How to Cook Without Teflon

Teflon is a registered trademark and brand name of the DuPont company for products made from fluorine-containing polymers (fluoropolymers). Other companies also use similar coatings for their non-stick cookware.

These products are created using chemicals that are known to be toxic. Although the manufacturers will tell you that they do not release chemicals "under normal conditions", even they admit that overheating can cause these dangerous chemicals to gas off.

At this time there are no studies that prove that fluoropolymers are dangerous, that is not a guarantee of their safety. By following the advice in this article you can at least reduce your families risk of exposure to these chemicals.


  1. 1
    Research the possible effects of fluoropolymers, and make an educated decision.

    Although studies to date do not indicate a measurable risk, there are broader studies that show that the combination of many small doses of a variety of chemicals can combine to have serious health effects.

    It is up to you to decide whether you need to take the risk with your family's health.
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    Use oven-proof glassware. Glassware is a safe natural alternative for use in the oven. Heat resistant glass can be used for baking and roasting. Whether you are cooking up a loaf of bread or roasting a chicken, there is excellent glass cookware to meet your needs. Glass is in practical terms as non stick as Teflon under normal use.
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    Use a cast iron pan for frying. Cast iron, when used properly builds up a natural "patina" which is not only non-stick, but also fairly resistant to the use of metal implements.
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    Use a steel wok for Asian foods (stir-fries, curries, etc). Like cast iron, a steel wok when used properly builds up a natural "patina".
  5. 5
    Use silicone for baking cakes, muffins and pies.

    Silicon cookware is something fairly new. It is a non-chemical product and virtually non-stick.
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    If in doubt, use stainless steel pots and pans. Stainless steel can be close to non-stick unless overheated. If you do scorch the pan you're going to have some scrubbing to do, but a bit of scrubbing is better than gassing your family with nasty fluorine compounds!


  • Clean your cast iron pans using a nylon dish-brush and no soap. Scrub away any food scraps, and then stick them back on the flame (or element) for a minute to evaporate any water.
  • Glassware usually cleans up easily, but if you get something really baked on it will much easier to clean after soaking overnight.
  • Although silicone is reasonably non-stick, it is a good idea to grease the pan or tray with a little butter - just to be sure.
  • Silicone pans and trays are floppy! Use two hands when moving to and from the oven.
  • If you do a lot of Asian cooking, you might want two woks. One for wet (e.g. Thai curry) and one for dry (e.g. Stir fry).
    • In both cases, treat them similarly to cast iron (clean without soap and dry on element). They will also build up a patina - this is good!
    • The dry one will usually end up blacker (even better), but if you then use it for a wet curry or soup you might get black bits in your meal. Still at least it's just carbon and not some nasty fluorine compound!
  • Soak scorched stainless steel pots and pans, and then clean using baking soda (and a lot of elbow grease).


  • Cast iron pans that have not yet built up a patina can leach small amounts of iron into acidic foods like tomato sauces. Iron is a vital nutrient, but for some people excess iron can be a problem. If you suffer from haemochromatosis or similar conditions you may want to avoid cooking in cast iron. If in doubt, check with your physician.
  • If you have a pet bird, and continue to use Teflon, be extra careful not to overheat the pan. Even small doses of the chemicals that gas off will kill a bird. (Consider this, and the reason why miners used to take a canary with them).

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Categories: Care and Use of Cooking Equipment