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Sep 25, 2009 01:41 AM

Can't use cast iron, Won't use non stick, options for omelettes?

Hi all, I have quite enjoyed reading so I figured I would join.

I have thallasemia minor which is not really a huge deal but I am not allowed iron supplements or use of cast iron. Giant bummer as I so want some le creuset. I know enameled but I just can't find any resource that can confirm if this contains the iron. I don't want to risk it.

I have gone through quite a bit of the new green style non stick. They seem to last for me only a few uses before sticking just as much as SS.

I like fritattas and I like omelettes and eggs in general.

I have had pretty good success with my 8 inch all clad and lots of butter and low heat. But its difficult and I am probably at a 50% success rate with practice. I guess I could just keep at it.
It also is slow. Too much heat and instant stick.

Non stick I just won't use. I like to be as close to organic and chemical free as possible and I just don't want teflon.

I also don't want anything straight aluminum.

I tend to prefer traditional old fashioned technology. And surely there were omelettes made prior to teflon.

Are there any options left for me?

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  1. Before teflon, it was cast iron :/
    Myself, I use an analon pro for omelettes, It's super non-stick, I don't even use oil/butter.
    However it's aluminium, and could be some kind of teflon.

    I'd say the best idea would be a small LC omelette pan. The enamel is several layers thick, and contains no iron. As long as you take care of it, it will last forever.

    *edit* Hah, unrelated, but I thought of a riddle: Who is the cheapest Chowhounder?
    Politeness - he costs nothing :)

    1. mmdad, As Soop notes, in enameled cast iron, no iron touches the food. However, if you want to proceed with an abundance of caution, the Chantal Copper Fusion line is enameled carbon steel -- still iron based, but (as your All Clad stainless does not seem to be a problem), maybe less reactive should the enamel get a scratch. Great price (but out of stock) here:

      4 Replies
      1. re: Politeness

        I thought carbon steel was more reactive than cast iron - but I'm no chemist. However, you made me think. I was surprised to learn that you could leach much iron from a season cast iron pan. The seasoning IS the 'teflon' coating. But let us err on the side of caution.

        I would advise anodised aluminium. This is not a coating of another material - just oxides of aluminium which is far tougher than the normal oxides that form on 'natural' aluminium. It is far tougher than most (all?) the coatings based on organic chemistry. The alzheimers scare was primarily a confusion between cause and effect. Alzheimers causes deposition of aluminium in the brain. You can't get away from Al. It is the (one of??) most common metals in the Earth's crust.

        1. re: Paulustrious


          My impression is that cast iron leaches more dietary iron than carbon steel, but I can check later. Seasoned cast iron cookware still leaches iron. Slower, but definitely here. I read a scientific article on that. If I find it, I will post it here.

          I think anodized aluminum is a great choice, but I think mmdad is trying to avoid that as well.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            And I do keep on forgetting about the acids and oxidising agents available when we are cooking. My SO has also made the choice to avoid aluminium for cooking - and I have gone along with it, except for the little omelette pan. I am left with a basement cabinet full of circulon, calphalon and analon pots that I do not use. It also allowed me to indulge in some copperware. Unfortunately it's almost too heavy for her to lift.

            I was thinking of an experiment. I wonder if you could place a silpatty thing in a stainless pan and cook inside the silicon? It's not a good conductor, but it should eventually produce a fried egg or omellete.

          2. re: Paulustrious

            From what I understand, cast iron does leech enough iron to be considered "supplemental" iron, which is why it is recommend to people who are anemic. A friend of mine with monthly iron loss issues found she felt better if she had beef (a fairly iron rich food anyway) cooked in cast iron around that time each month.

        2. mmdad,

          Yes, there were omelette made before telfon, but almost all traditional cookware were made of iron based material. Stainless steel, carbon steel, cast iron cookware ... all have iron in them, through stainless steel is more stable and leaks much less iron than cast iron. Of course, you can always use pure copper cookware, but copper is very expensive and copper is toxic. It is not as toxic as lead or mercury, but it is definitely more toxic than aluminum or iron. So I won't go copper. One option is to consider plain anodized aluminum, not Teflon coating anodized aluminum. Basically, the cookware surface of an plain anodized aluminum cookware has been oxidized, and this anodized surface is very hard and stable and will not react with your food.
          I do agree enamel cast iron is an option. Enameled coating is usually two layer thick or more and iron cannot leach out. The concern of enameled cookware is to make sure the enameled coasting contain no lead or very little. Most colorful enameled coatings have lead in them. It is to make it pretty. The cooking surface enamel is usually white and usually does not require lead. In addition, enamel cast iron cookware heat up slow and cannot heat up to a very high temperature or the enamel coating will crack. So, it is meant for slow and low cooking, not so much for omelette. You can also consider clay based cookware, the oldest fashion cookware, but it also heat up slow and really meant for stew or soap. I don't think it will work well for omelette.

          I think I just went through human history from stone age (clay) to copper age (copper) to iron age (cast iron, steel) to modern age (aluminum).

          All I can really say is to avoid the real hazard first and then worry about theorized stuffs. In your case, avoid what you think is definitely worst, like cast iron and worry less about aluminum. If I am you, I would go for a hard anodized aluminum pan or an enamel cast iron pan.

          1. There is a new line of cookware from Cuisinart called Green Gourmet that I'm seriously considering, you may want to check it out. It is made of ceramic-coated non-stick material that they call "Ceramica".

            1 Reply
            1. re: bogie

              I think OP mentioned they'd tried the green pans. I bought one at Marshall's about 2 months ago and I really love it ... there is no brand at all on I've had success with it but I do know that others have not. Mine is still non-stick!

            2. The classic old-school approach is to use a carbon steel omlette pan. It's reactive, but not as porous as cast iron, so it shouldn't add much if any nutritional iron unless you cook acidic stuff in it.

              As others have noted, enameled carbon steel (or cast iron) shouldn't be a problem unless you chip or gouge the enamel.

              When trying to avoid Teflon, note that some cookware hyped as "Teflon-free" is PTFE-based. Same stuff, just not made by DuPont.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alanbarnes

                I like to reiterate Alanbarnes points. A lot of the soi called Telfo-free pan are not really that different. They are not exactly the same Telfon made by DuPont, but essentially the same thing. Let take the Swiss Diamond pans for example, it states it uses diamond crystals and it will last you a lifetime because of diamond, but really, it is telfon.


                I have no problem with Teflon as a health harzard. I don't. I just think it is very confusing for consumers. If you read the fine prints or think a little deeper, then you will realize a lot of the adverstizing statements make no sense and are false. It just comes down to common sense, sometime.