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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

        http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease...

        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:

                    http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerca...

                    "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.