Is Cooking With A Nonstick Pan Safe?

cooking with nonstick pans is not safe

Nonstick pans allow you to cook with less oil and makes it easy for you clean them up, but are they safe? One concern is that the nonstick coating can flake off and be potentially ingested. Another rumor is that the Teflon is toxic, which is partly true. Teflon lining on nonstick cookware is not safe at high temperature. However, some manufacturers today uses the new ceramic based linings nonstick surfaces, which are said to be safe even over high heat.


Busy households prefer nonstick cooking surfaces for convenience. Nonstick allows you to lift baked goods out without hassle, clean the pan in less time and cook with less fat.


Keep in mind that nonstick pans are not that safe in high heat. The rule is to never use metal utensils with a nonstick cookware and never subject a nonstick pan to high heat.


There have been findings that the PFC chemicals found in nonstick pans is not healthy, which is one of the reasons this easy to clean and popular cookware has been considered as potentially toxic.


The danger only begins if the pan over heats. At this point the breakdown begins and smaller chemical fragments are released by the nonstick pans. How hot is the overheat point?



The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tested cheap, lightweight pans and was surprised at how quickly some of the pans got way too hot. At an estimated 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the coating of nonstick pans starts to decompose.


At 660 degrees Fahrenheit and above, the nonstick pan itself may more significantly decompose by emitting strong fumes that is enough to cause polymer-fume fever. The polymer-fume fever is a temporary flulike condition characterized by chills, headache, and fever. It won’t kill you, but it can kill the birds.


Nonstick pans used the Teflon or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, or the perfluorinated compounds known as PFC. The chemicals were used to keep the food from sticking to the cooking ware. How dangerous is it?


This chemical has been found to possibly elevate thyroid disease, cholesterol, and reduced fertility. In fact, your blood level is said to go up when you use a Teflon coated cookware.


We all know that nonstick pans make our lives easier, but, unfortunately, the experts found they promote cancer. The EPA has been more concerned of the PFOA because it lasts a long time with people and in the environment.


The PFOA is the chemical that manufacturers the fluoropolymers and makes up the nonstick coating. The Environmental Working Group revealed that at 660 degrees Fahrenheit, the Teflon releases two carcinogens and six toxic gases.


The PFOA has been associated with tumors and developmental problems in animals. A study conducted by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found an association between the PFOA exposure and the small decreases in the head circumference and of the infants’ body weight.


cooking with nonstick pans causes cancer


Teflon is made from perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been found to cause liver, testicular and pancreatic cancers in rodents. It is also suspected to cause thyroid issues including thyroid cancer.


In 2015, the EPA reached an agreement with eight companies, including that of DuPont to phase out the PFOA completely. However, the possible sources of PFOA are everywhere, which includes the microwave popcorn bags, fast food packaging, shampoo, carpeting, and clothing.


FDA made a statement about the PFOA. They tested nonstick pans to evaluate the danger of PFOA exposure and they found that the manufacturing process drives off the PFOA and the risk presented to consumers is considered negligible.


Overheating the pans at prolonged periods may result in long term detrimental effects. The manufacturer labels often provide a warning to avoid high heat when cooking with Teflon.


Unfortunately, the EWG commissioned tests in 2003 demonstrated that it can be done in just two to five minutes on a conventional stove top. Any cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases.


Can it make us fat?

About 98% of Americans have the PFOA or C8 in their blood. It is becoming clear that people cooking with nonstick pans are facing a major health risk.


The children of pregnant women found to have the highest levels were found to be more likely overweight in early adulthood and facing abnormally high insulin levels. The PFOA is also used in waterproof clothing, sealing tapes, fire resistant tubings and casings. It could end in the environment coming from different avenues.


How dangerous are nonstick pans?

The chemical could potentially cause liver cell damage, spark arthritis, produce smaller babies, influence your immune system or antibody, annihilate your arteries, and associated with out of control cholesterol among adults.


Best alternative

You can use cast iron, ceramic, glass, and clay for cooking. They do not leak chemicals and provides an even heat distribution.


Even if you follow a healthy diet meal plan, but the cooking ware you are using is nonstick, you are still exposing yourself to a greater health risk.


Other safer pans are the stainless steel and the cast iron. The stainless steel browns food better than non-stick surfaces while the cast iron is extremely durable and can be pre-heated to temperatures that will brown meat and withstand oven temperatures well.




EWG (n.d.). Healthy Home Tips: Tip 6 – Skip the Nonstick to Avoid the Dangers of Teflon. EWG Org.

Rodale, M. (2012). How safe is your cookware?

Schaffer, A. Nervous about nonstick? WebMD.

Zerbe, L. (2013). 13 reasons to ditch your favorite pots & pans.

WebMD. Nervous about nonstick.

EWG Org. Tip 6 skip nonstick avoid dangers Teflon.


One thing that many books advised is to take the nonstick cookware off the stove top the minute you finished cooking and just place it on a cold burner or on the countertop.


Let us face it. It would be particularly dangerous to live with a compromised immune system. It is not safe to cook with a traditional Teflon based nonstick pan over high heat.


It is best to use quality cookware that is nonreactive to what you cook in it, such as the stainless steel, ceramic, glass and lead free cookware. Keep in mind the slow heating is the most natural form of cooking.


Stay away from flimsy pots or nonstick pots and pans coated with Teflon and other synthetic materials. Once heated these can spoil the food and become toxic. In particular, you should be more concerned about the damage it can do to the immune system.

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