We all loved those nonstick cookware surfaces when they first came out, but now that everyone knows more, it’s possible that cooks everywhere may need to find an alternative. Enter the ceramic nonstick coating.
Let’s take a look at what this potential nonstick coating could mean for your cooking. It could be just the cook’s advance you need. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
The Structure of Ceramic Nonstick Cookware
Traditional nonstick uses a lot of chemicals to ensure food doesn’t stick. While they’ve been mostly proven to be safe, some people would prefer to switch to something different just to alleviate any risk.
One alternative is nonstick ceramic layers. Ceramic is a bit of a misnomer, however. It isn’t ceramic per se. The coating uses a silicon base that helps prevent food from sticking. The slick surface is commonly called ceramic, but that’s not what’s happening.
The process of creating a nonstick surface uses this silicon base on top of metals such as hard anodized aluminum. By bonding the two together, you get a solid nonstick surface. Ceramic coatings require just a single layer and take very little time to cure.
Most are added to the pan through a Sol-gel process, which uses a process that takes the liquid and turns it into a gel that can be applied to the metal surface of the cookware. Once the gel is applied, the high fire curing process seals the coating.
Ceramic has a higher heat rating than traditional Teflon, meaning it can tolerate heat up to nearly 900 degrees. It’s a great alternative to Teflon coatings as far as performance.
Ceramic nonstick coatings aren’t going to work as well as Teflon. The good thing about Ceramic is that you won’t need nearly as much oil or butter as you would with something like plain stainless steel.
Claims that Ceramic nonstick is more durable and more healthy than Teflon aren’t always backed up by research, however. Ceramic nonstick is more heat resistant than Teflon, but it’s tough to reach those levels of heat anyway.
Ceramic nonstick tends to do best with low to mid-levels of heat anyway. With higher heats, you’re more likely to wear the coating over time as the pan changes temperature – even worse if you do things like plunge it in cold water immediately.
Ceramic Versus Teflon
Traditional Teflon uses a series of nonstick chemicals that put off fumes like PFOA and PTFE, which could be potential carcinogens. Although some studies show that the amount of fumes required to be dangerous is very high, most common nonstick coatings now use alternatives.
Ceramic is one such material built in response to concerns about nonstick coatings. It does require fewer resources to attach and can be more resistant to heat, but the actual studies are inconclusive about whether it’s really performing better.
If you are concerned about the chemicals in things like Teflon or you want something gentler on the environment to both create and dispose of, ceramic nonstick could be a good option.
Why Purchase Ceramic Nonstick Cookware
One upside for ceramic nonstick is that it’s more durable than some typical nonstick coatings, and when combined with other types of metals, the pots and pans can last through years of use. It’s essential to take care of your cookware in general, but for those of you who need a boost with food sticking, this could be a good option.
Ceramic nonstick coatings also tend to be pretty affordable across the board. The process isn’t difficult to do and requires less energy overall, creating pots and pans that are affordable and durable. When you’re running on a budget but want some help with nonstick, ceramic coatings could be the way to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re really considering nonstick cookware, ceramic is a durable and safe choice. You may still have questions, so let’s take a look at some common concerns.
Is Ceramic Cookware safer than standard nonstick?
The short answer is possibly yes. Traditional nonstick releases fumes that have been identified as potential carcinogens. The amount of heat to release those fumes is high but still a pontential danger for many residential kitchens.
The longer answer is more complicated. Recently, the American Cancer Society came out to say that Teflon really didn’t pose that much of a danger after all. Breathing in those fumes appears to cause merely flu-like symptoms with no sign of cancer. And many of the original chemicals people were concerned about have been replaced anyway, leaving us with nonstick coatings cleaned of those fuming carcinogens.
The debate over durability is also in question. Both types of linings will require extra care, no metal utensils, for example. If you’re going to preserve the lining, it’s best to hand wash your pots and pans anyway and use only gentle cleaning tools.
The real issue is that nonstick just doesn’t last. It doesn’t matter what the type of nonstick coating is; it’s eventually going to break down because it’s a bonded lining. Exposure to heat and changing temperatures is going to wear the lining down eventually.
Some reports noted the potential for lead or cadmium in ceramic nonstick lining. When you purchase ceramic nonstick cookware that’s made in the USA, you’re protected by strict FDA regulations governing the manufacturing of the coating. Reputable companies comply with these restrictions.
Other countries may have more lax regulations concerning cadmium or lead exposure, so the best way to be sure is to check directly with the company. If you can’t get an answer to compliance, it might be a good idea to choose a different company just to be safe.
Is ceramic nonstick the same as ceramic cookware?
No. There is such a thing as all ceramic cookware, but they aren’t the same thing. Ceramic nonstick linings aren’t technically ceramic at all. They’re just hardened silicon. They provide nonstick properties to help prevent food disasters, but the rest of the pan is a metal of some type.
Ceramic cookware is made with clay, minerals, and quartz sand that’s hardened and shaped. It goes through a glazing process to make it waterproof. These all-ceramic pieces aren’t that common, but they do provide steady, even heat.
What is the difference between nonstick and stick-resistant?
Technically, most ceramic coatings are actually stick-resistant. With traditional nonstick, you didn’t have to use any type of oil or butter to prevent food from sticking, but with ceramic, you will need some kind of coating.
Stick resistant linings do reduce the amount of oil or butter that you have to use to prevent food from sticking, so they are worth it. It is very close to nonstick surfaces, so for all intents and purposes, it’s categorized as nonstick.
How Do I Care for My Nonstick Cookware?
To preserve the surface of nonstick cookware, you’ll need to take some precautions when cooking and cleaning your pots and pans. The biggest thing to remember is to use materials like plastic, both to cook and clean with.
When you’re cooking, remember that extreme temperature changes wear the surface of your nonstick cookware. Heating your pan slowly can help preserve the finish as well as cooking on low and medium.
When you’re cooking, you should always use plastic or wooden utensils. Those are gentler on the surface of your nonstick cookware and reduce the risk that you’ll scratch or chip it. If you do, it’s not dangerous, but it can lessen the nonstick properties.
Once you’re finished cleaning, allow the pan to cool slowly before plunging in water. Once it’s cooled, you can gently scrub the surface with a gentle cleanser and a plastic brush. Never scour your pan or use abrasive cleaners because you’ll ruin the surface.
Storing your pots and pans are usually ok, but it could be a good idea to place pads in between the pots if you stack them. The more you can protect the lining, the longer life you’ll get from your ceramic nonstick cookware.
Some of the ceramic cookware is technically safe for the dishwasher, but it’s always a better idea to wash your pots and pans by hand. It can be a pain to have scratches and chips in your ceramic surfacing.
Investing in Ceramic Nonstick Cookware
When you invest in ceramic nonstick cookware, you’re getting a cleaner nonstick option than some in the past, but don’t be too proud of yourself just yet. The official verdict on ceramic nonstick superiority isn’t settled just yet.
Despite that, ceramic nonstick cookware remains a good choice for those of you who are nervous about what’s in traditional nonstick but can’t quite bring yourself to change over to something as finicky as stainless steel or anodized aluminum, and ceramic coatings provide an excellent middle ground.
Be sure you’re caring for your pots and pans gently so that you get the most use out of them. IF you’re willing to put in the time to cooking correctly with ceramic nonstick and using only gentle cleaning methods, you’ll have a reliable cooking surface for years to come.