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PTFE-based coating seems to be potentially harmful to humans and mortal for birds. PFOA, which is used for making teflon, persists in the environment and our bodies for long periods of time (see cancer.org).

I'd like to go for something better for the environment. I need a non-stick pot, so something like stainless steel would not do. I've found that enamelled cast iron could be a good alternative, though it's quite expensive (I'll go for it anyway if there's no choice). Are there any other alternatives to consider?

  • PTFE is inert unless you heat it to above 600 F. – blacksmith37 May 8 '18 at 15:53
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Cast iron, correctly seasoned and maintained, is very effective at providing a non-stick surface.

Many cast iron pans are available "pre-seasoned" but this cannot generally be relied upon to be a complete seasoning. Regardless, periodic re-seasoning (and correct use in the interim) is required. Re-seasoning involves a thorough cleaning to remove the old, damaged non-stick surface (possibly not necessary for the initial seasoning) followed by a sequence of high-temperature "firings" with a coating of a cooking oil. Repeating this process 5 to 7 times creates a new non-stick surface by polymerizing the cooking oil. It takes some practice to perfect this technique.

Correct use mainly consists of avoid breaking the non-stick polymer layer created during seasoning: avoid rough scraping during cooking or cleaning, don't use soap when cleaning.

The result, however, is a non-stick pan which will last for decades at least and is made from extremely mundane materials with a simple manufacturing process. And cast iron is relatively affordable compared to the other non-stick options.

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The page HealWithFood describes four alternatives to Teflon and declares: "The manufacturing process for PTFE (Teflon) cookware uses a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which has been shown to contribute to the development of certain types of tumors in laboratory animals and which seems to increase the risk of thyroid disease in humans. PFOA has also been shown to kill birds when its fumes are released into the air." The four alternatives "Cast Iron Frying Pans", "Stainless Steel Skillets", "Thermolon-Coated Pans" and "The Bottom Line" are described with their pros and cons.

Other four alternatives can be found on RodalesOrganicLife with "Enameled Cast Iron", "Stainless Steel", "Glass" and "Stoneware".

Other pages with information are: GroovyGreenLiving and TheKitchn.

The decision is up to you now.

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