When cooking for our loved ones, you don’t want to have to worry about whether your pans are safe or not. And what harmful toxins might be leaking into our food.
Here we look at how safe ceramic cookware is. And we’ll cover both pure ceramic cookware and ceramic coated cookware.
You’ll learn what the 2 different types are, as well as how safe both are. You’ll then be able to decide whether ceramic pots and pans are safe for your kitchen.
Are Ceramic Pans Toxic?
- Both pure ceramic and ceramic coated cookware are not toxic.
- They are safe for all your cooking needs.
- These types of pots and pans are lead and cadmium-free.
But: check the origin of 100% ceramic cookware, and be careful not to overheat ceramic non stick pans.
What is 100% Ceramic Cookware?
Pure ceramic cookware has no metal core (1). It is 100% natural and made from clay, quartz, or sand. So there is no metal, no toxic chemicals, and no coating.
Only one US brand manufactures pure ceramic pots and pans. Xtrema makes this 14 Piece Black Versa Ceramic Cookware Set. Their pure ceramic cookware is kiln-fired at really high temperatures – 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. And it’s glazed with a coating that is safe for cooking.
Outside of the US, two French producers Revol and Emile Henry make 100% ceramic cookware and bakeware. They include stock and tagine pots, pizza stones, fondue sets, and casserole dishes (2) & (3). And both meet high safety standards for the manufacturing processes of their cookware.
Is 100% Ceramic Cookware Safe?
As we’ve said above, the core of 100% ceramic cookware is made of a material such as clay. So it’s safe. But, before ceramic pots and pans are fired in a kiln, they are glazed. And it’s this element that may not be 100% safe.
Glazes used on ceramic cookware sometimes contain lead, cadmium, or other pigments. Manufacturers use these to give their pans an appealing shine.
Some ceramics baked at high temperatures for a long enough time may be safe – for example the Xtrema cookware above. Their ceramic cookware is FDA-compliant, metal and chemical-free, and triple-fired to give their pans great strength and durability (4).
However, many cookware brands have now shifted to using lead-free glazes. And, help is at hand from the FDA who keeps a list of tested products and any lead contamination found (6).
Although you do still need to be careful when purchasing ceramic pots and pans. Be vigilant when looking at traditional and handmade ceramic items (7). Overseas producers tend also to still use lead in their glazes.
So take the time to check the labels before you buy. Then, you don’t need to worry that the 100% ceramic cookware you’re buying is not safe to cook with.
If you’re still concerned, the FDA suggests that you invest in a home lead testing kit. Then you can check the lead poisoning risk of your pots and pans for yourself.
What is Ceramic Coated Cookware?
As the name suggests, ceramic coated cookware is coated with ceramic but its core is made of a different material. This is normally a metal such as aluminum, cast iron, stainless steel, or copper.
Most ceramic coatings aren’t natural. They’re in fact “Sol-gel” coatings that contain silica (sand) and other inorganic chemicals (8).
In the manufacturing process, the inorganic solution is turned into a gel. This is then applied to metal surfaces by a high heat process called curing. This results in a nonstick coating that is bonded to the surface of the cookware, making it “ceramic coated” but not purely “ceramic”.
The ceramic cooking surface provides a great non stick surface. And it’s PTFE-free and scratch-resistant (9).
Check out this set from GreenPan – Healthy Ceramic non stick cookware Pots and Pans Set. .
Are Ceramic Coated Pans Safe?
You can be confident that ceramic-coated cookware is safe. It doesn’t contain lead or cadmium due to its design of a metal core with the Sol-gel coating. So there’ll be no leaching of toxic chemicals into your food whilst cooking.
Ceramic Cookware is also one of the best cookware options because of its great heat resistance. The polymer coating on Teflon pans will begin to deteriorate at 500oF. But Sol-gel coatings don’t begin to break down until temperatures are above 662oF. And the coating can survive heat up to 842oF (10).
If you were to use temperatures above 662oF, ceramic coated pots and pans are still safe. They won’t emit any toxic fumes, unlike Teflon cookware. Teflon or PTFE coating (polytetrafluoroethylene) omit harmful fumes and higher levels of CO2. These can be lethal to pet birds or humans, sometimes causing flu-like symptoms (11).
- Ceramic Vs. Teflon Cookware: What’s The Difference?
- Ceramic Cookware Pros and Cons: The Complete List
So ceramic coated cookware is safe for you, your family, and even your pets. It has good durability and won’t break down. Although it may turn to sand if repeatedly heated to the highest of heats.
It’s free of PTFE, the scientific name for Teflon coating, and free of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a compound traditionally used in making PTFE.
Here we answer your most commonly-asked questions about ceramic coated pans.
Is a Scratched or Chipped Non Stick Ceramic Frying Pan Safe to Use?
Yes, it’s still safe to use.
As explained, the Sol-gel silicone coatings on ceramic-coated pans aren’t toxic. If these coatings become slightly damaged with use, they’re still safe to use on your stovetop.
The core metal will be exposed. But the main issue will be a decline in the pan’s nonstick capability due to chipping of the nonstick cookware surface.
And there have been very few studies on whether there are any long-term health effects of these coatings (12).
Is Granite Cookware Safe?
Yes. This type of ceramic cookware set has the same type of Sol-gel coating as above. Granite cookware is designed to look like granite, for those who like this look in their kitchen. But it’s still safe.
There is a coating of this kind made in Switzerland. The manufacturer produces a granite coating called “Granitec”. This is in the same method as the Sol-gel coatings, but with the added stylish marble effect.
See an example used on a frying pan: Sensarte Nonstick Frying Pan Skillet, Swiss Granite Coating.
Is Ceramic Cookware Dishwasher Safe?
Yes, a lot of ceramic cookware brands offer nonstick pans that can go in the dishwasher. Gotham Steel and GreenPan are two manufacturers making dishwasher-safe ceramic cookware.
But, does this mean that you should put your ceramics in the dishwasher? Think about what else is in there – a metal utensil could come loose and damage the ceramic coating. It’s best to clean up your pot or pan by hand. Gentle scrubbing with hot soapy water is best (13).
Is Ceramic Cookware Oven Safe?
Yes, most types of ceramic cookware are safe to go in the oven. GreenLife manufactures non stick pans that are oven-safe up to 350oF: Healthy Ceramic non stick ceramic cookware set. And some are broiler-safe up to even higher temperatures (600oF), such as this GreenPan Valencia Pro Hard-Anodized Healthy Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Set.
But, you need to be careful not to overheat your ceramic pans. Low or medium heats are best for Sol-gel coated pans. High temperatures can cause food to burn onto the ceramic coating. Cleaning is then more difficult and you may be left with some black marks (14). Plus it may damage the pan and makes it lose its nonstick properties.
Put Your Health Concerns To Rest With Ceramic Coating
It can be difficult not to worry about the chemicals and toxic fumes that might be produced when you’re cooking. You don’t want anything harmful to leach into your food or make your family ill. And can you be sure what ceramic cookware, either pure or ceramic coated, is really made of?
This article tells you what 100% ceramic and ceramic coated pots and pans are made of, and whether they are safe or not. And the answer is yes – they are one of the safest cookware types that you can buy.
Pure ceramic cookware has no nasty chemicals or metals, as long as you choose a brand that has a lead-free glaze. And ceramic coated cookware is lead, cadmium, PTFE, and PFOA free. Plus, they provide you with great nonstick cookware for your kitchen.
Related: How to Season a Ceramic Pan.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below. And if your friends are worried about the safety of ceramic cookware – share so they can calm their concerns too!