

As soon as the pan cools, rinse it with lukewarm water to remove any food particles from the pan's surface. Use warm water instead of hot water to improve your pan's longevity.

Do all nonstick pans have PFAS? ›

Some non-stick cookware may claim to not contain any or certain PFAS. Many of these types of cookware do not provide information about what chemicals are used instead. If you must use non-stick cookware, Green Science Policy Institute has compiled a list of PFAS-free products.

Does Gordon Ramsay use non stick pan? ›

“HexClad's intriguing look and design and its hybrid technology caught my eye about a year ago,” Gordon Ramsay says on HexClad's website. “I use the pans at home, and the combination of stainless steel and nonstick functionality is amazing. It's highly versatile and cooks exceptionally well.

What non stick cookware does Gordon Ramsay use? ›

“HexClad's intriguing look, design, and hybrid technology caught my eye about a year ago,” says Gordon Ramsay. “I use the pans at home, and the combination of stainless steel and non-stick functionality is amazing. It's highly versatile and cooks exceptionally well.

Is stainless steel or nonstick better? ›

The verdict? If you're a novice chef, you're going to probably be better off using nonstick cookware. It's easier to use, works on gas and electric stoves similarly, and is easy to clean. But if you know what you're doing in the kitchen and have a gas range, stainless steel is the way to go.

What is the least toxic type of cookware? ›

what is the least toxic cookware? The least toxic cookware are non-stick pans and pots, like cast iron, stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and enamel-coated cast iron. These options don't have any Teflon coating on them, making them safe to use.

What is a natural non-stick pan? ›

Carbon steel is a perfect hybrid of a cast iron skillet and a stainless steel frying pan. It has a cast iron's heat retention, seasoning, and non-stick properties and stainless steel's heat control, lightness and cooking speed. For those who find cast iron too heavy, this is a great option.

When did manufacturers stop using Teflon? ›

Teflon cookware made before 2013 may be toxic

All that was enough for most manufacturers to halt the production of nonstick coatings using PFOA around 2002. But Teflon using PFOA wasn't officially banned in the United States until 2014. Europe banned it in 2008.

What is the best and longest lasting non stick pan? ›

If you want a versatile nonstick pan that will last several years, our top pick is the Zwilling Madura Plus. If you're looking for a ceramic pan, go with the GreenPan Paris Pro, but know that in general, the nonstick coatings on ceramic pans don't last as long as those on non-ceramic pans.

Can you leave food overnight in a non stick pan? ›

Saving food in your cookware

Sadly, this is a no-go with nonstick pans; they're seriously not meant to store food in. Doing so can change the flavor of your food (imparting an off-putting metallic flavor) and also contributes to the gradual breakdown of the surface of your pan.

Is it OK to store food in non stick pan? ›

In fact, Teflon™ nonstick coatings for cookware and consumer bakeware are made without PFOA/PFOS. Myth: You can't store food in the refrigerator in a nonstick pan. Fact: Oh, yes you can, with no problems whatsoever.

Why you shouldn't soak non stick pans? ›

Don't leave non-stick pans to soak. Throwing your non-stick pans in the dishwasher is bad, but something equally as damaging is not washing them at all. All that greasy residue, leftover food and even dishwater will do damage to the non-stick coating, wearing it down over time.

Do nonstick pans have forever chemicals? ›

One Crack In Your Non-Stick Pan Can Release Thousands Of Forever Chemicals | IFLScience.

Is ceramic pan better than Teflon? ›

While the surface of a non-stick ceramic pan releases food with ease in its early uses, ceramic cookware tends to degrade faster than Teflon because Sol-Gel silicone oil is self-sacrificing—meaning once it's released by heat, the coating is gone for good.

What to avoid in non-stick pans? ›

10 Common Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Nonstick Pans
  • 1: Never Use Metal Utensils.
  • 2: Never Preheat While Empty.
  • 3: Never Use Nonstick Cooking Spray.
  • 4: Never Use It for High-Heat Cooking.
  • 5: Never Pay Too Much.
  • 6: Never Rinse with Cold Water.
  • 7: Never Wash In the Dishwasher.
  • 8: Never Use It for Food Storage.
Jun 3, 2021

Is stainless steel Toxic free? ›

Stainless steel is not only a top-quality and durable metal, it is also the safest option for use in your home. Stainless steel emits no toxins and does not react with ingredients.

What is the safest material to bake with? ›

Stick to safe bakeware materials

In summary, safe bakeware materials include glass, stainless steel, and pure ceramic. These are the only materials I personally recommend using for baking your food. You want to avoid nonstick bakeware, ceramic coated bakeware, and metal bakeware other than stainless steel.

What type of cookware is best? ›

Cast iron is the best cookware material for heat retention. These very heavy-duty pans keep in heat which makes them perfect for deep-frying and searing steaks. Cast iron can be used for generations when correctly cleaned and maintained.

Is stainless steel the safest cookware? ›

Stainless steel is a good choice because it is one of the safest materials for cookware. It is versatile, durable, long-lasting, and not susceptible to rust or corrosion. It's often recommended as one of the safest types of cookware.

When did they stop using Teflon in pans? ›

All that was enough for most manufacturers to halt the production of nonstick coatings using PFOA around 2002. But Teflon using PFOA wasn't officially banned in the United States until 2014. Europe banned it in 2008.

How do you tell if your pans are Teflon? ›

Smooth & Shiny Surface

One of the main signs that your pan is nonstick is its smooth surface and shiny, scratch-less look finish. Its smooth non-stick surface allows cooking food even without using oil. Also, non-stick pans will have an almost frictionless surface.

What is Teflon called now? ›

It refers to a chemical coating known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Does Gordon Ramsay Use Teflon pans? ›

Nonstick pan (Gordon uses pans made by ScanPan, but any well-made pan with a solid, heavy bottom will work.)

Are modern non stick pans safe? ›

Modern nonstick cookware is generally considered safe. The American Cancer Society states that there are no proven risks to humans from new PFOA-free nonstick cookware ( 24 ). However, if you're still concerned about any of the potential health effects, you can try an alternative.

Should you throw away scratched Teflon pans? ›

If you see scratches, that means the nonstick Teflon surface has been compromised and the chemicals could be flaking off into your food. Not good! To be safe, once a pan is scratched it's gotta go.

Is Calphalon made with Teflon? ›

While Calphalon cookware features polytetrafluoroethylene-based nonstick finishes, we are not associated with, nor do we use, Teflon® branded products.

Videos

1. This Is Why You Should Stop Using Non Stick Pans Right Now
(Natural Ways)
2. Are Nonstick Pans Safe? Here's The Truth About Nonstick Cookware
(Natural Cures)
3. Stainless Steel or Cast Iron: Which Cookware Is Best? Is Teflon Safe?
(NutritionFacts.org)
4. A TRICK EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW | How to make any stainless steel pan non-stick | THE MERCURY BALL TEST
(Blissfully Random)
5. Food Sticking to Stainless Steel Pans? 4 Common Mistakes to Avoid
(Prudent Reviews)
6. Eco Friendly NON-STICK Cookware | Teflon free, Non-toxic Pans
(The Eco Swap)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nathanael Baumbach

Last Updated: 11/18/2022

Views: 5827

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nathanael Baumbach

Birthday: 1998-12-02

Address: Apt. 829 751 Glover View, West Orlando, IN 22436

Phone: +901025288581

Job: Internal IT Coordinator

Hobby: Gunsmithing, Motor sports, Flying, Skiing, Hooping, Lego building, Ice skating

Introduction: My name is Nathanael Baumbach, I am a fantastic, nice, victorious, brave, healthy, cute, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.