It is not easy to know which kitchenware is safe to use and which is not. Nowadays, there are many, many choices and marketing and labeling are often misleading and inaccurate.
With so many variables and options, we decided to compile some of the data and most relevant information for you. Health safety is our top priority, but we also considered the environment. Although there is certainly much information left behind, this is a very comprehensive comparison of kitchenware materials, which hopefully will help you make good decisions.
Let’s dive into the kitchen!
Glass, ceramic, stoneware and enameled kitchenware can be considered safe, durable and somehow versatile (some have limited uses). However, they cannot be recycled (might be repurposed) and their longevity is limited by breakage.
Cast-iron can also be considered safe, durable and versatile (stovetop and oven proof). It can last for many generations, even get better with use, and requires no detergent for cleaning, making it very environmentally friendly.
Carbon steel was not listed since it is similar and has similar advantages and disadvantages to cast iron. Carbon steel is an alloy constituted of 99% iron and 1% carbon. Less carbon than cast iron, which makes it more malleable, therefore materials can have thinner walls. Compared to cast iron, it is lighter, easier to use and heats up and cools down faster. It is also more bendable and prone to warping.
Metals carry the risk of leaching into foods, rendering them potentially harmful. Environmentally, resource extraction, processing and manufacturing are burdensome. Most metals can be recycled, but the mixing of elements can negate that quality. Coatings and nonstick linings break down with use and time, so these pans are short-lived and potentially harmful, for both health and environment.
Bamboo is a safe, affordable and environmentally friendly option, although only suitable for a few uses. Silicone needs further studying in terms of food and heating use. Plastic – keep it out of your kitchen!
Some of the toxic chemicals used on kitchenware:
- PTFE – polytetrafluoroethylene
- PFAS – polyfluoroalkyl substances such as PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, and “GenX” chemicals
- PFOA – perfluorooctanoic acid
- PFOS – perfluorooctane sulfonate
- PFBS – perfluorobutane sulfonate
Vanessa Pinto graduated with a degree in Biology and Masters in Ecology from Lisbon University. After graduating, she underwent a series of professional and personal growth experiences, including being an officer in the Portuguese Army, working in countries as diverse as Iceland and Costa Rica. Vanessa became certified as a Yoga and Meditation teacher in rural India.
Being a compassionate person by nature, Vanessa is able to bring her connectedness when working with others while enhancing the importance and practicality of a pragmatic evidence-based approach to facilitating lasting and permanent change. Vanessa is a certified health coach whose specialties are nutrition, exercise, and mind/ body connection. She works both in Portugal, Thailand and USA, where she develops her work closely with people diagnosed with cancer, mainly in the areas of nutrition, movement and health education.