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help me choose non-toxic cookware

aluminum is not a good thing to eat...so how safe is anodized aluminum?

I am even reading that cast iron pre-seasoned pans go through a toxic seasoning process.

how about all clad? I suppose that is good until you chip it and expose the inner-aluminum?

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  1. This has been discussed before, and I doubt you will get answers to questions like these which will fully reassure you. There are surely issues though, and if it is playing on your mind then I suggest you consider the flameproof glass/pyroflam/stainless steel route (although I expect some Hounds will know of problems with these).

    Edit: Just checked and discovered that Pyroflam is obsolete....Corningware is apparently pretty much the same.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robin Joy

      Glass/Pyrex pots are a great idea but everything sticks and burns (try cooking pasta and it always sticks to the bottom). Cast iron is good too but it's so HEAVY and bad on my weak wrists.

      For nonstick cooking, we have been using Safepan for the past 2 months and my whole family loves it. It's very light & easy to clean up plus it passed FDA testing.

      I saw it at my local Whole Foods but found it cheaper online at http://www.froobi.com/safepan.

      1. re: lefty0

        There seems to be a booming market for people praying on other fears (some justified) of non-stick cookware.

        This stuff has all the buzzwords: ceramic! fda-approved! eco-safe! They even evoke Australian Aborigines in the first sentence of the ad copy.

        Bottom line: it's just another cheap all-aluminum (which the OP explicitly said he did not want), polymer-coated non-stick pan. While the coating may not be Teflon brand or contain PFOA, it is certainly a non-stick coating, and it looks like a rather cheap one at that. The pan is also solid aluminum and very thing which, even if you don't subscribe to the aluminum causes Alzheimers theory (I don't), won't conduct heat very evenly and will probably warp before the coating wears off but both will happen pretty quickly.

        At $39.99 for the 8-inch size and $59.99, that's a big rip off. If you really want a pan with a non-stick coating, you can get a nice multiclad pan from a better manufacturer for the same price or less. It will conduct heat better and last longer. Almost all of the good brands are PFOA-free and no one uses Teflon anymore.

        1. re: taos

          Since 1newyorkguy asked about anodized aluminum, the previous poster is incorrect about OP explicitly not wanting aluminum -- he just doesn't want it bare, exposed aluminum. He even asked about anodized aluminum.

          My bottom line (based on actual use): It's solid and lightweight, and is not cheaply made like taos says (based only on pictures). I care about buzzwords about as much as I care for people on forums who talk like they know everything. I use the pans every day and I am very happy with it. I know a lot of people that still do use Teflon pans and my family was using Teflon (a Calphalon nonstick set) up until a few months ago.

          But what do I know. Seems like the previous poster knows it all.

          This was my first post on Chowhound because I wanted to share something I was excited about but I guess I should just read-only from now on.

          PS: I agree it's not cheap. I got mine when it was on sale.

    2. Cookware is not toxic.

      1. Take a look at the CDC's entry for aluminum
        http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/a...
        "How might I be exposed to aluminum?

        * Virtually all food, water, air, and soil contain some aluminum.
        * Eating small amounts of aluminum in food.
        ...
        * Very little enters your body from aluminum cooking utensils.
        " http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582529

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj

          The page I quoted from is the CDC FAQ on aluminum
          http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts22.htm...

        2. If you look around the web long enough, you'll be told on one site or another that all cookware is toxic. For most people, the only metal known to be toxic is copper. That's why copper pans are sold with a lining of another metal.

          The only people who shouldn't use cast iron are rare individuals with a sensitivity to
          the metal.

          Scientific studies have found no problem with aluminum cookware.

          Personally, regulation is so lax in China I'd avoid enameled cookware made there.

          I very seriously doubt that Lodge coats their pans with poison in pre-seasoning.

          4 Replies
          1. re: mpalmer6c

            In addition to this, studies have shown there is no real association with Aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease. Straight from the Alzheimer's Association (Alz.org) that there is no conclusive scientific evidence that Aluminum causes Alzheimer's; it was suspected in the 60s and 70s, but is no longer thought to be of much concern.

            1. re: mateo21

              The myth about aluminum and Alzheimer's or other maladies derived from cooking in aluminum was started by the stainless steel cookware producers when Rudolph Valentino died. They claimed this death was caused by eating food cooked in aluminum pots when in face he had a perforated ulcer.

              1. re: Candy

                I hadn't read of that Valentino connection, but I do think you need to keep an eye out for commercial interests in 'xxx is bad for you' claims.

                For example, if a web site is making strong claims about how bad aluminum is, look at the alternatives that they promote or advertise. In the past, press against butter and lard was promoted by margarine and oil manufacturers. Arguments against 'tropical oils' (palm and coconut) were promoted by soy and corn oil producers.

                1. re: Candy

                  Snopes has an entry on this:
                  http://www.snopes.com/movies/actors/v...
                  That Valentino connection dates back to the 1920s. That linkage seems to have died out, possibly with the flood of aluminum products after WW2. I suspect most of the modern concerns arise from the supposed Alzheimer's connection.

            2. You know you expose yourself to more toxic chemicals just walking out your front door but stainless cookware would be the most non reactive. Most all have an aluminum core but the cooking surface is stainless steel. Cast iron could actually be beneficial to most as it imparts a little bit of iron in your food. Iron is an essential mineral needed in your diet.

              1 Reply
              1. re: scubadoo97

                Agreed, scuba...with all the crap and danger in the world, toxic cookware is not something I worry about! I do avoid the handpainted Mexican stuff and anything that makes my food taste weird or has a coating that flakes off in my food - purely aesthetic concerns. Glass/Pyrex/etc. is nice and clean and goes anywhere, but it's plenty harmful when you drop it! ;) And let's not even mention all the potential nasties in the food you cook in that non-toxic pot.

              2. If you actually manage to chip an All Clad pan through normal use (promise you won't set it inside a nuclear reactor) and expose the inner aluminum core, I will personally fly up to New York from Atlanta (or wherever you might live), buy you a brand new set of All Clad cookware, and cook you dinner consisting of a steamed lobster served over truffle risotto for you an all of your friends. In other words, it WILL NOT happen. Buy some stainless cookware and don't worry about it.

                Worrying about chipping All Clad stainless cookware is kind of like worrying about your car taking flight and entering Earth's orbit as you drive down the highway.

                1. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a pubic agency that monitored these kinds of things so that you wouldn't have to listen to cooking utensil industry shills who'll tell you that everything is safe and unscientific cranks who'll tell you that nothing is?

                  Oh, wait, there is. It's the NSF. http://www.nsf.org/ If you're worried about it, just look for the NSF seal on any cookware you're considering. You'll find it on aluminum, nonstick, stainless, cast iron, etc., etc., etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    According to the CDC FAQ:
                    "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that aluminum cooking utensils, aluminum foil, antiperspirants, antacids, and other aluminum products are generally safe."

                    The full aluminum profile can be found at (Sept 08, 6MB)
                    http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/...
                    p204 summarizes studies regarding aluminum content of foods cooked in aluminum pots. New pots contribute more than well used ones; long cooking of acid foods such as applesauce adds more aluminum. Iron isn't a good material for long cooked acid foods either.

                  2. Even if they are not toxic, aluminum and cast iron (and steel) are reactive - that is, acidic foods do 'chew' into them. Stainless steel is the modern nonreactive cooking material. But the old standbys are ceramics.

                    Glazed pottery has long been used for long, slow cooking, of foods like beans and stews. Classic examples are Spanish cassuelas (terracotta glazed on the inside, but not out), and Chinese sand pots. Modern examples are Pyrex and Corning. My first kitchen stock included a 1 1/2 qt pyrex baking dish. Corning baking dishes used to be a standard wedding gift, and can be used on the stove as well as the oven (like the classics).

                    Enameled steel and cast iron are also nonreactive. There's always a thread going about enameled cast iron.

                    But if you are worried about 'chipping' all-clad, one of these ceramics is not for you. They can chip if you mistreat them, either by dropping, or exposing them to heat extremes. Stainless steel is the best option if you are careless with your cookware.

                    1. Edit: Posts have been removed which were concerned with cadmium contamination in some products so this message looks a bit 'lost'.

                      I would agree, Alan, except that if metals are recycled then there may be some contamination. But this would be true of the US as well. When making specialised stainless steels I presume the manufacturers must have tight tolerances on the additives. I have no idea how this process is controlled. It is possible that Cadmium is added to enamel as a glaze pigment. This was banned (including importation) 40 years ago or so. I can see no reason why a manufacturer would deliberately add an expensive toxic pigment.

                      We constantly ingest small concentrations of many metals that are toxic to the body. These are (mainly) removed by chelation although they do get deposited in some tissues. The primary ingestion of cadmium is from cigarette smoke. I would be far more concerned about mercury contamination from fluorescents, fillings etc.

                      As far as I can ascertain from googling there is a higher probability of toxic effects from non-stick surfaces and using decorative non-food-safe ceramics.

                      Here are the primary uses of cadmium: http://www.cpcb.nic.in/oldwebsite/New...