One woman's search to find greening in the world today …

NOT Stuck on You…

It’s January, so what better time to set the goal for healthy eating, right? Today, I decided to treat myself to a new non-stick skillet and a George Foreman Grill, since my old one bit the dust a while ago. That’s where I got stopped. Just how safe IS that non-stick coating, and why don’t the products themselves say more?

First, the George Foreman Grill – which I know to be a great product, and they now have such a wide array to choose from! I did pick up a small one for about $30, although they have products from $20 to $150 or so. Funny thing, they don’t really mention the coating, but after I dug around on their website, while hearing a TV ad that the grill plates were covered with “Foreman-Tough Coating” or maybe it’s “Foreman-Tuff Coating” and your guess is as good as mine exactly what that is.

Now the skillet? I went to Ikea, where they have various choices, the cheapest one ($2.99) had a “non-stick coating” and the ones from about $10 and up (there is a wide range) were coated with DuPont’s Teflon. So, what is that?

Teflon is the name we have all come to know since it was introduced to our households in the fifties. Here’s the tech info straight from my friends at Wikipedia: In chemistry, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that finds numerous applications. PTFE is most well-known by the DuPont brand name Teflon. (If you are interested in more details, google DuPont and Teflon.)

Next stop was Target, where they too had a large variety of brands to choose from. The one that caught my eye was the GreenPan - of course. Their vision was to create a new, healthy cooking experience in non-stick cookware. So, in 2007 they introduced the first healthy, eco-friendly non-stick pots and pans with the revolutionary new PTFE/PFOA-free coating, Thermolon™  which is completely PTFE-free, contains absolutely no silicone oil and uses no PFOA during its manufacture. It is a non-stick mineral-based coating with superior release properties.

Now, that’s a lot of tech-talk, to be sure. So, now I’m thinking that before I buy anything else, I better do some more research, right? Otherwise, I can use one of the many skillets that are busy gathering dust at my house. A quick check found (of course) conflicting reports on the safety, and a surprisingly large number of reports, green and otherwise, found that Teflon is safe if used correctly. What this means is: don’t scratch the surface, best to wash by hand, and don’t heat above 500 degrees or so. Unless you have birds as pets. For some reason, the fumes can be toxic to them. Still other reports said that all pans, including that copper-clad stainless steel one you love, all give off some toxic fumes. With all of these fumes, the amount released into the atmosphere is miniscule.

What does it all mean? I guess I wont’ be getting a pet bird anytime soon!