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teflon pans- toxic?

i've just been told through a yahoo group that teflon pans leach dangerous chemicals- which seems to be confirmed by some websites i've looked into it on, including:
http://www.mercola.com/2004/oct/23/teflon.htm
firstly, does everyone else think this stuff about teflon is true? i know not to trust everything which i read online straight away, but i don't want to be poisoning myself through my pans when i'm cooking delicious vegan food!
secondly- i was looking into buying new pans pretty soon anyway- does anyone have any suggestions on good types or brands?
i've been warned against aluminium for similar chemical reasons, so i was looking to get either:
-cast iron (which has been recommended to me by lots of people, and my boyfriend LOVES these kind of pans, but they seem to weigh a tonne, i get everything stuck to the bottom when i cook with them, and i like being able to pick up the pan without using a winch or calling my boyfriend to do it for me- tricky when i'm hungry and he's at work, too!) or
-ceramic coated pans- which i only heard of today, and am a little unsure of- my friend has some ceramic coated hair irons and says the ceramic crumbles off and chips easily- which obviously wouldn't be ideal if it happened on a pan!
does anyone have any suggestions or advice please?
thanks!
jen

I've always found stainless steel to be the best for me. They don't weigh a ton & you can scrub the dickens out of them without fear of ruining them.

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i've always hear the stuff about teflon is when you use it to cook at high temps. i use teflon pans for low temp cooking.

stainless steel is a good option, or cast iron.

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My vote is for cast iron.  If seasoned properly, you should not have problems with your food sticking.  I bought a preseasoned skillet that I am very happy with.  The more you use the pan the more non-stick it becomes.  I simply rinse the pan with water (no soap) and wipe clean and dry with a paper towel or rag, no scubbing involved.  Then coat with light layer of canola oil.  My cast iron skillet works just as well as any non-stick Teflon-coated pan.  As an added benefit, cast iron may add some iron to your diet (especially if cooking acidic foods).

True, cast iron is very heavy--I can't lift it for long periods while getting food out with one hand.  Usually I get my husband to take the food out while I hold the pan with two hands.

Elizabeth

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Does anyone have the Le Creuset cookware? It's cast iron but sort of "enamelled" (well it looks like enamel to ignorant moi) in either orange or white. I bought a white one but everything stuck. My mom had the old fashioned (ca. 1940's) black pans which she had seasoned but I wondered if the "enamel" (or whatever it is) had anything to do with it. Can you season this kind of cast iron? How?

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I have never used Le Creuset cookware, but considered purchasing some at one time. According to this page http://www.lecreusetexport.com/care-cookware.phpthe Le Creuset enamelled cookware does not need any seasoning.  I think that the key to getting things not to stick in this cookware may be to heat only on low to moderate heat--no higher. Since cast iron can retain heat so well, high heat is pointless.  This page may also be of interest to you, it does state that high heat may cause your food to stick:
http://www.lecreuset.co.uk/careanduse/default.asp

I have the old black cast iron that your mother has.  I've even bought a few old rusty pieces at yard sales and have successfully managed to clean them up, reseason, and use--I love the old cookware, but you can buy new cast iron that is great too (Lodge Logic is a good brand).

Elizabeth

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I have some Le Creuset cookware and love it for some things. It is cast
iron covered with Porcelain. My understanding about variouse coatings is:

Paint...a coating with some volatile chemical that keeps it liquid, when
applied to a surface, the volatile chemical dries up and the coating
remains on the surface. We all know what paint is.

Enamel....Paint that is baked on, to create a harder, more rugged
coating.

Porcelain....a kind of paint that has a ceramic/glass like chemical in it
that is baked on at high temperature, to create a very rugged, glass like
surface. Check out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porcelain

Le Creuset has some good points and some bad points. On the good side:
very good heat retention and very even heating. Easy to clean as the
surface is 'glass'. Energy efficient, as you can alway use it on a low
heat. You can use it in the oven, as well as the stove top. Also, I love
the colors and the way it looks. (I have a mix of cherry red, orange and
yellow.)

Bad points: Expensive. Very heavy (this is the other side of good heat
retention and even heat.) Somewhat fragile and can be scratched easily.

I also have (mostly) stainless steal cookware, but for some (slow
cooking or cooking in the oven) things, Le Crueset is great.

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hey hopfrog, thanks very much for the weblinks. I checked them out and you're right. Now maybe I can start campaigning for some LC pans...dream on... ;D

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Someone above was right...it's best not to use teflon at very high heats, otherwise it's ok, as long as you don't scratch the coating off.  If you've scratched the teflon with a metal utensil, then it can flake off into your food, and that is bad as well. That means it's time to toss it.
Also, on the LaCreuset...if you have their true enameled cast iron, that should also be fairly non-stick. But because it is coated, it will not season like the true cast iron will.  They also make a less expensive version of their pots...which are an enameled steel or aluminum...thinner, not as heavy.  You'd have the same problem with those though, I think.
I use mainly teflon, but also have a seasoned cast iron that I use for things I want to get good and crispy. (such as vegan with a vengance's french toast recipe, yum, or pancakes, etc)

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I no longer use teflon pans.  If heating to a high heat (means you can fall asleep and burn something on it), it will kill all the birds in your home.  It is highly toxic to birds.  If it is highly toxic to birds, that is good enough reason for me to steer clear of it.  Yes, I do have birds but just by knowing it is toxic to any creature means it can't be good for any of us.  Just IMHO.  Not about the birds though.  Many people have accidentally let their teflon pans overheat and have lost all their birds from canaries to huge parrots.  Wonder what it does to little babies lungs?

Stainless steel is my favourite although I am planning on purchasing some cast iron as well.  My sister swears by cast iron but loves her stainless too.

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