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ISO, Teflon alternative

Teflon works great but there are health concerns. I'm looking for an alternative frying pan, 10 or 12 inches, with a non-toxic coating to do egg & low fat cooking. I see a lot of ceramic coated pans but many say they lose their non stick properties quickly. Can anyone recommend a pan that they've used frequently over a long period of time (minimum 1 year) that has performed well?

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  1. <I see a lot of ceramic coated pans but many say they lose their non stick properties quickly>

    This has been the case thus far. Had these ceramic pans out-last Teflon (PTFE) pan, you will see a major switch to the ceramic pans. Beside the potential (unverified) health benefits, ceramic cookware can endure high temperature cooking and metal utensils, so they do have measurable advantages. However, you don't see the switch. This speak volume of the problems for these ceramic cookware.

    <Can anyone recommend a pan that they've used frequently over a long period of time (minimum 1 year) >

    Carbon steel and cast iron cookware are your best bet.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      CK, you would know more about this than I. Has there been anything medically/scientifically documented that "Teflon" has any health risk for humans in a home kitchen?

      1. re: c oliver

        <as there been anything medically/scientifically documented that "Teflon" has any health risk for humans in a home kitchen?>
        There is concern about heating them very hot, hotter than you would do intentionally for cooking. I've also read that the fumes can be toxic to pet birds but then again no one should keep pet birds or any wild animal for that matter unless they are a rescuing them. Dogs and cats (domesticated animals) are the only valid pets.

        1. re: c oliver

          No solid study yet. There definitely are cases which people overheated their Teflon pan and fume coming out and then they get the flu-like sympoms -- known as Teflon flu. However, this is temperoy, and no one has ever linked to die from Teflon cookware thus far -- whereas there are cases of people overdosed from copper (acute or chronic) just to give some perspectives. Birds are also more sensitive to Teflon fume as well. They can die from Teflon fume.

          The concern for Teflon actually comes more from its trace side-products (PFAOs) than its main product (PTFE). All of these are within the PFCs family.

          The irony is that there was a study done which showed that the PFCs exposure in our bodies have almost no correlation to our usage of Teflon cookware. We are actually surrounded with all kind of PFCs from our daily products: nonstain carpret to nonstain wall paint to electric wire to clothing to popcorn bags to food packagings.......etc. Teflon cookware end up playing an nonexistant role.

          In other words, cutting Teflon cookware out probably won't make a difference in the big picture.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Thanks! I knew I could count on you. The non-cookware info is quite interesting. I SO wish people would pay attention to the facts rather than what they believe.

            1. re: c oliver

              The following is NOT the article I once read, but I just ran into this abstract today.

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20...

              Quotes:

              "Positive correlations were found between PFC body burden and self reported fish consumption."

              "Even though several authors concluded that consumption of contaminated food and drinking water constitutes the major exposure pathway for humans, only a few reports on PFCs in composite food exist. Food can be contaminated in an indirect way, because PFCs are widely used in food-packaging coatings and cooking materials."

              -- so this article suggests (based on other studies) that contamenated food and water may be the major causes.

              Here is one from CDC for PFCs:

              "Because of their widespread use, most people in the United States have some PFCs in their body. ...
              Some products that mayhave used PFCs when they were made or that might contain PFCs include:

              Furniture and carpets treated for stain resistance

              Treated clothing that is stain resistant or waterproof

              Foams used to fight fires

              Fast food or packaged food containers, such as french fry boxes, pizza boxes, hamburger wrappers, and microwave popcorn bags

              Makeup and personal care products, such as dental floss, pressed powders, nail polish and shaving cream with ingredients that have ‘perfluoro’ in the name

              Floor care products

              Cleaning products"

              http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/deca...

              I am not advocating people to use Teflon cookware. I just think if people are truly worry about PFCs, then there are worst forms of PFCs than Teflon, and there are many other sources of PFCs than just cookware.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I agree about not advocating but no sense getting all concerned about cookware if you're not going to get concerned about the other things. Dental floss? I've had braces on my teeth for over a year and am SO looking forward to dental floss :)

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Right. I've only read of the overheated fumes that are toxic to birds (but not mammals), and PFOA at DuPont plants. Plus most PTFE (Teflon) is now made without the use of PFOA.

              Teflon is widely used in medical products, including implants. It is used because it is inert (doesn't react with body fluids), and low friction (e.g. joints). Plumbers also use Teflon tape to seal pipe joints (I have used it).

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Grant Achatz's cure for the Teflon Flu.....
                Take 2 tsp MSG and call me in the morning
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/927763

                1. re: zackly

                  I quickly read through the article, but I didn't see MSG being a cure for Teflon flu. It would be funny if it is true. Is it?

            3. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I agree with carbon steel and cast iron. I can fry eggs on my carbon steel with close to no oil.

            4. My Thermolon ceramic pans were GREAT for maybe 3 months? They were expensive and disappointing. I have started using my cast iron for almost everything except eggs. We may go back to Teflon for just eggs.

              1. PTFE, the primary component of a Teflon coating, is completely inert at ordinary temperatures. It is so completely nontoxic that it is used for medical implants. PTFE is so stable that it is used to replace glass in chemical laboratories when the highest purity is required.

                Eggs are properly cooked at low to medium heat. Teflon and similar nonstick coatings are completely safe at these temperatures, and ideally suited for cooking eggs. At very high temperatures Teflon can break down and release toxic byproducts. When you need high heat, carbon steel pans are probably the best choice. If you insist on avoiding Teflon even for eggs, carbon steel will work if you use plenty of butter. If you must have an egg cooked without Teflon and without extra fat, I suggest you have your eggs boiled or poached.

                1. As Chem pointed out, ceramics have not replaced Teflon and aren't widely noted for their long-term durability.

                  Still, some of the best reports I've seen are about the Zwilling Spirit line of frypans:

                  http://www.amazon.com/Zwilling-Hencke...

                  Of course, for every reviewer who claims they've held up a long time, there are 4 who say they're crap. IMO, it all comes down to maintenance. The good long-term reviews seem to be from cooks who know how to use and care for cookware. Conversely, a lot of complaints run along the lines of "only ever used a light oil spray....." which is a big red flag, telling me the cook isn't following directions.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DuffyH

                    I'd not even heard of them til now. My "Teflon" is old and still works great.

                    1. re: DuffyH

                      I've prety much baned my kids from using any pot or pan that is not robust enough to take serious abuse. They just don't know and follow the basic rules, like not using spray on the two non sitck pans that I have. I've got an 8" non-stick for omlets and a square griddle for eggs over easy, pancakes, etc. If there is bacon involved prior to the eggs, they both go in cast iron.

                      1. re: mikie

                        I feel your pain. I've almost got Mom and the Dude trained to keep the heat on the NS at 6/10 and no higher. Almost.

                      1. re: rasputina

                        Bare? And they don't stick? I don't do that in my seasoned ones.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          bare meaning non-enameled. I also do eggs in my CI skillet.