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Chattering Mind

What’s Your Stand on Teflon?

The folks at DuPont have regrouped and are now fighting allegations from the EPA that their Teflon coating on non-stick cookware includes a chemical that is a “likely carcinogen.”

The gasses Teflon produces at high heat are certainly bad for pet birds; DuPont addresses the canary-in-a-coal-mine problem here. Lately, I’ve been noticing an expensive ad campaign in women’s magazines featuring Carlonda R. Reilly, Dupont’s manager of global technology saying, “As a scientist, I make Teflon. As a mother, I use it.”

I’ve gotten rid of all my Teflon and I haven’t looked back, though I do find myself working overtime to remove more encrusted omelette from my iron skillets (and eesh, I feel quilty that my old pans are festering in some landfill).

Where do you stand on the Teflon question?

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posted November 15, 2006 at 4:48 am

What’s my stand? Just heard Dr Mercola yell about teflon on Virtual Seminar Week and that we should throw away every pan in our kitchen. I went to to read more and then I went to my favorite blog besides my own, CM, and read the first post about this damn teflon thing. So I wrote more about it on one of my blogs, I’d rather use brillo anyday than take a stupid chance on cancer. Chocolate is a different matter!

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Laurie Sue

posted November 15, 2006 at 1:28 pm

Bummer. I just cooked my son an omlette in a non-stick pan. Does this stuff apply to all non-stick pans? Or just Teflon?

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posted November 15, 2006 at 2:05 pm

I think articles like this are interesting only because teflon is the latest cancer causing agent to be discussed. I’ll believe people really care when they give up their bacon, sausage and nitrite laced products, when they start taking the bus and walking more, when they cut or stop eating metal containing fish and seafood,don’t use deodorant, etc etc. We are a ‘in the moment’ people. We jump on these things and then turn our attention away from the other ones that are just as dangerous or more so in many cases. When people are willing to return to the way our ancestors did, live a natural but less processed and less convenient life, only then will I believe anyone really cares. Otherwise, its just a fad.

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posted November 15, 2006 at 2:15 pm

Kate, it’s diffiult to change habits but when good health information is out there, another chance for someone who doesn’t know to learn something new and use the information to their benefit. What does FAD(your idea) have to do with getting cancer? That is confusing to me.

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Dottie Beagle

posted November 15, 2006 at 2:22 pm

I have used teflon pans for many years, if I stop using everything that causes cancer(as claimed but only partly proven)I might as well find a cave build a fire(gee that can also cause cancer)and live like a hermit. No thank you. Life is a risk in everything you do. I love nature and grew up with coal furnaces, bad insulation, bad diet sugar cemicals and cars with emisions and I am still alive and so is my Mother who is 78. Common sense in use of anything is what should be taught, and take it away.

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posted November 15, 2006 at 6:26 pm

Quantum physics says you are personally responsible for everything in your life. Hence the Observer Effect. Consciousness and energy create the nature of reality. We are not the victims of circumstance.Anyone who cares about themselves needs to read up on the subject. A great place to start is the book “The Biology of Belief” by Dr. Bruce Lipton. And by the way, this is NOT New Age OR Metephysics.

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Bethany Ring

posted November 15, 2006 at 6:55 pm

Exotic bird owners have known about Teflon for years. I got rid of mine. I am now saving for a really good chef quaility cook set. My animals come first.

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posted November 15, 2006 at 9:19 pm

Just ordered Bruce Lipton’s book, Jesse! Thanks. –CM

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C Grubbs

posted November 15, 2006 at 11:49 pm

One day in the early 1970’s I left my teflon pan in the oven while the oven was warming …..the teflon was sliding over the side of the pan when I opened my oven door ……. I threw it away that day and swore never to use a teflon coated pan again…and I haven’t.

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Mr. Chattering

posted November 16, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Are there non-stick pans that arent teflon? (CM, i promised i’d do a better job cleaning the pots if there were!!!!)

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posted November 16, 2006 at 8:46 pm

I ditched Teflon coated pans when three of us got sick after (unknowingly) ingesting Teflon coating. Afterwards, I started reading the arguements for and against Teflon. I thought, why bother? There’s other alternatives. I use Le Creuset pans, which are pricey (but not as a gift, which mine were). A colleague told me Marian Burros (NYTimes) recommends them, too. Here’s her take on Teflon-or-not: I also use stainless steel which cooks evenly but sometimes stick. Barkeeper’s Friend to the rescue; works every time. I’m curious to know how the new silicone baking pans perform. Anyone?

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posted November 16, 2006 at 8:51 pm

RE: CLEANING POTS n PANS: From the Episode: Flash in a Pan–Cookware Cleaning Products If you cook a lot like we do, you clean a lot. In the test kitchen, we’ve long debated the merits of various cleaning methods and cleansers. We decided to end the debate and apply the same exhaustive methods we use to develop recipes to figure out the best, most efficient ways to clean cookware. We dirtied pots and pans by burning food onto surfaces. We also rounded up the worst-looking cookware in the test kitchen (and in our kitchens at home) to test methods for bringing a new shine to old pans.Along the way, we tested a dozen cleansers on pots and pans made from a variety of materials. After weeks of work, our testers’ hands were rough and chapped, but we did find some winners and losers among these cleansers. And by the end of this marathon cleaning session, the cookware in the test kitchen was looking much brighter.CAST IRON Old, well-seasoned cast-iron pans have become heirlooms, making it hard to find even dirty, rusty, perfectly cruddy pans for a bargain at yard sales and flea markets. If you are lucky enough to find one, it deserves a place on the stovetop. After scraping up a couple of dirty pans with several grades of sandpaper and emery cloth — both being too harsh for even these badly rusted pans — we settled on the following method to restore pans that have been subject to such neglect. First rub the pan with fine steel wool and wipe out loose dirt and rust with a cloth epeat until the pan is largely cleared of rust. Then place the pan on the burner over medium-low heat and add enough vegetable oil to coat the pan bottom heavily. Heat it for five minutes, or until the handle is too hot to touch; turn off the burner. Add enough salt to form a liquid-like paste and, wearing a work or gardening glove, scrub with a thick wad of paper towels, steadying the pan with a potholder. Repeat the heating and scrubbing steps until the pan is slick and black. And to maintain a clean pan, we recommend the following after each use of the pan: Rinse the pan thoroughly in hot water, wipe it dry, and then coat it with a thin film of vegetable oil, wiping off any excess oil with paper towels. If hot water does not work to rid the pan of stuck-on food, try a washcloth to scrub the pan with salt.COPPER We came across a number of ways for removing tarnish: a salted lemon half, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, vinegar, cream of tartar and water, yogurt, even boiling milk. Enterprising and interesting as they all are, these home remedies were not as effective as the traditional commercial polishes we tried, which not only removed tarnish but added shine. Among the home remedies, ketchup was the only one that effectively removed tarnish. Unfortunately, it did not add shine.But if you’re desperate to clean up a tarnished copper pan and have no commercial polish on hand, we recommend spreading an even layer of ketchup over the surface of a pan with a paper towel or dishcloth. After five minutes, wipe off the ketchup with a damp towel or sponge. Wash the pan with warm water and dishwashing liquid, and dry.STAINLESS STEEL, NONSTICK, and HARD-ANODIZED ALUMINUM We found that these pans, which see the most action in the kitchen, present similar cleaning challenges. We identified three types of cleaning tasks: everyday messes on just-used cookware, stubborn messes that have built up over time, and burnt, blackened messes that make the cookware almost unusable.When testing ways to handle these three types of jobs, we continually ran into stern warnings about mixing cleaning chemicals-bleach and ammonia in particular, as well as commercially prepared cleansers (which may contain bleach, ammonia, or any other harmful chemicals). When combined, bleach and ammonia create chloramine gases that are highly irritating to the lungs and can cause coughing and choking. With these warnings in mind, we forged ahead with testing.For cleaning everyday messes, you can soak the pan overnight in sudsy water, but is there an alternative if you don’t want to be greeted with greasy dishwater in the morning? Yes. Boil water in it. And you don’t need to add either vinegar or baking soda to the water, as some sources recommend. We tried these formulas and they were no more effective than plain water. (The boiling water method is especially kind to nonstick cookware, as it allows you to clean the sensitive surface without any rough scrubbing.) Fill the pan halfway with tap water and put it on the stovetop, uncovered. Bring the water to a boil and continue to boil briskly for about three minutes, and then turn off the burner. Next, using a wooden spatula, scrape the pan and then pour off the water. Let the pan sit for a few minutes and the residue will flake off as the pan dries. Wash the pan with hot water and dishwashing liquid, and dry. Unfortunately, we found that our neat trick of boiling water in a pan doesn’t clean up the stubborn, brown, sometimes tacky residue seared into a pan from many past meals. Neither does boiling water work on two forms of discoloration a pan may suffer: rainbows and brown tints likely caused by prolonged exposure to heat in excess of 500 degrees. After tests with dishwashing liquid, SOS pads, and various home remedies, such as baking soda, we found two powdered cleansers — Bar Keepers Friend and Cameo — to be superior for these tasks. Stainless steel responded especially well to this technique, but it is also safe for nonstick surfaces. For anodized aluminum surfaces, do not use Bar Keepers Friend; Cameo can be used, although some manufacturers recommend Soft Scrub, which we found to be less effective.Start by moistening the pan with water, then shake a film of cleanser over it to cover. Using a copper scrubber for stainless steel or a nylon scrubber for nonstick or anodized aluminum, scrub the pan; we found that circular motions work best. Finish cleaning the pan by washing it out with hot water and dishwashing liquid, and dry. For pans with a stainless steel exterior that has been deeply, darkly blackened and seems immune to any amount of scrubbing with powdered cleanser, we did find a cleanser of last resort: oven cleaner. We recommend its use only on the exterior of pans (so this method is fine on pans with steel exteriors and nonstick interior finishes) and in extreme cases; ideally, you’ll treat a pan with oven cleaner only once, to get it back up to snuff. Oven cleaner should not be used on hard-anodized aluminum pans. If possible, bring the pan to a shady spot outdoors; otherwise, clean the pan in a well-ventilated room, with the windows wide open. Place the pan upside down on newspapers and, wearing rubber gloves, apply an even layer of cleaner. Let it sit for 20 minutes (or the time recommended on the can). With the gloves still on and using an old damp cloth or sponge, wipe off the oven cleaner. Discard the newspapers and thoroughly rinse or discard the cloth or sponge. Thoroughly rinse the pan in the sink under warm running water, then wash it with dishwashing liquid; thoroughly rinse again and dry. BEST CLEANSERS FOR CAST IRON We found that a thick paste of warm vegetable oil and salt does the best job of bringing rusty cast-iron pots and pans back to life. BEST CLEANSERS FOR COPPER Among widely available polishes, Weiman Metal Polish did the best job of removing tarnish and adding shine to copper pots and pans. Ketchup does a great job of removing tarnish but won’t add a brilliant luster to copper cookware. BEST CLEANSERS FOR STAINLESS STEEL, NONSTICK, AND ANODIZED ALUMINUM We found Bar Keepers Friend and Cameo to be the most effective in removing stubborn messes from most of the cookware in the test kitchen. Cameo can be used on stainless steel, anodized aluminum, or nonstick sur-faces; Bar Keepers Friend is too harsh for anodized aluminu
m but works well on stainless steel or nonstick surfaces.

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posted November 17, 2006 at 2:52 am

I guess people are entitled to their personal opinions about whether or not to use teflon coated pans, much the same as they get to choose whether to smoke or drink. My beef with teflon is when they add the stuff to cleansers and the toilet bowl cleaners that keep the bowl too slick to get icky. In theory, it’s a nifty product idea, reduces cleaning time. But…. where does this product go once it has been rinsed or flushed away? Into your local waste water system is where. And, in case you didn’t know, your local waste water (everything that goes down the drain) gets cleaned up at a wastewater facility and then handed over to your local water treatment facility – the place that cleans up the water that will flow into your house as drinking and bathing water. I used to work as a water treatment operator, cleaning water and turning it into potable water, and I can tell you that not only is there no technique for removing teflon from water, there’s no test to measure if it is in the water or to what degree. We had tests for all kind of contaminants, and went out house to house, checking for lead and copper and manganese and all manner of dirty stuff. But we never ever checked for teflon. How do we know that it isn’t flowing out of our kitchen faucets? Food for thought: most water treament facilities use alum as their main cleaning agent. It gets mixed in with the incoming dirty water and its ionic charge it what helps it grab onto dirt, coagulate and get larger & heavier, and then the alum and the dirt both fall to the bottom of these long and deep water troughs. Most of it becomes sludge on the bottom that is regularly cleaned out and removed. The rest is caught in the filtration system, either coal(anthracite) or ozone. BUT, if teflon repels things from sticking to it, how would alum be of any use? And how big are the teflon particles in the cleansers anyway? I mean, unless it is kinda large, it would slip right through the anthracite filters and go straight into the drinking water storage tanks, where it would sit and wait to be pumped into everyone’s homes. Now, I ask you, what good will cast iron or stainless steel do you if you regularly enjoy a glass of water from the tap? The BIG STINK about teflon ought to be about how it is in so many cleaning agents that go down the drain. Are we still entitled to our right to be anti-teflon, or is it served up to us with zero oversight? I just don’t know.

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posted November 27, 2006 at 11:47 pm

Last article is interesting. I too worked at a water treatment and waste water treatment long ago. What I have read recently is that when people pee, all those chemicals enter the water treatment center too. The biological stuff breaks down, but other things in your urine may not. As I understand, caffeen ends up in our water supply, as well as pharmasuiticals people pee out. Sounds kinda gross, don’t you think? It’s probably just a few parts per million. I guess my take is to just live life, take reasonable precautions and screw the rest. I mean if you were really that concerned about your safety you wouldn’t even drive a car, right. That is proabably the most dangerous thing we all do by far.

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Tammy Letcher

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:31 pm

I ditched my teflon pans in the early 90’s after being told the fumes would harm my bird. I thought, if it can kill my bird what will it do to me long term? I have used cast iron and glass ever since, even though clean up isn’t always the easiest, it’s worth it to avoid yet another possible carcinogen in my home.

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posted December 1, 2006 at 9:32 pm

Just like Tammy in the last post, I stopped using Teflon and other non-stick coated pans & grills when I learned it could kill my parrots. I personally know a woman that lost 3 parrots within a 1/2 hour of turning on an oven that had non-stick coating! So it is not just pans. I look at it this way – if it kills birds what is it doing to us. How many times have we heard that something is okay only to later find out it can cause cancer or other deadly disease. We can not live in a bubble but we can live smart. When you get a new stove, electric heater, grills, you should ventilate ventilate ventilate! Wires and insides are coated that is the smell you get with these new appliances when you heat them up for the first time. So even if you don’t see the non-stick or teflon be careful. Keep fresh air circulating in your home whenever possible.

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posted December 27, 2006 at 8:51 am

I suddenly don’t feel guilty about not being able to cook anymore! Long live fresh salads and steamed chicken!

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Annie D

posted January 4, 2007 at 5:16 pm

People concerned about teflon toxicity need to look into the C8 problem around the plants that produce teflon, such as the Parkersburg WV plant. The ground water is contaminated with C8 and there are current studies being done on the effects of C8 (a building block in teflon production) on humans by a major study of people who live near the plant. I have a bird, so I also gave up teflon for that reason. It can kill a birds quicky when heated to the point where it begins to break down. Just because it doesn’t kill people quicky doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful to our lungs as well. Just because we can make all these things doesn’t mean that we should. People need to consciously choose what they consume to protect our planet. And consuming means cradle to grave…manufacture to use to disposal. Teflon was an easy thing for me to give up when I looked at the big picture, not just my egg crusted pan. And by the way, a can of Pam or other spay to prevent sticking is as good as teflon for egg clean up. Just wash it right away, or if it has been sitting awhile, a couple minutes soaking in soapy warm water and all that egg goop just slides right off. Let’s take care of this lovely planet we have. Every little bit helps.

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posted January 10, 2007 at 3:34 am

PFOA (a component of teflon production) is bad news. Although DuPont disputes the findings, several studies dating back to the mid-90s found that increased levels of PFOA in DuPont workers (caused by the exposure to teflon production) linked to birth defects. Besides which, this is DuPont alleging that teflon is safe. They changed their accounting practices to “no longer reflect their legal fees”. The high legal fees were caused by environmental suits. They have monetary reasons to dispute the PFOA claims because it was not initially reported to the EPA and they incur fines for each day it went unreported (approximately 10 years). Bottom line.. I’ll scrub (and before you ask, no I do not have a mechanical dishwasher).

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