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A few years ago my hubby decided he wanted to start cooking with cast iron pans. I thought it sounded like a pain in the ass, to be honest. You have to “season” the pans, you can’t use soap to clean them, you have to use oil so things don’t stick. I also thought cast iron would be expensive. Let me tell you, I was wrong in every way. But before I get into the nitty gritty on cast iron, let’s talk about Teflon.
What is Teflon and What Are PFAS?
Teflon is considered a PFAS (poly and perflouroalkyl substances) – it is the product used on non-stick pans. PFAS’s are substances used to manufacture non-stick surfaces, stain repellent and water repellant surfaces. For more details check out the EPA website here.
Why Is It Dangerous?
When PFAS are heated, in the case of cookware, they release toxic fumes that are linked to a whole host of health conditions and diseases like thyroid disease, infertility, and developmental and reproductive issues. Have you heard of Teflon flu? It’s PFAS exposure that results in flu-like systems for a few days, yes days. If that’s not enough, a Danish study showed that women exposed to these chemicals were 16 times more likely to suffer a miscarriage. Holy. Smokes.
Let’s talk about some alternative cookware options, shall we?
Cast Iron, Stainless Steel, Ceramic
As I mentioned earlier, I was intimidated by and therefore resistant to cooking with Cast Iron, but I’ve learned there was no reason to feel that way. “Seasoning” the pan is really simple, cleaning cast iron is a breeze – just scrub it well without soap and make sure to oil it before cooking and after cleaning. Easy enough. For more details, check out this helpful blog on using cast iron. Another bonus, cast iron pans are inexpensive in the world of cookware. Joel and I currently have a 2 cast iron pans, a 10 inch and a 12 inch, which I’ve linked below. At less than $30 each on Amazon, they are totally affordable.
Click here for 10 inch
Click here for 12 inch
What do we cook in cast iron pans?
Just about anything you can cook in a baking pan or sautee pan you can cook with cast iron: Baked potatoes – check. Reheating leftovers – Check. Frying an egg? Yep. Frittata that starts on the stove and ends in the oven? Oh yeah. Fish – You bet. Cookies – Why not? Basically anything except for super saucy numbers or boiled dishes like pasta. That’s where stainless steel comes in.
Joel and I decided to add stainless steel to our arsenal when we were ready to replace a couple of pots that we generally use to boil things or make sauces. When his stepmom asked what we wanted for christmas a few years ago, we asked for a stainless steel pot. Under the tree that year was a shiny new All Clad 4 quart stockpot – we were pumped. Since then we’ve added a 3 quart stainless steel sauce pan as well. We generally use these to make boiled eggs, boil pasta, reheat soups or stews etc. But when we want to make a large pot of soup or stew, we use our Ceramic hand-me-down.
We were given a ceramic Cephalon dutch oven because it was too heavy for the original owner. We love to make big batches of soups in it. This is another option for items that can be cooked on the stovetop or in the oven.
We now know PFAS pose a risk to our health. I’m so glad Joel insisted on making the switch years ago. It’s important to note that we didn’t make the switch overnight -it took us years to replace our cookware. We did it one pan at a time. If you aren’t ready to make the switch, I urge you to be careful not to overheat your non-stick pots/pans. Then, slowly replace pans with cast iron, stainless steel or ceramic when the timing is right for you.