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The Oola team is always on the hunt for the next great recipe. But we also know a chef is only as good as their tools, which is why we’ve recently set our sights on finding the best non-toxic cookware on the market.
And unfortunately, there are a lot of toxic options to filter through.
Non-Stick Pans: Easy on Food, Terrible on Us
From the mid-20th century to the mid-aughts, non-stick cookware was commonly coated with a material called polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as Teflon. This chemical cocktail included perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and other polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) linked these chemicals to developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy, cancer, liver effects, immune system deficiency, and thyroid disease. GenX was developed in 2009 to replace PFOAs, but the EPA found just as many harmful side effects of GenX exposure.
These chemicals are considered stable up to temperatures above 570ºF, at which point non-stick coatings begin to break down and release toxic fumes into the food and air. Inhalation of these fumes can result in fever, chills, and body aches known as the Teflon flu.
Additionally, once low-quality non-stick coatings break down from prolonged use, metal utensils, or both, another noxious nuisance arises: metal leaching.
The Problem With All Metal Cookware
Metal leaching occurs when acidic or alkaline foods and high temperatures cause a chemical reaction that extracts heavy metals from the cookware into the food. These heavy metals include aluminum, iron, lead, nickel, chromium, lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
Long-term exposure to heavy metals can lead to physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes and cancer. The global science community is calling this a public health concern, yet an astounding majority of cookware available today is made of metal prone to leaching.
Even high-quality materials like stainless steel and cast iron leach heavy metals into foods. But they primarily leach iron, which is generally considered safer than other metals and even beneficial to one’s health.
A Green Solution: The GreenPan
The only alternative to some form of metal cookware is ceramic, as it’s made entirely from natural materials. But since 100% solid ceramic cookware is cumbersome and easily breakable, many kitchenware brands opt for an aluminum pan coated with a thin top layer of ceramic.
GreenPan invented the category of ceramic-coated cookware in 2007 with the invention of Thermolon. Thermolon is made from a sand derivative that contains no PFOA or PFAs. It’s non-stick, non-toxic, and produces 60% fewer carbon emissions during production.
Chipped, scratched, or improperly glazed ceramicware can lose its non-toxicity and leach lead into foods. GreenPan has worked to resolve this degradation issue by perfecting their cookware’s durability over five generations of product lines.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite culinary heavy-hitters from this eco- and body-friendly brand.
Reserve 10-Piece Black and Gold
GreenPan’s sleek and sophisticated Reserve 10-piece set is as stylish as it is safe. This set features GreenPan’s most innovative non-stick coating yet: a diamond-infused Thermolon layer that is slippery smooth but incredibly durable.
Underneath the ceramic coating is a twice-anodized aluminum body that evenly and quickly distributes heat. Anodizing aluminum coats the metal in an anodic oxide finish that is decorative, durable, and corrosion-resistant, so you get stainless steel strength for aluminum prices. Score.
Levels Stackable 11-Piece
Finding the space for mismatched pots and pans can be next to impossible in smaller kitchens. Rather than sacrificing functionality by opting for small- to medium-sized cookware, consider GreenPan’s Levels series, a comprehensive set of 11 stackable, ceramic-coated pots and pans.
The Levels set includes two frypans, saucepans, three protective sheets, a grill pan, foldable flower steamer, and a six-quart stockpot. Yet when stacked, this space-saver-extraordinaire stands at just over one foot tall and uses 30% less cabinet space than traditional sets.
Paris Pro Ceramic Non-Stick Wok
Ditch the idea that woks are only for stir-fries and dumplings; these deep-pan dishes can be used for just about anything. Use a wok as a saucepan, frying pan, deep fryer, boiler, smoker, and more—it’s a true kitchen workhorse.
If you’re hesitant to commit to a full kitchenware set, consider investing in GreenPan’s Paris Pro non-stick wok. This Thermolon-coated, anodized skillet saves space, money, time and is the perfect pan for any of our killer one-pot recipes.
Chatham Covered Everyday Pan
Another excellent one-and-done cookware option is GreenPan’s Chatham covered everyday pan. The practical design is modeled after a French “fait tout” or “does everything” pan. Like the wok, the Chatham pan can be used for just about any type of food preparation.
Two helper handles on either side make this piece a much better option for those who struggle with lifting heavy, long-handled skillets. The compact design also helps to save space in and on the stove and in storage.
Venice Pro Ceramic Non-Stick 2-Piece Open Frypan Set, 10- and 12-Inch
Stainless steel is revered for its classic finish and long-lasting durability, but not all steel is created equal. Only high-grade, low-nickel stainless steel should be used in the kitchen, but finding a company’s exact steel specs is easier said than done.
GreenPan meets stainless steel lovers in the middle with the Venice Pro ceramic non-stick frypan set. The cookware’s stainless steel body provides all of the strength, shine, and none of the heavy metal leaching, thanks to a trusty Thermolon layer separating the steel from your food.