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Safest Cookware

You may put a great deal of thought into which ingredients you cook with, but you might not be paying as much attention to the materials behind the pots and pans you have on hand. According to the FDA, high levels of toxic chemicals from the wrong nonstick cookware can enter our food supply and cause long-term damage. Luckily, there are plenty of non-toxic cookware brands available for every home cook’s purposes.

Safest Cookware

Stainless Steel

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Stainless steel is the workhorse of many kitchens, thanks to it’s durability and versatility. It’s great for searing meats, preparing sauces, and vegetable stir-frys. It lacks in heat conduction, and it’s heaviness, but bonded or clad variations can solve these shortcomings.

Regarding safety, stainless steel is approved by the FDA and though it’s been known to leach, the institute of medicine hasn’t found any hard evidence linking high levels of chromium (metal in stainless steel) to adverse effects. Stainless steel is nonreactive, and much safer than nonstick and aluminum alternatives.

Cast Iron

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Cast iron is versatile, naturally nonstick and practically indestructable. Cast iron has been the original pan (besides stone) since the beginning of time. Great for searing, stirfrying, and stove to oven cooking, cast iron makes a great all around piece of cookware. While cast iron has many strengths, it also has some weaknesses. Cast iron’s non stick is not as strong as those on ceramic coated, or teflon pans, and cast iron also requires regular seasoning which can be an added inconvenience for some home cooks.

Regarding safety, cast iron is time tested for over 1000 year (and there have been no obvious signs of harm during use). Cooking with cast iron can transfer some of the mineral from the pan to the food, but this has not been seen to be harmful to your health. Iron is an essential dietary mineral and it may even be beneficial for those deficient in it. For those, with a pre-existing conditions like Hereditary Hemochromatosis, or at risk of iron overload, consider talking to your doctor. Generally, for the average person, cast iron is safe.

Glass and Corningware

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While glass cookware is completely safe and great for oven cooking, glassware can also be limiting as it’s too sensitive to sudden temperature changes to be used for anything but oven cooking. Although it does only one thing, that thing it does exceptionally well. If you prefer to have a variety of cooking methods, go with metal cookware. If you want to stick with one method, go with glass. Glass conducts heat poorly, and holds onto heat very well. This results in cooking dishes exceptionally even and slow. Safety-wise, there is no reason to believe glass is at all harmful for your health. Although, glass requires some mindfulness in the way you use it to prevent fracturing. Try to avoid sudden temperature changes: don’t cook with it on stovetop, use the broiler oven function, or wash it until it’s completely cooled.

Controversial Cookware

Porcelain Enamel

Porcelain enamel is most commonly a cast iron interior with a glass coating. It combines the best of both worlds between the two. It’s durable enough to stand up to years of kitchen use, but it can also be cleaned with ease. With the heat retention of cast iron and the slick, non porous surface of glass it makes a great tool. And unlike bare cast iron, the enameled variety doesn’t run the risk of imparting a metallic taste to long-cooking or acidic dishes. It also doesn’t absorb odours, and is safe to use in the oven or on the stove.

What makes cast iron so safe is it’s enamel (glass) coating. Glass is nontoxic, it’s safe from leaching (materials releasing into food), and nonporous (doesn’t absorb odours or bacteria). It’s also safe to use on the stove. However this coating is made differently depending on the manufacturer, there have been concerns about leaching lead and cadmium. Tests show that quality brands like Le Creuset and Lodge have been free of these metals, but we can’t confirm the safety of every piece of porcelain enamel. Overall, the majority of the science points towards porcelain enamel cookware being safe. Therefore, if you need a tool to cook low and slow, stovetop and oven, we whole-heartedly recommend Enamelled cast iron as a safe option.

Least Safe Cookware