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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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organic living journey non stick cookware

The following is part of an Organic Journey Guest Post Series, written by Amy a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.

Next year, my husband and I will celebrate our ten year anniversary.  As that milestone approaches, I am noticing that many of my wonderful wedding presents are starting to show their age.  One thing has especially caught my eye lately-my frying pans.  I have heard through the years that cooking foods in scratched non stick pans is dangerous, and I thought it would be wise before I put new pans on my Christmas wish list to do a little research into what exactly is in that non stick coating.  Because if we are going to spend extra money on getting good ingredients, we want to make sure we aren’t adding toxins from the pans we are cooking them in.

The two chemicals that are used to make non stick coatings are PFOA and PTFE.  There is controversy surrounding the use of these chemicals, and some say that they are carcinogenic and can cause a host of diseases including diabetes.  Birds, who have more sensitive respiratory systems than ours, can die from fumes released when cooking with these pans.  If the pans are heated to temperatures above 500º F, it can cause temporary flu like symptoms that last for a few days (called “polymer fume fever”), which is part of the reason that DuPont, the maker of Teflon, advises consumers of their non stick pans to only use medium or low heat and to not heat up the pans empty.  Now the FDA says this:

“Perfluorocarbon resin (PFOA) is a tough, nonporous and stable plastic material that gives cookware and bakeware a surface to which foods will not stick and that cleans easily and quickly. FDA has approved the use of this material as safe for food-contact surfaces. The Agency has determined that neither the particles that may chip off nor the fumes given off at high temperatures pose a health hazard. However, because this nonstick finish may be scratched by sharp or rough-edged kitchen tools, the manufacturer’s recommendations should be consulted and the use of utensils that may scratch, abrasive scouring pads, or cleaners avoided.”

There are two things that I find noteworthy though.  One, the majority of complaints against DuPont are from industrial exposure, which would be greater than household use but still important from an environmental perspective.  Secondly, DuPont has agreed to greatly reduce its output of PFOA.  They wrote this in a letter to the EPA:

“Based on existing scientific data, including toxicity data and employee health studies conducted both by DuPont and other scientists, DuPont believes that PFOA exposure does not pose any health risk to the general public.  Nonetheless, PFOA has been detected at very low levels in the blood of the general population and DuPont recognizes that the presence of PFOA in people’s blood raises questions that should be addressed. Thus, we have taken action to reduce the potential for human exposure to PFOA from our products and processes. In addition, we have conducted new health studies, expanded our monitoring data and performed extensive fate and exposure analyses.”

They willingly admit that PFOA in people’s blood is an issue that needs to be addressed.  For me, I just find it odd that a company would discontinue usage of something that works well for them and that is perfectly safe.  It doesn’t add up, but that’s just my opinion.  No scientific data there.

It is easy to wonder what non stick pans have these chemicals.  Here’s what I’ve learned.  Teflon, made by DuPont, is trademarked, but it is no longer under a patent.  So, if the non stick pan you are looking at doesn’t say that it is free of PTFE and PFOA, you can pretty much assume they are in there.  (Although, DuPont says on its website that as of January 1, 2012, they do not use PFOA to manufacture non stick coatings for cookware and consumer bakeware.)

There are alternatives to the traditional non stick cookware.  A whole new line of ceramic coated pans have hit the market.  The overall feedback that I’ve seen on these pans is that they don’t hold up well, even if you follow all the manufacturer’s recommendations.  I went to a local store and asked for their opinion.  The salesman told me that he had actually purchased one of these pans and used it according to the directions, but the ceramic coating was so thin that it easily scratched.  Makes sense then that they wouldn’t hold up.

Another option is good old cast iron.  Cast iron cookware will generally become more non stick with use.  What I love even more is that it will last for generations, and is relatively inexpensive.  The only danger is that you might get a little extra iron in your diet (which is no real danger at all!)  I have yet to hear anyone who owns cast iron say a negative thing about it.

As a side note, if you are looking for a good set of non stick baking pans, I have to tell you how much I adore my USA pans.  They are metal pans that have a silicone coating and are really and truly non stick.  No sprays needed (which saves me from unwanted chemicals AND saves me money buying sprays!)  I am constantly amazed by how easily my breads come out of my pans.  I love these so much that I am replacing my pans little by little with these wonders.

Don’t you love it when the options that are good for you are actually the more economical ones?  So cast iron skillets are on my wish list!  How about you?  What is your go to frying pan?  Do you have any great cast iron tips that I should know?

    • pjaugustine

      I LOVE cast Iron… But the new house we’ve moved to has a flat top stove and cannot use my cast iron on it :( It is now in the cupboard waiting until I get a real stovetop! I did go out and purchase one of the organics pan – just so I could fry eggs without them sticking. I use stainless steel for everything else. I guess Stainless also has reports of some metals getting into our blood system when using poor quality stainless steel.

      • gardenergirl

        I have a flat electric stove top too and I have no problems using my cast iron on it.

    • gardenergirl

      I LOVE my cast iron. Aside from boiling water, I use it for everything I cook. And you are right, it does build up a surface that is eventually non stick. It is easy to use and easy to clean.

    • I LOVE my cast iron as well. We seriously have cast iron my husbands great grandmother used! We have 2 pots (non cast iron) for boiling water and pasta….everything else is cooked cast iron style! INVEST in cast iron in my opinion!

    • Jenni P.

      Thanks again for another great post! I’ve been wanting to get away from traditional non-stick pans, and wasn’t sure if springing for ceramic was worth it… sounds like it isn’t. And I love the idea of never having to replace my fry pans again. Cast iron it is!

      • amysanders

        i wasn’t sure if it was worth it either…love that researching for my family helped you!

    • crystal

      Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker I highly recommend this piece of cookware in particular. very versatile and it’s only 30.00 on amazon and you can use it 3 different ways. I have loved mine.

      • amysanders

        just checked it out. that looks fun!!

    • Stephanie Schroeder

      I love my cast iron but don’t use it much because I have a glass-top stove. I’ve heard they will damage the glass. Occasionally I will use it if the heat is low or medium but bummed because I really need a new pan. Mine got ruined in vacation.

      • amysanders

        Stephanie, I have a handout from Lodge on caring for your cast iron pieces, and it says that it is safe to use it on your glass top. They say to be careful to pick it up and not slide it though. I can see how that would be stressful if you cook like me. :)

    • katkoupon

      I only have one cast iron pan, it was given to us (used) by another family member, and for the life of me, we just can’t get it seasoned properly. It is a little warped, so it doesn’t sit flat on the stove eye. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it or not. And food always sticks. I’d appreciate if anyone has any tips! Last Christmas, we replaced all our non-stick cookware with a stainless steel set. It took a little getting used to, but we love it! I think the key to keeping foods from sticking to stainless steel is getting the pan at the proper temperature before adding your oil. Not sure where I read this, but there’s a neat trick to finding the right temperature: heat your pan, when you’re ready to check the temp, add a drop of water to the pan. If it poofs and disappears immediately, it is not hot enough. If the water droplet spreads into smaller droplets, the pan is too hot. If the droplet neither evaporates nor spreads into smaller ones, and it rolls around the pan like mercury, it is just right. Then you can wipe out that water droplet and add your oil and meat. We cook eggs in butter in our favorite stainless steel pan each morning, and once we found the right temp on our stove (med-lo for us), we have no trouble with anything sticking! The water trick totally works!

      • amysanders

        Don’t you hate it when things warp! to re-season the pan, you can look at Lodge’s website (I’d post the address, but then it will be delayed in showing up-just google it) They have directions there for “seasoning” it. And thanks for the heating tip!

    • Kris

      LOVE all my USA pans!!! They are THE best!!!

    • CJ

      What about anodized pans? I had tried to use cast iron for awhile but with rinsing it out, drying and putting oil after every use I lost motivation. So I went back to my old pans. Maybe this post will encourage me to try again :)

    • Jaime

      I have an almost brand new set of non-stick Rachel Ray that has tiny
      scratches all over, despite very careful care and washing as instructed. As a result, I’ve been transitioning to cast iron and stainless steel. It does take some adjustments, but I have grown to love cooking with my cast iron pan. And you build muscles – those pans are HEAVY! I love the comment (katkoupon) about cooking with stainless steel, because my eggs always stick. Looking forward to trying the suggestions. Especially since I have a Cuisinart set that was given to me for my wedding (11 years ago) and I have RARELY used them.