Author: Melanie

Copper Non Stick Coatings

Several companies manufacture “copper” coated cookware. Some of these coatings are actually copper infused and others are only copper colored. It’s important to know which is which so that you can make an informed purchase. Below are a few from these two categories.

Copper Chef

Copper Chef’s website provides no information about the safety of their nonstick coating, as far as toxic chemicals are concerned. They do not even address it in their FAQs. Nor do they say that there is actually any copper in their non stick coating. That leaves me to assume that their coating, which they call Cerami-Tech, is simply a copper-colored ceramic coating. They also make a line of cookware that is diamond-infused and they very clearly state that it is.

Since it is a ceramic coating, I would also assume that it is as safe as any other, but I personally feel more comfortable with a company that offers all relevant information and makes clear, direct statements about the safety of their product. Although Copper Chef is probably as safe as any other ceramic non stick cookware, I would feel a lot better knowing that they think being free of toxic chemicals is important enough to to include in the information they provide to the consumer.

Red Copper Pan

Red Copper Pan (as seen on TV) clearly states on their website that their non stick ceramic coating is copper-infused and also free of toxic chemicals. The copper does not come in contact with the food, therefore there is no danger of copper leaching into acidic foods unless the surface is damaged.

Like cast iron, the Red Copper Pan requires a simple periodic seasoning process. Red Copper cookware and bakeware is oven-safe up to 500°. From all the reviews I’ve read, it is accurately represented by the advertising. It performs well, cleans up very easily, and will hold up well if not damaged by improper handling. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and your Red Copper Pan should prove a good investment.

I have never used the Red Copper Pan myself, but I have a friend who has been using one for a few years and is happy with the performance. Her pan doesn’t look great at this point, having lots of burnt buildup on the inside surface, but I have had the opportunity to observe that she is not particularly careful about following all of the manufacturer’s instructions and I suspect that would account for the appearance.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions for use and care is essential to accurately judging the quality, durability, and performance of any cookware. Bear that in mind with any choice you make. How you care for it will make a big difference!

One thing I don’t like is that their cookware set includes an aluminum steamer basket. I will not cook or bake with exposed aluminum under any circumstances, but more about that in another post.


This company refers to their cookware as “copper,” but in this case that seems to be a reference only to the color. They describe their nonstick coating as ceramic and titanium, and represent it as ultra-nonstick and scratch resistant. The coating is PTFA, PFOA, lead and cadmium free, and is oven safe up to 450˚. They also make the standard claims of easy clean-up, efficient cooking, and durability, and call it “dishwasher safe,” but still recommend hand washing.

Gotham Steel

Gotham Steel makes cookware with a copper colored ceramic coating called TIcerama, which is made with titanium. The cookware is designed by Chef Daniel Green. It’s free of toxic chemicals, it’s oven safe up to 500˚ F, and the handles are said to be “stay cool,” although I am sure that applies only when used on the stovetop and not in the oven!

Gotham Steel claims that their TIcerama coating is scratch proof and metal utensil safe, as well as dishwasher safe. Still, I would always avoid using metal utensils with any nonstick cookware and would also opt to wash by hand. It just makes good sense to be as gentle as possible with your nonstick cookware in order to ensure its optimal longevity.

As with the Red Copper set (which is actually infused with copper), there is a steamer basket included in the Gotham Steel set. I haven’t seen it in person and I can’t find any information on it, but in the pictures it at least appears to be made of stainless steel, which is far preferable to Red Copper’s aluminum steamer basket.

More healthy nonstick cookware options to come in a future post. . . .

To your healthy kitchen

Healthy Non Stick Cookware

For decades, Teflon coating was the ubiquitous usurper of our kitchens, but Teflon no longer has a virtual monopoly on nonstick coatings. Today, there are several healthy nonstick cookware options. I hope this post will bring you closer to deciding which one would work best for your cooking needs. 

I will give you the basics of five different options, and then I’ll explore each one further in future posts.

Hard Anodized Aluminum

Hard anodized cookware is made of aluminum that has been strengthened by anodization, a process of electrolysis that creates an oxide coating on the surface of the aluminum. The oxidized layer makes it quite different from regular aluminum cookware. The surface is much harder and denser than non-anodized aluminum and nearly as strong as stainless steel. It is impact resistant, as well as corrosion and rust resistant. The surface is also non-porous and therefore non stick.

Good quality hard anodized pots and pans are both extremely strong and lightweight, as well as able to withstand high teperatures. Like any non-anodized aluminum cookware, they conduct heat evenly, but, unlike it, they are one hundred per cent non-reactive so will not leech into your foods, and being non stick they allow for easy clean-up.

Ceramic Coated

Ceramic non stick cookware is both PFOA and PTFE free and, if made in the USA according to FDA requirements, it is completely nontoxic.ceramic coated cookware It is usually made of hard, anodized aluminum with a ceramic coating that is applied by either spraying or dipping and then “curing” in a high-heat firing process. Ceramic coated non stick cookware is easy to clean and it is supposedly heat resistant up to 842º F. Nevertheless, high heat is not recommended, as it will definitely shorten the life of the cookware.

You’ll want to make sure your ceramic coated cookware is made by a reputable company, otherwise you will likely end up with a poor quality item that will not last long. Even high quality pans of this type are known to have a fraction of the life of a traditional non stick pan, although it is certainly a much healthier choice. Any ceramic non stick pan will be damaged by the use of metal utensil so always use wooden, silicone, or other nonstick utensils in order to preserve the non stick surface. More about healthy utensils in a future post.

Hard Enamel / Porcelain Enamel

Hard enamel or porcelain enamel pots and pans are made of metal that has been fused with an enamel coating, which creates a strong, smooth, glossy non stick cooking surface.porcelain enamel cookware The metal base of the cookware may be made of either cast iron, stainless steel, or aluminum. Each of these is durable, but cast iron is the heaviest and aluminum the most lightweight. Some of this cookware is also coated on the outside and comes in a rainbow of decorative colors.

Enameled cookware is easy to clean, can withstand high temperatures, and does not expose you or your food to any toxic chemicals. The higher the quality of the cookware, of course, the more durable, damage-resistant, and long-lasting it will be, so choose your enamel non stick cookware with care and it will serve you well for years to come.

Copper Infused

There are several manufacturers of “copper” non stick pots and pans. Some of them are copper-infused ceramic coatings and some are simply copper-colored ceramic coatings. Ceramic non stick coatings are 100% nontoxic. Copper has non stick properties and is the most efficient conductor of heat. The durability and life of the pan will depend on whether or not it is made by a reputable manufacturer and if you follow the instructions for use and care.

There are several companies that manufacture “copper” non stick cookware and I will explore these lines further in a future post.

Diamond Infused

This ceramic non stick coating is infused with diamonds, which is the hardest substance known to man. The diamond crystals enhance the strength and durability, as well as the non stick properties of the cooking surface. If manufacturer’s instructions are faithfully followed, this non stick coating will neither chip nor crack, and can even stand up to metal utensils (although I would still opt not to use metal).

The diamond particals are a superlative conductor of heat, spreading the heat more quickly and evenly across the cooking surface. The higher the quality of your diamond-coated cookware and the more responsibly you care for it, the longer it will last. A reputable manufacturer and a higher price tag are pretty good indicators of higher quality cookware. All ceramic non stick cookware will eventually lose its non stick properties and need to be replaced, but even with frequent use (and proper care!) they will serve you well for several years.

If you have cooked with any of the above, I would love to hear from you! Please share your comments in the field below.

I will have further information for you about healthy non stick cookware options in my next post.

To your healthy kitchen!

How Toxic is Teflon? What you don’t know CAN Hurt You!

Toxicity in the Kitchen

Over the years, I have been in a lot of homes and seen a lot of kitchens in use. I have rarely been in a kitchen, other than my own, that did not have its share of Teflon coated nonstick pots and pans. Some kitchens I’ve seen are equipped with nothing but Teflon coated cookware.

Many home cooks prefer to cook with nonstick pots and pans, because it minimizes the use of cooking fats, as well as making cleanup so much easier. Nonstick cookware also makes kitchen tasks much less daunting for those who are not quite “comfortable” in the kitchen.

The advent of the Teflon coating was considered very liberating, whether one is a gourmet cook, or one cooks nothing more complicated than scrambled eggs; whether one cooks daily for a family of four or more, or only occasionally makes a foray into the kitchen to throw together a quick meal for one.

In recent decades, however, there has been a lot of concern over the toxicity of the Teflon nonstick coating. So, how toxic is Teflon? Let’s talk straight about Teflon coated cookware. . . .

What is Teflon?

Teflon is the trade name for a synthetic polymer, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is a polymer that is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn’t stick to water or any wet substance, and has one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid.

In 1938, a DuPont chemist was experimenting with refrigerants and stumbled upon what was referred to as “one of the world’s slipperiest substances.” In 1944, the Teflon trademark was registered and Teflon was ultimately utilized as a nonstick cookware coating. DuPont later advertised Teflon as “a housewife’s best friend.”

Bad for Humans and the Environment

Up until 2013, the Teflon nonstick coating contained Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8. PFOA is a synthetic chemical, used in the process of making Teflon and similar chemicals, known as fluorotelomers. Although it is essentially burned off during the manufacturing process, it is still present in trace amounts in the final products, however it supposedly will not release fumes unless the pan is overheated.

Teflon coating on a pan may keep food from sticking to it, but nothing can keep PFOA from sticking to us and to our environment. PFOA is present worldwide at very low levels. It has shown up in dolphins off the Florida coast and polar bears in the Arctic; it is present, according to a range of studies, in the bloodstream of almost every American—even in newborns. PTFE residuals, known as perfluorocarbons (PFC’s) were found in breast milk from all forty-five nursing mothers tested in one particular study.

Higher blood levels of PFOA have been found in community residents where local water supplies have been contaminated by PFOA. People exposed to PFOA in the workplace can have levels many times higher. High levels of exposure to PFOA have been associated with the following health problems:

  • kidney and testicular cancer
  • ulcerative colitis
  • thyroid disease
  • liver damage
  • cholesterol concerns
  • changes in blood pressure during pregnancy
  • health problems with fetuses, babies and children

Due to its resistance to typical environmental degradation processes, PFOA will linger in the environment well beyond our lifetime, leaving a legacy for at least twenty-five generations. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit watchdog organization, declared PFOA and its close chemical relatives to be “the most persistent synthetic chemicals known to man.” The toxicity will likely remain in the environment forever.

A Teflon-coated pan heats up to about 750ºF in approximately 5 minutes. Thermal degradation of PTFE triggers a litany of toxic compounds, including highly corrosive and lethal gases, and PFIB, a chemical warfare agent that is 10 times more lethal than phosgene (a chemical warfare agent used in WWI and WWII). These compounds also persist in the environment. Furthermore, scratched Teflon pans will ultimately completely exfoliate. The coating will end up in your food and then in you. No matter how it finds its way into our bodies, once there, it quietly accumulates in our tissues, for a lifetime.

PTFE toxicity causes polymer fume fever in humans. This condition is temporary and intense, but not serious, and it mimics the flu. Only a few cases have been reported of people going to the hospital and it is unlikely doctors would recognize the origin of the illness as coming from overheated Teflon. Polymer fume fever is only caused from exposure to PTFE breakdown products. 

Deadly for Birds

PTFE is most notorious for its toxicity to birds. This has been referred to as “Teflon toxicosis” where the lungs of exposed birds hemorrhage, filling up with fluid and leading to suffocation. There are some tragic stories of bird deaths related to Teflon (PTFE) exposure that can be found here, on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website, in a 2003 article.

Why Did it Take So Long to Discover the Dangers?

DuPont is the original inventor and manufacturer of Teflon-coated products. They have been aware of the toxic health effects of exposure to heated Teflon for well over 50 years. When their workers were becoming ill on the job, the company conducted a study on humans with Teflon-laced cigarettes. Nine out of the ten participants developed polymer fume fever.

On July 8, 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency revealed the results of a year-long investigation into DuPont’s failure to disclose to the agency internal company studies showing pollution of human fetal cord blood and local tap water with C8 or PFOA. Acting on a petition filed by the Environmental Working Group, the Agency found that DuPont engaged in unlawful behavior on three separate counts of hiding critical study results in company file cabinets for up to 20 years.

At that time, a loophole ridden system had gaping holes in the public health safety net for toxic chemicals. These loopholes made it possible for chemical companies to decide for themselves what, if any, safety tests to perform, and when, if ever, to tell public health and environmental officials about the results.

Knowledge is Power

That’s it in a nutshell, without going very deep into all of the details, but it’s more than enough for me.

How about you? Are you using Teflon coated pots and pans that were manufactured prior to 2013? Or do you perhaps have a few of them hiding in the back of your cupboard? Are you using Teflon coated cookware that was manufactured since 2013, but not always keeping the heat at the level suggested by the manufacturer? Are you ready to say goodbye to toxic Teflon and replace it with nontoxic nonstick cookware?

So what is the healthiest non stick cookware and bakeware available? What are the best products? I will begin to address that in my next post.

To your healthy kitchen!