The best non-toxic cookware helps to ensure that our efforts to eat clean, healthy meals won’t be tainted by toxic chemicals that may leach into our food during the cooking process.

This non-toxic cookware guide walks you through the types of toxic cookware to avoid and safe alternatives to help you make informed decisions for your family’s health.

7 best non-toxic cookware materials and best cookware brands that are safe and eco-friendly for healthy eating for your family. #cookware #nontoxic #healthyliving #toxicfree #nonstick

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What are some types of toxic cookware to avoid?

Nonstick Cookware (Teflon)

I’ve used nonstick pans for a long time because they were light, easy to clean, and seemed a healthier choice as I don’t need to add much oil when cooking.

Turns out most of the safety issues concerning cookware are around the non-stick coating of pots and pans.

The non-stick coating is made from a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), better known as Teflon.

The FDA has found that certain chemicals, especially perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used in the manufacturing of Teflon are actually toxic to the environment and our health

PFOA builds up in our bodies over time.  It has been linked to health conditions such as kidney and liver diseases, and certain cancers (source).

It has also been linked to fertility issues in women (source).

Most of us have been warned about not using metal utensils on nonstick cookware.  The reason is that once the surface is scratched, these nonstick coating chemicals can leach into your food as you cook.

While Teflon products were made PFOA-free since 2013, it’s still best to read the labels on all nonstick cookware carefully before purchasing.

Aluminum

Aluminum cookware can leach aluminum into food, especially when you cook acidic foods such as tomato sauce.

One reason aluminum has been a cause of concern is due to its controversial yet plausible link with Alzheimer’s disease (source).

Another concern is around the use of antiperspirants containing aluminum which may be linked to breast cancer (source).

Both concerns point to the fact that having elevated levels of aluminum deposited in our body can have serious health impacts.

The newer anodized aluminum cookware is sealed so that the metal does not react with acidic foods, however, it can still leach a small amount of aluminum, especially if the thin protective surface of the pan is damaged.

Ceramic-Coated Nonstick Cookware

The newer ceramic-coated nonstick cookware, such as Thermalon, is much safer than the original Teflon nonstick cookware and offers a similar level of performance in its nonstick capability.

The manufacturing of these cookware involves nanotechnology which is fairly new, and nanoproducts were made available to the market without enough research and monitoring on how they affect human health and environment over the years.

However, there have been growing concerns about how they affect our health.  A 2017 study found a possible release of titanium dioxide nanoparticles from non-stick coatings into food (source).

This is a concern because chronic oral exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticle is associated with increased immune disruptions and the formation of precancerous lesions in the colon.

While I haven’t found studies on Thermalon releasing titanium dioxide nanoparticles, we should proceed with caution on ceramic-coated nonstick cookware such as GreenPan, ScanPan, and others.

7 Best Non-Toxic Cookware Materials for Your Kitchen

Cast iron 

Best non toxic cookware - cast iron

Cast iron cookware is one of the best non-toxic cookware materials because it is highly durable and naturally nonstick as it comes pre-seasoned using natural oils

This cookware is highly versatile and can be used to sear, sauté, bake, broil, braise, fry, or grill your food.

It distributes heat evenly and retains heat well. And unlike nonstick pans, you don’t need to worry about using a metal utensil.

Food prepared in iron cookware was shown to be potentially helpful for people with iron deficiency or anemia as it fortifies the food with extra iron (source).

On the other hand, people with high levels of iron in their body due to conditions such as hemochromatosis should avoid cooking with cast iron cookware.  

Lodge makes quality pre-seasoned cast iron skillets at an inexpensive price.

It works for all cooktops, including an induction cooktop.

I use my cast iron skillet often along with this amazing all-purpose spatula.

Porcelain Enamel Cast Iron

This cookware combines the heat retention and durability of cast iron with a hard porcelain enamel glaze that is baked onto the outer surface of the cookware.

There are some concerns around the leaching of heavy metals like lead and cadmium from the enamel-coated pans, especially from ones that are brightly colored.

As such, you should only purchase from reputable sources, and discontinue use if the interior surface becomes badly scratched.

Le Creuset is well known for quality porcelain enamel cookware that is made in France.

They have stated that their interior enamel lead and cadmium levels are California Proposition 65 compliant, which is one of the most rigid standards in the world for lead and cadmium.  More cadmium is used on the outer surface to color the exterior of their cookware.

This popular Le Creuset signature dutch oven comes in 10 vibrant colors!

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is very similar to cast iron and it is usually used for frying pans and woks.  It’s great for high heat cooking, frying, stir-frying and sautéing.

Carbon steel is gaining popularity from those who are looking for a lightweight alternative to cast iron.  Carbon steel cookware is thinner and much lighter, so it’s easier to maneuver on the stove. 

Like cast iron, carbon steel pans also require seasoning to achieve a nonstick surface.  Unlike cast iron, they don’t come pre-seasoned.

Carbon steel reactive with acidic foods as well so it will leach iron, especially when cooking acidic foods. 

De Buyer is a French company that makes quality carbon steel pans.

Stainless steel

Best non toxic cookware - stainless steel

Stainless steel is the most common metal used in the food services industry because it is non-reactive and generally safe cookware.  

Stainless steel is resistant to rust, corrosion, and distributes heat evenly on its surface, making it a great material to cook with.

One possible downside of stainless steel is that it may leach heavy metals such as iron, chromium, and nickel into food. This is more likely if you cook acidic foods in a stainless-steel pot for a long time.

Our body uses iron and chromium, but nickel provides no nutritional benefit.  In addition, nickel sensitivity is potentially linked to chronic dermatitis in some people (source).  So anyone who is nickel sensitive should consider an alternative to stainless steel.

Be sure to stick to food-grade stainless steel marked Type 304 or 18/8 and 18/10.  18/8 means 18% chromium and 8% nickel.  Type 304 and 18/10 are essentially the same grade and considered better quality steel than 18/8, though it may not necessarily contain 10% nickel (source).

Quality stainless steel cookware is usually made with an aluminum core layer, as aluminum is a better heat conductor than stainless steel.  However, the aluminum does not come in contact with food.

The All-Clad Stainless 10-Piece Set is made in the USA with a superior quality that’ll last a lifetime.  Each piece is compatible with all cooktops, including induction, and is oven and broiler safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

For best value, the Tramontina Gourmet 12-Piece Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set provides solid construction at a more affordable price for home cooks.

You can also purchase the individual cookware separately.  I use the 2-quart sauce pan with lid and the 6-quart sauce pot most often.

Ceramic

While we should proceed with caution on ceramic coated nonstick cookware due to the potential exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles there is one brand of ceramic cookware that does not use nanoparticles.

Xtrema is a company that makes gorgeous 100% pure ceramic cookware that is non-toxic.  Their cookware passes the stringent California Proposition 65 for lead and cadmium, and they are the only company to publicly share their test results here.

As this cookware is pure ceramic, you will need to be careful handling them as they can break.

Tempered Glass

Glass is one of the safest materials for cooking because it is nonporous and chemically inert.  It does not leach chemicals nor react with acidic foods. 

Not only is glass cookware non-toxic, but it’s also eco-friendly and a great budget-friendly option. 

Heat-treated or tempered glass is about four times stronger than regular glass.  It’s also considered safer because it breaks into small, circular pieces rather than jagged shards.

Still, you must take care to prevent the glass material from shattering by preventing heavy impact and any sudden changes in temperature that can cause the glass to go into thermal shock.

The Visions brand is known for quality tempered glass cookware that is long-lasting. Their cookware is made in France and is free of lead and cadmium concerns.

Vision cookware is great for soups or stews that can go straight from the stovetop or oven to the table as they make attractive serving dishes.

Copper

Best non toxic cookware - copper

Copper is one of the best metal conductors of heat, as it can warm quickly and stay warm, all the while ensuring even distribution of heat and uniform cooking of your food.   

One major downside of copper cookware is that it reacts with alkaline or acidic foods, which can take on a metallic taste after being cooked or prepared in a copper pot.  It also means you’ll ingest small amounts of copper, so it’s not recommended for daily use.

To prevent copper from leaching into your food, choose copper cookware lined with stainless steel (another non-reactive metal) for food safety, ease of cleaning, and durability.

Quality copper cookware set with food-grade stainless steel can be pricey! But this one comes with a lifetime warranty.

What is the best non-toxic cookware?

Your choice of non-toxic cookware really depends on the food you are cooking.  Each cookware has its pros and cons.

Cast iron works well for cooking eggs, pancakes, fish, and meats.  Stainless steel is great for cooking foods other than acidic food.  Use glass, ceramic, or porcelain enamel pots or sauce pans for cooking acidic foods.  And carbon steel is amazing for stir-fries.

No cookware is 100% non-toxic if care is not taken to properly cook, clean, and prevent the interior surface from damages.

Sharing is caring!  What is your favorite non-toxic cookware?