Updated June 2022
There are #noperfectoptions for cookware. As far as pots and pans, not all stainless steel pans, enamel pans, even glass pans, are created equal/ are comparable and each type has pros and cons. Some types can leach metals like lead and nickel. You have to decide what you’re comfortable with. Rotating between a few of the best options is advisable too. It’s best to avoid anything made in China, but that is difficult.
BEST COOKWARE OPTIONS
STAINLESS STEEL … is so complicated! Steel is mixed with nickel and chromium., which can leach according to this scientific paper:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284091/. The worse threat is aluminum. I’m ok with it sealed in the core but not in the sides. Anything that is “3ply” of 5 ply means the sides of the pot have aluminum layered between stainless steel. Single ply means there is no aluminum in the sides. It’s possible to find stainless steel without nickel (Homichef is one brand but hasn’t been tested and is made in China). But… we do need some nickel and chromium in our diet. But not too much, and nickel can be allergenic and carcinogenic. Avoid cooking acidic foods in stainless or storing in the pot. You want to avoid scratching SS, so never use metal utensils or cleaning devices. I’ve also read that brand new stainless is at high risk of leaching at first, but I couldn’t find the link last time I looked. I think it said to boil water in them, but running through a dishwasher by themselves would be an idea too.
#mytoppicks for Brands: All Clad is a brand made in America but has aluminum in the base (which is considered safe). #moneysavingtip is they have a factory seconds site). Cuisinart has some good options but check if there is aluminum in the sides. I have this set: Cuisinart 77-7 Chef’s Classic Stainless 7-Piece Cookware Set,Silver. Amazon affiliates link: https://amzn.to/3H0ewkt
Also this is IKEA and lead free.
Here’s an awesome looking frying pan from Solidteknics.
Links about stainless steel:
There’s also a cuisinart set recommended here
I haven’t looked much into it but looks like it has some good attributes. Here’s an article and testing by Lead Safe Mama.
VISIONS GLASS: I use visions and mine were tested lead free. Recently some of The pots have tested as containing small amounts of barium (which may not be a concern at all) and some lids have tested to include small amounts of lead. I believe / hope that the leach testing can be trusted and leaching isn’t much of a concern because it’s difficult to leave from glass. You could also use different lids. Vintage visions has been found to have lead. Sign up for their email list for a discount.
CAST IRON: Cast iron is a good choice, See NBM link at bottom of this page for more info about Finex brand and tips for ordering.
Greater Goods is Pre-seasoned with 100% organic, fatty-acid rich flax seed oil from Canada. They are made with “Pig Iron (which is just another term for Crude Iron), Steel and recycled scrap steel and recycled cast iron (which is just damaged and/or cut-offs of pans made of all these same things).” They said the heavy metals testing was non-detect, but when I asked what the threshold for the amount that could be detected (always ask for that information), it’s <2 ppm, which equals 2000 ppb. That means the testing result was non detect but could contain up to 2000 ppb lead, prior to being seasoned. This is well under what RoHs and Prop 65 require though, so perhaps that is the standard for testing. Amazon Associates link to purchase: https://amzn.to/3yuKrI9
Stargazer is a US brand you can get unseasoned which is great. They do use recycled iron but supposedly heavy metals aren’t a concern.
Some people say The iron in cast iron will transfer into food, and some say this is healthy; others say it’s the “wrong” type of iron and that it could be harmful.
Victoria cast iron: This is an “ok” choice. They use non gmo (but not certified organic) flaxseed oil to season. The majority of the metal is virgin nowadays. They used to use some % of the mix as recycled, But They say the iron is melted at ultra high temperatures and then completely purified, and that they pass third party heavy metals tests (but didn’t get into details). I have one from this brand; amazon Affiliates link:
Lodge brand is an ok choice, but is pre-seasoned with vegetable oil (soy, which is GMO) which I don’t like. I have one and attempted to strip the seasoning but haven’t successfully re-seasoned yet. I plan to someday do this method correctly with flax oil. I tried it with coconut oil and it leaves black fleks on food. Amazon affiliates link to the one I have: https://amzn.to/3AsU9u1
INSTANT POT: The safest rice cooker and slow cooker. There’s some lead in the heating element circle (touches the bottom of the cooking pot but no contact with food) but it’s covered with paint and is less lead than any other rice cooker. Just use care with cleaning the heating element (clean gently, last, and avoid scratching). The stainless steel cooking pot has no heavy metals. Ceramic slow cookers are notorious for lead in the cooking pot glaze, so this is a great replacement.
Instant Pot makes an air fryer lid sold separately. The air fryer attachment lid and basket does have some parts that are coated in ceramic, but not Teflon/PFAS. They said that the ceramic is lead-free and has no titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Ceramic coated is not ideal, but also not horrible. It isn’t necessary to use the basket at all though, so I don’t. Instant Pots can also be used as a dehydrator with stainless steel racks sold separately. Amazon affiliates link for the one I have: https://amzn.to/35gNIhX
TYPES OF COOKWARE THAT ARE NOT RECOMMENDED
NOT RECOMMENDED: CERAMIC/ ENAMELED CAST IRON
Ceramic pans could have lead or cadmium. Even if they don’t have heavy metals, PFOA or PTFE (and even if they say they don’t contain these, they may contain one of the many similar chemicals), I don’t trust their proprietary anti-sticking technology. Other reports are saying some of these coatings transfer titanium dioxide nanoparticles to your food. Ceramic scratches, chips and can wear down over time, so the potential for leaching whatever is in it is a concern.
Popular brands are Extrema (has lead in the logo) and Le Creuset, which has been found to have lead and heavy metals in several colors. The main risk is the color on the outside of the pots rubbing off (invisibly) on your hands and then spreading everywhere. Certain colors (dune and palm) were found to be safer. But I’ve heard enough other concerns about the enamel as well, that it definitely isn’t worth the cost for something still so risky.
NOT RECOMMENDED: TEFLON (and other NONSTICK) AND ALUMINUM
One thing is for sure. Teflon coating or aluminum pans (including cast aluminum) are definitely always bad!! #whyshouldweworry:
I would avoid anything marketed as non -stick, as the materials are still likely sketchy and have toxic PFAS/ PFOA. Heating Teflon, especially above 350 degrees, can release the chemicals into the air and has actually been shown to kill birds (literal canaries in the coal mine). Copper can have lead too.
There are ways to make stainless and cast iron close to non stick: Heat an empty Pan, add fat and once the fat is nice and hot you add the food/ eggs. Don’t let them sit too long before stirring or flipping. Or for sunny side up, cook on low without flipping. Cast iron uses the same instructions.
If you really want something non-stick, green pan sounds like a better option, although some users report that the coating flakes/ wears off. Green pan and blue diamond have been tested clean for lead. But here is why they are not recommended. And an update is Green Pan has a class action lawsuit against them. Caraway and Always (tested positive for lead) are new popular options that have silicone in the coating. Silicone has a risk of heavy metals leaching especially when heated.
For baking, the least potentially toxic option is clear Pyrex glass pans, but there is a risk of shattering in the oven. Pyrex said that the use and care of the pan requires that a LIQUID be covering the entire bottom of the pan, otherwise it can shatter. Or, to avoid this risk look for clear borosilicate glass (that’s what older clear Pyrex was made of, Look for PYREX in capital letters on the bottom).
I often steam rather than roast in the oven anyway because roasting isn’t always great for nutrients, and I avoid browning or charring because of acrylamides.
I avoid heating silicone because it may contain the heavy metal cadmium, and heat increases the risk of leaching. Here’s an article that explains it. Be aware that parchment paper is coated with silicone and would have the same leaching risk. If You Care is a safer brand.
I also use these Stainless baking pans that were tested lead free. TeamFar Baking Sheet Set of 4. Affiliates link: https://amzn.to/3H1lIwZ
Fox Run 44927 Cookie Sheet 14×17… affiliates link: https://amzn.to/3AvCFwS
Cake Pan Set. Affiliates link: https://amzn.to/3fTNMqb
Muffin Pan set. Affiliates link: https://amzn.to/349ruOA
MIXING BOWL OPTIONS
Pyrex. Amazon affiliates link: https://amzn.to/348Id4h
WAFFLE IRON OPTIONS
The best options are cast iron. See sections above about avoiding ceramic and non stick.
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