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Survey: Telfon cookwares - Positive or Negative Impact for our culture?

***I would appreciate if you can select your choices first, and then you can give your explanations if you wish (or not). Putting your choice up front will really help me tally the votes and minimize confusion and errors***

Since this is Chowhound, I expect many think poorly of Teflon cookwares, but before you vote, I like you to consider some arguments I have thought of for both sides.

Nonstick cookwares are BAD because:
they are poor performers in general;
they enforce bad cooking habits and they are too easy to use, so they discourage people from moving onto different cookwares;
they are potentially health hazard due to many reasons we have read…etc

Nonstick cookwares are GOOD because:
they are unbeatable for certain things like eggs;
they are easy to use, so they encourage new comers to learn cooking who otherwise would be reluctant to cook;
there is no solid evidence to prove their health risk. On the other hand, they need very little to no oil to cook, so they are healthier for us.

I will make this a three part questions poll (thanks to steve h. suggestion)

1) Do you think Telfon cookwares have an overall positive or negative influence for our culinary culture and our kitchens? (not just for yourself, but the impact for everyone)
a) Positive
b) Negative
c) Neutral

2) What is your MAIN reason for selecting your above answer?
d) Performance
e) Learning
f) Health
g) None of the above

3) How many Teflon based cookware do you have at home at this moment?
h) Zero
i) 1
j) 2+

4) Are you sexy?
k) Yes
l) No

I like to thank you all ahead. I think a multi-questions survey will be very interesting.

P.S.: question 4 is not real, but you can answer if you like
P.P.S.: I know there are people on both sides who believe and not believe the health risk for Teflon cookware. Please refrain from getting into a heat argument as this is not the intention for this poll.

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  1. My answer just to set an example and encourage others.

    c) Neutral

    e) Learning

    - Nonstick cookware both encourage people to cook, but also discourage people from cooking better. I think it has a neutral effect for our culinary culture.

    h) Zero

    k) Yes

    - My mom said so, even though my dates never do.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Chem you left out "All of the above" prior to "None of the above" on question 2.

        1. re: SanityRemoved

          Sorry, at one point I edited and put in "All of the Above", and then I took it away later after half an hour, because I thought it introduced more variables than I like. I think that is the problem when conducting a survey. Too many choices actually will dilute the choices and then actually makes it less interesting.

      1. So what's the reason for the survey? Are you considering buyiing Teflon? I'll be happy to answer the survey if I know the reason for it.

        I'm sorry, I'm an idiot in the kitchen and I have never found Teflon invaluable for cooking eggs. What? Not one of the pro arguments is valid.

        23 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          One would think if you are an idiot in the kitchen you would rely on teflon for cooking eggs

          1. re: Dave5440


            If eggs aren't a problem for someone who is totally incompetant, why would I need something with unknown health risks.

            IMO, in the current climate of "class warfare", Teflon is a sneaky way of killing the poor. It is impossible to find anything without Teflon in any store where the poor shop. You have to spend $$$ these days to find anything without Teflon.

            By the time the poor are ready to collect pensions, their insides will be so Teflon-coated from ingesting the stuff, or their lungs frizzled by inhaling the fumes they won't be able to collect pensions, if any ... and will die before anyone needs to take care of them medically ... thus saving the government medical costs.

            Its a teflon-coated conspiracy.

            So, though my answer didn't get answered as to the reason for the survey, I guess the answer to 1 is b ... negative

            1. re: rworange

              If eggs aren't a problem for someone who is totally incompetant

              You are not incompetent if you can cook eggs without teflon-trust me on this or you are way too hard on yourself

              IMO, in the current climate of "class warfare", Teflon is a sneaky way of killing the poor

              Maybe so but McD's has a lock on this hands down.,BTW I happen to somewhat agree with you, but it's not the pensions or health care costs, goverments never ever think that far ahead, soeone lined their pocket to ensure approval to market.
              That reminds me how ironic the Teflon Don died of throat cancer

              1. re: Dave5440

                >>> That reminds me how ironic the Teflon Don died of throat cancer


                Also funny about the goverment not thinking that far in the future. I guess it is a good thing they don't.

                My reply was sort of tongue in cheek, but it kind of bugs me that any store in the category of Target and below doesn't sell anything that isn't Teflon-lined ...not to mention the damn lids are all glass and not metal.

                I guess it is good for the economy. I still have my Teflon-less pots that I bought when I graduated from college decades ago. A Teflon pan rarely lasts a few years, if that, without wearing out and needing to be replaced.

                1. re: rworange

                  not to mention the damn lids are all glass and not metal

                  Glass is the safest and more exxpensive to produce

                  A Teflon pan rarely lasts a few years, if that, without wearing out and needing to be replaced.

                  I get 6 months out of a green pan not a day over, 1 yr with a good quality brand of teflon, I rarely use them but if they are not in the house I spend more time cleaning the CI and SS when i didn't use them than I care too.

                  1. re: Dave5440

                    Glass breaks. Metal doesn't.

                    However, that was just a digression which I remembered what bugs me about buying cookware these days.

                    So we should fill up our dumps with useless Teflon pans because it takes a little effort ... sometimes ... to clean stainless steel?

                    If people aren't decided about the health risks of Teflon pans, I don't know why the environmentalists aren't all over Teflon pans for their short life span.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Absolutely agree. Teflon is a catch-22: If a user isn't super-careful with the surface, it ends up in the dumps in fairly short order and proceeds to degrade over time there, thus contributing to the overall toxicity of the area. If a user IS careful (nylon utensils, hand washing, never overheating it) then there's still the open question of whether the chemicals do gradually leach or not.

                      Case in point: The Zojirushi rice cooker bowls are Teflon coated. EVEN with hand washing, and never being touched with anything other than plastic, the finish on the inside of the bowls does gradually change over time, becoming less shiny/more matte. And this is with a completely non-acidic foodstuff in it (rice and water, or oatmeal and water) and the exterior of the pot not being heated above the boiling/simmering point. We had one and so I can personally vouch for how the bowl surfaces behaved. We had 3 bowls and rotated their use on a daily basis but they ALL exhibited the same change in surface characteristic over time. IMHO there is some degradation of a Teflon surface going on, no matter how 'carefully' it is used, and I just don't want to ingest any of it.

                      1. re: skyline

                        I don't really sweat it with the rice cooker or hot-water boiler so much - abrasive tools rarely touch it, and the thing will never get heated to the point where dangerous chemicals are released. Rinsing the rice in the bowl does wear away the surface a little... I still do it in the bowl anyway, vs. rinsing in a separate bowl first.

                        Other than that, I don't really use cookware with PFOA / PTFE coatings, but I don't think it's the worst thing in the world -- I prefer to avoid them when a reasonable alternative exists, though.

                        re: egg cooking -- I think I'm moderately knowledgeable about cooking, and I still find cooking eggs on stainless steel / cast iron / carbon steel frustrating at times. It's something that can be done, but definitely requires a lot of finesse and practice. And quite a bit of the time, I'm too lazy to wait for eggs to come to room temperature, which seems to help.

                        While it's not really a concern for me, Teflon style coatings are a godsend for people who want to cook with barely any added fat. They're also useful for people of any economic bracket who can't be bothered to learn how to cook properly in standard cookware. I have family members who insist on using nonstick cookware, and I try to buy the heaviest, highest quality commercial kitchen nonstick cookware, figuring that at least it will be better than what they'd buy otherwise.

                        Anyone have first-hand experience yet with Mauviel M'Stone or other cookware which uses the same coating?

                        1. re: will47

                          I agree that if you can't change their minds then it is better to go with the commercial non-stick pans, the coating lasts much longer and the pans aren't ready for the trash/recycling in 2 years.

                          1. re: SanityRemoved

                            Also, some of the low-end consumer stuff is very, very thin and poorly constructed. For example, a pan my parents bought on their own was so light that, without anything in it, the handle (itself not very heavy) would tip the pan. In some test I heard about, I believe the CR reports detailed here:
                            thinner pans heated to levels likely to emit toxic gasses much more quickly than heavier ones did.

                            I've also tried to link my family members and friends who use non-stick cookware to articles like this one:
                            in hopes that they will be less likely to abuse their pans.

                            Modern style multi-layer coatings should be fairly durable and safe to the end-user (you see commercial kitchens using metal tongs in them without scratching), but still not great for the environment or for the people who manufacture them. Personally, even if the risks to end-users are small, I'd rather use a pan that's built to last forever, and is known to be safe.

                      2. re: rworange

                        I'm pretty sure teflon pans can still be recycled, i put mine in the blue box and they always take them

                        1. re: Dave5440

                          Dave5440: I assume you are kidding (re "i put mine in the blue box and they always take them"), but just in case you're not:

                          1) Manufacturing new non-stick pans for everyone who has to replace their pan every few years is bad for the environment and, most likely, for the workers who make most of them, especially when they're made in countries with less strict regulations and / or enforcement of regulations.
                          2) Even if teflon pans can be recycled safely, having a pan that will last for a lifetime is clearly much less wasteful than one which must be replaced every few years. Many areas will not recycle Teflon etc., but even if it ends up actually making it to a recycling plant, I'm pretty sure the process of recycling it involves more solvents / chemicals.


                          1. re: will47

                            Why yes I was serious about the blue box, i've also thrown them in the metal bin at work too.

                            How much teflon do you think is in an average pan? 10 g maybe 20 , out of a 1 to 3lb pan the rest is aluminum or steel and with the dwindling suppy of aluminum it make zero sence to landfill them.

                            Did you read all the answers in that link you posted, the last one is somewhat suprising.

                            Edit: It's raw copper not aluminum that could run out by 2035

                            1. re: Dave5440

                              Right, but I guess what I'm saying is, does whoever collects your recycling ever refuse anything? In most cases, they just pick up whatever you put out -- that doesn't mean everything you put in the bin actually gets recycled.

                              Whether or not the quantity of Teflon is high is besides the point; it still has to be separated from the rest of the pan, and the process of doing so is likely to involve heat, solvents, and / or some sort of abrasive material. This process is likely to be, at some point, toxic and / or resource-intensive.

                              1. re: will47

                                True enough but but the production and use of chemicals is a train no one can stop,but the production of steel,aluminum,copper all involes the same heat chemicals too , hell just look at what they put in food and some cases the animals themselves. Just a fact of life we have to live with(defeatist sure but it's a reality)

                    2. re: rworange

                      You are very mistaken that Target and below don't sell anything not Teflon lined.

                      You can get stainless (not full clad, but so what?) at Target, and on this very board the Walmart clad Tramontina set has been praised.

                      Perhaps if you shop **strictly** at the Dollar Store, you will find only Teflon.

                      Williams-Sonoma carries nonstick All-Clad. Is that an attack on the upper middle class?

                      1. re: rohirette

                        Well, I'll check out my local Target and Walmart next time, but all I remember seeing was teflon or equivalent.

                        With William Sonoma people with money have a choice. As many posters have mentioned, some people, whatever their financial condition, prefer non-stick. Some people prefer canned or boxed food, convenience food and fast food.

                        The thing is that as you move down the chain of stores price-wise, those with limited incomes are almost exclusively limited to non-stick.

                        The irony is that replacing a skillet every few years (or less) is more expensive than buying one that will last a lifetime. However if you don't have that $!00 plus the first time around, that cheap nonstick skillet seems like the deal.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Not all of these stores carry all of the products available online. I went to a (fairly large) local Walmart to try and check out the Tramontina cookware, and there was not a single Tramontina pan or set to be found. All of the cookware that was there looked to be of extremely poor quality.

                          1. re: will47

                            Well, Walmart carries Lodge, as well, and some enameled cast iron. Did you see either of those options? Perhaps the Tramontina or similar is regional, as far as what sells- the closest two Walmarts to me carry the 'famous' set.

                            And there are several lines of stainless at my local Target, as well as cast iron.

                            On the whole, I do have to concede that there is more throwaway, teflon lined aluminum at the big box retailers than good stuff.

                            1. re: rohirette

                              Well, aluminum cookware is cheap to make compared to any cladded cookware. Applying a layer of Teflon on an aluminum cookware is much cheaper than cladding stainless steel with aluminum.

                              People who think if only more stainless steel cladded cookware are sold Walmart, then people will buy more are mistaken. People buy Teflon cookwares because they want them, not because they don't have alternatives choices. Here is a good example: Greenpans. I think Greepans alone speak volume as to why people by Teflon cookware and why they toss them away.

                              People who bought Teflon cookwares do so for the nonstick property. When the nonstick property disappears, most discard the cookware. In reality, the worn off Teflon cookware is not any more sticky than a stainless steel cladded cookware, so the worn off Teflon cookware is just as functional.

                              As stated, just look at how people treat the Greenpans which were introduced as alternative nonstick cookwares to Teflon. Like Teflon cookware, it loses its nonstick ability overtime. Guess what? Most people also throw them away.

                              So let's not hit the straw man argument and claim people will simply buy more stainless steel cladded cookware if more of them are sold at Walmart. There are stainless steel cladded cookware sold at Walmart -- very good ones too.

                              1. re: rohirette

                                I don't remember seeing much or any cast iron, or any Lodge stuff at this location. I'm not saying that Walmart doesn't sell good cookware; just that I didn't see anything remotely good available at this location. Keep in mind also that this is Southern California, and while there are some fairly large stores here, Walmart isn't as popular as other similar retailers.

                            2. re: rworange

                              As rohirette mentions, both Target and Walmart have stainless lines -- exclusive ones, in fact. They are on the pricy side for cookware from those stores, though.

                              On the other hand, both Target and Walmart carry Lodge cast iron, too. And at $18 for a 12" skillet, it's a hell of a value. (Of course, there's a learning curve -- but before nonstick, I'm guessing a lot more people had that skill.)

                              Edit -- and I missed the later reply saying the same thing. D'oh. The 20 Walmarts closest to downtown LA report having some 12" Lodge skillets in stock, fwiw.

                              1. re: dtremit


                                Both Target and Walmart do carry exclusive stainless steel cladded cookwares, but they also carry non-exclusive ones as well.

                2. 1-B solely because of it's health impact proven or not, ease of use is def a positive
                  4- sure am for a fat-ass

                  1. 1c neutral

                    2d I like making eggs and a few other things in my teflon coated skillets

                    3j I have some other non-stick, but I only have 2 Teflon coated skillets.

                    If you use med heat or lower with Teffon, your pans will hold up better. But they won't last a lifetime, unfortunately. I'd recommend using a different sort of pan whenever possible.Also, they don't excel at browning food.

                    1. Hi, Chem:

                      I should let you answer for me, but:

                      1. Negative (except it keeps aluminum cookware in the public mind--small positive).
                      2. d-performance (same qualifier).
                      3. 1, an expensive Swiss Diamond gift I can't throw away.
                      4. *Hell* k, sexy enough to admire in the mirror-like finish of copper.


                      31 Replies
                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        "except it keeps aluminum cookware in the public mind--small positive"

                        I am not following that. Could you explain?

                        1. re: DougRisk

                          The majority of consumer non-stick pans use aluminum as their metal. The amount of bare aluminum sold to consumers has significantly declined with the advent of teflon coatings.

                          1. re: SanityRemoved

                            That, I understood. What I am curious about is, "except it keeps aluminum cookware in the public mind--small positive"...why is it a positive that aluminum is kept in the public mind?

                            1. re: DougRisk

                              Hi, DougRisk:

                              IMO, it's a positive thing that PTFE/Teflon coatings have kept straight-gauge aluminum cookware in the public mind because aluminum: (a ) is cheap; (b) will always be cheap because we're never going to run out of it; (c) it works better (in an overall sort of way) than any common cookware metal, save copper; (d) tends to keep the clad hucksters (more) honest; (e) is light, yet has excellent performance.

                              It is a saving grace that practically speaking, the lowest-budget nonstick aluminum skillets are generally pretty good skillets. If young people, people with little mone,y or people who are new to cooking start out with decent, inexpensive aluminum pots and pans, they will have a good baseline experience, and will be far less likely to sucker into the racket that is cladware. They might sucker in once, but if they remember that their first $20 skillet outcooked their $120 one, they'll know...


                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                The truth is that the nonstick surface get worn off over time, but not the aluminum body. So to say a person "has to" toss away a nonstick cookware after a year or two is not entirely wrong, but not entirely correct. The pan is still functional. The truth is that a worn off nonstick cookware will cook more like straight gauge aluminum cookware. So unless the person think a straight gauge aluminum pan is unfunctional, the person can still use the pan. We just want to toss the pan because we want the absolutely nonstick property. For people who prefer to have this great nonstick property, cladded cookwares were never an alternative for them.

                                It is a false argument to say manufacturers trick people into buying cheap nonstick instead of the expensive cladded cookware. No one trick them. They just want the nonstick property. If they don't care for the nonstick property, they can get straight aluminum cookware or just keep using the worn off nonstick cookware. If they do care for the nonstick property, then the stainless steel cladded cookwares were never a realistic choice. In fact, stainless steel surface is probably the worse when it comes to sticking to foods.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  The commercial non-stick pans tend to wear evenly and just lose their non-stick ability over time. Many consumer pans however tend to lose not only their non-stick ability but lose their bonding to the aluminum and many times it is before the non-stick ability has gone away. Peeling and flaking of the non-stick surface indicates it's definitely time to get rid of the pan.

                                  Generally non-stick pans are the least expensive up front. This definitely looks good to people who are trying to save money, but in the long run becomes more expensive. Plain aluminum pans aren't that prevalent in consumer retail outlets these days.

                                  1. re: SanityRemoved

                                    "Peeling and flaking of the non-stick surface indicates it's definitely time to get rid of the pan. "

                                    Yeah, that is my point. What if the person continue to use when the nonstick surface starts to peel and flake? One can do that, and I have seen people do that.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      From what I have observed with that process of peeling and flaking is that it will result in ingestion of the coating which I don't think would be beneficial.

                                      Now if there was an easy and safe way to remove all of the coating once that occurred and resulted in bare aluminum then I would just season the aluminum like you would for a normal aluminum pan and go with it. But I've never seen that.

                                      1. re: SanityRemoved

                                        I don't think that ingesting the bits of coating that flake off is harmful -- just a little gross. My understanding is that they just pass through, so to speak.

                                        1. re: SanityRemoved

                                          :) I think that get to basic point of if Teflon is toxic. If one believes it is toxic, then of course they should be discarded.... although probably shouldn't be used in the first place. if one does not believe it is toxic, then of course flaking is not a problem. :)

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            It's not an either / or. It may be toxic under certain conditions (during manufacture, when heated past 500 degrees F), but inert under other conditions (when flaked off in food). I don't think even most of its critics would say that it's toxic under all circumstances.

                                            Of course, the idea of eating flakes of nonstick coating is not my idea of a good time, and I wouldn't suggest eating bowls full of the stuff, but my understanding is that it's relatively harmless.

                                            btw, I think it's the cheap single layer coatings that are mainly prone to flaking.

                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Hi, Chem: "It is a false argument to say manufacturers trick people into buying cheap nonstick instead of the expensive cladded cookware. No one trick them."

                                      I never said that, and yes, you're right. The trickery lies in hoodwinking buyers into thinking that relatively expensive clad cooks better than cheap aluminum. My point was that cheap aluminum (nonstick or not) is a good baseline by which to judge the performance of clad--if clad has less performance, the only substantial advantages are looks and convenience.


                                      1. re: kaleokahu


                                        I didn't mean you (even though I addressed you) Sorry for that confusion.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          You know, I don't think anyone said anything about tricking people into buying cheap non stick cookware.

                                          The point is there really isn't much that is not coated at the lower price range.

                                          I guess I might be a bit more sensative to this issue after living a year in Guatemala where the choice of fry pan is nonstick. They last about a year and people just toss them into the horrid dumps when the surface is worn out. There's no recycling ... only endless garbage.

                                          It sort of explains why my husband was always buying a non stick frying pan which in his case lasted about 6 months before he wore it out. In the 6 years we lived in the US, that's 12 tossed pans.

                                          When I just returned to the US, though I had stuff in storage like my pots, I needed to do shopping to buy other stuff for the kitchen. It just amazed me passing the cookware that absolutely everything was covered in teflon unless I went to stores like Williams Sonoma, Macy's etc.

                                          So if you want to call what seems to be a marketing option that requires replacement of cookware every few years a trick, could be. It is as good a word as any.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            "They last about a year and people just toss them into the horrid dumps when the surface is worn out"

                                            The coating may last a year or two, but the actual pan is fine. As the Teflon wears off, they slowly turns into aluminum pans. It responds to heat just fine. It distributes heat just fine. The only difference is that the nonstick ability is getting worse. Most chefs use aluminum cookware.

                                            If the person does NOT care for the nonstick ability, then the pan does not have to be replaced.

                                            If a person does care for the nonstick ability, he/she will replace the pan, but the other pans (especially stainless steel surface cookware) were never realistic options to begin with.

                                            "It just amazed me passing the cookware that absolutely everything was covered in teflon "

                                            Walmart. Target, JC Penny, BedBathandBeyond...etc definitely carry more than just Teflon based cookware. Bare cast iron cookware are always there. My Lodge cast iron Dutch Oven was bought from a Target store. I remember inspecting 2-3 Lodge cast iron pots before choosing the one I want.

                                            Enameled cast iron as well. I spent 20 minutes inspecting several enameled cast iron cookware in a local Walmart as documented in this previous post:

                                            "After my incident, I went to Walmart one day and opened 6 Lodge Color Dutch Oven and everyone of them has perfect enameled coating. I had previously bought two Color Dutch oven and they were perfect out of the box. "


                                            Stainless steel surface cookware of course. Giada has a line of stainless steel triply cookware for Target for example. I remember smiling at her entire stainless steel line.


                                            As for Walmart, it offers one of the most respected stainless steel cladded cooware : the Tramontina Triply.

                                            Tramontina Triply is routinely touted as good as All Clad.

                                            You can even find the Greenpans in these stores, like this original Greenpan from Target:


                                            I checked. It is in stock for all three Target stores in my local area, not one missing.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              One problem I have with the lower end nonstick pans is the thickness of the aluminum. People go woohoo this is nice and light and look at this comfy handle. When they look at the price of the junk nonstick compared to the more expensive thicker aluminum nonstick many times only two thoughts run through their heads - nonstick and price. They then go for the cheapest pan that ends up not performing well and wears out within a couple of years. Then the cycle gets repeated.

                                              We had nonstick commercial pans in which the nonstick coating remained bonded for ten years at least and cooked evenly because of the thickness of the aluminum. In the long run the commercial pans were much less expensive.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                "As the Teflon wears off, they slowly turns into aluminum pans. It responds to heat just fine. It distributes heat just fine. The only difference is that the nonstick ability is getting worse."

                                                Sure, but have you ever tried to cook on a pan in that state in between nonstick and aluminum? I have found that food sticks to nothing more readily than to a scraped-up old nonstick skillet.

                                      2. re: kaleokahu

                                        You forgot to mention that 99% of resturant pans are bare aluminum

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          Hi, Dave5440:

                                          Yes, you're right. Good point. What do those restaurants and professional chefs know about food and cooking, anyway? [big wink] They should all switch to 13-layer superextraclad!


                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              I'm pretty certain the stoves at restaurants are quite different from the ones for home use.

                                              1. re: cutipie721

                                                Hi, cutiepie721: "...the stoves at restaurants are quite different from the ones for home use."

                                                Yes, all the more reason why straight-gauge aluminum is generally superior to clad on home stoves. Conversely, clad in restaurant kitchens ought to perform *better* than it does at home, yet it isn't used by restos much. Acquisition cost is not the only explanation, either.


                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  In an ideal world, yes, you're right.

                                                  Back in the days I was cooking on a crappy electric coil stove and used Calphalon's hard anodized non stick pan. It wasn't a thin pan at all. It always used to sit on the coil in one position - handle towards the left so I could hold on to it while stiring. Eventually I noticed that the non-stick surface began to go starting from where the pan met the coil, like this:


                                                  Not my photo, but just to show what I mean.

                                                  I have no idea why this is happening now. What I have here is pretty much going against the scorchprint produced by your Al pan.

                                                  No, I'm pretty convinced that there were hotspots on my pan by judging the way it cooked. I honestly think "dumbing" down the heat may in fact help some people who have funny stoves.

                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                            [a few days late]
                                            Thanks, now I understand.

                                            Any thoughts on Aluminum leaching into the food and the possible health effects?

                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                              Probably better to start a thread about aluminum, otherwise this might get broken off as off topic.

                                              But this post sort of addresses both the teflon and aluminum


                                              "For all-aluminum pieces, it is either coated, usually with a non-stick teflon finish, or anodized, which renders the surface non-reactive. Most multi-ply stainless uses a core of aluminum to help ensure good heat distribution -- the food never comes in contact with the alminum, so no problem.

                                              The health issues with aluminum are tricky. Early Alzheimer's Disease research suggested a link (aluminum is bound up in the "placques" which are the brain lesions that are the hallmark of AD) but no research to date has shown a link between aluminum in food and AD. Similarly tricky are the issues that swirl around teflon. "

                                              So, if possible health problems are anyone's issue, there is a double bonus if continuing to use those teflon pans after the stick is gone, Twio for the cheap price of one.

                                              Here are over 400 other Chowhound topics on aluminum and health effects.


                                              1. re: DougRisk


                                                Here is a counter thought. Iron, copper, tin, nickels, all have toxicity greater than aluminum.

                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                  Aluminum cookware should be seasoned before use. In a properly seasoned pan there should be little actual contact with aluminum.

                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                    Hi, DougRisk:

                                                    Yes, there are a LOT of other threads here on the subject of aluminum's health effects, if any.

                                                    My thoughts on the subject right now are that: (1) While there is a proven correlation between Alzheimer's and high aluminum levels in the brain, there is so far no proof that aluminum has a *causal* connection with the disease. In fact, recent studies seem to suggest that the diseased brain cells simply have an affinity for aluminum. (2) Considering that aluminum is the most common metal element and third most common element on the planet, I am skeptical about claims that it is toxic in the doses involved in cooking. (3) I'm quizzical about whether aluminum really "leaches" into food; obviously, if one were to scrape mightily with steel implements (or neglect to rinse after a steel wool scrubbing) there could be some aluminum fines present, but I'm not sure if anyone has quantified this. One also needs to understand that comparatively high levels of aluminum are in *many* things in daily life, including anti-perspirants, antacids, vaccines, soil, foodstuffs, even the air; (4) I'm ignorant of the human body's metabolism, if any, of aluminum. I read somewhere that the average 70kg person carries 65mg of aluminum around in their bodies normally.

                                                    I am not so sanguine about PTFE/Teflon.


                                                    1. re: kaleokahu


                                                      Have you ever checked out how much actual iron is in flour? It's pretty shocking

                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                        Hi, Dave5440:

                                                        No, I haven't, but I can't say I'm surprised. Is it occurring in the grain itself, or introduced in the milling?


                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                          As far as I know it's natural, same iron that's in spinach, beef and other iron rich food, same iron that CI is made out of, the body needs it. If you have time take a zip-lok bag of flour and run a good magnet all over the bag, it will pull the iron out.

                                        2. Alright, thanks for those who participated. Here are the raw data and the preliminary charts. Please take a quick look at the raw data and see if I correctly assign your vote. The charts do not make much correlation now due to the lack of data, but if you can imagine, they may become more interesting as the numbers roll in.

                                          There is not much can be concluded thus far -- except that everyone who participated are very sexy. (just look at the last chart, data do not lie)


                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            I refuse to make brick pastry sheets in something else than teflon. It was obviously made without teflon at one point since it's very old. I do not know how since my food knowledge is kind of limited. But I do know that peeling off those paper thin sheets would make me cry if I did not own a teflon pan.And I refuse to let brick sheets have that kind of emotional hold on me.

                                            In conclusion, teflon has a positive impact on our culture by allowing people with limited knowledge the pleasure of making bricks without crying.

                                            1. re: cactusette

                                              Thanks. I gather that you believe
                                              a) Positive
                                              d) Performance

                                              What about number? How many Teflon cookware do you own beside bakeware? Any pot or pan of Teflon?

                                              You can also answer if you are sexy if you like :P

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                that one pan of teflon and a smaller one that I never use because it's too small for brick sheets:P so 2.
                                                And I am very sexy provided the beholder has had a few drinks, kind of sexy if the lights are dimmed and sort of weird in daylight.

                                                1. re: cactusette

                                                  Thanks. 2 it is then. It is amazing that everyone answered thus far are very sexy. :P

                                          2. 1) b
                                            2) f, d, e - Why a negative that includes learning? Because with a little practice you should have no problems cooking eggs or fish in a non-teflon pan. Therefore teflon doesn't help people learn to cook.
                                            3) i - and can't wait to replace it :)
                                            4) k - 8 days a week

                                            1. 1) A (positive)
                                              2) E (learning), G (availability and price)
                                              3) J (two exactly)
                                              4) K (other people's moms keep telling me so)

                                              IMO, lamenting teflon cookware for reasons beside health concerns (which I just disagree with) is a lot like lamenting the cheap ball point pen or safety razor or disposable camera. There's plenty of good reason for products that are cheap, versatile, easy to use, and low-maintenance (compared to say, cast iron).

                                              1. ***PTFE based cookware are manufactured by many companies. Teflon, legally speaking, is only made by Dupont since it is a brandname by Dupont. For the sake of this poll, please consider any PTFE cookware, and not just PTFE made by Dupont. I doubt many people made that assumption, but I forgot clarify this in my original post***

                                                A really quick update, just so people can see the reasons behind a multi-questions or multi-variables poll. Again, please correct me if I made a mistake.

                                                SanityRemoved, I put (f) Health as your main reason. It is just easier for the chats to consider one choice. Feel free to ask me to switch your choice.

                                                At this very point, we see that:

                                                i) No one has considered Teflon (PTFE) cookware has a strong health effect, instead negative
                                                ii) For those who see Teflon cookware as positive or neutral, do so for performance and learning
                                                iii) Even for those who view Teflon cookware as negative own one
                                                iv) People who view Teflon cookware as positive appear to own more than others
                                                v) Every single responders are very sexy

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  Health is fine.

                                                  Did find a pic of the first kind of teflon pan we had. Enameled cast iron exterior teflon interior, the non-stick properties just deteriorated over time but the coating never flaked or pealed. Waterford ColorCast made in Ireland.

                                                2. My answers:

                                                  (1) b, negative

                                                  (2) f, health, is my main one; however, I would put e (learning) as a close second "negative" because as Chem pointed out, someone who gets used to using Teflon pans may very well see no reason to investigate other methods ("so what if I can't make a pan sauce, I don't want to bother getting a different pan just to be able to do that", for example). D, performance, can be interpreted as either positive (no sticky eggs, can use less fat) or negative (can't produce fond, can't truly sear) depending on how each person cooks -- so IMHO that aspect ends up neutral.

                                                  (3) h... zero, nowadays. I used to use them when I was young and, er, "less well informed".

                                                  (4) Depends on the generation of the beholder, LOL, and also whether that person thinks that hair color falling into the George Clooney/Helen Mirren category is sexy or not. :-) Thus, I'll take the Fifth. ;-)

                                                  1. 1 - b negative
                                                    2 - f health followed by learning and performance
                                                    3 - h zero though admittedly I used to keep one for eggs until fairly recently
                                                    4 - k!

                                                    1. 1) Do you think Telfon cookwares have an overall positive or negative influence for our culinary culture and our kitchens? (not just for yourself, but the impact for everyone)
                                                      a) Positive
                                                      b) Negative
                                                      c) Neutral

                                                      B NEGATIVE

                                                      2) What is your MAIN reason for selecting your above answer?
                                                      d) Performance
                                                      e) Learning
                                                      f) Health
                                                      g) None of the above


                                                      3) How many Teflon based cookware do you have at home at this moment?
                                                      h) Zero
                                                      i) 1
                                                      j) 2+

                                                      My rice cooker bowl is nonstick coated but I'm not sure if it's teflon.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: rasputina

                                                        I am trying to not count rick cooker or bakeware etc... because they are so prevalent. So I will count you zero. I also you "d" performance as your main reason because it is your first answer and it is just easier for the polling. Let's me know if I am wrong -- which I am guessing is.. but.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          I only put D first because I listed all three choices in the order they were listed as options. I'd rather have had an all of the above choice for that question. But obviously G none of the above wouldn't be included LOL.

                                                          For me all three are pretty equal as negative reasons.

                                                          1. re: rasputina


                                                            You sure you cannot pick one just for me :)

                                                            Actually SanityRemoved earlier suggested the "all of the above" option. I really need to think of how to deal with this. It isn't so much I don't want to include all because I am being difficult. The challenge I have for including all three choices for a person, say you, is that your vote will be counted as three times as three persons, which isn't quiet what I want. :)

                                                            Had I made an additional and separate choice of "All of the Above" , then it more or less made it unrelated to the other three choice, which is not true neither. :)

                                                            I think I will may have to go for a "weighted" option to split your vote into three, like 1/3th, 1/3th, 1/3th.... I will think how I will best implement this as fair and accurate as possible. :P

                                                      2. a) Positive, in limiting the amount of fat needed to cook with. Not that you can't always add more than needed.
                                                        d) The newer ones work especially well.
                                                        l) But of course!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          Thanks butter,

                                                          but are you sure it is (l)? -- Not sexy?

                                                        2. Thanks for the active responds.
                                                          Originally, I intended to allow voters to select only one MAIN reason because it is easier to tally without the "over counting" problem. However, SanityRemoved and rasputina prefer to select all (d), (e), (f). I thought hard about this and believe I get around some problems by using a weighted approach. For example, their votes are split into 1/3rd for each. This prevents over counting and avoids creating a separate choice.

                                                          Bottomline: if you like to change your vote, please let me know.
                                                          Here are the update results. Please let me know if I made any mistakes. Thanks.

                                                          1. 1) Do you think Telfon cookwares have an overall positive or negative influence for our culinary culture and our kitchens? (not just for yourself, but the impact for everyone)
                                                            b) Negative

                                                            My family, friends, and co workers are all about nonstick. The lure of nonstick is so strong that they don't even want to consider SS which IMO is far superior. They are all looking for the holy grail of nonstick. But never considered the possibility that such thing doesn't exist. They've been turned into nonstick zombies.

                                                            The idea of boiling pasta in a non stick pot is silly to me. Nonstick covered up a lot of bad cooking habits but I never realized it. Using SS has helped me understand a lot of great cooking techniques how food really should be cooked.

                                                            2) What is your MAIN reason for selecting your above answer?
                                                            f) Health

                                                            When bits of teflon are missing from your 2 year old pan and you're wondering where it went to. Hopefully down the drain it makes you think. And I don't like having to buy new cookware every few years. Cookware should last a lifetime.

                                                            3) How many Teflon based cookware do you have at home at this moment?
                                                            j) 2+

                                                            Teflon has its place, I'm not a nonstick hater. I still have/love my Calphalon for potstickers and oatmeal, however, I always keep them on low heat. But toxins and the possibility of cancer from the Teflon is always on my mind though. I only use nonstick when I really have to.

                                                            4) Are you sexy?
                                                            l) No

                                                            Nor is the food I cook. But I get excited every time I cook with my AC and non AC SS cookware. I've found a new appreciation for food.

                                                              1. Heat Resistance of TEFLON® PTFE

                                                                The maximum temperature to which TEFLON® PTFE fluoropolymer fiber can be exposed for long periods is 550°F (288°C), but the fiber can tolerate brief exposures to temperatures as high as 600°F (316°C). Continuous exposure to temperatures below 400°F (204°C) ordinarily does not degrade TEFLON® PTFE fluoropolymer fiber.

                                                                1. I'm okay with you deeming yourself the expert on all things Teflon, but you will have to convince the rest of us that you have the qualifications to interpret the answers some of us might post to question 4.

                                                                  I will answer questions 1 though 3. Just like that question, "Boxers or briefs?" that was once asked of a sitting US President, I believe that some questions, like question 4, deserve to be ignored. You will just have to rely on your imagination for my answer :) Unfortunately, said former president actually answered the question. Class.

                                                                  1. Yes, 2. d, Because even idiots in the kitchen, and I really mean incompetent idiots, can cook eggs and simple things on non-stick cookware, and 3. ONE. I am currently using a terrific, large oval non-stick (not necessarily Teflon) DeBuyer pan, which I scored on a closeout from Bridge Kitchenware a few months ago, for eggs and omelets. It is sooo much better than the two Calphalon anodized aluminum pans that I was previously using for this purpose because it is heavy, and sits perfectly flat on my cooktop -- something the Calphalon two-pan set never did. Also -- NOTHING sticks to this thing, not eggs, cheese, or plaster.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: RGC1982

                                                                    Your answer to question 3 is really zero, right? Your so-called nonstick pan is a carbon steel pan. I meant to ask for the number of Teflon (PTFE) pan.

                                                                    It sounds to me that you answer:
                                                                    1. Positive
                                                                    2. Learning
                                                                    3. Zero

                                                                    Is that correct?

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      No, this is an oval DeBuyer pan from France, quite large with a long, typical DeBuyer handle, and it has a non-stick coating on the inside. It has circular ridges on the bottom -- totally different from the carbon steel DeBuyer that I do have.

                                                                      1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                        No. Mine has the handle attached so that the long part of the oval is attached to the handle, and the exterior is silver colored. The inside is a traditional non-stick coating of some kind. It is listed under the "de Buyer choc" section on the Bridge Kitchenware site.

                                                                        1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                          Here it is, but not from Bridge. They don't have a picture on their site.


                                                                      2. 1) Do you think Telfon cookwares have an overall positive or negative influence for our culinary culture and our kitchens? (not just for yourself, but the impact for everyone)

                                                                        c) Neutral -- it's too ineffective over the long range to have any effect other than wasted money and irritation

                                                                        2) What is your MAIN reason for selecting your above answer?

                                                                        g) None of the above -- I think it's insignificant to any kind of culture other than engineering

                                                                        3) How many Teflon based cookware do you have at home at this moment?

                                                                        i) 1 OK, I'm a hypocrite but I've got a small skillet I haven't tossed yet

                                                                        4) Are you sexy?

                                                                        l) No - I doubt I ever was but, blessedly, my husband has been amused by me and loved me for 4 decades anyway. ...and I can cook. ;>

                                                                        1. A




                                                                          I like my non-stick for eggs. I have a couple because they have lasted a long time. I don't use them for much except eggs and grilled cheese. They are just really easy to use, and perform consistantly.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                            Thanks. I haven't thought of the grilled cheese part.

                                                                          2. Final update. Trends have emerged. Most people who consider Teflon cookwares as positive are based on their performance, while most people who view them being negative influence are due to the health reasons (Figure 1). Even for many people who view them with negative impact sown a piece or more Teflon cookwares (Figure 2). *this is a very informal poll which is not meant to represent the greater population* Thanks for all your help.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              Looks like this might be over, but I still want to vote =o)

                                                                              1) b) Negative

                                                                              2) f) Health

                                                                              3) h) Zero

                                                                              4) k) Yes

                                                                              And for short explanations,
                                                                              2) I used to cook with nothing but teflon pans and loved it, as long as the non-stick held out. I finally saw enough convincing studies that health won out over convenience and I stopped using it. Later on I found out that titanium, and stainless steel cookware, if you do it right, can be non-stick as well. WOOT! (Still saving up for a nice set of either one.)
                                                                              3) Cheap non-stick is so affordable that it was hard for us to give it up, but we did.
                                                                              (I haven't gone into explanations because you asked that this not become a debate.)
                                                                              4) I have often tried to be, usually feel like I've failed, but aside from friends and family even a few strangers have told me that I am, so maybe it's at least a little true... I hope =o)

                                                                            2. First, I suggest reading this link, which is a few years old:


                                                                              1. The health risks are due to confusion over several different issues, including the manufacturing process versus cooking.

                                                                                If you follow directions, your coatings will last for years. I had to replace a set after 10 years due to teenagers doing things, otherwise, I have a Cuisinart set that is almost 4 years old, with several pans used on an almost daily basis. You cannot overestimate the benefits of low fat cooking, and the benefits of low fat cooking far outweigh the elusive risks of the coating.

                                                                                I own parrots, and because I don't walk away from empty pans on the stove, I have not problems.

                                                                                Use wood or nylon utensils, season the pans, never put in dishwasher, use proper heat, (I have cast iron for high heat) and they will last forever.

                                                                                Finally, the idea they promote poor technique is pure snobbery. Does automatic transmission promote poor driving?

                                                                                If you know heat, timing, seasoning, and technique, you should be able to handle a tin pot on a hot plate, don't blame the tools.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                  I did not see this thread when it first came up over a year ago and I concur with your thought on teflon. I mostly quit using teflon a few years ago but not for health reasons. I do still use it for a variety of uses including eggs, pancakes, and fried potatoes, although I don't cook the latter two all that often anymore. We still have 14", 10", and 8" nonstick skillets, but we mostly cook in clad stainless pans. (Well, I do).