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How Do I Get My Girlfriend Away From Teflon Nonstick Pans?

Hey all. My live-in GF is set on using Teflon cookware. She has a set of great quality Better Homes And Gardens brand nonstick that she's had for a couple years but, they are starting to show some scratches and reveal the aluminum body, due to her kids using forks in them, therefore she'll be in the market for another $250 set of "unhealthy disposables."

I recommended to her to start cooking with my cast iron, or to purchase stainless Tramontina that I have yet to get. But the debate never concludes. I say that tri ply stainless steel and cast iron will last our lifetime, and that Teflon can't be good to our bodies(???), and that exposed aluminum has been known to cause Alzheimers(???). I just can't win the debate over her. Nonstick is thee way it is, unless I cook.

She cooks 90% of the time over my 10% so what she says goes in the kitchen :)

Do I just cook more? Lol. Or do any of you folks have more advice I can give her for switching from Teflon disposables?

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  1. Your statement about the supposed hazard of aluminum is false. Your efforts would be better spent getting her to take better care of her Teflon. You can do that by buying her some nice silicone utensils and by hand-washing her pans when she's done with them. Offer to replace the most worn pan with a new one with a more durable version of nonstick, and when you get it, keep it away from the children. No tool should be used by someone who does not know how to handle it properly.

    17 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      Good advise that I'll take into consideration :) Although the pans do get thrown in the dishwasher when I'm not there, and we do have nice silicone stuff. The teenage kids... That's another subject :)

      Aluminum isn't tied to anything Alzheimers anymore? Nonstick coatings have proven to be 100% safe? Granted, nothing is safe, and I use a petroleum biproduct on my wooden utensils (mineral oil) but, I have read so many threads on Chowhound about how "nonstick" cookware is unsafe. Please fill me in on my self proclaimed ignorance :)

      1. re: Muddirtt

        Re: Alzheimer's and aluminum:

        "Aluminum not a cause

        During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in causing Alzheimer’s disease. This suspicion led to concerns about everyday exposure to aluminum through sources such as cooking pots, foil, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Almost all scientists today focus on other areas of research, and few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat."
        - The Alzheimer's Association


        Additional articles can be found by entering: Aluminum
        in to the search tool.

        1. re: Muddirtt

          Teflon cookware is only unsafe if the pan is overheated. I don't know what you can do about getting her to switch her cooking to something other than nonstick. We made the switch about 7 years ago. I got tired of using scratched up nonstick pans. We now have three nonstick skillets used only occassionally.

          1. re: John E.

            My husband has one crappy nonstick with scratches that he can use for himself.
            I have three that I treat nicely and only use for the stickiest of Jobs.

            1. re: melpy

              My fiance got me some nice(r) cookware for Christmas, but he won't let me throw away the pieces they are replacing. He doesn't want to risk messing up my new stuff, so he's going to keep using the junk.

              (I did toss on SERIOUSLY funky 8-inch non-stick pan. It was so scratched and torn up it wasn't even non-stick anymore. I only ever used it for toasting nuts, but he kept trying to cook eggs in it....)

          2. re: Muddirtt

            <Aluminum isn't tied to anything Alzheimers anymore? Nonstick coatings have proven to be 100% safe? >

            Aluminum is certainly getting less tied up with Alzheimer's disease now. As for the nonstick, there is no cookware which have been proven to be 100% safe. Can you prove your stainless steel cladded cookware 100% safe?

            <I have read so many threads on Chowhound about how "nonstick" cookware is unsafe.>

            I don't remember there are many.

            1. re: Muddirtt

              PTFE (Teflon) is completely inert, so that it is used for medical implants and to replace glassware in chemical laboratories when the highest purity is required. Teflon pans can be destroyed by high heat, and the fumes can be harmful, especially to birds. My position is that Teflon is best for liw to moderate heat applications, and birds should not be kept in captivity.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  A bird's respiratory system is very different from that of humans. Fumes from heating cooking oil can be equally harmful to birds. That's why they used canaries in coalmines, because they're so sensitive to impurities in the air that are impreceptible to humans.

                  1. re: ferret

                    all of this is interesting, but, my answer was directed to the OP's request:

                    <<How Do I Get My Girlfriend Away From Teflon Nonstick Pans?>>

                    a dead, expensive, bird with the crying and drama that would ensue, would probably do the trick.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      This would probably get the girlfriend away from the boyfriend.

                    2. re: ferret

                      <<<<A bird's respiratory system is very different from that of humans. Fumes from heating cooking oil can be equally harmful to birds. That's why they used canaries in coalmines, because they're so sensitive to impurities in the air that are impreceptible to humans.>>

                      if, as you imply, the bird's responses are irrelevant to human health, why, pray tell would anyone bother to take a bird into the mine in the first place?
                      they could just take a tennis ball instead and have a nice game of catch as the fumes overwhelmed them!

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        The whole point of the bird is that it's more sensitive and will die long before humans do. Wouldn't do much good if both died at the same time would it? The point of how this applies to cookware is that the bird, once again will get sick long before there are effects on human health. Not that complicated of a concept really. It's a lot like feeding rats copious amounts of something to determine if it can kill them. They get way more than any human would ever see. Just because you can kill a rat or bird does not mean that same dosage will harm a human.

                        1. re: mikie

                          I have not followed every single posts here, but I did read a few, so I like to inject a few point of mine.

                          Miners use bird (canary) into mine because canary is more sensitive to human. They die to carbon monoxide before we do.

                          Another thing is that not everything is linear, especially the dose-to-toxicity relationship. Let's say 1000mg/kg is the observable toxicity. It isn't that 10/mg/kg is 1/100th as bad. It may actually be nothing or even beneficial at a lower dose.

                          For example, dogs are sensitive to chocolate than human. The LD50 of theobromine is about 1000 mg/kg in humans, but it is dogs it’s 300 mg/kg. First of all, dogs are 3 times more sensitive in term of mg/kg. On top of that, dogs weight less than humans -- some a lot of less. So a small 10 lb dog may easily die at 1/60th dose for a 200 lb human -- at 1500mg.

                          A SCHARRFEN Berger 82% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate bar has 720 mg of theobromine. So a small dog which eat two of these chocolate bars will easily die. It will likely get sick by eating just one of these chocolate bar, whereas nothing will happen to an adult human.

                        2. re: westsidegal

                          Mikie pretty much summed it up. The point wasn't irrelevance to human health just that equating respiratory toxicity in birds to corresponding issues in humans is misplaced.

                          Birds can die from overheating cooking oils or butter. Neither of those are toxic to humans. I wouldn't want to breathe them in regularly but there's no deleterious effect on humans. So to say "burning oil is toxic to humans because it can kill birds" is inaccurate. Ditto for other fumes that they may not readily tolerate due to their physiology.

                          1. re: ferret

                            at no point did i equate it.
                            obviously it is not equal.

                            the fact that the birds are brought into the mines, however, does suggest that the correlation is assumed to be a positive one throughout the relevant range.

              1. <Teflon can't be good to our bodies(???), and that exposed aluminum has been known to cause Alzheimers(???).>

                I don't think neither is conclusive, especially the aluminum thing. There are more and more reports showing that aluminum does not cause Alzheimer.

                Well, nonstick cookware are very easy to use. Zero learning curve. Every other cookware require either more skill or more knowledge than Teflon nonstick cookware, so it can be difficult to move away from them.

                <Do I just cook more? Lol. Or do any of you folks have more advice I can give her for switching from Teflon disposables?>

                I think you just have to cook more. I mean. Unless you can show her that cooking can be easily done with other cookware, you don't have much of a leg to stand on. There isn't a single case which they can link Teflon cookware to human death -- not one, whereas there are plenty of cases of linking copper cookware to deaths. I think people should have put things in perspective -- in relative terms.

                1. Well, if she cares about the environment, tell her why the nonstick surface is so harmful to the environment. PFOA is the catalyst used to cause the nonstick surface to bond to the metal. It persists indefinitely in the environment. It is both a toxicant and a carcinogen. PFOA has been detected in the blood of more than 98% of the general US population in the low and sub-parts per billion range, and levels are higher in chemical plant employees and surrounding subpopulations. Exposure has been associated with increased cholesterol and uric acid levels, and recently higher serum levels of PFOA were found to be associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease in the general United States population.

                  Nasty stuff. By buying Teflon or other non-stick products, you are causing this stuff to enter the environment.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    The levels of PFOA in manufacturing have dropped appreciably and are scheduled to go to zero by 2015:


                    "The goals are for the companies to reduce factory emissions and product content levels of PFOA by 95% by the year 2010, and to eliminate PFOA from emissions and product contents by 2015. "

                    1. re: ferret

                      Shhh! The truth, but not the whole truth...

                  2. Howsabout aversion therapy?

                    1. Now that you have been corrected about your false assumptions regarding non-stick coatings and aluminum! Plenty of Hounds still believe that aluminum is toxic in some way and others are horribly averse to "teflon" even if the non-stick coating in question isn't Teflon at all. I hasten to say that I am not one of the. I consider the aluminum thing to be urban folklore.

                      But the best reason to use other sorts of pots and pans is that non-stick pans lose their non-stick properties very fast if they are not babied. If the pans go into the dishwasher, or if they are heated past medium heat for any length of time, they rapidly become less non-stick. If they are scratched, then the coating starts to wear off. Whether or not the stuff is toxic, no one wants to ingest any sort of Teflon.

                      So, it is better to buy sturdier pots that can withstand some abuse. How to convince your gf? First of all, no one needs coated saucepans. Those should be the first to go. Replace those with the Tramontina you have your eye on.

                      And then ask your gf which makes better sense to her? Buy something cheap that lasts 4 or 5 years at most, or buy something that with reasonable care will last 20 or 30, giving good service the entire time it is in use?

                      But, if the gf isn't that much into cooking, it might be that this is a discussion you will never win.

                      1. Nonstick pans, such as Teflon, have their place. I have nonstick pans, cast iron pans, and stainless steel pans, and I use them for different purposes. My advice is keep at least one nonstick pan for cooking eggs and similar things that tend to stick and don't need high heat. A variety of pans of different types is the way to go. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, as far as I'm concerned. They all have their advantages and disadvantages.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: LorenzoGA

                          Nothing personal, but I'm so sick and tired of the "nonstick for eggs" myth. Eggs do not require nonstick pans.

                          1. re: rasputina

                            That depends somewhat on how you like your eggs. People who like sunny-side-up and have an aversion to crispy brown edges from medium or high heat or especially those who like super-slow-cooked custardy scrambled eggs will likely find teflon easier to work with. Other pans can still work, but they do have some disadvantages at lower temperatures.

                            1. re: rasputina

                              They may not require nonstick pans, but I get excellent results with my eggs in nonstick pans, so I'm sticking to them (so to speak).

                              1. re: GH1618

                                I fry my eggs in my carbon steel, but scramble them in nonstick.

                                I do think nonstick has a place, and it's not just for eggs. There are some other things that I prefer to cook in nonstick, like fragile fish.

                                Although I don't have a nonstick saucepan, I do wish I had my son's pan when I make a cheese sauce, because it rinses out so much easier. Not that I think my beloved stainless is hard to clean, far from it. But nonstick is miles easier and that's a fact.

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  One of the reasons I mostly stopped using nonstick skillets is because I found them more difficult to wash. It is much easier to use BKF on SS than it is to bab nonstick cookware.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    I love both my nonstick frypans and the steel ones. I also think SS is very easy to clean. Still, I'm wondering what you cooked (or maybe HOW you cooked) in your nonstick pans that was so hard to clean.

                                    Maybe its because I like both my SS and NS to look new, but I find the NS far, far easier to clean. For starters, I never have to scrub it. Ever. Because food doesn't stick to it. Even after deglazing and using a BKF slurry, there are sometimes parts of my SS pans that need scrubbing.

                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                      Usually, it is stuff that dries to the pan when it is not washed in a timely manner.

                                      ('bab' was supposed to be scrub. I have no idea how I managed to not correct that.)

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        Ah. I think it's the "timely manner" that sets us apart. I start washing the dishes before I sit down to eat. Tonight the Dude used the grill rotisserie to cook a chicken. I brushed and scrubbed the tines before I ate, because I know from experience it's a total PITA if I leave it. It's a pain when the gunk is still wet, even.

                                        This kind of thing is SOP for me. Everything gets at least a good head start before dinner.

                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                          I mostly use SS because when we had mostly nonstick cookware, it was mostly old and had also lost a lot of the nonstick qualities. I'm also a little OCB and I get a lot of satisfaction using the BKF on the SS cookware. I don't need to worry about messing up the finish.

                              2. re: rasputina

                                i get excellent results cooking my eggs in a ceramic-lined, made in Italy, MONETA skillet.

                                no t-fal/teflon linings for me

                                1. re: rasputina

                                  Care to explain what the "myth" is? I did not say, nor have I heard anyone else say, that eggs "require" a nonstick pan. I find it easier to cook eggs and omelettes with less butter/oil in a nonstick pan, and easier to clean the pan afterwards. Not everyone will find these attributes important to them, but some of us do.

                              3. I've of two minds on the subject. On the one hand she is doing 90% of the cooking so she should get to choose what she cooks with. On the other hand, I personally hate nonstick.

                                At my house, we both cook but I do more of the cooking. When I quit using nonstick and went back to cast iron and eventually later clad stainless my husband and kids were used to non stick. For awhile we had it all and it was taking up too much space. After awhile I realized that as long as the nonstick was still in the house, they wouldn't learn to use the other stuff so I gave them cooking and cleaning instructions for the new cookware and tossed the last of the nonstick.

                                1. I dunno, marry her?

                                  Seriously, you may suggest you sit down together and spend some time reading threads here. There really aren't many Hounds who favor non-stick pans for general cooking. On the other hand, you'll find a large number who keep at least one NS pan dedicated to eggs, pancakes, and crepes.

                                  My long term argument would simply be to minimize plastics in your lives.


                                  1. Apparently the potential danger is not in exposing the underlying aluminum, but in the nonstick coating itself.
                                    The chemicals in nonstick coatings cause increased tumor development in lab animals. See this link from the American Cancer Society, not a particularly anti-corporate organization. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerca...

                                    I suggest a) you research this thoroughly and give her some links
                                    b) you refuse to eat anything cooked in nonstick cookware

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: femmevox

                                      If you read through that link it says the only real risks are from workplace exposure and reading further, the manufacturing process has reduced PFOA levels by 95% and it will have dropped to zero levels by next year. So unless you're working at a Teflon plant a decade ago then you don't really have any risk of exposure.

                                      1. re: femmevox

                                        PFOA is a catalyst. Catalysts promote chemical reactions but do not remain in the product. There is no PFOA in the coating. The problem with PFOA is its presence in air and water. It gets there as a result of the manufacturing process.

                                      2. I'm almost 60 and if I was reduced to seasoning cast iron fry pans or using stainless steel, I'd have to learn how to cook all over again:-)

                                        I don't use Teflon per se. It's a type of non-stick heavier metal type cookware I got on close-out at JCP a few years ago. I love the sauté pan and fry pans. The key is to not use "high" heat and always non scratch utensils.
                                        And to wash gently.

                                        Case in point - I was visiting a family member recently and she boiled potatoes in what I said oh is that Paula Deen's cookware. She said yes but she wasn't happy with it because it scratched easy. Then she proceeded to mash the potatoes with a metal masher.

                                        I said hello??

                                        1. I'm one of those people who likes soft-scramble eggs, and all of whose nonstick had been that old brick-colored Teflon. Then one of the guys I go camping with, a chef in real life, made us all some eggs one day in a black-surfaced nonstick, flipping them easily just by tossing and handing out perfect over-easies. Wow. "What kind of pans you using, Jimmy?" "CHEAP!! Nine or ten bucks at the Asian markets. They only last a year or so anyway, so what the hell."

                                          And then a month later we were visiting friends in Nashville, who had a nice heavy little nonstick of that sort, so I tossed some butter and then a couple of eggs in and had my favorite buttery streaky eggs in no time. Wow … Back in SoCal we were cruising a BB&B store and there were 9" Orgreenics for $14 each, so I got one. The tinned copper skillet I used to swear by is mostly a wall ornament now, and I get perfect scrambles, frittatas and tender omelets with no other tools than a silicone spatula. This old dog is loving his new trick!

                                          1. Tell her carbon steel makes her look trim and sexy.

                                            1. I'm a firm believer that, within reason, a cook should use whatever tools s/he likes and wants to use. Your objections to Teflon are mostly unsubstantiated health claims. Hence, her preference for Teflon is perfectly reasonable. Consequently, if you really want to be rid of the Teflon in your household, you need to take over the cooking.

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                That's about where I'm at. If she's happy with the non-stick and she's the one doing the cooking, I see no reason for her to change. You can't MAKE someone care about their cookware. Some people are Chowhounds, and some just aren't.

                                                1. re: Kontxesi

                                                  And to be fair, it sounds like GF cares very much about (and for) her cookware. If she didn't, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                    True. I'll amend that to say you can't make someone AGREE with you about cookware (whether you are right or not).

                                                    1. re: Kontxesi

                                                      And to take it further, who's to say whether anyone is right? For all but high heat applications, or times when fond is desired, I don't really see that the type of cookware one uses matters much. I can't speak for others, but about 90% of my cooking can be done in any kind of cookware.

                                                      For lunch today I fried a burger over medium heat in one of my carbon steel pans. It would have developed much the same crust in a nonstick pan.

                                                      OTOH, when we want to use high heat or develop really good fond, it matters very, very much.

                                                  2. re: Kontxesi

                                                    And some people are chowhounds who care about their cookware and also use Teflon cookware.

                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                      The idea is to use the pan appropriate for the circumstances. I'm not cooking everything in my non-stick omelet pan and I'm not making omelets in my heavy saucepan or grill pan.

                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                        I'm not knocking Teflon. I'm pretty sure I have one in my cabinet right now.

                                                        1. re: Kontxesi

                                                          Absolutely. Just to throw this older graph:


                                                          There are indeed CHOWHOUNDERS with Teflon cookware.

                                                      2. re: Kontxesi

                                                        Ugh. I think I was misunderstood. I was just saying that if she's happy with what she's using, you're not going to convince her to change and there is no reason to try because it's her own business what she cooks with.

                                                        I wasn't saying that anyone was right or wrong (or that there even IS a right or wrong in cookware choices), or that there is something wrong with Teflon.

                                                        1. re: Kontxesi

                                                          No one is disagreeing with you.....

                                                          Who are you talking to?

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            Myself. I don't know. I just felt the responses to my post were confusing my meaning....

                                                            But maybe I just need to go home and go to sleep. :)

                                                    2. here's an approach that would work but is too brutal to actually use in real life:
                                                      convince her to buy a very expensive pet parrot for her kids.
                                                      the first time she cooks in those teflon pans, the fumes will kill the parrot and devastate the kids.
                                                      that might convince her.




                                                      6 Replies
                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          after you spend a grand for the bird, i presume that you would think it's a good idea to experiment to determine exactly how hot is "too hot"

                                                          (keep in mind the bird costs multiples of what the skillet costs.)

                                                        2. re: westsidegal

                                                          < the fumes will kill the parrot and devastate the kids.>

                                                          What kind of mind do you possess?

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              To really drive the point home, I suggest cooking a mysterious chili in her trusty teflon pan and serving it to his GF for the big reveal.

                                                              "This is good, Honey - tastes like chicken. Now, what was it you had to tell me about Mr. Squawkie?"

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                Finally got to look at the link. Ha ha ha. I remember this episode. I watched it when I was still new to South Park and was a more sensitive. I remember wanting to gag.

                                                          1. <do i just cook more?>

                                                            seems like the easy answer: is this the real question?

                                                            1. You could tactfully ask her if she would mind trying a cheap carbon steel pan for a while.

                                                              And cook more.

                                                              1. I would start with baby steps. Does she need non-stick to make pasta? Start there. Ease her into the world beyond non stick.

                                                                That way at least she will be just getting a skillet or 2 instead of a whole set. I only use non-stick for eggs, crepes, etc, and I need to replace every 5 years or so.

                                                                1. Perhaps she's averse to change because she likes the easy cleaning of the nonstick?

                                                                  Follow sue's advice and begin with a steel saucepan. Be sure to buy some BKF to go with it. And a good scrubber. I like the Ringer XL, but there are a lot of good options.

                                                                  Teach her how to cook in it, how to deglaze it, how to soak it, and how to clean it. That should go a long way towards making it easy for her to use. Then promise that you'll clean up any stubborn messes. :)

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                    I would buy her a few pieces of new non-stick...and one medium sized (or whatever size she uses the most) carbon steel pan.

                                                                    I have one non-stick pan in the house...I use it for my darling's morning eggs. Since purchasing my first carbon steel pan a few weeks ago I think I've used the non-stick exactly once.

                                                                    Give her a small option, but don't cut her off cold-turkey.

                                                                    PS...my sweetheart has asked that I cook her eggs in the carbon steel from now on. She swears there is a difference in flavor.

                                                                    1. re: JayL

                                                                      <PS...my sweetheart has asked that I cook her eggs in the carbon steel from now on. She swears there is a difference in flavor.>

                                                                      Thanks for mentioning that, Jay. I've noticed this, too. Eggs taste different. Same butter, same eggs. Richer flavor.

                                                                  2. Buy yourself a carbon steel pan and season it properly and use it when you cook. Once she sees how it works, she'll be converted.

                                                                    1. Come on, strap one on if you don't have one and throw out the non-stick crap and buy the SS pans you want her to cook with. Then start the stop watch to see how long it takes her to pack up and leave. After that you WILL be cooking more or be on a very restrictive raw food diet.

                                                                      The biggest "real" reason not to use non-stick is that it doesn't last long. It's cheap, but it doesn't last long enough to really be economic if it's mis treated. Forget the aluminum and teflon arguments, those aren't going to get you anywhere unless she is already so inclined to buy into that line of thought. There are a number of good suggestions above, try some of them. Get a good or reasonably good non-stick for the really sticky stuff, be it eggs or whatever and some SS for other cooking tasks. Again as has been mentioned, you don't need at all teflon sauce pans, unless you constantly burn the sauce you're cooking.

                                                                      As for the teenagers, good luck, their brains have already probably left their bodies and won't be back for at least a few years. Been there, went through that.

                                                                      1. Offer to wash the dishes.

                                                                        1. She cooks 90% of the time, she chooses 90% of the equipment!!


                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Maximilien

                                                                            So he can choose the pans afterall - that 10%

                                                                          2. I know I replied to this post earlier today. I was suggesting that trying a Swiss Diamond skillet. Yes they are non-stick. They are coated with industrial diamonds. Yes PTFEs are used to make the diamonds adhere to the heavy (not too heavy, but much more than a lot of the cheap non-sticks) aluminum surface. It is applied at extremely high heat and most of the PTFEs are burned out. There will be a little on the pan, more like ghosts of PTFEs. The POFAs are burned out.

                                                                            I have a number of the Swiss Diamond and like them quite well. They cook evenly, they are difficult to scratch, mine are about 9 yrs. old and have no scratches. I did see a post from twit who took a chisel to a SD pan and chiseled LIAR on it. I don't think many users would do something like that to prove a point. The pans are not cheap.

                                                                            1. Leave her alone, let her cook with what she likes to use, and work on teaching the kids to stay away from the pans with their metal forks. What are they doing, eating right out of the pan? Blech!

                                                                              Get silicone utensils, silicone tipped tongs, stuff like that. Just keep those kids away!