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Old 08-24-2011, 10:07 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Is it possible to buy Non Non-Stick Cookware & how to tell?

Hi,

I'm relatively new to this & wondered if anyone could give me some general advice on cookware.

I've read of the problems of Teflon/PTFE coated cookware so had a look in stores and online for alternatives. Neglecting cast iron and copper, the two main pan metals are aluminium and stainless steel.

On internet blogs / forums, people seem to assume Aluminium pans will be coated with Teflon / some form of coating whereas Stainless Steel will not be coated. However, I've seen quite a few stainless steel pans advertised as "non-stick" - does this mean they have some form of PTFE coating or is the material naturally non-stick?

I've also read about other non-stick technologies without the need for a potentially unhealthy coating such as anodising aluminium (although confusingly, sometimes these seem to be given additional Teflon or even enamel coatings) and another idea seems to be surface texturing to trap oil under food.

Anyway, I just wondered what some of the more experienced cooks thought and if anyone had any comments / pointers on choosing cookware.

Thanks

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Old 08-24-2011, 02:31 PM   #2
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I don't share your fear of non-stick cookware, but stainless is a very good option. I recommend tri-ply or multi-ply SS.
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:43 PM   #3
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Well-seasoned cast iron cookware is essentially non-stick. There is cookware being manufactured with an environmentally friendly non-stick coating called Eco-logic by BEKA. It's available on Amazon.com and, well, it appears Amazon is the only available outlet.
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:12 PM   #4
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If you care to search this forum, we had quite few discussions about that very subject.
Otherwise I am on the same page as Andy.
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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I'd recommend you do a bit a research past the country fair / late night TV hawkers.

PTFE has been in use for decades; it's approved for medical devices and implants. it is not dangerous. true, when over heated it gives off gases than can rapidly kill pet birds - unless your kitchen is the size of a bird cage with no ventilation, not hazardous even overheated to humans. overheating does do a number of the 'non-stick' properties tho.

aluminum has a decades old link to Alzheimer Disease. it has been proven untrue. checkout Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center of the National Institute on Aging for info - similar info presented by UK, Holland, Sweden, Canada, etc and et al.

other "marvelous new non-stick coatings" - titanium / Swiss Diamond / Greenpan / etc have a very iffy reputation over the mid-term. they work for a while, then they get 'sticky' - of suffer 'coating failure' - inevitably linked to 'user abuse, no warranty for that, btw. unless of course you're in a household like one fellow who insisted his Greenpan, after three years, still functioned like new and he cooked in 'about once a month'

these "mystical coatings" are either PTFE or a high temperature polyester or "ceramic" which when independent labs analyze the materials, can't be found.

copper - available tinned or stainless interior. I'd got with stainless myself if you want to try some. it's really good stuff.

cast iron is great, has the major drawback of weight.

otherwise, stainless pans/pots abound - everyone has their favorite - and when properly used can be reasonably non-stick - not for eggs perhaps, but most else works.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:34 PM   #6
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Welcome to DC.

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Old 08-25-2011, 04:32 AM   #7
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Thanks for your replies.

I'm not actually against PTFE, nor do I share many of the fears expressed by the media / scaremongers. I'm merely interested in what else is out there.

I just find it interesting that all frying pans I've seen available had a non-stick coating (independent of whether the base material was Aluminium / Anodised Aluminium / Stainless Steel). Stainless steel saucepans are available with a simple polished SS surface, however, and cast iron does seem a good alternative, with proper seasoning of course.

I'm interested by the suggestion that some of the "marvellous new coatings" don't last as well - do you have any articles on that please?

Thanks,
IanR
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:29 AM   #8
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I always look into comercial stuff whenever possible. Check out hat your local restaraunts are using for the pots and go with it. I love to buy my pots in Restaurant supply stores. First of all they are cheapper, second of all they are more durable.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:31 AM   #9
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I once fell for one of the infomercials about some cookwear called Diamond, or some such. I payed 300 U.S. dollars for the set of pots and pans. They started failing less than 6 months from the time of purchase.

Both Cast iron, and stainless, and even aluminum can be made virtually non-stick with proper use. Of coarse the cast iron must be seasoned properly. And unknown to most people, you can do the same thing with aluminum cookwear. The metal can be seasoned with oil to form a non-stick patina on the cooking surface, just like cast iron. I've done it, albeit by accident when camping. But it works great.

Stainless Steel needs to be heated with no oil. When it is at the proper cooking temperature, you then wipe it with a thin coating of oil. Food just slides around on it. Even eggs slide around in the pan if a little extra oil or fat is added.

Both cast iron and stainless steel are poor conductors of heat and will develop hot spots on the cooking surface. SS pans combat this by fusing a more conductive metal to the pan base, or sandwiching the highly heat-conductive metal between layers of the steel. The metals used are usually copper or aluminum.

Aluminum pans are anodized on the outside surface of the pan to create a thin, hard layer of metal that resists dinging, and scratching. We anodized aluminum submarine parts when I worked for Lockheed, to make the metal resistant to corrosion, and to harden the metal. The inside surface will be either untreated aluminum, or have a non-stick coating added to it. The non-stick coating protects the metal from alkali or acidic foods, and keeps the aluminum from leaching into those foods, and helps to reduce sticking to foods.

Aluminum is light weight, and distributes heat very well, but is soft and reactive to alkali and acids. Copper is the same, but even more so. Plus, you can be poisoned from ingesting too much copper. Copper is either used as a heat distribution material that has been fused to a base metal of SS, or is tinned on the inside of the pan to give the user a safe metal that contacts the food being cooked. Copper is softer than aluminum, and more reactive as well. In copper pans, the tin will eventually wear down and the pot will need to be re-tinned.

Just so you know, electrical solder used to be made of lead and tin, which when melted and applied to copper wiring, creates a molecular bond between the copper and the solder. It is a very strong bond when done properly. Now, due to environmental concerns, silver and tin are used for most soldering. Unfortunately, it's not as stable as the original compound and can cause electrical problems down the line as the solder will migrate between electrical poits, creating unwanted current paths in micro-circuits.

But I digress. I have a mixture of Stainless Steel and Cast Iron pots and pans in my home, and they serve me very well. If you can find them, Griswold Cast Iron is the best you can get. Wagner pans are my second choice for CI, followed by Lodge.

There are many makers of Stainless Steel pans. Just do a bit of research and look at on-line reviews of brands you are interested in.

I may pay 100 dollars or more for a great knife, but I won't spend more than 30$ for a great pan. It just isn't necessary.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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