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  • Writer's pictureJason - Dustpan & Brush

Safest Non-Toxic Cookware, Pots and Pans for the Home

As we enter more homes and engage in conversations with both our clients and friends alike, we notice common questions and dialogues emerging regarding low-tox lifestyles and the steps we can take to change and eliminate chemicals and toxins from our lives. The most common topic is cleaning products (we are cleaners after all), however the second most frequented topic/question to follow would have to be "what is considered safe when it comes to cooking items"; think pots, pans and general kitchen cookware. To many, that should come as no surprise, there is a ton of misinformation and a distinct lack of accessible options out there!


As concerns surrounding environmental issues, impacts and personal health continue to grow throughout recent years, communities and families are attempting to source non-toxic cookware as a means of reducing their exposure to potentially harmful substances such as PFOA, PFOS, Carcinogens and BPAs. If you're considering purchasing nontoxic cookware, read on, as it is important to try to understand (as best as we can in a sea of forever updated information) exactly which materials are safest for cooking with and which options provide low-tox alternatives to your kitchen favourites:


Beyond cooking itself, think of the other ways we use kitchen appliances and utensils. Perhaps your intention is sanitisation of items for your baby's use, for pets, or just general household items for peace of mind. Even simple boiling techniques could end up leaching metals or BPAs into your water depending on the pots or kettles you use. As boutique cleaners that make our own artisanal, organic cleaning products to use in your home, sanitisation is of course a big part of the process. We have sourced allergy free, no-nickel pots and kettles for exactly this purpose, reducing as many possibilities for allergic reaction or intolerance development. We believe all families and individuals should have easy access to exactly this kind of information that will better inform decision making around home health. This post will provide some information as to what to avoid, what cookware materials are best to use and why. Let's dive in.

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What should I entirely avoid when it comes to cookware, pots and pans?


A benchmark method the professionals use to understand what is or isn't leaching harmful substances is known as XRF testing. XRF testing specifically tests for leached contaminants such as toxic metals in water, since we're talking about cookware, of course this testing method is also used to determine safe or toxic levels of metal leaching in pots and pans. To be on the safe side, the following is a list of items and materials to entirely avoid as all will generally (and some quite heavily) leach toxic and carcinogenic substances into your food and water (more on what is safe towards to the end of the article!).

AVOID:

  • ALL Non-Stick Coatings: including those claiming to be "non-toxic" or presented with marketing terms such as titanium, diamond, hexagon or ceramic. Anything made from or marketed as teflon does and will contain PFOA, PFOS or a slightly modified chemical structure of the same which is just as carcinogenic and toxic, not to mention evidence of reproductive, hormonal and immune issues borne of this commonplace coating, which all, let alone young families and to-be parents should want to completely avoid.

  • Painted Cookware: kitchen items with painted elements or markings are best avoided as some manufacturers still use lead paint in their product development and may not need to disclose this information depending on the government's regulation in the region in which is was made. This includes wooden utensils or other kitchen tools with painted decorative markings or dips.

  • Tinted Glass: While glass can be considered quite safe, avoid tinted or coloured glass when it comes to cooking or boiling. Unfortunately, while they may look nice, many tints contain heavy metal based colorants and components.

  • Antique/Vintage Cookware: As beautiful as it truly is, vintage cookware as the name may suggest, came from a time when safety standards and disclosure of processes, chemicals and materials compositions were much more lax (sometimes non existent).

  • Silicone: Similarly, many items of cookware with silicone components, or made entirely from silicone have been found to contain trace levels of cadmium and even unsafe levels of lead. Branding is a consistent issue that we're certain many of you are hesitant about, and while silicone has been viewed to be a great eco-friendly alternative, until we have more regulation and transparency from the things we buy, it's best to avoid or at least not be used around heat.

  • Brass and Copper: Cookware with brass accents or handles may contain high levels of lead. Similarly, avoid all copper pots and pans as long term exposure through ingestion of copper can cause a myriad of health issues.

  • Plastics: with the awareness of BPAs as hormone disruptors as well as cancer causing elements, heating of plastics should be entirely avoided. Better still, general removal from your kitchen products is always best. This includes 'microwavable' plastics.

  • Glazed Ceramic Pans: including those that make false claims about not being glazed. Glazing contains metals such as incredibly toxic amounts of lead.


Okay that's a lot! Is there anything left that's safe, what should I use?

What is considered safe; non-toxic pots, pans and cookware.


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1. Stainless Steel:

One of the safest materials for cookware is stainless steel as it is a durable, non-reactive material that is resistant to corrosion and scratching. Thankfully for everyone (we're particularly happy about this one for obvious reasons!) it is also relatively easy to clean and maintain. It is however important to note that many stainless steel cookware options may contain trace amounts of nickel, which while uncommon, can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. The inclusion of nickel in manufacturing stainless steel helps to improve the material's corrosion resistance and strength. However, some people can be sensitive to nickel and may develop a rash or other skin irritation when they come into contact with it, this may already be the case for you, or as it is for many, can develop with time. The composition of stainless steel varies between types and manufacturers so finding no nickel alternatives can be tricky, but we have a few trusted options for low or no nickel stainless steel pots and pans that are readily available for online order.

Firstly is the well trusted Australian brand Solidteknics, they have an entirely no nickel line called "nöni" with a range of pots and pans available. Solidteknics are king when it comes to cooking, if you're looking to upgrade to a family and health safe option that will literally last you multiple generations, this is hands down the go to. You can find their range here: Solidteknics Nöni A slightly more affordable option is Homichef, as of writing, you can best find them on Amazon at the following link: Homichef Amazon


As boutique cleaners, we make all our own organic cleaning products ourselves, many of which require boiling for sanitisation. The stainless steel boilware we use is all zero nickel, to ensure all possible reduction of allergenics!

 

2. Cast Iron (and Enamelled Cast Iron)


Cast Iron is one of the oldest used and fantastically health conscious options out there. With the right 'seasoning', a term which refers to applying oil to the pan and heating it to the point where it develops a protective sheen, you more or less have one of the most "non-stick" cookware items you'll ever use. Neurotoxic metals (such as lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and antimony) are not found in cast iron and this, alongside it's excellent heat retention and searing capabilities makes cast iron a deeply loved kitchen tool by chefs and home cooks alike. We recommend using an organic flaxseed oil for seasoning (follow the guide by your manufacturer for the seasoning process), once done, you're good to go for life! If you need to re-season, you can clean off the seasoning and start again.


A few great options from a branding perspective are Solidteknics, Stargazer and Le Cruset. Some people have issues with enamelled cast iron types and brands based on the possibility for the brightly coloured paints used on the outside to potentially contain metals, however this is of course down to personal choice. If you want to play it extra safe, non-enamelled cast iron is the go-to. Which cast iron band is the best? As was with the the stainless steel offerings, Solidteknics once again reigns supreme in offering a multi-generational health conscious and completely non-toxic, naturally non-stick line of cast iron. These are our go to in the home, we even have the wrought iron option which is relatively light weight with all the original benefits of the heavy cast iron entirely. You can find their range here: Solidteknics Cast Iron


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3. Glass


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Another safe option is glass - most commonly found as kettles and brewers. Believe it or not, you can actually find glass pots and pans for stovetop cooking too, just make sure that if you want to go down this route that it is not tinted glass as noted above! Glass is non-reactive and doesn't release any chemicals into food or water during the cooking process. It's also resistant to scratching, incredibly easy to clean, dishwasher safe and a lot more heat resistant than you may assume (including extended exposure to naked flames!). It is however no where near as durable as stainless steel or cast iron and will break relatively easily if dropped, or exposed to particularly extreme levels of heat or sudden temperature shifts. Of course, broken glass can also present danger in the home, for these reasons, I'd stick to glass for kettles and choose stainless steel and cast iron for the rest!

 

And that's that, when it comes to cookware, it's not just about what looks good in your kitchen (although we admit a well styled kitchen is immeasurably important!), it's also about what's safe for you and your family, and we're sure you agree. Let's be honest, nobody wants to be eating toxic chemicals with their morning omelette or drinking nickel dosed water for some extra "flavour".


So if you're in the market for some new pots and pans, or you know you need to make a shift from the toxic options you currently have, then hopefully you're now equipped with a little more knowledge as to what are a few safe and healthy alternatives. Just make sure to buy from reputable brands and take good care of your cookware to keep it in tip-top shape for you and your family's health!

 

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Don’t have the time to do your home cleaning, or want a professional organic and eco-friendly cleaner around? We know the feeling, that's why we're here!

Give us a shout out and we’ll be happy to help.



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