Many folks have different ideas of what ceramic cookware is. To some, it may be clay pots which are baked in kilns and then glazed with a shiny finish. To others, it may mean pots and pans with a metal body, such as aluminum or hard anodized aluminum or other metals that are coated with a non-stick ceramic or porcelain enamel. It’s this type of pan that has been growing in popularity because of it’s wonderful non-stick performance and heat conductivity properties.
While the above features are great, perhaps the number one reason for the popularity is that it is 100% safe and without toxins. Folks are becoming more and more health conscious and are realizing the importance of cooking with safe pans.
Why is some cookware unsafe?
While there are some other types of cookware that is toxin free, such as stainless steel, there’s a type that can be unsafe, and those contain man-made chemicals called and PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), which is what Teflon is made from, and PFOA, (perfluorooctanoate) another chemical used in manufacturing PTFE. These chemicals are found in many different brands of nonstick pans, including Teflon. These chemicals release toxic properties and fumes at high temperatures to the environment. PFOA can stay in the human body for long periods of time and are also harmful to animals and birds.
With the recent publicity of these toxins, more of the reputable non-stick manufacturers are now producing coatings made without PFOA (please make sure the manufacturer states this specifically before buying), or “not a significant amount of PFOA.” Folks do not want to be exposed to questionable amounts of the toxins that can damage their health, however and are turning completely away from regular non-stick cookware and looking at safer alternatives.
What about metal pans?
Metal pans such as cast iron, copper and stainless steel are also extremely popular and used by many chefs around the world. These can have their disadvantages though.
Cast iron and copper both will react with acidic foods, and the metal can leach into the food. Cast iron will transfer some iron into your food, and that’s not always a bad thing, unless you have a medical condition whereby you should not be ingesting iron. Iron is known to discolor certain foods especially spinach; turning it black. Copper can be toxic over time, especially if enough of the tiny flecks come off while stirring the food. Stainless steel isn’t toxic at all, is durable, and will in fact last for many, many years. However, it doesn’t conduct heat as well and can be very difficult to clean, especially with burnt-on foods.
Ceramic, however, is toxin free and made with no lead or cadmium. It is considered the “healthy cookware” because of its natural inorganic raw earth materials and minerals. The pans are manufactured by using safe, clean burning, and natural gas. No toxic fumes, gases, or odors are emitted into the air while cooking, even at very high temperatures. Extremely high temperatures, however will damage your pans! But it’s good to know that even if you do accidentally overheat a pot, it won’t be a risk factor to your health or environment.
There are some brands that manufacture 100% ceramic pans without a metal base. These cook a little differently, are heavier, and typically much more expensive. These are also completely toxin free as well. Although much more expensive, they are well worth the extra cost. They’re very durable and will last many, many years—much longer than just a coating over a metal base.
Besides being manufactured without man-made chemicals here are some more features:
- Very easy to clean with it’s non-stick surface
- No metals leaching into the food
- No oil (or very little) is necessary
- No odor retention or bad taste from the pans
- Exceptional heat conduction – cooks quickly and evenly with no hot spots
- Available in a wide variety of styles and popular colors
- No reactions to food-will not change the color or taste
Hopefully, I’ve given you a good idea of what ceramic cookware is—as well as why it has become so popular, and the benefits of using these healthy pots and pans as opposed to some of the other types. Here’s my review of a highly recommended set: Cuisinart Elements Non-stick 10-Piece Set.