The 4 Best Nontoxic Cookware

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Concerns about cookware and toxicity primarily stem from the use of certain nonstick coatings, but the best nontoxic cookware can be durable, nonstick, as well as free from excessive chemicals. One of the biggest callout in cookware is perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a chemical formerly used in the production of nonstick pans like Teflon, which has raised concerns in the past few decades. However, as the American Cancer Society has written, PFOA is "not present in significant amounts in the final products." Despite low risks to the consumers, DuPont, the maker of Teflon, stopped using PFOA during production in 2013.

The worst known side effect from using Teflon is flu-like symptoms if the pan is overheated. Scratching and overheating can cause the nonstick coating to flake into food, and while there are no scientifically confirmed risks for consuming polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, Teflon’s generic name, many people still choose to avoid it.

That brings up the real issue with PTFE: It isn’t particularly long-lasting, and many experts recommend replacing PTFE-treated cookware every three to five years. That's where ceramic, enameled, or cast iron pans come in as great nonstick alternatives when used with hot fats.

Generally, most PTFE-free cookware is nontoxic. That includes cast iron and stainless steel, which have also occasionally raised eyebrows for the presence of nickel and iron. However, the government of Canada has found them safe and concluded that any levels of nickel or iron that may be consumed after cooking food are far below daily recommended amounts of the metals. That includes when the cast iron is being used to cook acidic foods like tomato sauce, according to America’s Test Kitchen.

With that said, there are also enough nontoxic cookware options to avoid iron and steel if you so choose. Here are the best options in each category: