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Buying Guide: Ceramic Cookware



As known, ceramic cookware is concerned as a ‘greener or safer’ alternative for traditional nonstick tools. However, we won’t lie, most ceramic nonstick pans are not as slick as the Teflon’s. Moreover, most of them allow for low-to-medium temperature cooking, which might limit many cooking techniques.

Teflon and Safety

Teflon is a most favorable tool in American (and worldwide)’s kitchens for decades. However, since reports about toxic chemicals in Teflon pans was launched, there’s been raised the fear about harmful chemicals, mostly are PTFE and PFOA, from traditional nonstick pans.

PTFE and PFOA can be harmful to humans but severely affect to pets and environment. When heated over 500°F, PTFE (or polytetrafluoroethylene)-based, or Teflon pans can emit polymer fumes and cause bird-flu like symptoms or kill your little pets, especially birds.

While PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is a compound used with PTFE process to make traditional Teflon pans. PFOA can possibly cause environmental pollutant that links to cancer[1] and birth defect in people who drink contaminated water[2]. Good news, by EPA agreement, the FPOA is expected to entirely eliminate by 2015. Besides, the DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon, completed phased out PFOA in 2013 for cookware and bakeware[3].

Honestly, we don’t think Teflon these days is a terrified monster as the newer-than-2013 Teflon pans are PFOA-free. However, this type of cookware must be use with cautions. And, don’t keep bird cages near kitchens to prevent your birds from being poisoned.

Why Ceramic?

Ceramic-coated cookware---we sometimes call ceramic cookware that is not the traditional glaze baked clay versions---isn’t something new as it was introduced to the market since 1960s. However, after the rising of health awareness of using Teflon tools, it gained more popularity as a ‘greener’ or ‘eco-friendlier’ alternative to Teflon.

Ceramic cookware is made from a sand derivative that doesn’t contain PTFE, PFOA or PFAS. It’s made by sol-gel technology, in which materials are formed from small particles suspended in Solution that Gel together to form a matrix. As the result, it offers nonstick surface while won’t release polymer fumes when reaching high temperature. Still, most ceramic-coated pans offer nonstick finishes but aren’t as slick as Teflon’s. Moreover, they’re easier to fragile or chip. The common lifespan is close to traditional nonstick ones, at around 3 years.

Types of Ceramic Coats

Just like normal nonstick, the quality of ceramic cookware depends on types of coating. These are well-known ceramic coats in the market:
  • Thermolon is completely PTFE-free. Thermolon is a most effective ceramic coat currently as featuring noticeably superior scratch-resistance, long lifetime and heat performance that can withstanding up to 450-500°F. it’s used in all GreenPan lines. Also, Thermolon is found in Zwilling Spirit. While the coat quality of nonstick finish in GreenLife products obviously aren’t as good as GreenPan’s and Zwilling’s.

  • Ceramic Titanium or Infused Titanium is being used in Scanpan. However, Scanpan nonstick coat is free from PFOA but not literally free from PTFE. Scanpan doesn’t use DuPonts Teflon but has their own ceramic coating that has PTFE, which is tougher and higher heat resistant than Teflon. Say, it can release polymer fumes when heated more than 660°F, which rarely happens unless for daily routines.

    Another infused-titanium coating is Ti-Cerama, used by Gotham, are far more fragile, quicker to lose nonstick finish and shorter lifetime than Scanpan.

  • Weilburger Greblon, a German brand, is claimed for 10-times tougher than PTFE coat, even better than ceramic-titanium coat. It can endure in mid-high heat range, 450°F. Greblon is used in Ozeri Green Earth and Healthy Legend.

  • Cuisinart Ceramica, used in Cuisinart GreenGourmet line, is petroleum-free (PTFE- and PFOA-free), ceramic-based coating that can endure up to 500°F in the oven. Moreover, unlike others that are solvent-based, Ceramica is water-based. Still, this coating doesn’t allow for dishwasher machine.

Cost to Pay

A set of standard 10 pieces of ceramic cookware costs from $90 to $750, hugely depends on how good body construction and ceramic coating. Usually, ones that has ‘better conductive construction’ are pricier. Tri-ply (or clad) body or anodized aluminum costs more bucks than plain aluminum. Coating is another big factor. The tougher, more heat resistant, longer lifetime coating are more expensive.

Anyway, if you’re a budget-tight person or just give a chance to try ceramic cookware, picking a universal pan, like GreenPan Venice 12” covered every day pan or Vesuvio Ceramic-Coated Nonstick 11” Frying Pan as a value spending than buying a cheap set.

Know Before Buying:

These are what you should know before buying ceramic cookware:
  • Not Slick as Teflon. At the same budget, most ceramic cookware isn’t as slick as PTFE (or Dupont Teflon) ones. There’re some outstanding products that can compare to Teflon, such as GreenPan Paris Pro or Zwilling Madura, but they require much more dollars.

  • Need Proper Care Like Teflon. Some people think that ceramic cookware is just like their glaze ceramic pots or bakeware that don’t need to baby and can throw in the dishwasher, but they’re wrong. Like other nonstick tools, ceramic-coated cookware need to use with care to prevent damage coating and extend the lifespan.

  • Easier to Lose Nonstick Coating. Honestly, mid-priced ceramic pans tend to be more fragile coating and easier to lose nonstick surface than traditional Teflon ones. However, the higher-end products have noticeably tougher and longer lifetime. You got what you pay.

  • Low-to-Mid Heat. Like other nonstick coats, most ceramic-coated pans work well with low to medium heat, which is commonly used for daily cooking. Fragile foods that usually cook in nonstick pans, like omelets or fish fillet, don’t require more than 300°F. While slow cooking recipes needs under 300°F.

    Still, if you tend to make steaks and sear hard, look for high heat-resistant products, like Scanpan CTQ (or CTX) or GreenPan Venice Pro, or leave these to traditional stainless-steel or cast-iron cookware, instead.





Footnotes
  1. Vaughn Barry, Andrea Winquist and Kyle Steenland, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) Exposures and Incident Cancers among Adults Living Near a Chemical Plant, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.121, Issue11-12, Nov-Dec, 2013.
  2. Welcome to Beautiful Parkersburg, West Virginia, Huffington Post, 2015.
  3. DuPont Position Statement on PFOA, DuPont.







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