Monday, January 11, 2016

Four Reasons Why You Absolutely Must Ditch Your Non-Stick Cookware This Year

I have a confession to make.

I've been cooking on non-stick cookware for years and have only recently gotten really serious about getting it out of my house. Like, until three weeks ago. But the things I've learned in the last two weeks about nonstick cookware have bothered me. A lot. Enough that it got me out of bed in the middle of the night (it's 1:00AM!) to tell you: You need to get rid of yours, too.

For the last several years, if you would have asked me about buying cookware, I would have told you that nonstick is bad for you: choose stainless steel or cast iron. I would have told you that because it's true. While telling you this, though, at home I owned stainless steel and cast iron pots and pans - and also quite the collection of nonstick cookware. I felt guilty every time I used it but I used it nonetheless.

A decade ago, before I knew any better, I used cheap non-stick pans from Walmart. Then I sold Pampered Chef. During my five years as a Pampered Chef consultant, I amassed quite the collection of very high end non-stick cookware through winning contests, earning pieces during consultant promotions - to the tune of about $1000 worth of fancy cookware. 

When I was a Pampered Chef consultant, something my cousin said to me at one of the cooking show demos she attended was "I don't want to cook on chemicals." She'd asked about pots and pans and I told her about the "super awesome" nonstick cookware and that was her response. At the time, I really believed these items, made with DuPont's Autograph 2 coating, were safe - and that's what I told my friends, family and cooking show guests. Her statement, though, still haunts me. I wish I'd known better and looked into the issue more closely at the time instead of writing it off as another of her eccentricities.

Fast forward 10 years

So here I am: 10 years later telling you that you absolutely must make this the year to get rid of your non-stick cookware. Yes, even if it isn't flaking off in chunks that you're trying to pretend are pepper. What changed?

In addition to plenty of news about new findings that PFOA, PTFE, and PFAS (the main chemical components in non-stick cookware, microwave popcorn bags and grease-resistant pizza poxes) are not actually as safe as once thought, I read this brilliantly well done piece from New York Times Magazine about the long and sordid history of these chemicals and the multi-decade cover-up that happened at DuPont. Reading the full history was the tipping point for me. This is the kind of stuff everyone needs to know - and I'm doing you a disservice if I don't tell you about it. 

4 Reasons to Ditch Non-Stick This Year

While I've read so many thousands of words on this subject in the last month, I could probably write a 10 page paper on the subject, let me break it down and make it really simple. If you want more details, on these claims, please see the very long and very detailed articles in my "Further Reading" section at the bottom of this post

Four BIG reasons why you need to ditch your non-stick cookware ASAP: 

1. Exposure to the signature chemical components in non-stick cookware (PFOA, PTFE and PFAS) - are linked to:
    • Testicular cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • Thyroid disease
    • High cholesterol
    • Pre-Eclampsia
    • Ulcerative Colitis
    • Weakened immunity
    • Liver inflammation
    • Obesity
2. Toxic fumes from non-stick cookware being used at too high a temperature can kill pets - birds are especially susceptible. I'm not talking about using it carelessly- in some cases, leaving an empty pan on the stovetop for just 2 minutes can create enough toxic fumes to kill birds - yikes!

3. Toxic fumes from overheated cookware can also called flu-like symptoms in humans - often called "Teflon Flu" by industry insiders. Symptoms of Teflon flu include diarrhea, headaches, nausea, fever and malaise.

4. Pregnant moms exposed to the chemicals in non-stick cookware have a higher incidence of:
    • Low birth weight babies
    • Birth defects
    • Pre-Ecclampsia
    • Pregnancy related hypertension

Before You Throw It Out!

My friend, Leah, who runs Mamavation put out a call last week in light of these recent news stories about the DuPont cover up urging people to throw their non-stick pans away. 

Before you do anything: Do not actually throw your pans in the trash!

Now, you should absolutely stop using them. But let me tell you why you shouldn't throw them away just yet: You might be able to use them to help you get better pans.

If you literally throw your pans in the trash, you are out whatever money you paid for those pans AND you will need to spend money on new pans. Many companies, though, have a guarantee on their pans. Here are useful guarantees and exchange policies I know about:

Pampered Chef: If you have Pampered Chef Executive Cookware, it comes with a lifetime warranty on scratches, dings, etc. Take a good look at your cookware. If you have scratches, dings, peeling in the surface, etc call 1-888-687-2433 and tell them you want to make a warranty claim on your piece(s). Then tell them that you are concerned about the durability or safety of the non-stick and ask if you can just pay the difference to have an equivalent stainless steel pan sent to you instead of a replacement nonstick pan. 

I personally sent back 10 pieces of cookware and paid about $100 in upgrade costs and $50 for shipping to get some seriously high end stainless steel cookware and I couldn't be happier about it.

Bed, Bath and Beyond: Bed, Bath and Beyond has one of the most amazing and generous return policies. If you bought your pans at Bed, Bath and Beyond (even if you do not have the receipt), you can return them to any of their stores. Tell them you bought it there and are unhappy with it and want to exchange it for store credit to get different pans instead.

Nordstrom: Nordstrom doesn't actually have a return policy but they are always striving to satisfy their customers. If you bought your cookware at Nordstrom (even if you do not have the receipt), return it to any of their stores. Tell them you bought it there, are unhappy with it and want to exchange it for store credit to get different pans instead.

These are just the companies whose policies I know about.  If your cookware manufacturer or vendor isn't on this list, call them anyway. Tell them you are unhappy with a pan (or cookware set...whatever it is) you bought from them and you want to know if you can exchange it for a different one - and then choose stainless steel or cast iron. And would you do me a favor? After you call, let me know how it went in the comments. I'd love to update this post with other companies who will work with you on exchanges to make you happy.

If you have tried to get the company you got your cookware from to exchange and they still say no, at that point you can throw your pans away. Check out what you should replace them with below!

Healthy Options

So you're ditching non-stick (yay!). Replace your toxic non-stick pans with stainless steel, cast iron or glass pots and pans. Replace non-stick baking sheets and pans with stoneware. 

Here are some of my favorite options:

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel pots and pans are easy to find but not all are created equally. My personal favorite pans are from The Pampered Chef (buy them here from my friend Terri. Tell her I sent you). They are admittedly pricey but they are fabulous and will last, literally, forever. If you are on a budget or want to hold them in your hands first (not a bad idea!), check out Macy's, Nordstom or Bed Bath and Beyond. If you just need the least expensive, non-toxic pans possible, check out Amazon, IKEA or Ross. The really inexpensive pans won't perform as well or feel as balanced BUT you'll have a healthy surface to cook on and that means a lot! Plus, you can always upgrade later as funds allow.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is another great option in your kitchen. We personally own a 12" skillet, an 8" skillet and a Long Griddle/Grill and use them all the time. In fact, the 12" skillet is my favorite pan to make pancakes in. I always buy my cast iron items from Lodge because the pieces are not only high quality but affordable and made in America. 

You can get vintage cast iron at thrift stores but beware of cast iron pieces if you don't know their history - before the dangers of lead were well known, lead hobbyists would use cast iron to melt down lead to use to cast their own figurines. To be sure a vintage piece is safe, bring some 3M Lead Check swabs shopping with you. If the swab turns pink or red, don't buy it! If it turns black or orange, that's just some of the seasoning wiping off. Only be concerned with a  pink or red reading on a swab.

Not sure how to care for cast iron. It's easy! Let me teach you how.

Glass Cookware
I have not personally cooked with glass cookware on my stovetop so I don't have anything to say about its performance. I will say, however, that it is inert and a healthy surface to cook on. I don't think it's for me because I have two active boys and an occasionally clumsy husband and I just see these breaking in my house. But if you have more careful chefs, you may want to check it out


From cookie sheets to casserole dishes, Pampered Chef has a stoneware dish that you can use to swap out for non-stick ones - and they will perform better, too! I've written a detailed review of Pampered Chef stoneware on Twined and they are the only brand of Stoneware I buy. (If you want your own, buy them here from my friend Terri. Tell her I sent you) You can get some of the Pampered Chef stoneware items on Amazon but truthfully, you'll get a better deal by going through Terri.

Share this!
If you found this post, helpful, informative or insightful, please share it on social media. 

For further reading, please also see: 

About the Author: 
Carissa is a green lifestyle expert, researcher, and mom to two boys. The owner and lead writer for Creative Green Living, she is also the author of two e-books including the best-selling beverage cookbook, Infused: Recipes for Herb & Fruit Infused Water, Tea and More. Her goal is to empower families to make healthier choices that are easy, taste great and are fun!

Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter or join the Creative Green Living community group on Facebook.

Do you like this post? Consider subscribing to our newsletter!
Our blog newsletter offers the convenience of email delivery but only goes out 1-2 times a month.
(You'll also get a link to download our 18 page Recycled Crafts E-book for free!)


  1. So important! Thank you for spreading the word about this. I ditched mine about 8 years ago when I learned about it. So grateful to know.

  2. No Teflon coated pans in my house for years! I don't even trust the ceramic coated ones! Cast iron, Stainless Steel, and baked enamel Le Creuset are what I have.

  3. I am slowly working on replacing what we have. What are your thoughts on enamel?

    1. Enamel makes me nervous because it still uses chemicals - we just don't know yet if they are toxic. I have one enamel coated cast iron pan but my regular (well seasoned) cast iron performs better in regard to sticking than the enamel one does.

  4. I am so glad I got rid of mine years ago!! I use stainless steel and stoneware for the most part.

  5. I like your idea of asking for new pans from the companies. We bought stainless steel and now some cast iron ones many moons ago. Teflon gives me the willies.

  6. Here's a question... Most companies (DuPont included) have phased out the coating created using PFOA, but what are they using instead? And what about the so many other "non-stick" pans that aren't ceramic. What are they using? 😱

    1. I looked into this some more after your comment and I have not found anything to indicate DuPont has stopped using PFOA. PTFE and PFAS are cousin chemicals in the same category and while some companies may not use PFOA, they use PTFE instead. They are all bad news.

      As far as the "other pans" - it really depends on which type of pan you're talking about. And keep in mind that the government does not make companies prove new chemicals are safe. The policy if they can use it until it happens to be proven unsafe - so just because we don't know if/how bad a new chemical is for us, does not mean it is actually safe to use.

      Stainless steel and cast irons have been around forever and stood the test of time and continue to be inert, which is why I recommend those pan types specifically.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I just read from their website that PFOA has been phased out since 2013 and completely phased out in the chemical industry in 2015. Should I not trust this?

    4. Hi, Gwen. This article was written in January 2016. In late 2015 (but not reported until later - which is why I was unaware of it in January), Dupon stopped using PFOA in the manufacture of new products. Products made in 2015 or earlier (including many products still on store shelves) still have the chemical as no recall was issued and they voluntarily stopped using it.

      Many nonstick pans are still made with PTFE and PFAS. And, any pans made and sent to stores before late 2015 may still have PFOA as well.

      There are some nonstick pans on the market that are free of PFOA, PTFE and PFAS. The chemical compounds used in these pans are newer. Are they safe? We just don't know yet. Because of this, I'm avoiding them and sticking with tried and true options like cast iron, steel and stoneware.

  7. Don't waste your money on these pans. they work for a few weeks, but after that you'll be using more and more oil to keep food from sticking. Eventually even the oil won't help. One of the worst kitchen utensils I ever bought. 

  8. I read that hard-anodized aluminum is safe. But is there such a thing as hard-anodized aluminum that doesn't have a nonstick coating?? It seems those pans still have coatings... ALSO, where does classic Farberware fall?

    1. I am not aware of any hard anodized aluminum cookware that isn't non-stick. Now, "safe" is really relative and the makers of Teflon will still insist their product is "safe" because the minute they admit it might not be, it opens them up to incredible liability.

      Classic Farberware is nonstick as well and should be avoided.

  9. I just called Pampered Chef regarding a piece of Executive cookware and asked if I could exchange for stainless steel as you suggested. I was told that because they still carry the Executive line, I could only exchange for the exact pan. If I had had the Professional cookware, they would be able to replace with stainless. Was what you had replaced with stainless the Executive for Professional line?

    1. I called and explained that my executive pieces were damaged (they really were - the finish was peeling up) and that I wanted them to get replaced but I was concerned they were just going to do the same thing and so what I really wanted was a credit to get the stainless pieces instead. They let me exchange for the exact same pan (12" executive skillet to 12" stainless skillet for example) but I had to pay the difference between the pans. So in some cases that meant I had to pay $35-$50 per pan to switch to stainless plus the cost to ship the pan back to TPC.

  10. Is there anything about the Pampered Chef Rockcrock that I should be concerned about? I have been looking at those...

    1. I am not aware of issues with the Rockcrocks. I think it would be very interesting to test the glaze for the presence of heavy metals but I do not believe that is something that has been done yet.

    2. Hi Carissa, thanks for your post! In response to someone's query above regarding the Pampered Chef Rock Crock, I will say that the coating on my Rock Crock has peeled badly. I had read that this could happen if the pan was heated without liquid in it or if the liquid evaporated. I had been very careful about how I used the pot after learning that but I think my dog sitter may have used it to heat up dog food because I came home after a weekend away to find the coating on the bottom of the pot peeled. I have since used it to boil corn and eggs, rinsing off the corn cob in running water but was thinking that continuing to use it in such a fashion might be a bad idea! Thus, a search for peeling Rock Crocks brought me to your blog. I think that I am just going to pitch everything and replace with cast iron.

    3. Thanks, Andrea. That's interesting. Any finish that can peel away is questionable in my book. I think replacing with cast iron (and also some stainless steel maybe?) would be a great option.

  11. Hi!
    How do you store all your stoneware? I've gotten quite a bit from yard sales, but I'm at a loss as to how to store it!

    1. The baking dishes with sides stack inside each other and go in one cabinet. The flat stones stand on their sides and slide vertically into a narrow cabinet.

      I hope that makes sense!

      If not, join the community group on Facebook and ask me there and I can post pics!

  12. Carissa, it makes sense! Thank you!
    Do you put anything between each piece, like a towel or something?

    1. The ones stacked inside each other I do use padding for - a hand towel or washcloth is the perfect size.

      For the ones standing on their sides, I don't use any padding

  13. I have mainly stainless steel but I like non stick for cooking my eggs in the morning. My stainless steel has straight walls and just doesn't make me happy with the mess and my pans are high end but 20+ years old. I am shopping for a small skillet for my breakfast and I would love to find a smaller grill. I have a large one that is ceramic coated and it's just in the way.

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. I think cast iron is going to be your best bet. They out perform ceramic nonstick by miles and some ceramic pans have lead and/or cadmium in them.

      This pan from Lodge has very low sides and might be just what you need:

      If you use about a tablespoon of butter to coat the whole cooking surface, you should not have any problems at all with sticking - even with overcast eggs

  14. Thank you for this article (& listing the Pampered Chef phone #). I am replacing my professional PC cookware set with the stainless steel set. Now that I made the commitment to get nonstick out of my house, I'm concerned about some of reviews that stainless steel can be tricky to get clean. Any tips on cleaning the stainless steel?

    1. I usually just put mine in the dishwasher. Sometimes I get some brown scorch marks on the pans. Pampered Chef makes a stainless steel cleaner that works but I don't feel awesome about the ingredients so since my pans are not being displayed I don't worry about it.

      Generally a short warm water soak and pre-scrape helps keep things pretty clean, though.

  15. I also just called Pampered Chef and they said they were only able to replace my Executive Nonstick pans with the exact same pan because we've had them more than 1 year. They said there is no need to be concerned about our safety due to the pans peeling (HA!) and that I couldn't replace them for the Stainless Steel ☹️

    1. Oh no! Thank you for this update. I might call back and try to reference this blog post letting them know you know they have done this before.

      If not, you could swap your old pan for a new one and sell it on Craigslist and use the money toward stainless. Peeling nonstick coating is definitely a reason to exchange it!


I love comments! I may not be able to respond to each one but I promise I read them all.

Please note that comments on posts more than 10 days old need to be approved. If you don't see your comment right away don't panic! It's just waiting to be approved.

Thanks for stopping by!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to My posts may contain affiliate links to products on Amazon. Thank you for supporting Creative Green Living.
Carissa's Creativity Space ( became Creative Green Living in February 2013. As such the watermarks on many of our old posts may reflect the previous site name.