The Safest Cookware

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Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry › Andrea is a former journalist, a radio host, and the mother of nine children. She is ...


Many of us have become very careful about the sourcing of our food, but have we brought that thoughtfulness to our pots and pans? Andrea Fabry reminds us to be mindful of the health risks associated with some of the most common cookware found in our kitchens.

She gives a great overview of the three main categories of cookware, including which should be avoided and tips on proper usage.

Safe cookware is foundational for a healthy kitchen. But how do I know which types are truly safe? Here is a brief overview of the three basic categories of cookware.

1. Reactive Cookware.

This type of cookware is the most hazardous. The compounds react with food and can allow harmful chemicals to leach into foods and therefore our bodies.

Aluminum conducts heat well but is highly reactive, particularly with acidic foods. Aluminum is toxic to humans, and while proponents of aluminum cookware contend that the aluminum molecules don’t get into the food, is it worth the risk? Aluminum foil is also best avoided for cooking purposes.

Nonstick chemicals have been linked to birth defects, liver toxicity, cancer, and more. The maker of Teflon warns consumers to keep pet birds away from the kitchen when cooking because “cooking fumes, smoke and odors that have little or no effect on people can seriously sicken and even kill birds, often quite quickly.”

Even the EPA admits that one of the chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA):

– is very persistent in the environment
– is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population
– remains in people for a very long time
– causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals

If nonstick cookware must be used, cook at a lower temperature and avoid cooking on high. One additional note: Microwave popcorn bags are commonly coated with nonstick chemicals and are best avoided.

2. Less Reactive Cookware.

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is durable, resists cracks, and is the least reactive of all metals. Good quality stainless steel is essential. Less expensive stainless steel cookware may contain nickel and cadmium, which leach into food. To test your stainless steel, combine 1 teaspoon baking soda with 1 cup water and bring to a boil, then taste the water. If a metallic taste is present, the cookware may not be suitable for your kitchen.

Most stainless steel pots will have a number on the base. Look for 18/8 or 18/10. (18 indicates the level of chromium; 8 or 10 is the amount of nickel.)

Click here to read the rest of the article over on Our Health Journey!

This article originally appeared on Our Health Journey. It is partially posted here with permission from the author. 

What kind of cookware do you use in your kitchen?

Photo Credit: Tomiko Peirano