Have you ever wondered why there are so many different types of cookware to choose from, made from a wide range of materials?
In some cases, it’s because a cook must use a specific type of material, one that’s considered compatible with their stove’s surface or the type of meal they’re making. But have you ever considered that it may have to do with safety issues? Not all cookware is safe to use. Some studies have even shown that certain types of cookware can actually lead to cancer.After reading this article, you don’t have to throw out all of your favorite pots and pans, but you may want to reconsider the type of cookware you’re using if any of them are listed on our unsafe cookware list.
Fortunately, there are only a few types of cookware that aren’t safe to use in your kitchen.
Key Takeaway: There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding whether or not copper cookware is safe to use. Straight copper cookware is not safe to use because the copper can leach into your food. Because of this, most copper cookware now has a type of lining, such as tin or stainless steel, which makes this type of cookware perfectly safe to use.
These days, copper cookware is as popular as ever. It’s beautiful, conducts heat well and quickly, and it’s often used in professional kitchens, but is copper cookware safe?
Let’s find out.
The Truth About Cooking with Copper
Copper cookware is elegant, aesthetically pleasing, and timeless. Chefs choose it because of its ability to evenly distribute heat throughout the cooking process, and the fact that it cools down so quickly once it’s removed from heat, helping to minimize the chances of scorching a dish.
Using the right type of cookware based on what you’re preparing is a lot like using the right types of kitchen knives based on what type of food you’re cutting up. However, copper cookware is very versatile, and it’s able to handle a wide variety of dishes if you choose the right style.
Copper cookware is a perfectly safe type of cookware to use, as long as it has been lined with another type of material.
There are a couple of different types of copper cookware available: coated and uncoated.
Uncoated copper pots and pans can be dangerous to use because copper molecules can end up leaching into food. High levels of copper in the body can lead to a serious condition called copper toxicity.
Copper pots and pans that are lined with tin or steel will keep the copper molecules from making direct contact with food. However, it can still be an issue if the finish gets scratched or ends up breaking down. This is usually only an issue with tin lined copper cookware.
These days, most manufacturers now line copper pots and pans with stainless-steel, which will not break down with normal wear and tear or if the surface is scratched.
What Chefs Prefer
However, in the cooking industry, most pro chefs swear by tin lined copper cookware. This is because tin lined cookware will heat up faster compared to pots and pans that are lined with stainless-steel. So, if you decide to go with tin lined copper cookware, you’ll need to be careful to not scratch the lining. This means never use a wool scrubber to clean it out and use only wooden utensils. If you do end up damaging the tin lining, you can have your pots or pans re-tinned, a process that’s much more affordable than replacing the pot or pan.
The Mauviel M’heritage copper cookware set is a beautiful stainless-steel lined set that comes highly recommended by pro and amateur cooks and is said to heat up just as quickly as a tin-lined pot or pan. It’s actually very durable and doesn’t scratch easily. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a quality copper cookware set that can handle general wear and tear better than the competition.
Copper cookware has actually been used for centuries, and it continues to be one of the favorite types of cookware used by the pros.
To learn more about copper cookware click here to read our epic buyer’s guide.
Cookware to Avoid
Teflon: Teflon is a type of chemical that’s man-made, and for the most part, cookware with this type of nonstick coating remains a popular choice in most home kitchens. However, it’s not quite as popular as it once was, especially considering how easy it is to damage this type of cookware.
Many people choose this type of cookware because it’s so easy to use and clean. However, this type of coating scratches very easily. When the Teflon coating is damaged, small particles of Teflon are released into your food. While some studies have proven that these small particles don’t pose a health risk they shouldn’t be consumed.
Aside from this unappetizing issue, some studies have shown that there are some health risks associated with this type of cookware coating.
According to the American Cancer Society, the real risk here is the potential release of harmful fumes from pans that are overheated. Immediate exposure to these fumes can be fatal to some animals, such as birds, and can cause flu-like symptoms in people. More research is needed regarding the long-term effects that come with using Teflon coated pots and pans on a daily basis.
Other studies have shown that a Teflon pan can start emitting these harmful fumes once it exceeds certain temperatures. These temperatures can be reached if the pan is set on high heat for only a few minutes.
This should definitely make you rethink frying food in your Teflon pan or it may make you want to ditch this type of cookware altogether.
Aluminum: Aluminum is lightweight, durable, and it can pose a health risk. This material is found in pretty much everything from personal products and vaccines, to medication and food, and cookware. However, when using aluminum cookware, most people are not exposed to enough aluminum for it to cause any serious damage. However, long-term exposure to aluminum can lead to health issues.
High levels of aluminum exposure can prevent the body’s ability to naturally detoxify, and it can also cause damage to brain tissue. There are still studies underway that are pointing at aluminum exposure as the root cause of Alzheimer’s.
Because of this, many professional chefs have stopped using aluminum cookware at work and in their homes. While it’s not possible to entirely avoid using aluminum considering it’s found in so many products, ditching aluminum cookware is a great place to start.
Lead-based: While it may sound ridiculous, considering the world is well aware of the dangers of lead, there is still lead-based cookware out there. Enamel, ceramic, and glass cookware are actually manufactured with lead. But why?
Lead is what gives these materials their color uniformity and rigidity. On some ceramics, the glaze may also contain lead.
This type of lead-based cookware can leach toxins into your food.
As you probably know, younger children are more susceptible to lead poisoning. Frequent exposure, even to this type of low level of lead can cause damage over time.
Because of this, we recommend avoiding lead-based cookware at all costs.
Cast-iron: Professional cooks all over the world maintain their opinion that cast-iron pots and pans can’t leach iron into food. However, this debate is still ongoing. Research published in the late 1980s showed the iron content in food that was prepared in cast-iron pots and pans dramatically increased, depending on the food.
While for some people this type of added iron can be beneficial, it’s not safe for children, who only need a recommended daily dose of seven milligrams of iron.
An overload of iron can have serious health effects over time and may result in organ damage. Even though cast-iron isn’t quite as dangerous as lead-based cookware or aluminum if you still insist on using it in your kitchen if you have small children use your cast-iron cookware with discretion.
Why You’ll Love Copper Cookware
Copper cookware isn’t safe when left unlined. But these days, you’ll have many options to choose from in terms of the type of material used to line these pans. Because the pans are not pure copper, this type of cookware is now more affordable than ever. These pots and pans can make you feel like a pro cook. Their beautiful exterior combined with their ability to cook food faster and more efficiently is exactly why this type of cookware is so popular and will remain a staple in every pro kitchen in the world.