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Jan 4, 2009 04:01 PM

Green Pan totally safe?

What pans are safe??

I threw out all my old non-stick fry pans and have been using belgique. But the pans are such a pain to clean. And I can't figure out how to scramble eggs on them.

I just found a Green Pan. It says it is thermolon non-stick technology and is PTFE Free, PFOA-free in manufacturing. It does have an aluminium body. Any thoughts?

I am excited to have a non-stick pan again, but want to make sure it is safe. Otherwise-- anyone have good tricks to clean fry pans that are not non-stick?

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  1. Why did you throw out your non-stick pans?

    39 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      this is what I have found:
      it is best to avoid products that contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or Teflon
      Like carbon monoxide, PTFE is odorless and invisible. It travels through the air unnoticed. In humans PTFE causes flu-like symptoms. (see
      ) &
      at temperatures above 500°F (260°C), Teflon begins to decompose. The resultant gases are known to produce hallucinations and flu-like symptoms for humans, and death for indoor birds. The number of people possibly affected by Teflon, must be enormous, given that over 70% of the cookware purchased in the United States has a nonstick coating. (see

      1. re: alexa52

        I just did a down and dirty google on this and SO much of it is anecdotal. The internet is a wonderful tool but someone's personal slant is hardly cause for action. I probably wouldn't hang a bird's cage over the stove anyway.

        1. re: alexa52

          Actually, teflon doesn't start emitting polymer fumes until about 850F. The manufacturers recommend a 500F maximum just to be on the safe side.

          Now, let's talk about a pan that's 850F. Being the quantitative (read here: nerdy) type that I am, I took my infrared thermometer and my iron wok out to the 60,000 btu burner that lives on the back patio. At 500F, the pan was smoking heavily. By 600F, the tiny specks of food stuck to the wok had ignited (and I thought I had wiped it out pretty good - dang, those pad thai noodles are sticky). By 700F, the bottom of the wok was glowing red. After that, the thermometer just read "HI."

          In other words, the only way you're going to get a teflon pan to emit polymer fumes is to get it hot enough that the food in it CATCHES ON FIRE. At that point, mild flu-like symptoms are the least of your worries. (See my comment about cooking being the leading cause of fires and related injuries in the US.)

          If lots of people were being sickened by PTFE, don't you think that there would be some evidence of this fact? I mean, do you really think the CDC, the NSF, and all of the academic epidemiologists out there are part of a vast conspiracy to cover up the dangers of teflon?

          There are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to use scare tactics to try to separate you from your hard-earned dollars. That doesn't mean you have to believe them.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            Thank you Alan for being the informed voice of reason. Working in the cookware business that I do, I get thoroughly tired of the hysterics convinced that pans, storage containers, mixing bowls, lids, spatulas etc. etc are going to kill them and shame on us for having this stuff on our shelves. Can't buy a carbon steel wok because the lid is spun aluminum and any condensation collecting in the aluminum lid could drip down and contaminate their food. They won't use stainless because of transference of some metal in cooking.....the list goes on and it is migraine making.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Do you have a source for 850F? If so, please share! Thanks!

              1. re: mateo21

                Lee KP, Zapp JA, Sarver JW. Ultrastructural alterations of rat lung exposed to pyrolysis products of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Teflon). Lab Invest 1976; 35:152–160 (no clinical symptoms or lung alterations in rats exposed to the pyrolytic products of PTFE at temperatures below 425°C [797°F]; at 450°C [842°F], rats revealed severe respiratory difficulty, pulmonary oedema, haemorrhage, and necrosis of the tracheobronchial epithelium).

                So I guess I misspoke; teflon actually starts emitting harmful fumes somewhere between 800F and 850F. But the conclusion remains the same.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Thanks, alan. I'm saving this to "lob" at people when they make those comments. I guess that's a harsh attitude but it does seem like alot of people just have a closed mind. In discussions like this, I rarely/never see someone write "wow, thanks; I've changed my mind thanks to you." And, hey, try to be more accurate when you start throwing around those numbers :) There's a huge difference between 800 and 850, ya know!

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Teflon emits enough fumes to effect rats at that temperature. Birds have much more sensitive respiratory systems.

                    Dupont indicates that Teflon surfaces will begin to deteriorate at 500°F. That's still much higher than would be useful for cooking. Just take care not to leave cookware unattended on the stove, or let it boil dry over high heat. That's really common sense use for any cookware.

                    When used properly according to the manufacturer's instructions, neither Teflon nor ceramic nonstick coatings should present any health concerns.

                    1. re: Jennifer_B

                      Isn't it also "common sense" for bird owners not to keep their beloved pet birds near the stove anyway?
                      The smoke from searing a steak could do them in.

                    2. re: alanbarnes

                      Interesting. In another paper that cites the paper you're referring to says that >260C (500F) fumes begin to be admitted, while 'polymer fume fever' doesn't start to occur until >350C (660F). Both of which are less than 800F.

                      Unfortunately, it's not just Teflon that's dangerous in pans -- although, for the sake of it the OP mentioned the pan in question was PFOA free, which I believe is a nasty "left over" element of the manufacturing process that is very dangerous as well; now to look up its chemical properties.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        That's all well and good, but I've never owned a non-stick pan that didn't lose it's non-stick properties. In the much older days you could see it peeling off. I'm pretty sure modern pans don't do that anymore, but where does the non-stick coating go?


                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                          And I've never used a nonstick pan that DID lose that property.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Well then obviously you're not doing it right. :o) I had a non-stick Circulon pan a few years back that started out great. I never used it on high. But after a few years of use you couldn't cook eggs in it without sticking.

                            Most of the research linked here is about heating a pan to excessive degrees and off gassing. What about repeated heating to normal cooking temps?

                            Not trying to fear monger. Just asking questions.


                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                Hi JuniorBalloon,

                                I'm somewhat of a freak about caring for my nonstick pans. I don't have many; I just hate having to replace otherwise perfectly good pans, because I only buy very good cookware. So let me ask, if I may...

                                Do you preheat them?
                                When do you add oil, butter, liquids, etc...?
                                Do you use cooking spray, such as PAM?

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  Honestly it's been so long I don't remember exactly. I certainly used some butter or oil when cooking certain items. I probably did some preheating, but never to a very high heat. Only used plastic utensils. I never let PAM in my kitchen.


                      2. re: alanbarnes

                        DuPont studies show that Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 446°F. At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens.

                        Keep it off high heat and out of the broiler it should be fine.

                        1. re: Demented

                          Do you have a cite for those studies? TIA.

                            1. re: Demented

                              Sorry, that information is just wrong. The person who wrote it either didn't read or didn't understand his source material, and apparently doesn't know the difference between Farenheit and Centigrade.

                              Each of the pages you linked to relies upon an Environmental Working Group article that claims "DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 464°F." The full version of the EWG article can be found at

                              According to the footnotes, this statement is supported by CJ Johnston, et al., "Pulmonary effects induced by ultrafine PTFE particles" Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 168:208-15. The abstract of this study is available for free online at

                              And according to the abstract, the researchers "used uf Teflon (PTFE) fumes (count median particle size approximately 16 nm) generated by heating PTFE in a tube furnace to 486 degrees C to evaluate principles of ultrafine particle toxicity."

                              486 degrees Centigrade is over 900 degrees Farenheit. And yes, if you get a teflon pan that hot, it is going to cause all kinds of problems. But the information you're quoting is demonstrably false. Sorry.

                              [Edited to repair second link; thanks for the catch, paulj.]

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                This may be a better link to the nih abstract


                                This is a 2000 paper. It looks at various issues, including exposure history, and time since the particles where generated.

                                The 1st author on this paper, CJ Johnston has continued to do research on neonatology, and breathing issues in particular. From his list publications since 2000 I don't see evidence that he is worried about effects that ptfe might have on children.


                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  Umm... without getting into the research, what you're quoting doesn't disprove anything about the temperature at which PTFE is made volatile: "...generated by heating PTFE in a tube to 486 degrees C..." So? They used this particular method for assessing their particular question -- maybe they were examining a more industrial application of PTFE (which is, in fact, where most if not all of the research on PTFE occurs), and not home use. What remains, and what this discussion in contingent upon, is you citing a reliable source stating, with repeatable measure, that PTFE does not volatilize until XX degrees --which you have not done.

                                  1. re: mateo21

                                    My point was narrower. Demented claimed that "DuPont studies show that Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 446°F." That claim is incorrect.

                                    I was also incorrect when I stated that PTFE doesn't volatilize until 850F. And I said so above.

                                    Neither of these things change the simple fact that PTFE heated to temperatures under 788F doesn't cause polymer fume fever in mammals.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      And I would certainly agree with those points (minus an article I found... which I'll see if I can recover the link to, which cited evidence of Polymer Fume Fever at 660F.

                                      What I suppose I would like to add to this debate, is while it seems as though an acute toxic effect of PTFE is not found (save for birds), a threat still exists from long term exposure -- how many people are cooking on chipped and scratched PTFE cookware? Are they ingesting PTFE from said source and is ingestion of PTFE harmful? Does PTFE cause long term effects? What are those effects and are they potentially dangerous?

                                      Those are big unanswered questions, with no clear answer. Most scientists are diffident about their statements -- certainly sometimes too much, but there is a reason for their practiced humility -- there are a lot of questions we just don't know about, nor the answer to.

                                      Do I think "green" pans are totally save? Not sure, but I think the ephemeral nature of them is enough to dissuade my purchase, lest we begin a discussion on their unknown side effects.

                                      1. re: mateo21

                                        There are also people with PTFE implants - it is used in joints, and Goretex membranes. Cooking pans are not the only way we come in contact with the plastic.

                                        Even if PTFE flakes are ingested with food, that does not mean that they have been absorbed into the bloodstream. Given the inertness of the material during cooking, it is likely that anything that enters by way of your mouth leaves via the other end of the digestive tract.

                                        Studying the long term effects of a material like this can be extremely difficult. Lets say you develop prostate cancer at age 50 or 60. How is anyone going to tell whether it was caused by PTFE that you ingested from your mom's beater nonstick pan, or the power lines you lived under as a teenager, or the wine you have drinking since you came of age? Or none of the above.

                                        Looking further at the Johnston abstract, I noticed that there are other papers that look at inhaled ultrafine carbon particles. The are trying to understand the effects of urban air pollution (including ozone) on the elderly. Could heating seasoned cast iron to 400C produce harmful ultrafine carbon pariticles?

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          The "pat" answer is always easiest to digest. Nice to think that you can avoid life's risks just by avoiding aluminum or Teflon or red meat or ....

                                  2. re: alanbarnes

                                    In the EWG link, the Johnston paper [5] is cited for its study of how the ultrafine particles can affect lungs. It isn't a source regarding the lowest temperature where the particles are produced. That source is an earlier 1991 article [4].

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      The 1991 Seidel study was also focused on how polymer fumes can affect lungs. And in order to obtain fumes from PTFE, they had to heat it to 420C (788F). Again, we're talking about temps that are way outside the normal range for home cooking.

                                        1. re: Demented

                                          That website just refers to the EWG paper again. Information that's flat-ass wrong does not become correct just because you can find numerous links to it on the internet.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            You base your assumption that the test performed by Dr. Jennifer Klein of EWG in 2003 on what exactly?

                                            1. re: Demented

                                              A verb, please, I need a verb. Please tell me what I assume about the test performed by Dr. Jennifer Klein of EWG in 2003.

                                              Best I can tell, her test demonstrated that if you turn a burner on high, put a pan on it, and leave it there for a long time, the pan gets hot. I fully concur with her astute observations.

                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                In new tests conducted by a university food safety professor, a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736°F in three minutes and 20 seconds.

                                                I would hardly call 3 1/2 minutes a long time.

                                                Outside of folks who love to cook and read what can be found on topics related to cooking...

                                                How many average home cooks know better then to place a non-stick pan on high heat?

                                                Not to put that coated piece of cookware in the broiler? in another post on chowhound someone was asking if it was okay to put non-stick cookware in the broiler.

                                                The point is, the coating on this cookware can be hazardous if misused.

                                                1. re: Demented

                                                  Tell you what, put your hand on the same burner. Then tell me that 3 1/2 minutes isn't a long time.

                                                  I put non-stick pans on high heat all the time. I just don't leave them (or any other pans) there until things start to catch fire.

                                                  Doesn't seem like you need to be a university food safety professor to figure that one out.

                                            2. re: alanbarnes

                                              Oh my goodness, you are my god (lower case). Would people please, please use some discrimination before they say "oh, the internet says...." I struggle regularly to find internet sources from reputable sources. Argh

                                    2. re: Demented

                                      The Environmental Working Group is hardly an acceptable source.
                                      They're pretty far out there as far as cooking the books on so-called "research" and writing alarmist reports.

                                      1. re: MakingSense


                                        Thanks for the info on EGW, defiantly something to keep in mind when reading their propaganda.

                                        The question this raises for me... Does their shady past negate their research, test and published papers?

                                        1. re: Demented

                                          ~~"Does their shady past negate their research, test and published papers?"~~

                                          Absolutely not. It doesn't matter if a researcher is biased, the research should stand or fall on its own merits. And EWG's research falls flat on its face.

                                          The primary research - experiments conducted by EWG - seems to be good enough. But it appears to be limited to charting the temperature of a pan left on a burner over time. On the other hand, the secondary research - the review of literature documenting experiments done by others - is deeply flawed.

                                          Yesterday evening I spent some time trying to figure out how EWG could claim that Teflon offgases toxic particles at 464F. I mean, that's a temperature that is reached on a pretty regular basis in my kitchen. Should I be concerned?

                                          Sure enough, buried in Table II of the Seidel study is a reference to the volatilization of low-molecular-weight particles at 240C (464F). But if you look at the methodology, the researchers heated Teflon to 420C (788F), used an ultrafine filter to capture the particles it emitted, and then re-volatilized those particles at relatively low temperatures.

                                          In other words, the claim that "DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 464°F" is simply false. The study shows that Teflon offgasses toxic particles at 788F, and, if you catch those particles in a filter, **the filter** re-offgasses them at 464F. Not a typical scenario, at least in my kitchen.

                                          Given that there isn't a cooking oil that won't spontaneously ignite by the time it reaches 680F, I'm not too worried. And for anybody who is concerned about Teflon, that piece of information might be useful - put some oil in the pan before you put it on the burner. If flames start shooting up, turn the heat down, because you're getting close to the point where the Teflon is unsafe.

                                          1. re: Demented

                                            It should raise questions. EWG is now fairly widely used as a source by the popular media but nobody ever asks about their qualifications nor their background. They send out media releases and the info is accepted at face value.
                                            The common criticism of many studies is "Oh, yeah, what do you expect? That was funded by the industry, the food manufacturers, DuPont, [fill in the blank], who are trying to cover their asses because they have a vested interest in making their products look harmless."
                                            Many people are quick to assume that because a corporation or trade group funds a study that it may be biased but they may blindly accept something from a "non-profit."

                                            Not all "non-profits" are "pure."
                                            Non-profit status is nothing but an IRS tax classification and is easily set up for little money. A rent-a-desk, a few people with high-sounding credentials, and you're good to go. Get a marquee name and you're golden.
                                            They can just as easily cherry-pick statistics and studies - actually MORE easily than corporations, since there is no liability.
                                            There is nothing to stop any group from commissioning a study, selecting which "friendly" scientists will design the methodology, and then determining how the results will be presented.
                                            Even polling can be designed to produce a specific outcome. It's called "polling to the result" in the business.

                                            If these groups can establish themselves as "authorities" on a topic by the right press releases and publicity, they can become the "go-to experts" when, in fact, they have little real expertise.
                                            It's inexpensive guerrilla warfare. Even one guy with a successful blog can do it.
                                            Many companies now have to spend large sums protecting their "on line reputations" or public perceptions of their products against attack from groups who use specious studies or innuendo to damage them.
                                            Google FUD marketing.
                                            It's an expanding enterprise all unto itself.

                            2. No pans are safe. They can cause serious burns if you come into contact with them, and they routinely heat their contents to levels that are extremely hazardous. Moreover, every pan is capable of heating oils until they polymerize and creating carbonization on food; both of these processes create carcinogens.

                              If you want to be on the safe side, buy pans that are NSF certified. Like most commercial non-stick.

                              Seriously, Google FUD. 'Nuff said.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Thanks, kiddo. You said it better than I could.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  I was pretty clear about the dangers of hot pans. I meant chemicals/health safety.

                                  1. re: alexa52

                                    You might not know until they have been on the market 20 years, and rumors about their dangers start to circulate on the net.

                                2. The only reasonably reliable report I've
                                  was in National Geographic's Green
                                  Guide last May (apparently not archived).
                                  Their conclusion was that the Gren Pan's
                                  safety was not known.

                                  But non-stick pans supposedly give
                                  off fumes only when heated above
                                  500 degrees. I use one for egs and keep
                                  the temp low to medium.

                                  There is no evidence that an aluminum body
                                  on a non-stick pan is harmful. I use all-
                                  aluminum (uncoated) fry pans myself.

                                  I boil water in funky pans, and the
                                  stuff usually comes out easily. Otherwise,
                                  a few swipes with a Scotch pad or copper sponge
                                  does the trick.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                                    mpalmer6cDaz, I like
                                    the stanza format
                                    much easier to read, yes

                                    ; )

                                  2. The original comment has been removed
                                    1. Have you tried cast-iron pans? While not as slippery as teflon-styled non-stick pans, they do make scrambled eggs well (as well as so many other things) and are incredibly easy to clean because it's rare to get anything to stick to it permanently. You also don't have to worry about damaging them with utensils or cleaning supplies (their primary issue being rust when not dried on the hot stove and oiled afterwards)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Caralien

                                        Nope but they contain dangers like everything else. You absorb iron from those pans. Anyone with high iron levels is recommended not to use them.

                                        I think what we can conclude here is if you use cookware wisely, it shouldn't hurt you, nor hopefully your bird. If my Calphalon non stick pans get scratched somehow, I get a new one. It may not be dangerous, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. As long as they are in good condition and I don't overheat them, I feel comfortable with that. So now and then I replace one, just to be sure. Also the manufacturers including All Clad et al suggest their non stick pans are not meant to last more than 5-7 years. Less for cheaper makers. Everything in moderation may the best adage ever uttered. And one I live by. I think that's about all we can do.

                                        IMO if these pans were as dangerous as some suggest it would be common knowledge by now. After all it's been around a long time. It would surely be the next asbestos debacle. And there aren't many alternatives anyways. No one knows about the safety yet of the new Green Pans and Zwilling products. They are probably fine, but who knows. As with all chemicals, time will tell.

                                        As always companies are always trying to generate sales, and using many techniques with which to do it. Even the 5-7 year replacement suggestion may just be to get you to buy them again. Who knows. Pans I use a lot I replace when they look overused. Ones I don't use often I figure will last a good long time. If somehow they get damaged. I replace them. It's all we can do folks. Cast iron is dangerous to pple with high iron levels, aluminum is a no brainer. Stainless steel is considered pretty safe but is copper? And anyways they're a bitch to clean.

                                        It looks from research as tho providing we don't abuse our cookwear, and buy reputable quality brands, we should be ok. And btw, did you know cooking over an open fire is harmful to your health? Burning wood in your home fireplace gives off creosote that can catch your house on fire. Everything is dangerous. Use everything with caution. It's all we can do. Living is dangerous to your health ;-) None of us is getting out of here alive, so it all comes down to what bullets you're willing to put in the gun.