Pshaw, PFOA Non-Stick Pans

Just as I was feeling that everything was harmonious in my house, I switched the pan my husband was about to use. Did I go too far? Let me explain… a few years ago I decided that I would stop using non-stick pans. They are bad for you; I read it enough times in enough places that I was well aware of the dangers. Now, mind you, making changes in my house, like switching from chemical-coated frying pans to cast-iron and stainless steel ones, doesn’t always go over well. I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is. Gradually, over the years, I replaced each non-stick pan with a healthier substitute.


A couple of years ago, we were down to our last remaining non-stick pan; it was damaged beyond use (you know how BAD that is for you, right?!), you know, scratched. “We should throw it away, those pans are full of chemicals that get into our food when we cook,” I coaxed. He responded— ignoring my concern (?) —, that we should get another one because they are so easy to cook with. This was before all the ceramic coated non-stick pans came out, which is what we use now. This replacement pan is the one pan left of its kind in our house and he’s holding on tight to it. In his defense though, I do burn a lot food, which is hard to clean from the stainless steel pans—oopsies!

Long story short, we bought this last non-stick pan and I declared (silently) that I wouldn’t use it, but if he wanted to then, fine. He still can if he wants too. This story is similar to our milk debate. I could tell him a dozen reasons why something is better or worse for us— but the entire healthy debate is a delicate subject in our house.

Fast forward to the other day. We were going to make poached eggs so he went to put the water on. I noticed… he pulled out the big, yellow, 12” non-stick pan. He put the water in and turned the stove on to high. High, I say!

If, and I say if, you use a non-stick pan, you should keep the temperature on low! The higher the temperature the more those nasty little chemicals seep into your food!

I sat there for a moment. I had a dilemma, do I let him just get on with it and eat those farm fresh eggs just boiled in a chemical coating or do I get up when he leaves the room and put the water in a different pan. Well, I had to do it it’s principle. I have made certain decisions, healthier decisions, and I had to take my solemn stand. I got up and traded the pan for a stainless steel one; I was going to cook them anyway. I prefer food cooked in stainless steel. You can see that I was trying to be reasonable; after all, I didn’t dump the water from the chemical-laden pan down the sink.

You can imagine switching pans didn’t go over well. Any person that still uses non-stick pans obviously doesn’t care about the harmful effects, right? Anyway, he was under the impression that we had used them all these years. Now, I have to put my research head on and find out if I’ve lost my marbles or… if he has.

And since we are trying to save the world here, non-stick pans don’t last very long— only a couple of years of use before you have to toss it and get a new one. Compared to stainless steel and cast-iron, which last a lifetime and then some!

I oppose chemicals sprayed on food, so why would I want to cook my food on a pan sprayed with chemicals?

Perflurorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is the chemical that is most commonly used. PFOA’s are also found in microwave popcorn bags and packaging for greasy foods and on flame-retardants, stain-proof clothing, carpet and fabric protectors, and any products that contain them— another pervasive chemical among us. Hmmm… they are in more than I realized.


From Dr. Mercola:

“Ninety-five percent of Americans, including children, have the perfluorinated compound PFOA in their blood.”


You can imagine, as with many chemicals, there is great concern that PFOA’s can cause cancer, thyroid disease, immune system toxicity, reproductive problems and birth defects in humans as they do in animal studies. You can read the chemical index if you want on EWG or Skin Deep. Plus, the chemicals in the pans kill birds— pet birds and chicks!

As I’m writing this, I’ve realized I haven’t even touched base on baking and muffin pans and the like. Have you found any that aren’t non-stick? There are silicone baking pans but I’m not sure those are okay to use with high heat either. My husband loves oven fries (I like them too) so I crank the oven temperature up to 500 degrees for those— good god, I’m killing him! I guess I should use my glass baking dishes, but those are only so big.

I found steel muffin pans by chefmate at Target that didn’t mention non-stick. Maybe I can find cookie sheets too. Don’t forget to check the material, since aluminum is possibly linked to lots of health issues like Alzheimer’s. You are starting to see how my mind works. It’s getting harder to find the solution.

I guess the raw food world is right to keep the temperature low— but potatoes cooking at 115 degrees would take days! Just jokes— I don’t think anyone does that.

Searching around, I did find stainless steel baking pans by Norpro and ceramic bake ware by various companies. The more I think about it, the more I want to throw those old, toxic baking sheets out!

It is important to remember if using non-stick pans to cook at low temperatures only— never high!  Have I mentioned that already? I would rather be safe than sick and keep clear of them. As you can see, PFOA is already in enough products that are harder to avoid. Sometimes we have to take small steps to make a difference. And, sometimes husbands should just let their wives throw out chancy kitchenware. I will be recycling my iffy pans now.



Post found on: Frugally Sustainable, Simple Lives Thursday, Eat, Make & Grow, Freaky Friday, Fill Those Jars, Natural Living Mondays, Homestead Barn Hop, Fat Tuesday, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Friday

23 thoughts on “Pshaw, PFOA Non-Stick Pans

  1. Hubs and I seriously JUST had this same debate/conversation. I have mostly hard-anodized steel cookware, which I am plan to gradually get rid of and replace with enameled cast iron as funds become available. But I do still have two sad little old non-stick skillets that I bought specifically for eggs before I knew better. They are horrible – scratched and toxic – but Hubs did not want them thrown out until we could replace them. And he is the omelet guru in our home, so I deferred, until three days ago when I decided to do breakfast-for-dinner myself. I looked at those horrid nonstick pans, remembered how much he swears and rants whenever he has to clean eggs from them, and pulled an old and nearly forgotten cast iron skillet off of a shelf we never look at. Two rounds of melting coconut oil in it and scouring with salt and it was good as new. And it took me an even shorter time to scour the scrambled eggs out of it afterwards. Now I just have to get the not-so-nonstick-anymore evil ones out of the house and into the recycle bin without a scene.

    • Hi Chandra,

      That’s a funny story, sounds very familiar. Good luck getting those pans out quietly! I’m in the same boat with our baking pans. Thanks for commenting!

    • Hi Blond Duck,

      I agree that acidic foods are probably worse than others, just like BPA in cans, but I do think that the temperature is an important factor when cooking, also the condition of the pan. Thanks for commenting!

    • Hi Dani,

      Good for you for making the decision 20 years ago. The turning point for me was becoming a mother where all of a sudden everything I was using was potentially a hazard. I like cast iron and stainless steel too, but I don’t know enough about titanium cookware. It’s usually coated so I guess you have to be careful that it’s coated with ceramic, also it might be mixed with aluminum, which could cause its own problems. Who knows, that might be what my ceramic skillets are. Thanks for commenting, I will check out your blog!

  2. Oh my goodness, this soooo sounds like our house, what is with these guys? My husbands response to my health facts are always shoulder shrugging or I did it as a kid and I am fine.

    Grrrrr, actually I just bought up this blog post and he said ” well I dont like food that sticks to the pan, that cant be good for me either”

    • Hi Haley,

      Your husband definitely sounds like mine, it’s so frustrating! I try to shrug off his comments, although it isn’t always easy. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I have stone baking sheets and bread pans from Pampered Chef. I think Crate and Barrel has lots of steel options too. Tfatvis where I got my rimmed baking sheet and muffin pans after my stone ones broke.

    • Hi Joanna,

      Thanks for the information, I will definitely check those options out (on my husband’s next business trip away). Thanks for commenting!

  4. My friend had (past tense) three love birds. Like the proverbial canary in a coal mine when she turned her oven up to 500 degrees with a non-stick liner in the bottom of the oven, all three little birdies fell to the bottom of the cage. They were in the living room, not even the same space as the oven. Poor little birdies. And who knows what it did to her and her family’s health. That’s a cautionary tale.

    I know I should just want to chuck all those non-stick pans out the window. It shouldn’t break my heart, but it does. All of the heavy expensive pots (except the stock pot) that we got for our wedding are non-stick. I have known we shouldn’t use them for a couple years. We are oh so careful not to scrape them and never leave them on the heat with nothing in them, but we still use them. It would be hundreds of dollars to replace them. I guess I should start looking out at antique malls and garage sales for cast iron. I’m a little low on iron and my doctor recommended cast iron as a way to gradually increase my iron intake! So it is a win-win.

    BTW – Thanks for participating in the Eat Make Grow Blog Hop – #3 just went up this morning!

    • Oh Foy, that is so sad, your friend must have been devastated. It does make you wonder what kind of effects it has on us.

      I can imagine how hard that is for you to want to say goodbye to your expensive cookware. I wouldn’t make any drastic changes, it sounds like you are wary of using them, perhaps just replace one at a time especially if your doctor recommends it. Maybe when you replace a few you could donate your old ones and they could go to a new, needed home and then it financial pain wouldn’t hurt so much. Unless… they had birds… sorry!

      Thank you for providing the blog hop, it’s a great opportunity to share and read other blogs that otherwise wouldn’t be as easily found. I’ll check out the new one!

  5. I just went through this same ordeal! I ended up tossing the teflon (I didn’t even goodwill it because what’s “good” about giving someone else cancer? I bought stainless steel at Costco and they are heavy duty! I like them, but it’s a learning curve. I’ve gotten eggs and pancakes stuck to them (gonna try cast iron for that!).

    It’s nice to find others going through the same dilemmas and sharing our stories. Lovely website by the way!

    • Hi Jen,

      I know I have guilt about either throwing away or donating non-stick pans, I would put them in the recycling and hope for the best. I find lots of butter in the bottom of the pan not only makes the eggs taste scrumptious but also makes the pan easier to clean. We’re not afraid of butter anymore, right?

      I always glad to hear of someone who can relate to my stories! Thank you so much for saying I have a lovely website, you made my day!

  6. I have one that is still in my cupboard. Not sure why, but I really need to throw it out to avoid the same issue you just mentioned. I can totally see the nubs using it innocently and me freaking out. :)

  7. your story reminds me how lucky i am to be on teh same wavelength as my partner on so many issues –

    and more importantly – the new “green” ceramic pans are not encouraging – the chemicals they leach (IMHO) are just not yet identified – best is cast iron or stainless – not perfect but the least of all the evils –

    and with a bit of practice – one can cook virtually non-stick in stainless – just gotta get the temp right before starting the cooking–

    keep up the effort – hopefully someday he’ll see the light (before he gets some nasty chronic disorder…)

    ravi, daiasolgaia
    don’t go back to sleep…

    • Hi Ravi,

      You are lucky to have a partner that is on the same wavelength. It’s a struggle in my house, for sure!

      I am definitely wary of the ceramic-coated pans, especially since they are made out of aluminum, so I don’t think I would buy anymore. At least they’re better than the traditional non-stick pans.

      I do have trouble with cast iron and stainless steel sticking so thanks for the tip on the temperature. I think the trick is to get the pan super hot before adding the fat, yes?

      Believe me, I’m sticking to my efforts before he gets a nasty chronic disorder! Eventually he does come around, he just makes me work so hard for it!

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Thanks for the link, Ravi. I am glad that there isn’t anything scathingly bad about those pans.You know, they lose their stick pretty quickly too. I’m happy the article mentioned Dupont phasing out the PFOA pans by 2015, but what they’ll replace it with probably won’t be any better.

  8. Pingback: A couple of breakfast recipes | lifeonlunamothhill

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