I remember seeing a scene in a movie in which a miner descended into a mine shaft with a bird. The miner, on noticing that the bird had died, tried desperately to escape only to find himself trapped in the mine. Fortunately, someone came into the mine at the last moment and saved his life just as he was about to die from the poisonous mine gas.
Non-Stick Cookware and Dead Birds
Art does often imitate life. I have a friend who loves birds. He has a few parrots and also rehabs wild birds. He won’t use non-stick cookware because he is aware as are many bird owners that most non-stick pans are linked to bird deaths due to the use of PTFEs .
These chemicals in non-stick pans that can and do kill birds can easily be inhaled by you. They certainly can create an indoor pollution especially if heated to too high a temperature.
PFOA and PTFE
In the making of non-stick cookware a couple of chemicals may be used such as PFOA and PTFE.
PFOA is a solvent that is used to apply the PTFE to the cookware. PFOA is a carcinogen and difficult to break down in the environment. Cookware is now available that uses Hydrolon which can be applied with water and not with the carcinogen PFOA. These pans are much greener and safer for the environment.
Outgassing From PTFE
However we still have the problem of PTFE. It is outgassing from PTFE that kills birds and also poisons the home environment. PTFE starts to outgas at 464 degrees F, releasing two toxic chemicals at this temperature. At 680 degrees the coating begins to releases at least six toxic gasses including two carcinogens. As you can see it is unwise to cook with a non-stick pan at high temperature. Interestingly, there are no warnings on the labels of the cookware. It would make sense to at least have a warming that use of this cookware may be toxic to your pet bird and to recommend using lower temperatures in cooking. Just a quick review of everyone in the office today and most people here weren’t aware of any dangers using non-stick cookware.
Cast Iron Alternative
At home our family has been working hard to lower our toxic chemical exposure in our house. We tried a variety of alternative cookware over the years and were to a large extent disappointed. However recently we’ve started using cast iron and have learned to love it. We do most of our cooking on well-seasoned cast iron pans and are very pleased with the results. Once they are taken care of properly they really do the job.
However, there are times that I still want to use a non-stick pain for crepes and other things that are just too difficult to cook in cast iron.
Hydrolon Not Made With PFOA
I like the new Hydrolon pan from Ecolution. Hydrolon is PFOA free and as a result doesn’t use the carcinogenic chemical in adhering the non-stick surface to the pan. However I only use the pan on lower temperatures and I use it infrequently.
Use Clean Green Alternatives
Don’t be like the miner stuck in the mineshaft. Keep your house clean and use only low temperatures for non-stick cookware. Also consider expanding your cooking options to include cast iron. Keep it well seasoned and you’ll learn to love it too.