Cookware safety

This Week In The HSI Forum

“I am sure you have heard about the use of a caged canary in the old mining shafts to detect poisonous gases and warn the miners to evacuate. If the canary stops singing and falls off his perch, get out.

“Well, the emissions from a Teflon pan heating on the stove can kill your birds as many sad and unfortunate parrot owners have found out. The airborne emissions are an addition to the chemicals that are leached into the food being cooked – sounds like time to get out of Teflon.”

That observation comes from a member named Robin in an HSI Forum thread titled “No Teflon, Stainless Steel or Aluminum Cookware! Help!!” This is just one of three active threads that discuss the pros and cons of different types of cookware, with a special emphasis on the dangers of Teflon.

For instance, a member named Karen writes: “I read the article about the dangers of Teflon cookware and stainless steel and aluminum. What is left that is safe?”

Karen receives quite a few responses with detailed information about different cooking surfaces and advice on how to use them. A member who goes by “RB” writes: “I bought a very expensive frypan with glass lid to avoid the aluminum dangers and the mess of stainless steel sticking. It is made of titanium and can be used on extremely high heat without oils and will never warp or be damaged. Nothing sticks to it at all.”

A member named Camen uses a porcelain coated steel pan, and has this to say about other surfaces: “Cast iron and stainless steel have got to be safer than teflon and/or aluminum. I am allergic to nickel and SS cooking has never caused a reaction.”

Nickel is a toxin, so a member who goes by “MK” offers this nickel-detection tip: “Regarding nickel in stainless cookware – the person is correct in not wanting stainless with too much nickel – it is not good for you. However, there is a simple test to determine if your stainless – or the stainless you wish to purchase – is okay or not. If a magnet sticks to your pot/pan – you are safe. If it does not, there is too much nickel.”

Issues of safety aside, if you want to keep food from sticking to a cooking surface, the cooking technique may be more important than the material the surface is made of. Here’s some professional advice from a member named Howard: “ALL pans are non-stick. It’s only the cooks who are sticky! LOL.

“I’ve worked in several professional kitchens in the past, and I have NEVER seen a ‘Teflon’ or other non-stick pan in the building. They are for AMATUERS! There are a number of reasons a professional cook would not use a non-stick pan, and none of them have to do with health. Pro kitchens are all to do with SPEED. You need pans that transfer heat quickly, are light, and easy to clean. This means Aluminum. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but if you eat out often, you are eating food cooked in aluminum pans.

“If you want your pans, (whatever their base metal) to be non-stick, follow the old chef’s maxim: Hot Pan, Cold Oil, Foods Don’t Stick! Amateur cooks put a cold pan on the stove, add the fat to the pan, and turn on the heat. This is a GUARANTEE that whatever protein or carb that you add to that pan after it reaches temp, will stick like super-glue. If you want to make your pans non-stick, do this: PRE-HEAT the pan, and then add the oil/fat. Wait for a tell-tale wisp of smoke from the pan before adding your ingredients for cooking. This is the pan’s method of telling you that it is ‘ready’ to cook.

“It is useful to know what the smoke point of a particular oil/fat is so you can tailor the cooking process to the dish without imparting a burnt flavor.”

Other topics on the HSI Forum this week include:


  • Sinus therapy
  • Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
  • Sugar addiction
  • Effects of grapefruit
  • First foods for baby
  • Green tea extract

To join in with any of these discussions, just go to our web site at, find your way to the Forum, and add your own insights and comments about health, nutrition and natural treatments.


Saturday, February 19, 2005

Imagine discovering a natural compound lethal to 12 different kinds of malignant cancer cells, and yet safe enough that it protects healthy cells instead of killing them. One drug company made such a discovery, and then sat on the information for seven years! Find out how we learned about this amazing Amazon botanical that may revolutionize cancer treatment.


Monday, February 21, 2005
Protecting your heart is easier than you’ve heard.

They say you can only avoid heart disease if you exercise furiously, eat less fat and lower your cholesterol. Alternative healthcare pioneer William Campbell Douglass III, M.D., sums up this conventional thinking in one word: “Hogwash!”

Dr. Douglass reveals the real heart disease culprits and how you can stop them in their tracks today.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005
In a Pickle

Good news for those who are insulin insensitive: Insulin and glucose spikes that occur after a meal may be reduced by taking a small amount of a common condiment before eating, according to a recent study. We’ll tell you about the best type of this condiment to look for, along with some tips on how to make it more palatable for everyday use


Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Blacklisted Cancer Treatment Could Save Your Life

The formula for cancer prevention has been available for decades, but this information has been blocked by the very agency that’s designed to protect your health – the FDA. We’ll tell you how a German research scientist, Dr. Johanna Budwig, discovered a combination of two natural foods that may prevent and even cure cancer.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Tissue? I Hardly Know You!

A mineral that’s easy to incorporate into your diet has been shown to significantly lower the risk of advanced colon polyps developing into cancer. Now a new study sheds light on the value of supplementing with this mineral. But there are important guidelines that everyone who uses this supplementneeds to be aware of.


Thursday, February 24, 2005
Hasty Pudding

Last week the confusion over the use of Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra and other pain killing drugs got even more confusing when an FDA panel advised the agency to keep the drugs on the market. So the verdict is that the drugs are safe, right? Well, not exactly. We’ll take a close look at the “finer” points of the panel’s curious recommendations.