Cookware Safety Chart

Swapping out toxic cookware for cleaner options is one of the easiest (and most fun) steps you can take to improve the quality of your kitchen. At Mission: Heirloom, we cook using stainless steel pots, pans, and baking sheets, but there are also some other good choices.

Type What’s Inside Properties
The Good
Stainless Steel iron-carbon alloy formulated with  18% chromium and 8-10% nickel Chromium forms a thick protective oxide coating on the pan; does not transfer heat evenly on its own; stainless pans are much improved by coating bottom with copper or when clad with aluminum- or copper-filled plate
Cast Iron 100% iron Poor conductor of heat, however, the heavy iron will retain heat for a long time and will provide steady and even heat; properly seasoned pans leach very little iron; tends to corrode, but can be avoided by regular seasoning
Enameled Cast Iron iron and ceramic glass Has same cooking properties as uncoated cast iron, but enamel resists corrosion and leaching; eliminates need to season; older enameled pots may contain lead, so buy new
Lined Copper copper and stainless steel or tin (recommend stainless) Prized for unmatched conductivity for fast and even heating; copper can be reactive on its own, so most pans are lined with stainless steel or tin; can be toxic if coating breaks down, so buy new
The Bad
Unanodized Aluminum 100% aluminum Cheap, lightweight, and highly conductive; highly reactive: both acids and alkalis can easily penetrate surface, releasing aluminum oxide and hydroxide complexes
Anodized Aluminum aluminum plus an electric current; may contain additional polymers Placed in a chemical solution and exposed to electric current to build up a hard, non-reactive surface; surface can break down, revealing reactive aluminum; most are formulated with non-disclosed polymers to make them nonstick
Unlined Copper 100% copper Highly prized for conductivity and low density; oxide coating on copper can be porous, powdery, and easily leached into food; human body can only excrete copper in limited amounts; excessive copper can cause gastrointestinal and liver problems
The Ugly
Non-Stick (often) aluminum or stainless steel coated with non-stick plastic-like material A plastic-like material forms a smooth, slippery surface that is inert only when unscratched and used at low temperatures; coating decomposes at or above 500 degrees to form noxious and toxic gases; most nonstick pans are made w/ aluminum, so when surface is scratched, the reactive aluminum base is revealed
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