HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >



This morning scrambling my eggs I almost grabbed another pan. All week in the news about toxic fumes etc. when cooking at high temp. Anyone stopped using? I don't know if I could throw them out. Stopped using aluminum years ago.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I threw out all of my non-stick pans close to a year ago. Reports of birds dropping dead from inhaling fumes were all I needed to hear. As someone who went through breast cancer 5 years ago, I've since attempted to be as proactive as possible in protecting myself and my family from known and/or suspected carcinogens, not to mention hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides in our food supply.

    I know a lot of people who've done the same.

    By the way, when used properly (which is to heat the EMPTY pan prior to adding any oil or other ingredients), good-quality stainless steel pans are virtually non-stick. Even for eggs - just a slight bit of effort is required to clean the pan.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FlavoursGal

      Oil in scrambled eggs? Blaghhhhhhhhh

      1. re: chezlamere

        I agree - blaghhhhhhhhhh to oil in scrambled eggs. I was using the word "oil" as a generic term for fat, and not specifically with regard to scrambled eggs.

    2. Three politicians recently had their blood tested and all three came back with high count of fire retardents. Freaky!
      Abviously exposed through the skin. Couches, carpets, clothes etc.

      1. I have one 10" teflon crepe pan that I use for eggs and omelets--sometimes twice a week; sometimes none.

        Other than that, all of my cooking is in either stainless, cast iron, enameled cast iron or glazed clay.

        1. What about silicone coated pans. I have alot of utensils too. I've got so much teflon bakeware. Ugh I use it all the time.

          1. Well the aluminum nonsense was a myth, my DH and I were just remarking how some of these myths which have been proven to be wrong go on and on. Ina Garten just said on her show about a hour ago, never wash mushrooms, they soak up lots of water, which of course is nonsense, they are full of water when fresh. Dried will of course soak up water you want them too..I digress...I'm keeping my non-stick pans and am using them. I've been cooking too long to buy into a lot of this nonsense. If you have true scientific proof I will consider it. But beyond 4 different non-stick skillets I do cook with Calphalon, Le Creuset, cast iron, pottery, Corning etc.

            9 Replies
              1. re: FlavoursGal

                In the head line it says "possible" that does not equal irrefutable proof.

              2. re: Candy

                Aluminum myth is nonsense? That's news to me. As far as I know the jury is still very much out on this one. Until there's a definite ruling I will not take the risk.

                1. re: andreas

                  It is. Avoid aluminum cookware because of Alzheimer's disease

                  This myth got its start a number of years ago when medical researchers found elevated levels of aluminum in diseased tissue from the brains of Alzheimer's patients. One logical possibility (but not the only one) was that the raised aluminum level was responsible for causing the disease. Get exposed to too much aluminum, from your job perhaps or your cookware, and you would have a better chance of coming down with this awful disease. People started avoiding aluminum cookware, and some still are - unnecessarily it turns out. Subsequent research has failed to show any connection between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer's, and it is believed that the elevated aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is a result of the disease process. In other words, high aluminum levels do not cause Alzheimer's, but rather Alzheimer's causes high aluminum levels.

                  Source: Alzheimer's Society


                  1. re: Candy

                    I thought one of the original objections (aside from reactivity) was that Aluminum made men sterile. It was also disproved.

                  2. re: andreas

                    Restaurant kitchens still have so much aluminum fry pans. We weren't allowed to use foil wrap without first apply cling wrap. For years in longterm care. Stock pots all changed to stainless steel.

                    1. re: chezlamere

                      Yeah, but it was not a health issue, but that acidic foods in contact with foil caused the foil to corrode amd develop holes, the food was not protected. If you are covering something like lasagne or tomato sauce with foil it is a bad idea. I use plastic wrap for that and it seals better anyway. Aluminum is so susceptible to pitting from acidic foods it makes more sense to use stainless for stocks and sauces so that they don't need to be replaced.

                      I received a gorgeous highly polished spun aluminum skillet for a wedding gift 30+ years ago. It looked like sterling silver until the day, about a minth after receiveibg it my DH decided to make a Spanish Omelette in it and leave it for clean up later. It was totally destroyed after that. I just had to pitch it and it had been quite expensive. Sigh! Even now I am sorry I don't have it anymore. It was gorgeous!

                      1. re: chezlamere

                        And it was thought that cling wrap was safer than aluminum foil? Pretty funny.

                        1. re: FlavoursGal

                          Look at the Alzheimer's site....maybe we can start a new line of hystria about Aspartame!

                  3. I don't have the sources handy but a quick search will turn up plenty of documentation. A coworker lost two parrots on Thanksgiving from Teflon pans in the oven and on the stove. Both dropped dead in minutes right in front of him. Parrots have delicate lungs but I sure don't need any of those fumes in mine.

                    1. I agree Candy. Too many people get alarmed over non-issues and bad science. There's no reason to think quickly cooking an omelette over a moderate heat equates in any way to parrots being harmed by subjecting teflon to 500 degrees for an extended period of time. I'm at far greater risk from relaxed air quality standards under this administration than I am from my cookware.

                      1. I have one coated pan, and my popcorn popper is non-stick. I can cook just as well with Le Creuset and stainless steel, so I figure, why flirt with danger? I am not overly paranoid, though, and do use aluminum and Teflon some. I kind of figure in the moderation rule here. :)

                        Aluminum article at scientificamerican.com:

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: luv2bake

                          Thanks for the link.
                          One more point on Teflon-- the food would burn to the point of being inedible well before the Teflon would break down. Now, the release of chemicals made in the production process is another point entirely.

                        2. My family owned parrots and as a result we had no Teflon or any non-stick coatings in the house. While it can't be good for any species (like humans) to inhale the coating in its gaseous state, reports seem to indicate that only birds are affected by doses that small (not rodent pets, cats, dogs, and humans).

                          Following are excerpts taken from the paper:
                          TeflonTM poisoning: The silent killer
                          by Darrel K. Styles, DVM
                          Hill Country Aviaries, L.L.C.

                          "Teflon poisoning, or more correctly polytetrafluoroethlyene (PTFE) intoxication, is a rapid and lethal gaseous intoxication and can affect all species of birds.

                          PTFE toxicity occurs because the coating is overheated. This usually is a result of forgetting that the cookware is on the stove and leaving it empty or letting the contents overheat and dry. The excessive heat causes Teflon coating to enter a gaseous state. For humans and other mammals, the PTFE gas is innocuous in the concentrations reached. However, birds are exquisitely sensitive to the gas and are quickly overcome by the vapor."

                          1. I do not require irrefutable proof before I remove a possible carcinogen from my kitchen, especially since it creates absolutely no hardships for me to do so.

                            1. I will say that my parrot is the principal reason for our taboo but our Calphalon pans are reasonably nonstick when used correctly so I've never been compelled to replace them. Our waffle iron is teflon and only gets used infrequently and with the kitchen window and door open and the parrot (a grey named Scooter) safely in an upstairs bedroom with the door closed and windows opened. I use olive oil in my eggs by the way- tastes good and low in saturated fat. The bad eggs are canceled out by the good oil. That's my nonscience/myth theory anyway. :)

                              1. This topic came up on another thread. I stopped used teflon when I noticed how quickly the coating nicks...meaning its in the food. I don't know what the health warnings truly are one way or the other, but teflon "bits" in the food I prepare was enuf to get me buying good professional pans. Took the time to season them and I have no problems with food sticking.

                                1. Your Teflon is perfectly safe. Your pet canary will not die from fumes.
                                  The Teflon myth continues to circulate based on faulty understanding of science, the manufacturing process and outdated information. Once these things get started, they take on a life of their own.
                                  As Candy points out, even when stories such as this are shown to be factually incorrect, they often keep circulating on the internet and in some publications. Some people want to believe them.
                                  www.Snopes.com exists because these urban legends are so common.

                                  You might look at references found at http://www.teflon.com/NASApp/Teflon/T...
                                  Current non-stick coatings on consumer cookware are safe to extremely high temperatures. They will still scratch from abuse but this is an appearance issue. There are some chemicals used in their manufacture that are suspect but these are being phased out.

                                  You may or may not choose to use non-stick cookware but your decison should be based on reliable information. Myths and false assumptions that frighten people unnecessarily shouldn't be spread.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                    Making Sense, This has to be more than appearance. Where are those nicks of teflon going?

                                    If the coating is peeling off and winding up in my food, this is not acceptable to me.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Where are those nicks going?
                                      I imagine the same place all the other stuff is. The tiny pieces missing from all the other things that have been in daily use in my kitchen and that I inherited from my mother and grandmother. The tiny gouges of wood from the cutting board, the little dings from the calphalon, the pits in the cast iron, the silver plating missing from the heirloom silver, the chips in the Le Creuset, the edges of the wooden spoons? I've never seen a peeling from a Teflon skillet.
                                      Since Teflon is non reactive, I suppose we could say that it too shall pass...

                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                        MS, I stopped purchasing teflon some time ago and won't be giving it another try. My decision wasn't based on health concerns at the time just annoyance that teflon did not hold up. Just that simple.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          Have to say, I think that scrapes from my iron skillet would be preferable, even welcome in my body before bits of non stick coating.

                                          That being said, and I apologize about shouting the same thing on two different strings in one day but

                                          PLEASE DO NOT USE METAL UTENSILS WHEN COOKING WITH NON STICK

                                          ahem. excuse me.

                                          I have one small non stick for eggs. I hate cooking eggs in anything else. (oh- and I use truffle oil, olive oil, butter, whatever's going.)
                                          I have one nonstick grill pan. I cook skin-on fish in it, burgers, veggies, anything I want to have pretty grill marks on and don't care about losing the fond.

                                          and the only utensils allowed around these pans are plastic, sillicon or wood.

                                    2. It is been an undisputed fact for some time that birds do die from Teflon fumes and at temperatures lower than 500 degrees so it would behoove you to stop spreading outright lies.

                                      Teflon.com? There's an unbiased source of information.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: RC51Mike

                                        Out of date and incomplete information isn't "undisputed fact."
                                        There were some reports of pet birds dying from older version of Teflon when pans were left, usually empty and unattended, on stovetops and allowed to overheat. The non-stick coating which has now been is use for many years can resist temperatures beyond 660 degrees.
                                        Such isolated incidents hardly qualify as evidence of an unsafe product, only careless consumers.

                                        As for Teflon.com, since Dupont still holds the patent on the product, it's obviously in their interest to consolidate materials to dispel the misinformation which persists about a safe, useful and popular product.
                                        You will likely continue to believe otherwise despite evidence to the contrary. Please just don't call those who disagree with you liars.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          We seem to be on the same page as usual!

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            Quote: "Your pet canary will not die from fumes."

                                            A lie.

                                        2. [Rant warning]

                                          I suspect that many people don't use nonstick pans correctly.

                                          The proper method:

                                          Use at least as much oil (or butter, or whatever) as you would in a stainless steel pan. You want oil covering the entire bottom of the pan and going up the sides. Why? The oil spreads heat around and keeps the pan from developing hot spots which can easily exceed 450F.

                                          Contrast this with what we were told in the 80s -- "you just need a quick spray of Pam and nothing will ever stick". Well, it's true that nothing will stick (provided there are no scratches or chips in the coating). However, stuff will burn! Specifically, any food in direct contact with the pan surface, i.e., not protected by a layer of oil, will burn to carbon in seconds. When I was in college I tried to "cook" stuff this way and always found it disgusting -- particularly eggs -- and wondered why anyone bothered with teflon pans. I pretty quickly threw away or gave away all my teflon stuff.

                                          Eventually I noticed that (1) professionals, when making omelettes etc. in nonstick pans, use at least a couple of tablespoons of oil or melted butter; and (2) the resulting food lacks the repulsive burt edges that afflicted the stuff I had made at home.

                                          Later I noticed that the JOY OF COOKING calls for abundant cooking oil even when suggesting nonstick pans.

                                          So, just because I get a little squicked when washing stuck-on egg bits from stainless steel, I gave teflon another chance. I picked up a 7" fry pan [Vollrath "Steelcoat x3" if anyone cares] and fried some eggs in over 1Tb of melted butter. The eggs looked and tasted just like they'd been fried in stainless; i.e. like they'd been fried in GREASE and not BURNT on a radiator. Great success!

                                          Moral of the story: Frying = cooking with grease. If you want to cook with little fat there are other methods; all involve either water, steam, or burning the food (grilling and broiling always leave a char, do they not?).

                                          Frying without grease burns the food, which means the cooking surface cannot be much below 400F, and if it's that hot where the food is touching it it's only going to be hotter elsewhere. Not much margin to 450F, which is probably hot enough to vaporize enough teflon to kill your birds, even without the proverbial "leaving the empty pan on the stove".


                                          1. Cast Iron people....around for generations for a reason...

                                            1. Cast iron, enameled cast iron and stainless steel only. I have also pretty much eliminated most plastics from the kitchen.

                                              I have no idea why people use teflon in the first place. Where's the benefit? A well seasoned cast iron pan will have the same non stick properties.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: andreas


                                                Arguments about science/psuedoscience are pointless.
                                                Real cooks use steel or iron.

                                              2. There is much cookware superior to non-stick. I prefer it as do the previous posters. For good reasons. Primarily performance and endurance.
                                                I keep a few non-stick pans in the back of the cupboard for houseguests who make their own breakfasts because that's often what they're used to and they frankly often screwed up my good cast iron.

                                                Teflon and other non-stick surfaces, plastics and aluminum are widely and generally used throughout the US and the world. They are safe when used properly and there is no credible evidence to suggest otherwise.
                                                There is no reason to continue to spread outdated, unsubstantiated and unrelated materials which alarm people about health risks.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  Amen, and of course it is really hard to get good browning in non-stick pans, cast iron etc. is vastly superior for that.

                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                    I've always gotten good browning in my Calphalon Professional Nonstick which (perhaps unfortunately) I bought everything in when I bought my first good stuff.

                                                    Now when I need something new I'm going with Le Creuset or All-Clad. Not as easy to clean, but give me the tried & true. I'm not tossing out the non-stick wholesale, though I would if I won the lottery ;)

                                                2. a well seasoned cast iron pan is a thing of beauty
                                                  traces of iron added to your food - interesting
                                                  and a little weight training to boot!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jimtak

                                                    Almost 4 years ago now, I spent approx $400 for one of the large Gastrolux casseroles/pans. The kind that can accommodate two salmon fillets or allow you to rustle up about 8 portions of risotto.

                                                    About a year later, the surface had bubbled up like someone with a bad sunburn. Gastrolux warranty? It took me quite some time to research on the Internet where the warranty would be honoured. If you notice on any of the retailer sites for Gastrolux products, they proudly advertize how wonderful the guarantee is but nowhere is it indicated where.

                                                    Once I confirmed where to mail the pan to, then I had to pack it (it's the big model) and heave it down to the Post Office. I forget now how much it cost to mail it off to some town in Quebec but it wasn't cheap. About three weeks later, the PostMan showed up at the front door and asked for $30 COD in exchange for returning the pan. In postage, to exercise the "lifetime" or 20 years whatever warranty, I've now spent a substantial amount of money and time.

                                                    Here we are now in 2007, in the fourth year of the Gastrolux pan. Have you seen the demo where the presenter allows milk/eggs to burn in the pan and it slides right off? Or the one with the simili-IKEA set up with a spatula scraping over and over across the pan? Not my Gastrolux pan! I can't even cook an egg in it anymore. A steak? Maybe if I floated it in a quarter inch of fat maybe! Maybe this pan is so delicate that I was only supposed to use it once a year to cook something that doesn't require too much heat, like bread pudding or a pancake? This one didn't stand up to the cooking requirements of a family of four and I was so careful to ensure than all the pinbones from the fish fillets were pulled out so as not to scratch the lining of the pan!

                                                    And once again, I'm on the search for the warranty guys. It's been almost a month now and I found an address on the Internet "ventes@gastrolux.ca" but there is no response to the Emails that I sent searching to confirm whether or not this is the place to once again mail my Gastrolux pan and make the Post Office richer. Quite frankly, I am so angry at having been ripped off for more than $400 by now that I may not even bother spending more money to get the pan fixed -again. It might be time to say that Gastrolux is landfill.

                                                    All in all, if you want to invest in a pan that at that price, should last you a lot more than 5 years, Gastrolux is not the way to go. I have cast iron pans (smaller size though) that have lasted me over fifteen years and they weren't even new when I got them and they didn't cost me $400 + repeated shipping and handling. My mother gave me an omelette pan that she has had for decades: it still works perfectly. If the Gastrolux that I have, had retailed for $50 or so, fine, just throw it away when it dies.

                                                    I'm obviously very disgruntled about the exorbitantly priced pretentious Gastrolux pan that I purchased. The only good thing about this pan nightmare is that I didn't buy the second one that I was considering at the time.


                                                  2. On the topic of Teflon - does anyone have experience with GASTROLUX or know if it really is non-toxic?

                                                    Gastrolux is a Germen nade non-stick that claims no toxins. Here's a link: http://www.activeconcepts.ca/

                                                    Here's some info:
                                                    BIOTAN non-stick cookware is emmission free from PFOS, PFOA chemicals as found in other non-stick cookware. Not teflon, and non toxic, also non absorbant to foods.

                                                    Gastrolux® cookware is renown as the best non-stick cookware range available in the world. It’s non-stick surface is constructed differently from typical Teflon surfaces, and has been tested for toxic emissions.

                                                    1. Gastrolux? couldn't come up with a more appetizing name? Not fond of gastropub either.

                                                      Not to stray too far from topic, does anyone know anything about Calphalon's "Infusion" material? It doesn't look like a coating like teflon; looks more or less like regular anodized.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: RC51Mike

                                                        Well I know this is an old link but I just saw it so here I go.
                                                        My nephew said his wife had headaches all the time till they found out about fume/teflon fever, and stopped using it. So I did some searching of my own and found lots of articles on the subject I'll paste a few below in case anyone cares.





                                                      2. It is deadly to birds when 'over' heated (ie. pre-heated!) so since I have birds in my house it has always been on the verboten list!!! (And way back when...when it first was introduced my mother lost an 18 year old canary to the fumes.)
                                                        I don't want to breath those fumes either! Well seasoned cast iron or stainlees steel safer all the way around!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: OCEllen

                                                          We got rid of our remaining Teflon pans about 2 years ago and I don't miss them at all. We use stainless or cast iron.