Reviewed by Ogbo Godfrey
Are ceramic pans safe to use? The truth about how safe ceramic pans are is uncertain. While pure ceramic pans are safe, many believe ceramic-coated pans are not safe to use.
Nowadays, most people enjoy cooking with nonstick pans because they are easier to use and prevent food from sticking. However, they are now realizing that these nonstick pans contain toxic materials and are conscious about the kind of pans they buy.
Since most people are now jumping on the bandwagon to purchase ceramic pans, you might ask, “Are ceramic pans safe to use.”
While searching online for new cookware, you may have come across terms like “PFOA-free” or “PFA-free” in connection with specific cookware. These terms often describe ceramic pans as a non-toxic option for cookware.
Not to confuse you further, in this article, we will look into what toxic cookwares are and also look at whether ceramic pans are safe to use.
Why Are Nonstick Pans Considered Toxic?
Generally, ceramic pans are safer and a better option than nonstick pans. However, it is essential that you should know why people refer to nonstick pans as toxic. This will help you understand why it is necessary to purchase a non-toxic option.
Most nonstick pans contain coatings made with common plastic polymers like PTFE and PFOA. Remember that PTFE is commonly known as Teflon, which you probably see frequently. These polymers create a smooth surface so your food won’t get stuck on the pan.
However, while you may enjoy using nonstick pans, there are several issues regarding their safety and contribution to our health and well-being. If you have noticed, when cooking at high temperatures, the polymers in the non-stick coating begin to degrade, making the food potentially toxic.
It takes the human body 2-3.4 years to break down PFOA, and the chemical remains in the body for a long time after exposure since your body can’t digest it. You can find PFOA in most household items, drinking water, and indoor air, which is dangerous to our health.
Therefore, you need to reduce your exposure to it, which is why many prefer using nontoxic pans. If you want to reduce your exposure to PFOAs, a straightforward solution is to stop using Teflon and other similar nonstick cookware. This is why most people are curious and ask questions like “Are ceramic pans safe to use.”
What are Ceramic Pans?
It is essential to understand what ceramic pans are before asking, “Are ceramic pans safe to use?” If you are familiar with history, you will know that ceramic pans did not just come up today. In the past, most people used it for cooking for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and it comes from clay that potters heat to a high temperature.
Ceramic is one of the safest materials for food preparation, but it needs to be glazed to not stain or discolour with time. This glaze has been the source of many complaints due to the presence of cadmium and lead.
Additionally, the clay used in ceramics production isn’t always a sure bet. Despite this, ceramic pans have become increasingly popular as more people learn about the advantages it offers in the kitchen.
However, nowadays, the “ceramic” pans you see are not entirely made of clay. Instead, it contains numerous layers of ceramic which manufacturers put over a metal base (often aluminum or copper) to create these appealing pans you see when shopping. This coating is nonstick, heats evenly, and looks good with its smooth finish.
Types of Ceramic Pans
But hold on, do you know that there are different ceramic pans in the market? There are several ceramic pans in the market, which is one of the reasons most people are worried about whether ceramic pans are safe. The common types you can find include:
1. Pure Ceramic Pans
These types of pans are earthenwares made from clay alone. The potters make the ceramic by heating it at high temperatures, which makes it non-reactive and stable enough for use in the kitchen without risk of reaction. Pure ceramic pans are known for retaining and distributing heat well, making them ideal for searing and roasting.
However, due to its porous composition and rough surface, people who don’t want to bother themselves with cleaning do not buy it, thus disqualifying it as a first choice for most. One famous example of a pure ceramic pan is the North African tagine.
2. Ceramic Coated Pans
You can think of any metal pan with a thin ceramic coating as ceramic-coated. Most ceramic-coated pans come with a metal base, such as an aluminum bottom, and the manufacturers cover it in ceramic layers or a coating of polymers that look like ceramic.
It’s because of the materials used in making ceramic-coated pans many people bring up questions like “Are ceramic pans safe to use.”
With regular usage, this nonstick coating eventually wears away and reveals the underlying metal. You can get three to five years of use out of this cookware set, depending on how often and carefully you use it.
Are Ceramic Pans Safe to Use?
So, are ceramic pans safe to use? The short answer is yes and no. Ceramic pans are generally safe, but it often depends on the type you are using. However, compared to Teflon, ceramic-coated pans are quickly gaining popularity as non-toxic.
A traditional Teflon can release harmful gases (namely PFOA) if you cook using a high enough temperature. However, ceramic-coated cookware has a metal bottom coated with silica (silicon dioxide) in one or more thin layers and uses gel sol coatings.
Although this coating appears ceramic, the manufacturers make it from synthetic material. Because of this, it is often called “ceramic-coated” cookware. Sol-gel coatings are substantially thinner than traditional non-stick coatings since they comprise pure synthetically manufactured silica derivatives.
Also, the fact that no one has paid attention to research on sol-gel cookware contributes to the perception that it is safer. Most people now refer to sol-gel as self-sacrificing surfaces whose coating is released when cooking and eating with your food. This is why most people ask whether ceramic pans are safe, even though pure ceramics do not contain these materials.
Nevertheless, while these pans don’t contain other toxic materials, a few potential dangers are associated with ceramic pans, especially coated ones. Some of these issues include:
1. Ceramic Pans With Nanoparticles
To make it easier, nanoparticles are particles with a size between 1 and 100 nanometers, and several industries apart from the cookware industry use them. Nanoparticles can easily penetrate various tissues and organs in your body due to their small size. The big deal about these particles is that they can cause many health-related problems.
These days, people have noticed that the nonstick ceramic coating used by many ceramic cookware emits titanium dioxide nanoparticles into food. These nanoparticles pose a problem because several animal studies have linked the ingestion of nano titanium dioxide to various adverse health outcomes.
These include effects on male fertility, damage to some of our organs like the liver, testicles, and kidneys, and so on. Sadly, we don’t have enough scientists to prove that the effects present in animals can be seen in humans too.
The good news is that the coating must be intact to be safe since the nanoparticles would have no place to escape from. So, ensure you use these pans at an average cooking temperature rather than a high one. Nevertheless, it is essential to be careful of these types of coating to be safe.
2. The Use of Glaze in Some Ceramic Pans
Additionally, the coatings and glazes used for sealing the ceramic can become problematic and make people consider whether ceramic pans are safe. Some manufacturers use it to protect the ceramic coating or to help set it.
However, some chemicals and materials used in these glazes, such as heavy metals, can be dangerous if they seep into the food. Some scientists have linked lead poisoning to the use of glazed ceramic cookware.
Therefore, you should look for brands that use a pure ceramic glaze. You can also do heavy metal testing on the glazes before you purchase any ceramic pan.
3. Materials To Make Under Ceramic Pans
Another concern is that some of the materials found under these pans make people ask whether ceramic pans are safe to use. It’s also possible for these materials to pose a threat to human health.
Therefore, if the coating gets scratched or destroyed, you are exposed to even more dangerous components, such as aluminium or other heavy metals.
If you want to know more and answer the question, “are ceramic pans safe to use?”, watch this video: https://chefwonders.com/cooking-with-ceramic-pans/
Advantages of Using Ceramic Pans
While most people doubt and ask “are ceramic pans safe to use”, there are several benefits you can gain from using them. Ceramics is a favorite among health-conscious cooks because it releases food easily with minimal or no oil or butter. Below are some of the reasons why we think you will like them:
1. Even heat distribution
The consistent heat distribution of ceramic cookware is a significant selling point for this material. The internal metal core is responsible for maintaining its shape and guaranteeing uniform heat distribution.
When you have a pan that warms up uniformly, you can quickly cook even the most delicate foods, like fish, chicken, or pancakes.
Did you know you can also put your ceramic pan in the oven? To be safe, look for ceramic cookware with riveted stainless steel handles.
Since your ceramic baking dish can go into the oven, you can whip up a delicious snack without worrying whether ceramic pans are safe. Compared to ceramic pans, most Teflon pans become poisonous when you cook at a high temperature. However, most ceramic pans can withstand temperatures in the oven of 500 degrees and more.
3. Non-reactive surface
Next, it has a smooth, unreactive surface. In case you didn’t know, cast iron and stainless steel pans are both reactive metals, so they may not perform as well in this regard. Ceramic cookware is non-reactive, so acids like tomatoes or lemon juice won’t damage it.
It eliminates the potential for dangerous substances to seep into your meal. This non-reactive surface makes it a favorite for those who have to watch what they eat because of chemical sensitivities or restrictions.
4. Simple Maintenance
Ceramic cookware requires less effort to maintain than other types of pans. The nonstick surface makes it easy to clean up after meals with just a quick rinse. It’s relatively simple to clean, and for persistent stains, you might need soap, warm water, and a moderate scrub.
Unlike standard nonstick pans, the ceramic coating on ceramic cookware is less likely to scratch or peel off when cleaning it. Since it doesn’t absorb liquids, it won’t stain or discolor like other cookware if you handle it properly.
5. Non-toxic and Chemical-free
While most people are confused about whether ceramic pans are safe, most nonstick pans contain PFOA, PTFE, and other hazardous chemicals. However, the coatings in ceramic cookware mostly come from inorganic minerals, specifically sand, which PFOA or PFTE does not contaminate. As a result, unlike the regular non-stick pan, it contains few dangerous chemicals, and you can use it safely in the kitchen.
Disadvantages Associated With Ceramic Pans
While ceramic pans are non-toxic, they also have several disadvantages. These disadvantages make people wonder if ceramic pans are safe to use.
1. Less Durable
Handling ceramic cookware with the same care you do your fine china is essential. With this, you probably shouldn’t drop it or smash it into anything too complicated. The same nanoparticles make it resistant to scratches and unsuitable for use with a dishwasher or cutlery made of metal.
The increased friction caused by the rough surface can cause wear and tear on the ceramic coating of the pan. Also, if you handle it anyhow, it can cause the ceramic coating on ceramic cookware to chip or crack. Your ceramic pans must be in excellent condition, so avoid stacking them.
2. Beware of thermal shock.
You know how most times after cooking, you want to wash your pans quickly, but you’re impatient and run them through cold water even if they’re still hot? Yes, that is thermal shock and a bad habit you should avoid when using ceramic pans.
Fast temperature changes can lead the ceramic coating to grow or contract excessively fast, which might create chips or cracks. Ensure you let your hot ceramic pans cool before washing them in the sink. If you wait a few minutes, you can avoid exposure to fast temperature changes, keeping the ceramic pans safe and sound.
3. Do Not Use For High-Temperature Cooking.
Also, another reason people don’t know whether ceramic pans are safe to use is that you can use ceramic cookware under moderate heat but not for high-temperature cooking.
However, you can still get ceramic pans explicitly made for high-temperature cooking. The only drawback is that they are more expensive and designed for commercial kitchens.
4. Takes Longer to Heat
Once heated, ceramic retains its temperature for an extended amount of time. On the downside, it takes longer to heat up than some other pans. Thus, you need to add a few more minutes to the time it takes to boil water, simmer soup, or make an omelet.
5. Ceramic Pans are Heavy
While most nonstick pans are not heavy, most ceramic pans are heavy to carry around. The numerous layers of ceramic covering add extra weight to each pot and pan. Be ready to use both hands if you carry a ceramic pan full of food.
How You Can Maintain Your Ceramic Pans if You Have One
It is essential to take care of your ceramic pan if you have one, even if you still want to know the answer to questions like “Are ceramic pans safe to use” that are plaguing your mind. Here are some easy tips to keep your ceramic pan in good shape:
1. Protect Your Pans From Sudden Temperature Changes
As we stated earlier, ensure you protect your ceramic pans from thermal shocks, which can lead to pan cracking. Ensure your pan is always cold before you pour cold water on it.
2. Avoid Using Any Metal Utensils
If you want your nonstick ceramic cookware to last you for years, you must take good care of it. Also, if you are guilty of using harsh sponges, refrain from doing so if you want the coating on your ceramic pan to last longer.
3. Season Your Pans Regularly
The best way to preserve your ceramic pans to ensure that your food doesn’t stick to the surface is to season it properly. In case you weren’t aware, seasoning a pan involves nothing more complicated than putting a thin layer of oil on its surface.
It makes cooking easier and requires less oil, and it’s much simpler to clean up afterwards because the food should just glide off.
When talking about non-toxic pans, there is no straight answer to “Are ceramic pans safe to use.” While it’s not ideal for some people, but for some people it’s about as good as it gets.
Fortunately, there are many more options besides pure ceramic for safe cookware, and many of them are more affordable. Ultimately, it’s vital to consider the benefits and drawbacks of the types of cookware before settling on the best non-toxic option for your kitchen.
Most people recommend using brands with little to no coating in their pans, like Xtrema. However, others think that ceramic pans are safe to use as far as there is no peeling away or there are no scratches on them.
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