It’s reasonable to want to know…how safe is ceramic coated cookware? You’re wanting a good set of pots and pans for your family. But you don’t want something that may slowly harm you or your loved ones. Here I cover what’s known on the common concerns about ceramic cookware safety.
Is non stick ceramic cookware safe?
Ceramic nonstick pots and pans sold in the US are safe nonstick products because they are free of the chemical compounds, PFOA and PTFE.
What are the ceramic cookware dangers regarding lead and cadmium levels? All ceramic cookware sold in the US must meet strict standards around these nonessential heavy metals. The California Proposition 65 requires companies to display a warning label on ware for food consumption that have toxic substances exceeding 0.1 ppm for lead and 0.049 ppm for cadmium.
And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FD) randomly tests for and has a list of products that fall outside their strict guidelines for food containers.
An email from FDA spokesperson Megan McSeveney to NPR in 2017, says this testing is “based on some positive findings of extractable lead and cadmium from the glaze used in making ceramic ware over a number of years”.
About PFOA and PTFE
Are ceramic non stick pans safe for you and your family?” They’re labeled ‘non-toxic’ cookware for a reason. For one, they have no PFOA – perfluorooctanoic acid.
This PFOA — also known as C8, is a synthetic compound that was used in the early Teflon non-stick coating. It persists in the environment and is harmful to animals and humans.
“‘PFOA was classified as ‘likely to be carcinogenic in humans’ by the USEPA Science Advisory Board”.1
Another is to do with the synthetic compound, PTFE – polytetrafluoroethylene. It’s the main material in today’s Teflon non-stick coating. The fumes from PTFE can impact the environment, are lethal to birds, and can potentially harm human health.2
Teflon pans emit fumes when used on high heat. You don’t have this problem with ceramic nonstick cookware. I cover more differences in my article on ceramic vs Teflon nonstick.
About the Ceramic Non Stick coating
Ceramic nonstick pots and pans use a cooking surface comprised of a sol-gel coating. This coating is based on silica, commonly called silicon dioxide, and referred to as sand.
According to the Product Knowledge Network3, the chemical nature of ceramic nonstick coating “possesses the strength of silica while achieving excellent smoothness and good release, without fluoropolymers.”
They also go on to say that ceramic systems are harder and will keep their form and toughness more so than PTFE coatings. The advantage here is that ceramic coatings will withstand much higher temperatures before releasing residues compared with the conventional coatings made with PTFE.
Ceramic could be the best cookware material for nonstick coatings for more reasons. It’s not just about toxic chemicals leaching into your food. It’s also about the harm to factory workers exposed to toxins, the impacts on wildlife, and the contamination of our soil, water, and air from waste disposal.1, 2.
The tradeoff to the ‘healthy’ aspect of the ceramic nonstick type is that the ceramic nonstick coating can wear away with use. Whether or not it wears faster than the PFTE type, depends on the quality of the make. Thus, it is important to follow care tips on using ceramic nonstick to extend its life. I also wrote a complete guide to using, caring for, and storing nonstick cookware.
While toxic chemicals leaching into our food is of concern, consider also the harm to factory workers exposed to toxins of PFOA and PFTE, to wildlife, and to our soil, water1, and air from waste disposal.2
- Gloria B. Post, Perry D. Cohn, Keith R. Cooper, Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an emerging drinking water contaminant: A critical review of recent literature, Environmental Research, Volume 116, 2012, Pages 93-117,
- Toxicology Data Network. Teflon. https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+833
- Product Knowledge Network (PKN), Sol “Ceramic” Coating. www.ProductKnowledge.com