What is the safest cookware?
We're fortunate to have an array of cookware types at our fingertips, helping us make the most of different cuisines from all around the world. But with so many choices, how do we decide which one to go for?
Aside from the dish's cooking style, your budget, and the pan's aesthetic, there are also safety factors to consider. What are the healthiest cookware options?
Is some cookware safer than others?
Right now, lots of us are cooking more at home due to lockdown restrictions, giving many a new-found passion in the kitchen. But to get the best results from your dishes, you need effective, good quality equipment.
Over the years, people have raised concerns over cookware safety — particularly over non-stick coatings, which are a commonly desired feature in pots and pans. Traditional non-stick pans often contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that can leach into your food, potentially causing health problems.
Choosing the safest cookware
If non-stick coatings pose health risks, how do you choose cookware that's both non-toxic and effective?
There are a few materials you can look into, and each one has different properties. The kind of food you like to cook, how many people you cook for, and how much time you have for cookware maintenance all impact which safe material will best suit your lifestyle.
PTFE and PFOA are plastic polymers commonly used in non-stick pan coatings. They make cooking quicker, easier, and cleaner. However, at high temperatures, the coating's chemical compounds can break down, releasing toxic fumes.
If you use pans with traditional non-stick coatings, such as Teflon, there are ways to reduce the safety risks. Keep cooking temperatures low (under 300℃), gently hand-wash your pans, and keep the surface scratch-free by using silicone or wooden utensils, rather than metal.
If you're looking for non-toxic cookware with non-stick properties, there are PTFE and PFOA-free coating alternatives. Zyliss Cook Ultimate Non-Stick pans feature a unique textured surface and revolutionary non-stick layer that's both polymer-free and durable.
Aluminium is an effective yet affordable cookware option. Lightweight and easy to use, aluminium pans conduct heat well. Pans with a forged aluminium base ensure quick and even cooking.
However, as a surface material, aluminium isn't as slick as other metals. So you may need to use more oil or butter to prevent food clinging on.
There are two types of aluminium cookware: raw and anodised. Raw aluminium can scratch easily and be worn away by acidic foods, potentially leaching aluminium into your food. Anodised aluminium is hardened through an electrochemical process, which forms a robust, corrosion-resistant outer layer of aluminium oxide. However, it’s more expensive than raw aluminium.
Shimmering copper cookware looks beautiful and can make a real kitchen statement! However, how do copper pans measure up when it comes to safety?
Copper is a soft, reactive metal that can be eroded by acidic ingredients, leaching copper into your food. Ingesting too much copper can be toxic. For that reason, copper pots and pans are lined with another metal — traditionally tin or, more recently, stainless steel. It's essential to look after the lining to prevent copper leaching.
As we’ve mentioned, stainless steel has its pros and cons as a lining. Tin is naturally non-stick, but can't withstand high temperatures so a tin-lined copper pan should only be used for cooking on a low heat.
Stainless steel cookware
Stainless steel cookware is sturdy and scratch-resistant. Its durability also means you can pop it in the dishwasher after use. However, as with aluminium, you may need to use more oil to prevent food from sticking to the bottom of stainless steel pans.
Generally, stainless steel is most useful for cooking on lower heats or boiling. Stainless steel sometimes contains nickel, which isn't healthy to ingest. It's best to avoid slow-cooking acidic foods too, as this can corrode the steel and leach nickel into your food.
Cast iron cookware
Cast iron is one of the most robust cookware materials. Cast iron pans are so long-lasting they're often passed down the generations! This metal can also safely withstand much higher temperatures than non-stick options.
While cast iron is safer than Teflon and other non-stick coated cookware, it requires preparation to make it non-stick. 'Seasoning' essentially involves baking a layer of oil onto the pan's surface to prevent rusting and stop food from sticking.
Cast iron cookware is sensitive to humidity, so these pots and pans are not dishwasher-safe and shouldn't be left to soak for a long time.
If you have the time to season and care for cast iron cookware, it can be a practical, safe option. Just be careful not to drop a heavy cast iron pan on your
Ceramic-coated pans are often considered the best Teflon alternative, as they share similar qualities. But is ceramic cookware safe?
Ceramic cookware has a clay-based coating that makes the surface naturally stick-resistant. These surfaces are free from chemicals, making them safer than traditional non-stick options. They also require less oil than other cookware types — perfect if you're looking to prepare healthier, low-fat meals.
Ceramic pots and pans are versatile; most can go safely from stovetop to oven. Whether you're sauteing, slow-frying, or baking, ceramic cookware is a handy option for busy households — no need to worry about soaking and scraping off burnt remnants!
Many ceramic pans, including the Zyliss Superior Ceramic range, are dishwasher-safe, making cleaning and maintenance effortless, too.
It's worth noting that some ceramic coatings are easily scratched, reducing their non-stick capacity. So it's good to avoid using metal utensils or to look for robust coatings such as the long-lasting Swiss-engineered XERA-DUR2 layer used on our Zyliss ceramic range.
Cookware for you
Whether you're looking for cast-iron pans to treasure or a versatile ceramic cookware set, it's worth taking your own cooking preferences and lifestyle into account when looking for the safest cookware. From grill pans to stockpots, the Zyliss cookware range is stylish, non-toxic, and non-stick.