How Safe Is Ceramic Non Stick Cookware?

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You’re wanting a good set for your family. And you want safe nonstick. Here I cover nonstick ceramic cookware safety—answering your questions on how safe is ceramic non stick cookware?

Nonstick ceramic cookware has advantages of low fat cooking and convenient easy clean-up. It’s no wonder it’s popular. But, because you care about your family, it’s fair to question the nonstick ceramic cookware safety in terms of health.

Is non stick ceramic cookware safe?

Ceramic nonstick pots and pans sold in the US are free of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and PTFE. For this reason, they are considered the safer nonstick cookware. Here’s what is known…

Holding the safety of your family in your hand. It's fair to ask how safe is nonstick ceramic cookware.

ceramic non stick pan safe—PFOA and PTFE free

Ceramic non stick pans are considered safe for you and your family because they don’t carry the known toxins of traditional nonstick cookware. You’ll notice they are labeled ‘non-toxic’.

They carry the non toxic label because they have no PFOA – perfluorooctanoic acid. This fluoropolymer PFOA — also known as C8 — is a synthetic compound of the early Teflon non-stick coating. The problem with PFOA is that it persists in the environment and can potentially harm animals and humans. “PFOA was classified as ‘likely to be carcinogenic in humans” by the USEPA Science Advisory Board”.1

Another reason people consider ceramic nonstick cookware safe is that they are free of the synthetic compound, the fluoropolymer PTFE – polytetrafluoroethylene, which is the main material in Teflon non-stick coating. The fumes from PTFE when heated can be fatal to caged birds, and can potentially harm your health.2 People have concerns about this. But, you don’t have this problem with ceramic nonstick cookware. I cover such differences in my article on ceramic vs Teflon nonstick.

GreenPan ceramic cookware is a brand of non stick that has no PFOA or PTFE.

Is ceramic coated cookware safe?

Ceramic coated cookware is safe in that according to the Product Knowledge Network3, the chemical nature of ceramic nonstick coating provides all the features of traditional nonstick without those fluoropolymers. It “possesses the strength of silica while achieving excellent smoothness and good release, without fluoropolymers.”

They go on to say that ceramic systems are harder and will hold their form and toughness more so than PTFE coatings. The advantage here is that ceramic coatings will withstand much higher temperatures before releasing vapours than the conventional coatings made of PTFE.

The coating on these ceramic nonstick pots and pans comprises a sol-gel coating, which is based on silica (silicon dioxide), referred to as sand.

Nonstick ceramic cookware dangers

The danger with ceramic nonstick cookware comes with exposure of the metal base. In most cases this base is made of aluminum and this cookware material carries with it health concerns as I explain in my article investigating the healthiest cookware material. Aluminum is not the healthiest cookware material. It can be potentially harmful to health.

It’s important to care for your nonstick cookware to avoid scratches forming and breaking the surface to expose this aluminum base. If and when this happens, you need to discard it. You could also recycle it, or repurpose it, as I explain in my article on disposing cookware.

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. 

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”.

Final Thoughts on non stick ceramic cookware safety

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 Ceramic nonstick cookware is claimed to be free of these potential toxins.

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.

FAQs

References

  1. 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,
    ISSN 0013-9351
  2. Toxicology Data Ecowatch. Teflon.
  3. Product Knowledge Network (PKN), Sol “Ceramic” Coating. www.ProductKnowledge.com
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