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Jan 17, 2011 01:39 PM

Safety of Ceramic Nonstick Cookware - "Ecopan"

A question on ceramic nonstick cookware - is it safe? We've been using our new "Ecopan," purchased at HomeGoods, which says it is PTFE and PFOA-free. The Ecopan Web site says it uses a water-based coating, which does not produce any toxic fumes. But it doesn't say what else is in the water-based coating.

It's really light and easy to clean. In fact, it's been working so well for us that we're not using our Le Creuset skillet, which used to be our go-to pan. But I do want to be sure the Ecopan is safe -- any ideas?

Thanks so much.

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  1. There's the rub; you can never prove safety to anyone's satisfaction. Or you can spend your life worrying that everything's going to kill you.

    1. I emailed the company, and they promptly replied. In case anyone's wondering, here's what they said:

      "Ceramic coating is an inorganic, nonmetallic material. Also, because it is ceramic and not PTFE nonstick, it is more durable to scratches. Nevertheless, the chemical composition of ceramica is quite similar with sand and clay so if it does degrade, it will not give any effect to health (non-toxic).

      As for its nonstick properties, we use silicone as a top coating for the interior. Silicone is a type of synthetic rubber created from bonded silicon and oxygen. Silicon by itself is a common component that makes up the Earth's crust - about 28% of them. The only trade-off is that the silicone coating is not as nonstick as teflon. It can only withstand up to 400F. So we do not recommend you to use high heat while cooking, just low to medium to increase the life of your cookware. Since, our coating are water-based, when you overheat your pan, this top coating will just evaporate to water."

      2 Replies
      1. re: tsbbklyn

        "Since, our coating are water-based, when you overheat your pan, this top coating will just evaporate to water."

        Really, at what temperature does water turn to water vapor? Answer: 212 degrees F, so where's the water going to come from, it should be long gone. It may be a water born slurry, but its not a water coating, the coating isn't going to evaporate. Not sure I'd buy what their claims are based on this statement. Most of the earth's silicon is silicon dioxide.

        "Silicone is a type of synthetic rubber..." yes, think of silicone breast implants, silicone rubber. If you're concerned about chemicals, you have just traded one set of chemicals for another. Do you use the silicone baking pans, this is probably about the same thing they are using for a coating.

        1. re: tsbbklyn

          That is sad. We have silicon cookware for a long long time. In fact, silicon cookware is considered as lower grade of nonstick, as in Teflon - high grade nonstick, Silicon - low grade nonstick. If you wanted a silicon cookware, you could have gotten it very cheap.

        2. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the alternative non-stick products. They are definitely not "silicone" or like anything else on the market before. I've been using a couple of them; especially the "Earthpan 2" line for a while and am pretty happy with them, but:

          -They are not as slick as PTFE, but just as easy to clean.
          -They can be used for higher-heat tasks like searing meats, unlike PTFE.
          -The consensus is that they don't last as long as PTFE based coatings because ceramics are brittle and will break down as the metal expands and contracts. This effect is worse in the cheap ones (avoid thin metal, welded handles etc.).

          Hope this help your decision . . .

          1. It's almost 3 years - what's your take on it? Is it non-stick? I've been using a cast iron frying pan and it's a pan to make eggs regardless of how much I seasoned it.

            I bought a Ecopan but haven't used it yet, wanted to get some reviews before deciding to keep it.


            2 Replies
            1. re: oceania

              They work well until the ceramic surface gets worn, lasts about 6 months under daily use.

              1. re: Alan408

                Thanks! Hmm 6 months doesn't seem to a long time - I wouldn't be using it daily, maybe 2x a week but doesn't really seem worth it giving how pricey they are. Would you recommend buying them?

            2. I cooked some oatmeal in an Ecopan sauce pan today and after 2 bites, I threw out the lot because it tasted like plastic. When I went to clean the pan, a film pulled away from the side of the pan (with the bits of oatmeal that were left) and it actually looks like a thin plastic. Horrifying that I might have eaten some of this as I haven't the foggiest what it is. I would like to send the pan plus this "plastic-like" stuff back to the manufacturer.

              1 Reply
              1. re: StainlessSteelForMe

                I have used VISION glass pots for years. A soak while we are eating permits easy food particle release. For some reason they are not permitted to be sold to retailers, ( competition??), but they are still manufactured and can be ordered direct from Corning.

                Good cast iron ware and Surgical stainless is available. But scratch metal and leaching begins.

                Goldmine sold a lovely safe carved polished soapstone set. $ 100.00 for a large pot that lasts a life time. Nothing burns or sticks.

                Aluminum is a constituent of enamels, some of these are loosely called ceramic. Some years ago a non stick coating of Zircon was patented. I read that the Teflon folks bought up the patent process, and RIP'd it. I had one for a couple of decades. It had an accidental death. I chose le Cruset because Europe long ago concluded that it is not wise to consume toxic substances by ingestion and absorption.

                Dr. retails a safe ceramic cookware set at an unbelievably low price. No, I don't work for them.

                Why people choose to use aluminum cookware, bi-product of the continuous string of modern warfare, mystifies me. Aluminum is toxic. High quality missile tube manufacture spin off is cheap low quality aluminum turned into cookware and outdoor furniture.

                Remember when aluminum cookware had all but disappeared ? Didn't wonder why it came back ??