Teflon & The Forever Chemical – Why Your Non-Stick Cookware Might Be Damaging Your Health

The Facts About Teflon And Non-Stick Coated Frying Pans And Why You Should Be Using Stainless Steel Instead

If you pay a lot of attention to the news you may have heard of the group of chemicals labeled PFAS mentioned before but probably don’t know exactly what they are or why they are such a bad thing. It’s something that nobody seems to want to talk about but probably should be.

The most commonly known product containing PFAS that we are sometimes warned about is nonstick coated frying pans which are coated in polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as Teflon. PFAS refers to a whole group of over 4,000 chemicals that are also commonly used in paper food wrapping by the likes of Subway, KFC, and Mcdonald’s to protect the paper from absorbing grease. The reason that PFAS is so bad for you is because it is a “forever chemical” meaning that once you ingest it, this chemical doesn’t ever leave your system and so if you’re exposed to it often then it’s going to build up in your body until it becomes destructive. It is also something that you can pass on to your kids and so after many generations of consuming PFAS, you can imagine how toxic your great-grandchildren could become if we continue to use this forever chemical forever.

PFAS is something that has been on my mind lately because one of its effects on the body is to weaken our immune systems and hinder vaccine responses – and so theoretically PFAS could be one of the key factors why some groups have been much more venerable to the covid-19 virus than others.

PFAS are still being widely used in many products and are even now in the sea and drinking water in many countries including New Zealand. There is much information online about the use of PFAS but what I want to focus on here is the food wrapping and frying pans. The reason being when PFAS is heated, micro-particles of it can easily leak into your food so in my opinion it is something that we should have got rid of the minute we learned about its harmful effects. Mcdonald’s is apparently in the process of phasing the chemical out over the next year or so but due to the popularity of nonstick cookware, Teflon is still widely stocked by most large retail chains today.

Many studies have shown high levels of PFAS to be linked to:

Thyroid disease, immune disorders, abnormal liver function, high cholesterol, decreased fertility, pregnancy complications, developmental disorders as well as kidney and testicular cancer.

PFAS – The Facts

  • Has been detected in human blood, semen, and breast milk
  • Can cross the placenta, exposing unborn children
  • Suppresses the immune system
  • Weakens vaccine responses
  • Builds up in the bodies of animals and humans
  • There are no medically proven ways to remove PFAS from our bodies

When I was a kid I used to get annoyed that my mother refused to buy nonstick cookware like all the other mums because like most people today, I couldn’t have cared less to hear it was bad for me. So was everything else I thought? It couldn’t be that bad if everyone else was using it, she must be wrong about it I assumed. Without understanding at the time what it felt like to be damaged by toxins and also have a belief that if I got sick, doctors would be able to cure me with science – I did not feel like going out of my way to avoid stuff like this, instead, I favored convenience. I too assumed that if the masses were all using something then of course it was safe enough. But now after illness forced me to spend many years painfully detoxing myself back to health I am so glad that my mum did her best to protect me from exposure to chemicals as much as she did. If I had been any more damaged then I don’t know if I would have even had the strength to ever recover.

(Teflon-coated pan)

I’m not trying to turn people neurotic or suggest that you should examine every product you purchase but the nonstick cookware is just such a particularly bad one. It’s a very easy solution to choose stainless steel cookware instead. Yes, it makes cooking scrambled eggs a bit messy but dealing with that is going to cause you way less grief than dealing with the effects of letting high amounts of PFAS build up in your system over time.

Since I’ve always cooked with stainless steel perhaps this is easy for me to say but I do think if you make a change you won’t notice the difference once you get used to it. Below are some tips on cooking with stainless steel.

Cooking With Stainless Steel

  • Cook food at a slightly lower temperature as it heats evenly from the sides and bottom of the pan – cooking your food from two directions.
  • Don’t rush pre-heating. Because stainless steel is porous this is what causes food to stick to it. When stainless steel is heated it expands and the pores close, making your food less likely to stick.
  • Be aware that your pan will go from unheated to overheated very quickly as these pans are usually thin and so it may take a little practice to figure out how long to pre-heat for.
  • Ad oil after preheating not before – this is because otherwise some of the oil will sink into the open pores and this causes the pan to remain more sticky.
  • Stainless steel pots and pans can warp when exposed to extreme changes in temperature and so do not run them under cold water directly after use, instead let them cool down a bit first.
  • Stick with non-metal scourers and never use a stainless steel scourer on stainless steel as this could scratch it.
  • They are dishwasher safe but can develop spots from the dishwasher and so it’s not a bad idea to hand wash stainless steel when you can.
  • When cooking scrambled eggs, after the pan heats up and the eggs begin to cook turn it down to a very low setting and finish cooking slowly. If there is any egg stuck to the bottom afterwards then pour boiling water in the pan and leave for a few hours – this will make cleaning the pan far easier.

The bottom line is this chemical really is bad enough for your health that it should be avoided whenever possible. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a bit ignorant or could be profiting from endorsing this stuff. If you have nonstick cookware in your house then I’d highly recommend that you get rid of it as soon as you can.


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