Additionally, buying multi-purpose pots and pans will minimize waste and save space in your kitchen. In the long run, you’re better off with a durable pan that will weather heat, cold, bumps, and heavy use without degrading.
There are plenty of reasonably priced middle-of-the-road options that can be relatively safe and last a long time. Here are the pros and cons of some of the most popular, starting with ones you may want to avoid, which ones are moderately safe, and which ones appear to be the safest.
iStock.com/LYagovy Although these can save you the trouble of having to oil your pan before cooking and are easy to use and clean, non-stick doesn’t mean non-toxic. Toxicity is such a problem that the manufacturer labels on non-stick pans often warn consumers not to use high heat with these products.
However, tests funded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that in just a few minutes on a typical stove, non-stick cookware could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxins. Have you ever heard of the “canary in the coal mine?” Birds can be more sensitive to dangerous gases than humans.
But if something is lethal to birds, then it doesn’t take a coal miner to guess that it probably isn’t good for you, either. If you must cook with Teflon or other typical non-stick pans, make sure to use low or medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon to minimize chemical exposure.
If too much aluminum enters your body, it can settle into your internal organs, including your brain, liver, heart, and bones, and eventually cause disease. Aluminum exposure has been studied for its potential link to Alzheimer’s disease for many years.
In this case, there’s a protective layer over the aluminum to increase durability, but it may still break down over time. Because it’s a soft metal, copper conducts heat well, but it has to be polished to maintain its shiny appearance.
Pans also require seasoning with a coating of oil to prevent rusting and sticking. As a result, they have special cleaning instructions (it shouldn’t go in the dishwasher or be washed with detergent).
One of our recommended cast iron cookware brands is Lodge, which has been around for a long time with an excellent reputation for quality. On the cons side, you should never place hot glass cookware on a cold surface as it can crack or even shatter.
Additionally, glass is heavier and more fragile than many other types of cookware, doesn’t work on induction stoves, and is not non-stick. Some of our favorite glass cookware options include the Pyrex Baking Pan here and the Visions 5L Round Dutch Oven here.
Carbon steel also develops what’s called a patina, a brownish film caused by oxidation over time, which some people say makes food taste a little funny. iStock.com/maria_esau Stainless steel is a healthy cookware choice that can last a long time.
Good brands are durable, but the enamel coating can degrade over time. Unlike regular cast iron, enamel-coated cookware comes in a variety of colors besides black.
One healthy cookware product made from enamel-coated cast iron is this skillet by Essen so. Other perks of ceramic are its scratch resistance and slow and even cooking.
Titanium is often used to make sterile surgical instruments because it’s considered a biocompatible metal, meaning it won’t react adversely with the human body. Cookware made with titanium is lighter weight, durable, doesn’t leach into your food, and is typically more affordable than many other options.
One of the biggest downsides to titanium cookware, however, is that it takes a while to warm up and doesn’t always conduct heat evenly. Some manufacturers recognize this and have made improvements, such as making pans that are titanium-coated over an aluminum core.
Or, in some instances, covering them with a ceramic-titanium blend to improve durability and give a non-stick quality. Additionally, certain titanium cookware can be used on induction stoves, while others may not be, so look for this clarification on the package or manufacturer website.