Ceramic vs Nonstick pans
Ceramic Pans vs Teflon…which would you choose?!
Have you ever tried to cook an egg in a pan with no non stick coating!?
How did it go!?
I usually leave the resulting mess to ‘soak’ until my husband gives in and sorts it out! 😂
Pretty much all of us own or have owned a pan with a non-stick or Teflon coating.
But, have you ever considered what actually makes a non stick pan non sticky!?
When you’re considering ceramic pans vs Teflon then it’s worth understanding a little about how each is made…
What is Teflon?
Most non-stick pans are made of aluminium that’s been coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
DuPont developed PTFE back in 1938 and nearly a decade later it was patented as Teflon.
Teflon is an extremely non-polar chemical. This makes it brilliant at repelling other substances…so nothing sticks to it!
What is a Ceramic Pan?
To avoid confusion, I’ll explain right away that ceramic pans are different to ceramic coated pans…nothing’s ever simple is it!?
Ceramic cookware is usually made from clay that is 100% natural. It’s therefore free of metals, chemicals, PTFE (like Teflon) and PFOA (another chemical that used to be found in Teflon). There is usually nothing else added other than a natural ceramic glaze.
Ceramic coated cookware is usually a metal base that is coated in ceramic based non-stick coating.
Ceramic Pans vs Teflon Pans – health implications
People have been talking about the supposed dangers of using chemical coated pans for years…that’s actually why ceramic pans became so popular in the last decade.
I know it’s a bit of a bummer topic but it’s definitely one worth talking about. Afterall, if we don’t know about these things then we can’t make informed choices.
One of the main concerns with non stick coatings like Teflon was that the production process included a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
PFOA has been labeled as a “likely” carcinogen by an independent scientific review panel that advises the US Environmental Protection Agency. It also disrupts hormones and affects fetal development.
Although Teflon has been PFOA free for a few years now, studies regarding the long-term effects of PTFE itself has not been researched.
The main issue with Teflon (PTFE) is that it begins to breakdown at around 300°C or 570°F and produces fumes that have been known to kill pet birds within minutes and display flu-like symptoms in humans.
You know how miners used to take canaries down the mines as an early warning signal for toxic gases…this reminds me a lot of that situation…except we’re not evacuating the mine!
Teflon maintain that fumes will only be produced when temperatures reach over 360°F (680°C) but the examples below would indicate that fumes were actually present at much lower temperatures:
New Teflon-lined oven was used to bake biscuits at 325°F; all the owner’s baby parrots died.
Four stove top burners, underlined with Teflon-coated drip pans, were preheated in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner; 14 birds died within 15 minutes.
Nonstick cookie sheet was placed under oven broiler to catch the drippings; 107 chicks died.
370°F sounds pretty hot but cookware can reach those temperatures within minutes, especially if you’re using them under a grill or accidentally leave a pan empty.
Now, I know that we’re not birds but I also know that we’ve been assured that numerous other chemicals were safe before too so personally I’d rather not take the risk. (or support a company that made billions while leaching toxic chemicals into the earth!)
Some websites will state that PTFE is entirely safe but we were also assured that sheepdip and Roundup were both safe…and we know how that story ends 🤔
You may have heard that some ceramic glazes were found to contain traces of lead or cadmium. You definitely don’t want that in our saucepan but if you buy an established brand you can be assured that they don’t have any nasties.
If you already own a set you can buy a lead testing kit to check if you’d like peace of mind.
FDA requirements Proposition 65) says that ceramic products must be free of lead and cadmium. All well-known companies will or should comply with these requirements.
I don’t own an Xtrema pan but so many people rave about them. They are actually the only 100% ceramic cookware I could find. You can guarantee that it won’t have anything nasty in it or on it!
Most of the ceramic pans on the market are actually metal pans with a ceramic coating, these vary in quality. Greenpan are a good example of a ceramic coated pan.
Most ceramic coatings are applied using a Sol-gel process which converts the inorganic liquid into a gel. The gel is then applied to the metal pan and cured using high heat. The cured coating on the pan is silica, otherwise known as sand. Be wary of cheap versions as they may contain other chemicals.
So, Ceramic Pans vs Teflon for health reasons we’d definitely recommend using Ceramic.
Ceramic Pans vs Teflon – the environmental impact
We now know that chemicals in the PFAS family are seriously bad for our health. The most commonly used are PFOA (used to be in Teflon), and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) which is often used as firefighting foam.
For years PFAS industries dumped their waste in the ground leaving it to leach into the soil and find its way into waterways. It has contaminate people and wildlife on a global level!
Scientists have detected PFOA in egg yolks of the double crested cormorant from Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba Canada; in the blood of Russian Caspian seals; and in a short-snouted spinner dolphin off the coast of Florida. EWG
In 2015 DuPont agreed to stop making PFOA following pressure from the US Environmental Protection Agency after due to high rates of cancer amongst nearby residents.
UN experts have more recently advised that both PFOA and PFOS should be added to the list of globally banned chemicals under the Stockholm Convention.
Ceramic cookware on the other hand doesn’t contain the chemicals that can be found in Teflon and the coating is tested rigorously as Xtrema detail here.
Ceramic non-stick coatings are typically made from natural inorganic minerals (‘not containing any carbon’). Thus make them a more environmentally friendly option.
Ceramic coatings require fewer layers and less curing time so this saves energy and emits 50% less carbon dioxide than Teflon products.
With regards to the Ceramic Pans vs Teflon environmental impact argument we’d recommend Ceramic.
Ceramic Pans vs Teflon Pans usability and durability
Ceramic pans are baked in a kiln but they’re not easily broken or chipped like a clay pot would be…they are breakable though.
After firing, it’s dipped in a glaze to make it stronger, more durable and non stick.
Both ceramic and Teflon fare well in the non stick test although apparently Teflon is said to last longer (I’ve not found actual evidence of this though).
I’ve experienced the opposite in fact as several of the expensive PTFE coated items I bought when I got my first house were scratched and peeling within months (used only with wooden utensils). Being coated in Teflon this left them unusable so they had to be recycled and replaced.
If used correctly there’s no reason why a ceramic pan shouldn’t last a long time.
Extend the life of ceramic pans by:
- Don’t use pans on a very high heat as this can damage ceramic pans.
- Use only wooden utensils to avoid damaging non stick.
- Don’t use much oil (especially extra virgin olive oil as this can leave a layer that interferes with non stick.
- Heat the pan a little before adding any oil or food as it prevents it from sticking.
- When your done, wait for the pan to cook before cleaning. Don’t immerse it directly into cold water while still hot.
Ceramic Pans vs Teflon : Conclusion
So, why do I want to share this with you!?
It’s definitely not because I want you to freak out and start chucking items out of your kitchen cupboards…please don’t do that.
I’m telling you because we can’t change anything if we don’t know any better.
I’ve been gradually replacing my cookware and bakeware to ceramic, glass and stainless steel.
As part of our efforts to create less waste. we made sure to recycle our old Teflon pans. They were taken with the other metal items at our recycling centre but check if they’re recyclable in your area first as not everywhere will accept them.
If you’re on the lookout for some 100% ceramic pans then you have to take a look at this sleek Xtrema pans.
If they’re too pricey then here are some well reviewed ceramic coated pans:
WearEver Pure Living Nonstick Ceramic
GreenPan Lima 12-Piece Hard
Which do you prefer…Ceramic pans or Teflon?
Teflon begins to breakdown at high temperatures – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276392/
Canaries in the Kitchen – Teflon Kills Birds https://www.ewg.org/research/canaries-kitchen/teflon-kills-birds
Which do you prefer…Ceramic pans or Teflon?