People often wonder about ceramic vs Teflon when it comes to buying non stick cookware. If you are in a quandary and don’t know whether to choose pans with Teflon or non stick pans without Teflon, like ceramic, read on.
Why would you choose one over the other? It helps if you know the characteristics of the materials and how best to use them. For example, you should know the right cooking temperature and how to best clean them. Here I compare the popular non stick cookware materials of ceramic and Teflon.
Ceramic Pans vs Teflon
Ceramic coating offers a non stick pan without Teflon that is said to be a healthier option. Ceramic non stick cookware tends to be PTFE and PFOA free, as well as free from cadmium and lead. Hence, it is considered toxin free. It is made from natural sand applied using sol-gel technology. You can read more about this in my write up on the pros and cons of ceramics.
Both non stick products, Teflon and ceramic coating, can have a short lifespan. You can end up with scratched Teflon pans just as easily as you would with ceramic coated ones, especially if you don’t treat ceramic or Teflon cookware with care. Read how to care for ceramic cookware, non stick type, here. To avoid scratching Teflon or ceramic coated pans, try using wooden spoons or other utensils suited to non stick cookware. Stay away from metal tongs and egg-flippers.
Yes, so, just like other types of non stick coatings, the ceramic surface will wear off over time depending on how much you use it and how well you treat it.
Both products are also non-reactive. Both claim to be free of PFOA, aka perfluorooctanoic acid.
But let’s compare the main different trait with regard to ceramic pots vs Teflon.
… the cooking temperatures. Teflon, with PTFE, has a lower recommended temperature for cooking than the ceramic coating. Compared to PTFE, ceramic coatings mean you can cook at higher temperatures (up to 450°C/840°F) without concern about product safety (see below).
Definition of Teflon
First up, you need to know that Teflon is a trademark. Hence, why it is written with a captial letter.
Manufacturers, DuPont, define Teflon as a synthetic resin of polymerized tetrafluoroethylene.
PTFE vs Teflon
The main polymer, in this case, is PTFE, which stands for polytetrafluoroethylene.
So, the cookware surface is a spray on Teflon coating made of PTFE.
Is Teflon Safe?
Does Teflon cause cancer? This is probably one of the main questions people ask.
The concern about cancer relates to PFOA, which is considered a carcinogen in animals.
About PFOA, Teflon products may or may not contain it. DuPont claims that since January 1, 2012, PFOA is not used in their nonstick coatings for cookware and consumer bakeware.
Another often asked question: is Teflon toxic? This is what the manufacturers, DuPont say:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that Teflon™ nonstick coatings for cookware are acceptable for conventional kitchen use. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission rejected a petition in 2003 to require a label warning for nonstick coatings. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not believe there is any reason for consumers to stop using any consumer or industrial related products.”
So, is Teflon bad for you?
Well, it’s best to avoid cooking with Teflon at temperatures above 482 °F (250 °C), as this is where it starts to become concerning for health.¹
DuPont admits that Teflon gas is toxic and this is emitted when the cookware is heated too high. DuPont warns: “birds have extremely sensitive respiratory systems, bird owners must take precautions to protect them”. Bits released from scratching Teflon pans, however, are not thought harmful.
Environmental harm is one of the dangers of Teflon. The coating deteriorates at temps above 500 °F (260 °C) and the breakdown products can be lethal for birds, in particular.² It can also cause a Teflon flu in humans.³ The fumes irritate eyes, nose, and throat and possibly cause respiratory distress with symptoms likely to last 24 hr.³
So in terms of safety, ceramic appears to lead the way.
Summing It Up – Ceramic vs Teflon
My thoughts on ceramic coated cookware vs Teflon is that it’s best to throw out that scratched Teflon pan and check out your healthier options.
Non teflon pans for reduced fat cooking that are healthy alternatives include ceramic non stick ones.
See also my write up on 100% ceramic cookware here.
What is the Best Non Stick Pan without Teflon
Why not check out my guide to the best ceramic non stick frying pans.
- Zapp JA, Limperos G, Brinker KC (26 April 1955). “Toxicity of pyrolysis products of ‘Teflon’ tetrafluoroethylene resin”. Proceedings of the American Industrial Hygiene Association Annual Meeting.
- “Key Safety Questions About Teflon Nonstick Coatings”. DuPont. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- “Key Safety Questions about the Safety of Nonstick Cookware”. DuPont.