Why 99% Of Non Stick Pans Should Be Binned

teflon pans

Teflon is a synthetic material that has been used since the 40s. It’s chemically known as Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and because it’s strong and repels water it’s been a popular choice to line cookware with. While this makes it great for easy cleaning there’s been health concerns for many decades and only in 2015 was it reformulated to address some of these.

Find out why scratched Teflon pans should be binned and why non-stick cookware is harmful to health.

scratched teflon

Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene)

Almost 70% of people in the UK and USA have pans made from Teflon.

Manufacturers come up with a plethora of different names for their non-stick coating but that’s mostly all marketing and it’s the same substance. Non-stick pans can either be Teflon or ceramic and 99% of non-stick pans are Teflon.

The chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was used in non-stick Teflon pans up until 2015 and has been linked to many diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver tumours and reduced fertility. This chemical was found to build in peoples bodies so daily use was eventually seen as an unacceptable risk.

Teflon has been linked to giving people short term flu-like symptoms and headaches, known as polymer fume fever. This is due to the gases released when heating the pans. Manufacturers have said this isn’t possible due to the 375C temperatures the pans undergo when made, but many still report feeling unwell especially with new pans. These fumes are very dangerous to birds as they breathe rapidly.

Many people are still using non stick pans even after they become damaged and begin to flake off. You really don’t want to be eating plastic in your food as that has been linked to many health problems.

It might not be an immediate health risk swallowing a tiny amount of non-stick coating every day, but when it’s best to minimise your possible risks why wouldn’t you?

Teflon has now been reformulated since the 2015 restrictions but there are still concerns about the chemicals used. Seeing as it took over 40 years and manufacturers are not always transparent about what is in their coating the “safer” replacement could be just as harmful if not worse.

I do like to back up my points with scientific studies, but often it takes many years for a complete and acceptable study to make useful conclusions. With something like Teflon cookware, there are lots of vested interests so it could be a few more decades before valuable health information is known.

Just because something is “safe for sale” does not mean it’s safe or part of a healthy lifestyle. Many things like transfats, artificial colours and flavours can wreak peoples health but are still legal in many countries.

As there are so many safe alternatives its best to avoid Teflon non-stick pans until more conclusive long term research on the new coating is known.

Safe Non Toxic Cookware

There are many better healthy, non toxic and environmentally friendly alternatives to Teflon.

Cheap cooking pans are usually a false economy and it’s better to invest in as good quality tools as your budget allows and they can last you for decades.

ceramic pan

Ceramic Coated Pans Vs Teflon

Ceramic coated pans are one of the best replacements to Teflon as they can be treated in the same way and are free of toxins.

Ceramic cookware is environmentally friendly and the technology has come along way in recent years to make thick non stick ceramic coatings that are strong, long lasting and durable. Always choose a brand that clearly states it’s toxic free and environmentally friendly.

Using oil on a ceramic pan will lessen its life, but as its non-stick there is no need to use any oil. Check out my recipe for lentil protein pancakes where I use a ceramic pan to make oil-free vegan gluten-free pancakes.

Cast Iron Vs Teflon

Cast iron pans are heavy and require a bit more maintenance at the start of their life but a well cared for cast iron pan can last you a lifetime.

Once seasoned cast iron pans are somewhat naturally non stick, although not on the same scale as Teflon. They are suitable for all hobs including induction.

A huge benefit of cast iron is that they will leach iron into your food and 4 out of 5 westerners could do with more iron in their diet. Of course, if you already have enough iron they might not be the choice for you as too much is bad.

Your arms will get a workout from heavy cast iron pans, just be careful not to drop them as they are brittle and could injure your feet.

cast iron skillet

Stainless Steel Vs Teflon

It may not be non-stick, but there are no health risks with good old stainless steel. No risk of anything leaching into the food and stainless steel cookware is long lasting. If you are following a whole food plant based diet and don’t cook with oil cleaning is quick and easy.


If baking in the oven glass is a great cookware material that has no health risks as it’s just pure liquid sand (silicon dioxide). The main downside is it’s fragile and not non stick, but if you cook without oil it’s easy enough to clean after a quick soak.

Other Cookware To Avoid


Aluminium is a very controversial substance. It was thought to cause Alzheimer’s in the 70s but lots of studies have not been able to correlate this. It could be safe but as people have so many sources of aluminium in their diet it may be best to avoid exposure where possible while the jury is still out.

Unlined Copper Pans

Most copper pans are lined but if you have unlined copper pans you should ditch them as the copper causes headaches and diarrhoea.

Conclusion: Is Non-stick Cookware Harmful to Health

There aren’t long term studies to conclude if Teflon is safe or not. The new formulation has only been in existence for a few years and there is very limited research.

They may be legal to sell but many legal things are harmful. With something that you use daily and there being so many safe natural alternatives, I advise avoiding Teflon to minimise your risk. So many harmful things are difficult to avoid, such as car fumes and poor water quality, but choosing natural cookware is something very easy to implement.

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38 thoughts on “Why 99% Of Non Stick Pans Should Be Binned”

      1. Hi everyone the best solution to this is Saladmaster cookware. I bought mine 11 years ago and it’s fantastic. Yes it is come at a price due to its 316 ti metal lining but this metal is completely inert so no metals or chemicals will leach in to your food. Also due to its design you keep 93% nutrition in your vegetables. Look it up it’s amazing.

        Take care


    1. Bastian Durward

      Hi there, it’s difficult to give a generic answer as there were concerns about the older versions of porcelain coated cookware. The general consensus seems to be avoided if you can as the manufactuors aren’t always honest about what is in the coating and once cracked it can present a risk. Seeing as it’s so easy to crack I don’t own any.

      1. Completely agree with Bastian. Some people feel themselves too wise so they do not heed thinking that current results are not backed by scientific studies and so they wait for ages till science proves the dangers… by that time it is too late… This is also applicable outside food or cookware industry. Think of the 5G radiation exposure that is soon coming up…

        1. Bastian Durward

          Thanks Samit, you’re spot on about “wait for ages till science proves the dangers… by that time it is too late…”

          It’s all very well to say there’s no conclusive undeniable evidence, but that can take decades. As we know if it makes money it can be silenced. Just watched Dark Waters and the evidence was so obvious but took a long time and lots of work. What about things that aren’t an imminent and severe danger, but still harmful for us? Unlikey they will ever get unbiased funding to show they prevent no risk.

          So yes there may be a risk, we don’t know with many of these things invented in labs very recently.

  1. Short version: There’s no proof that it’s unsafe but the reader feels it might be due to a ‘gut’ feeling. Not backed by science.

    1. Well the plastic non stick coatings have been linked to health conditions. Some people don’t mind consuming a bit of plastic with their food or drinking from plastic bottles that may have leached. Ultimately it’s someone’s choice what risk they want to take. It’s difficult and often too late by the time you have funding to scientifically prove something beyond doubt.

      1. Other than the possible risk of flu-like symptoms from breathing in fumes from an overheated Teflon-coated pan, there are no known risks to humans from using Teflon-coated cookware. While PFOA is used in making Teflon, it is not present (or is present in extremely small amounts) in Teflon-coated products.

        Because the routes by which people may be exposed to PFOA are not known, it is unclear what steps people might take to reduce their exposure. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people whose regular source of drinking water is found to have higher than normal levels of PFOA or similar chemicals might consider using bottled water or installing activated carbon water filters.

        For people who are concerned they might have been exposed to high levels of PFOA, blood levels can be measured, but this is not a routine test that can be done in a doctor’s office. Even if the test is done, it’s not clear what the results might mean in terms of possible health effects. – American Cancer Society

        Pull your fucking head out of your ass….

      1. Ebenezer Obeng Amoako

        Have seen the Movie and it’s so sad how people can defend profits and neglect humanity….. Even at the face of concrete evidence, greedy and selfish men still turn a blind eye.

  2. fair play for your imput. i agree that teflon is bad,ask all the women who had deformed babies who worked the plant. it makes to much money to ban,and by admitting a problem,it gives call for blame and maybe a claim. teflon is a carcinogenic and thats a fact.

    1. Could you please provide any deeper research paper on this topic? Thank you.
      I use stainless steel made cookware named thermomix which is very expensive so hope to know how much safety it has.

  3. Having seen this movie: “Dark waters” my suspicions awoke. I’ve never been convinced with Teflon especially when it start to lift and flake off.
    Thanks for all the info. Every household should be aware of the dangers that lurk in every corner of the market. As you say ” just because its on sale in shops does not make it safe” FDA approved many products which in the long term could be harmful or even fatal to human life forms….

  4. Total bullshits…especially for aluminium..Spreading lies has to be incriminated…Do you know how much do you exposed to aluminium?…unless you bread it as a dust or you working in place where the aluminium is melted is not harmful…
    Everyday you touch door handles, toys, in your car , aluminium is everywhere, chocolate is wrapped in aluminium….and still there is no even one person that has allergic to aluminium….also there is a study that shows large quantity of aluminium is passed throw human kidneys very easy and it is not building up in the human body…so unless you did the study that proof that aluminium is harmful (which is huge scientific work) shut you mouth.

    1. Hi there, can you say what part in particular you take issue with? The article is about pans that they’re maybe issues with like aluminium and ones that have no risk. It’s not an immediate issue with aluminium pans, but they’re are lots of concerns about aluminium and the links to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological issues. So it’s more saying there could be an issue. We all know health advice changes with the wind, so it’s something to keep in mind. Although with aluminium products like deodorant are way bigger issues than pans, but if there’s even a small concern why wouldn’t you limit your exposure?

  5. If all pans are made with Teflon…why then their is no cancer boom then?
    Just a simple question…or we people is not allowed to think?

    1. You really should watch ‘Dark Water.’ It’s a pretty good film and it’s a true story. It may open your eyes to the issues.

    1. Binned means thrown away. You hear it more from Brits, what we call a garbage can or trash can they call a trash bin, or wheelie bin if on wheels

  6. Read many articles about bad effects of Teflon and many other metals. All I came down to summarise that every metal has pros and cons. Nonstick or No nonstick…the best way is to change your nonstick pan every year..Thus before it gets any crack or layer peeling just change it. You will be safe.

  7. Obviously a balanced view has to be taken in respect of Teflon. Having watched ‘Dark Waters’ it appears that it is a potential risk, and I’m a skeptic with claims set to scare people into action, but this film really did back up all those claims with Teflon and having a African Grey parrot who became ill with ‘Teflon poisoning! and had to spend 24h twice in an oxygen tank, it does wake you up.
    So for me risk is RISK

    1. Great film, great article in the Guardian. Thank you.
      It would be nice to have a definitive list of the items that the chemicals are used in so that we can avoid all of them as much as possible.
      We will be changing to glassware and ceramics.

  8. Thank you for the post! I’m appalled by the trolls actions here. I hope they don’t disturb you much. Please continue writing more posts like this!

    1. Stainless steel is arguably just as (or more) dangerous. It leeches significant quantities of nickel, chromium, and an unfriendly form of iron. For those who aren’t aware, iron is responsible for a huge amount of oxidative stress on the body if one isn’t deficient. I switched to stainless for a year (after using non-stick for years), and my health went south. Use stainless or cast iron at your own risk.

      1. Could you please provide more insight on the stainless steel topic? I replaced everything by stainless steel. I tried cast iron, too heavy and got rusty so easily so not for me. Thanks.

  9. Alistair Levie

    Great Advice, Watch the 2019 film “Dark Waters” for the true story behind TEFLON and the awful cancers in their employees and the town of 60,000 all of whom suffered their poisoning and their cover up and had to fight tooth and nail in the courts, eventually winning the case and compensation for cancers. Yet they are still making the stuff, only with different names for the same compounds. It was originally developed for tanks! not kitchens! don’t use TEFLON!!!!!

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