You’ve probably seen the videos. An egg swirling around a pan, a paper towel easily cleaning the surface of a pan, and ad-copy consisting of terms like “non-toxic” and “PTFE-free.” But how realistic are all of these things? Are ceramic non stick pans the safest non stick cookware options on the market? How does ceramic coating compare to other non stick pans? In this post, we’ll get into whether or not ceramic cookware is safe, other alternatives to ceramic coated cookware, and what to look for when choosing a non stick piece of cookware. Let’s dive in.
Is Ceramic Cookware Safer Than Stainless Steel?
The differences between ceramic vs stainless steel cookware products are prominent. Stainless steel cookware is highly durable, has many uses in the kitchen, is non-reactive, and is easy to clean. It's important to note that ceramic cookware is not as durable as stainless steel, nor can it perform as many tasks. The main component of ceramic coated cookware is its non stick capabilities. But how does ceramic cookware achieve its non stick features? That answer is what separates stainless steel cookware (and other non stick cookware) from ceramic cookware.
First of all, ceramic cookware is most commonly made with an all-aluminum body. The surface of the pan is then treated with a sol-gel coating. Once heated, the sol-gel coating releases a silicone oil onto the pan’s surface, making it non stick. There is a finite amount of silicone oil in the sol-gel coating, so after a month or two of cooking, the silicone oil will start to get depleted. You’ll be left to add more butter and oil to make up for the non stick capabilities, essentially leaving you with aluminum cookware. Ceramic coated cookware doesn't heat evenly, as well. When the silicone oil gets released onto the pan’s surface, the irregularity of the spacing between these particles means that there are parts of your food that will not be in direct contact with the pan.
The sol-gel coating is one of the primary separators between ceramic cookware and stainless steel cookware. Are ceramic pans safe to use? Technically yes, but by cooking with ceramic cookware, you are also ingesting the silicone oil, which can also be found in different hair conditioners and fabric softeners.
Is Ceramic Better Than Non Stick?
Ceramic cookware is a type of non stick cookware. The other cookware option for non stick pots and pans is PTFE-coated cookware, which Made In offers.
Made In’s non stick cookware collections feature a double layer of a PTFE coating, which is toxin-free and made without PFOAs. They are built to have the best food-release properties and long-lasting durability. And on top of all of that, Made In’s non stick cookware is made from the same body as our 5-ply stainless clad cookware. This means that you get the same even heating associated with stainless clad cookware as you do with non stick cookware. The PTFE-coating on Made In’s non stick cookware is also applied twice, resulting in an even layer that will provide a smooth layer all over the pan’s cooking surface. That’s why Made In’s non stick cookware is used in 3-Michelin starred restaurants like Alinea and Le Bernardin. They will last a long time, too. The only way to ruin your PTFE-coated cookware is by not taking the proper precautions to care for and clean it. Make sure to avoid metal utensils and never put your non stick pans in the dishwasher.
So when it comes time to ask the question, “is ceramic cookware better than non stick” we think the answer is pretty obvious. Non stick PTFE-coated cookware is 70 times more durable than ceramic pots and pans. PTFE-coated cookware does not feature a depleting surface like ceramic, and the PTFE-coating is entirely safe to use. It is FDA approved and deemed safe by the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission. Additionally, unlike ceramic pans, Made In’s non stick coating is not self-depleting. They will last much longer than ceramic, as long as you properly care for them.
Do Ceramic Pans Cause Cancer?
This is a common question and misconception. Ceramic pans do not cause cancer. Nor does PTFE-coated cookware. This common misunderstanding stems from Teflon cookware, a material used on pans to make them more non stick back in the 90s. It is important to understand the difference between ceramic vs Teflon. One of the main ingredients in the Teflon pan, in addition to PTFE, was PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid. PFOA was linked to different types of diseases, including cancer. This would happen when people would heat the pan to a temperature of around 375F, which would cause the surface to fume.
However, in 2006, PFOA was banned from being used in cookware materials, and all non stick cookware made since then is made without PFOA. The confusion occurs because PFOA sounds similar to PTFE. The PTFE was not harmful in Teflon cookware; it was the PFOA that was harmful.
So for clarification: PTFE is good. PFOA is bad.
The rise of pure ceramic cookware is partly because people do not want PTFE in their cookware because of this association. But in reality, PTFE is completely safe to use and is not harmful to use at all. So no, ceramic cookware and modern-day PTFE non stick cookware do not cause cancer. They are both perfectly safe to use.
However, if you are still not convinced, there are other cookware options you can opt for, like cast iron cookware or carbon steel. A cast iron skillet, for example, can have a non stick surface because of the necessary seasoning application.
Is a Ceramic Coating Worth It?
A ceramic cookware set has its uses, but in the end, the alternative PTFE-coated cookware is better. As we mentioned before, pans within a ceramic cookware set have a self-depleting surface, so as you continue to use it, it will become less non stick. Ceramic cookware will work wonders for the first few months, but after some time, you will most likely need to use butter or oil to make sure it retains its non stick abilities.
How Do I Choose a Ceramic Coated Pan?
If you admire the look of it and want a pan that will look pretty on your stovetop, then a ceramic pan is the choice for you. Make sure to look for one with a stainless steel component in its composition and a higher maximum temperature. It is also essential to make sure you find one that is comfortable to cook with. The way it feels in your hand, how heavy it is, and the durability of the pan are all crucial factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing a ceramic coated pan. There are also various ceramic cookware sets that include items like a ceramic frying pan, saute pan, and even a stock pot. If you cook for a family or find yourself making complicated recipes, then a cookware set would be perfect for you. However, if you’re just living by yourself or don’t cook that often, you can go ahead and pick and choose which pieces you should have. We think a frying pan, stock pot or large saucepan, and a saute pan are essentials.
In the end, the question of whether or not ceramic cookware is safe is a simple question to answer, but has underlying implications. Yes, ceramic cookware is safe to use. Many companies out there make ceramic cookware, and they wouldn’t be selling a product unless it was safe. However, we believe that the alternative to ceramic pots and pans, which is PTFE-coated cookware, is a whole lot better. It lasts longer, doesn’t release silicone-oil, and has a much stronger body composition than ceramic.