Are Teflon Pans Safe to Use?

We break down why your Teflon Cookware is 100% safe and free of dangerous chemicals.

  • George Steckel
  • Jan 20, 2021
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If you regularly scramble eggs for weekend brunch or simmer a slice of fish for dinner, then you know Non Stick Pans are truly meal-savers. With a Non Stick Pan, you can cook with a small amount of oil and enjoy an easier cleanup.

Although Non Stick seems like the ideal Cookware choice, there is some unfortunate controversy about whether Non Stick Pans are actually safe. Some sources report that chemicals contained in Non Stick Cookware's coating can be harmful and even lead to cancer, but others claim that non stick pans are completely safe.

We're here to set the record straight: Non Stick Cookware is 100% safe to cook with. Here's a deeper dive into what gives Non Stick its name and reputation.

What Is Non Stick Cookware?

Non Stick Cookware items, like Teflon, are just like other pots and pan but with a unique surface.

Non Stick Pans are treated with a coating of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a chemical made of fluorine and carbon atoms, that creates a nearly frictionless surface. This Non Stick coating is what gives Non Stick Cookware its smooth cooking surface by preventing the pan's surface from reacting with and sticking to food.

Is Non Stick Cookware Safe?

Whether or not Non Stick Cookware is safe depends on the age, quality, and condition of the pan in question. Short answer: All Cookware manufactured after 2013, including ours, is 100% safe.

Non Stick Cookware's PTFE surfaces used to be made using a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). According to the American Cancer Society, this chemical is considered to be a toxin and has been correlated with cancer, thyroid disorders, kidney disease, and infertility.

PFOA was used in the manufacturing of Non Stick Cookware until 2013, when it was banned from production of Cookware. While most PFOAs were burnt off during the manufacturing process, some would remain intact in the final products, potentially causing a risk to humans. For this reason, Teflon or other non stick pans manufactured before 2013 should not be considered safe.

Today, Non Stick Pans are no longer manufactured using PFOAs, and all use of PFOA is heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

What You Should Know About PTFE

PTFE (commonly called Teflon) is the chemical used to create Non Stick Cookware’s slick surface. The risks associated with this compound are minimal, and PTFE is stable and safe in high-quality pans.

However, if heated to temperatures above 570°F (300°C), the chemical composition of a Non Stick surface will degrade and release toxic fumes into the air. Breathing these fumes can lead to a condition called polymer fume fever (commonly called the Teflon flu). Roughly 4 to 10 hours after exposure, a person might experience flu-like symptoms for up to 48 hours, including fever, chills, body aches, and headaches. In some cases of polymer fume fever, more serious health effects, such as permanent lung damage, have been reported.

Generally, more extreme temperatures and longer exposures to fumes produce more serious symptoms compared to lower temperatures and shorter exposure. Scratched non stick surfaces can also break down more easily. When used safely, however, newer high-quality non stick pans are considered safe.

8 Ways to Minimize Your Risk When Cooking With Non Stick Pans

Taking a few simple safety precautions in the kitchen will ensure you're able to cook safely with Non Stick Cookware.

1. Use PFOA-Free Pans

Check your Cookware labels to ensure they explicitly state PFOA-free, and be sure you use Non Stick Pans manufactured after 2013.

2. Use the Proper Cooking Utensils

To preserve your pan's PTFE surface, don't use cooking utensils made of metal or other abrasive materials. Instead, stir and flip your foods with wooden, plastic, or silicone cooking tools.

3. Don't Preheat an Empty Non Stick Pan

Add food or liquid to your Non Stick Pans before you add any heat. An empty Pan will quickly reach extreme temperatures, risking the release of polymer fumes.

4. Avoid High Heat

It's best to avoid using Non Stick Pans when cooking on high heat or broiling. These cooking techniques often require temperatures that are well above the recommended maximum for a PTFE surface.

If you regularly cook with high heat, we recommend reaching for Stainless Clad, Carbon Steel, or Cast Iron Cookware instead.

5. Store Properly

To preserve your Pan's Non Stick surface, store them properly. We recommend hanging your pans instead of stacking them. If you must stack them in cupboards, place a dishcloth or pan protector between each pan to protect their surfaces.

6. Wash by Hand

Dishwashers and harsh detergents can lead to the degradation of a Non Stick surface. Instead of washing your pans in the dishwasher, hand wash them in the sink using warm water and mild soap.

8. Replace Worn Cookware

Once a Non Stick Pan's surface has become worn out or scratched, you are at a higher risk of exposure to polymer fumes. Replace worn-out Non Stick Cookware with new pots and pans, or opt for higher-quality Non Stick that will last you for years.

The Safest Non Stick Cookware and Tools for Your Kitchen

When shopping for Non Stick Cookware and safe utensils for your kitchen, it's best to choose high-quality products made with zero PFOAs and high-grade PTFE non stick surface.

Look for Non Stick Cookware that, like Made In's products, are FDA certified and Prop 65 compliant. With the best quality non stick pots and pans, you can cook safely and never worry about toxic fumes, or a tricky cleanup.

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Born out of a 100-year old, family-owned restaurant supply business, we work to ensure our Cookware is as detail oriented as the chefs who choose to use it in their kitchens.

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