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Cookware continues to improve and incorporate different technologies as well as the types of non-stick coatings they use. There are different types of nonstick coatings available on the market to choose from. Understanding the type of coating used in cookware sets before making a decision to purchase is the smart move.
The different types of nonstick coatings mostly used in cookware materials are; Polytetrafluoroethylene(PTFE), Ceramic coatings, Silicon coatings, Superhydrophobic, Enameled cast iron coatings. Other coatings include Anodized Aluminum coating and seasoned cast iron coating.
Like other materials used in cooking appliances, the nonstick coating has its pros and cons to humans. In this article, we highlight the different types of nonstick coatings and their applications. You’ll get to know the health benefits and hazards of each of the coatings in popular cookware.
The Different Types of Non-Stick Coatings For Pans
1. Ceramic Coating (Sol-Gel)
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Ceramic coatings become popular in the 1960s as an alternative to PTFE coatings. It is made from a mixture of silica/clay which is hardened together with binders, oxygen, reinforcing chemicals and color. Initial ceramic coatings used to made of lead and Cadmium which later where found to be toxic.
Recent ceramic coatings are free from PTFE/PFOA and other toxic chemicals add ons which make it a great choice as a non-stick coating. The organic materials used to make ceramic coatings do not leach any chemicals to food upon heating excessively.
One disadvantage of ceramic coating is that it’s not durable because it wears off easily when scrubbed. The coating can last at least one year of use which to some people can not be economical.
Honestly, the benefits of the ceramic coatings are great to keep you healthy and free from toxic substances. It is the eco-friendly cookware any kitchen enthusiast needs to use and utilize its benefits. Make sure to wash ceramic cookware coating with handwashing and use silicon or wooden utensils when cooking. Avoid overheating the ceramic cookware to prevent damage of the nonstick coating.
2. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Coating
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This is the oldest nonstick coating which was first discovered in 1938 as an accidental experiment. In normal nature, Polytetrafluoroethylene is slippery which makes a good nonstick surface for cookware. Another component involved in manufacturing the PTFE is the PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). Both these chemicals have been found to be unhealthy to the human body if not correctly used.
Some of the risks that have been associated with PTFE are chronic kidney disease, cancer, and it can negatively impact a male’s reproductive system.
When overheated, PTFE releases toxic fumes that are dangerous to inhale. This non-stick coating is supposed to be used in low-temperature cooking practices, not more than 260 degrees.
Is Teflon cancerous?
To clear this one out, Its good to understand Teflon is a brand company name that manufactures polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Since Teflon coatings are made from a mixture of PFOA and PTFE, the PFOA is not much present in the nonstick coatings as it burns out in the process.
Teflon itself has not been found to cause cancer but the exposure to PFOA has shown to increase tumors in the experiments done on animals. A lot of research is still being done to make sure the suspicion of causing cancer to humans.
Manufacturers have also embarked on the use of GenX and PFBS in substitute of PFOA to make nonstick coatings. These chemicals have been found to be harmful to humans from the experiments run on animals.
This is not the safest nonstick to use for your cookware because of potentially harmful fumes and chemicals. To reduce the exposure to harmful toxic substances from PTFE, the following can be useful;
- Avoid heating up an empty PTFE coated pan because it overheats very quickly releasing fumes harmful to human inhaling.
- Temperatures over 260 degrees damage the cookware very fast. Using low heat when cooking will increase the life span of the nonstick pan.
- Once the Teflon pan shows scratches, its time you replace it or recoat using a nonstick coating spray.
- Always ensure to clean using hands and prevent scratching the nonstick coating.
- When cooking is better to use wooden or silicone utensils and avoid scratching, unlike metal utensils.
The PTFE pans are safe as long as you never get them above too high of a temperature, avoid scratching the surface, and store them well. They should last you 2-3 years with proper care.
Because of some of the risks associated, this is one of our least favorite of the different types of non-stick coatings.
3. Superhydrophobic coatings
This type of coating is not common yet on cookware but some manufacturers have started to use it. This is the future of nonstick coatings in cookware because it has a nanoscopic layer which is able to resist water. They are made from different materials like Zinc oxide polystyrene, precipitated calcium carbonate, carbon nano-tube substances, Manganese oxide polystyrene.
The windshield of vehicles now uses Superhydrophobic coatings to prevent water from rain. It is the most slippery coating where water can slide off in a less than 10-degree tilting.
The superhydrophobic non-stick coating is definitely the future of cookware! Scientists are currently trying to figure out how to apply it to a metal surface.
4. Silicone Non-stick Coating
Silicon is extracted from Silica to produce a flexible nonstick coating commonly used in bakeware and other kitchen utensils. Silicon is mixed with methyl chloride and water to produce polydimethylsiloxane which is used to make silicone rubber. It comes from a mineral found in sand and gets heated up to 1800˚C. It is then mixed with water to create the rubber silicone that you’re used to seeing.
This silicone rubber is used in bakeware and cookware as a nonstick coating.
Proper use of silicone-coated cookware requires temperatures of up to 300 degrees. Silicon non-stick doesn’t release fumes and is regarded as safe to cook with by the FDA. Pure silicone is non-toxic and also non-reactive to alkaline foods.
Of all the different types of non-stick coatings, silicone is generally regarded as one of the safest coatings. The key is to make sure that you are using high quality silicone that doesn’t have added plastic fillers.
Facts about silicone that you need to know:
- Silicone isn’t a 100% nonstick coating, so you will still need to grease it with flour or oil before cooking or baking.
- Silicone isn’t as firm as metallic cookware, so you likely won’t want to use it for baked goods like cake or muffins, which require more sturdy molds.
- Whenever you use silicone, be sure to use oven mitts when you take things out of the oven because the material can still retain heat and get hot.
- The silicone material is safe as long as it hasn’t been punctured or scratched, so it’s best to use rubber spatulas.
5. Enameled Cast Iron
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Enameled coating is applied to the traditional cast iron cookware which is the most preferred cookware pan by professional chefs. Enamel nonstick is made by mixing powdered glass to the base of the cast iron cookware and heated in high temperature. In a temperature between 700- 850 degrees, the glass melts and coats the cookware base in a smooth nonstick surface.
Non-stick coatings from enameled cast iron are considered safe to use by the FDA. They are ecofriendly and economical to use since they don’t require seasoning like cookware made of raw cast iron.
This cookware is very expensive due to their durability and quality material (cast Iron). They are very heavy and have poorer heat distribution compared to raw cast iron cookware. The enameled nonstick coating prevents iron from leaching to food as the case in bare cast iron cookware.
6. Seasoned Cast Iron Coating
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Cast Iron is a favorite when it comes to safe cooking and free from harmful chemical nonstick coatings. This is one of the oldest cookware materials used to cook, searing, frying and more in the kitchen. Cast iron must be seasoned to create the non-stick surface. Seasoning is done by heating oil into the pan which changes the surface into a smooth nonstick.
It’s all well known that cast iron leaches the iron to food especially when cooking highly acidic foods. Iron is a highly reactive metal to alkaline but iron minerals are required in a human body. To people who have iron sensitivity, it can be dangerous to them.
All in all the cast iron seasoned coating is one of the safest types of non-stick coatings you can find.
You will want to make sure to take good care of your cast iron pan. The pans must be regularly seasoned to keep the nonstick surface in place. Another material similar to cast iron is carbon steel cookware which also acquires nonstick surface by seasoning.
How to season cast iron:
- Thoroughly clean the cast iron so that all of the manufacturer-applied coating has been removed.
- Drizzle oil in the pan and wipe it with a paper towel to cover the surface.
- Heat the cookware in the oven at 260 °C (500 °F) for 30 minutes OR heat on a stovetop on low heat for 20 minutes.
Every time we cook with our cast iron pan, we will apply this same coat of oil and heating process to make them last!
How To Restore And Reason A Cast Iron Cookware
7. Anodized Aluminum Coating
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Properly anodized Aluminum nonstick coating is non-toxic and resistant to heat. The process of manufacturing Anodized Aluminum nonstick coating, the Aluminum is mixed in an acid to create Aluminum Oxide which is smooth. Aluminum cookware is very common and affordable on the market.
One concern about Anodized Aluminum nonstick coating is the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. A quality Aluminum coating is free from leaching the raw Aluminum to food.
The surface of the anodized aluminum cookware is non-reactive. This means that you definitely DO NOT want to scratch the surface or else the food you’re cooking will touch the raw aluminum inside.
All you need to do is use wooden or silicone kitchen utensils to ensure that the surface stays safe to use.
How To Recoat A Non-Stick Pan
Once your nonstick cookware shows signs of peeling off and scratches, its time to bring back the coating. Also, this occurs after a long time of usage in the kitchen or poor methods of cleaning the nonstick pans. There are several ways to recoat a nonstick pan which include;
- Using a Non-stick coating spray
- Take it to a company specializing in coating Teflon nonstick pans.
- Send back to the manufacturer if their warranty covers recoating.
Nonstick coating spray is an easier way to recoat the nonstick pan following the manufacturer’s instructions. Non-stick coating spray is available on the market for different types of nonstick coatings. All of these different types of non-stick coatings require regular maintenance and care to prolong the life and usefulness of the pan!
Which Non-Stick coating is the safest?
The safest nonstick coatings to use in cookware are;
- Ceramic coatings
- Hard-Anodized Aluminum coating
- Silicon coating
- Enameled Cast Iron
- Superhydrophobic coatings
- Seasoned cast iron coatings
Finally, cookware with the above coatings has been approved by the FDA as safe for human use. Ceramic cookware is mostly preferred together with cast iron which is safer and free from PTFE and PFOA chemicals.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.