What do perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) all share in common besides a first letter and some pretty nefarious-looking syllables? They’re all synthetic materials commonly found in cookware—largely for nonstick coating purposes. For years, they’ve been presented to us as one of the greatest modern-day kitchen conveniences. The issue here? Simply put, many of these types of chemicals have been linked to everything from cancer and liver injury to growth, development, and reproductive harm. They also don’t break down, so they’re horrible for the environment. You want to stock your kitchen with non-toxic cookware.
Perfluorochemicals (PFC) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are two more P’s you’ve likely come across (knowingly or not) related to chemicals found in cookware coatings and other products for their miraculous stick and stain resistance. In 2016, the FDA removed approval for use of PFC (PFAS is sometimes used interchangeably with PFC) in food packaging.
While all of these interrelated P’s may sound like gobbledygook to you—and what’s the big deal if it makes omelets slide off the pan like magic?—these synthetic substances generally aren’t things you want to be gobbling up with your dinner. PFOA, for instance, is believed to be a human carcinogen also associated with kidney damage, reproductive problems in animals, and weakened immune responses in children.
Steering clear of such chemicals is a good idea—but researching non-carcinogenic pots, pans, Dutch ovens, and the like is about as fun as watching lead-free paint dry. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Here’s a lineup of non-toxic cookware (e.g. PFAS-, PFC-, PFOA-, PTFE-, and P-whatever-else-free) that your stove and stomach will thank you for.