What Is PFOA-Free Cookware and Why Does It Matter?

Here’s what you need to know about PFOA in cookware.

  • Rachel Baron
  • Dec 14, 2022
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Ever since the first piece of Teflon cookware debuted in the 1950s, dozens of brands have come out with their own version of the super convenient, easy-to-clean Non Stick Pan. However, these pans—specifically, the Teflon coating used to make them non stick—turned out to contain trace amounts of a chemical called PFOA, which poses significant risk to both human health and the environment.

While virtually all modern non stick cookware is PFOA-free, we recommend doing a bit of research before buying your next Non Stick Pan. Here’s our guide to understanding the risks of PFOA, when and why it was first introduced to consumers, and how to shop for PFOA-free pans.

What is PFOA?

PFOA, which stands for Perfluorooctanoic acid, is part of a group of chemicals called Per- and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAs), which show up in everything from furniture to electrical wiring to the slippery coating on your favorite omelette pan. Nicknamed “forever chemicals,” PFAs take decades to leave the body and centuries to disappear from the environment. This is because the bonds in their molecular structure are so strong that they resist breaking down even when consumed or decomposing.

Though the risks of PFAs like PFOA have been known for decades, it wasn’t until 2014 that the U.S. officially banned the use of PFOA in the manufacturing of non stick cookware. They have been banned in Europe since 2008.

Dangers of PFOA

PFOA has been linked to a number of serious health issues, from compromised immune function to kidney and testicular cancer, and can have toxic effects on the liver and other organs. In terms of environmental impact, PFOA can also easily leach into soil and contaminate groundwater.

What Is PFOA-free Cookware?

non stick frying pan

PFOA-free cookware is simply cookware that has been produced without the use of any PFOA. Previously, it was thought that PFOA dissipated completely during the high-heat manufacturing of non stick coatings. Since discovering this is not the case, the U.S. and other countries in Europe and elsewhere have banned the use of PFOA in cookware. Today, non stick cookware sold in these countries is PFOA-free.

Is PFOA Still Used in Cookware?

Since PFAs like PFOA have been linked to significant health issues, countries like the U.S. and those in Europe have deemed it unsafe to use in producing cookware. PFOA is no longer used to produce cookware in these countries.

What’s the Difference Between PTFE vs. PFOAs?

Though they sound similar and are both PFAs, PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and PFOA are not the same thing. PTFE is a chemical compound that often goes by the trade name Teflon, and it’s what gives non stick pans their slippery coating.

While PTFE cookware has gotten a bad rep for its association with PFOA, modern PTFE pots and pans are perfectly safe when used correctly (i.e., not heated above a certain temperature).

How to Ensure Your Cookware Is PFOA-Free

If your Non Stick Cookware was manufactured after 2014 (like our Non Stick line),  you can pretty much assume it’s PFOA free—though it’s also important to check whether or not it was manufactured in a country with an active PFOA ban. Reputable brands and retailers will clearly state that their product is PFOA-free and 100% non toxic.

Ready to Shop?

While it’s easy to find PFOA-free Non Stick Pans nowadays, there’s still a wide range in quality within the realm of safe-to-use non stick cookware.  Our PFOA-free, 100% non toxic Non Stick line is safe  up to temperatures as high as 500F and can even go in the oven, so you can finish that frittata in the oven for the perfect golden brown top.

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