Cast Iron Skillet (safe, but increases iron consumption a little, and needs a bit more “care”)
Why you should use a safe skillet:
(See more info about each below!)
- Many non-stick cookware uses PTFE and PFOA to help make it non-stick.
- “At normal cooking temperatures, PTFE-coated cookware releases various gases and chemicals that present mild to severe toxicity.” (Ref)
- “Due to toxicity concerns, PFOA has been replaced with other chemicals such as GenX, but these new alternatives are also suspected to have similar toxicity.” (Ref)
- Some ceramic skillets (which should be safe) have lead added to it to make it more “shiny”.
- Teflon coating contributes to perfluorinated substance load, which has an association with higher TSH levels (i.e. lower thyroid function) (Ref)
- There have been some links with Teflon and certain cancers (ref), but overall this risk appears small (mainly because only high temperatures [300 C] will release fumes). However, if your pan becomes scratched or the coating starts coming off, then you may be at increased risk. More research is still needed on this topic, but PFOA is officially a “possible carcinogen”.
- Cooking on the stove top can easily / regularly reach temperatures of about 400 C (Ref, in full text)
- See image at bottom of page on temperatures and documented effects
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Benefits of Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron has been used for cooking for literally thousands of years (since the “Iron Age”! The benefits of cast iron is that there is no coating with man-made materials (Teflon / PTFE / PFOA / etc.) and that it can handle high heat.
One quality that may be a benefit or drawback is that it does act somewhat like a small iron supplement. With most foods, it will only release 1-3 mg of iron. However, if cooking something acidic, like tomato sauce, it may leach more.
This can be a benefit for those with iron-deficiency or anemia (of which, iron deficiency anemia is the most common cause). This can be a drawback if you are already getting a lot of iron or are at risk for iron overload.
The drawback of cast iron are that it needs just a bit more (needs to be “pre-seasoned”. Most people use vegetable oil for this, which can oxidize easily and may not be the best for your health. I advocate using coconut oil to season it, as coconut oil is much, much less sustainable to oxidation.
Benefits of Ceramic Skillet
As long as no lead is added, many ceramic skillets are safe and cook evenly. You want to make sure you get good quality so that the coating doesn’t come off. Due to the coating, you don’t want to cook ceramic skillets with high heat.
The following is a great write up from Ceramic Cookware Hub about the benefits / drawbacks of the ceramic skillet shown above:
The Vesuvio Ceramic Non Stick Frying Pan
This is a very lightweight pan (it’s a wrist saver), with a nonstick surface that makes for easy cooking and cleanup.
The pan has a perfectly flat base of 0.15 inch (3.7 mm) aluminum.
The pan is designed with a depth of 2.5 inch (63.5 mm) and a side slope to provide easy flipping.
The thick 3.7 mm base means the pan is sturdy and not likely to warp, and being aluminum means that the pan will heat quickly and evenly for fast cooking.
The interior coating is PFOA-free, PTFE-free, cadmium-free, and lead-free, so you don’t have to worry about contaminants leaching into your food.
Another advantage of this pan is that it can go from the stovetop to oven with or without the lid to temperatures up to 450ºF. Handles are silicone, which makes them cool to touch and heat resistant. The glass cover is also rimmed in silicone.
Not only is it perfect for frying eggs, but, as well, the depth allows you to do things like add spinach leaves for sautéeing without them overflowing the pan.
And, having a lid makes it easy to steam food and because the lid is glass there is no need to remove the lid to view the cooking. The silicone rim and steam hole prevent the lid from sliding or vibrating when the steam builds up.
Comes with a 1-year warranty.
If you are looking for a pan compatible with induction style cooking, this is not the one for you.
Like all nonstick cookware, the coating will wear with use over time. Careful use will prolong the life of the ceramic nonstick coating.
Users say the price is worth it.
Hazardous Effects Documented from PTFE at Various Temperatures (Ref, in full text)