Teflon® was an incredible technological revolution for the home kitchen. This non-stick surface made it easier to make almost anything on your stovetop. As long as you didn’t heat it too much so that it couldn’t release toxic fumes, you could make almost anything in an effortless way.
Polymer fume fever, sometimes called the Teflon flu, is no joke. When the fumes of PTFE reach temperatures of 300°C, inhaling them can cause an acute lung injury. The symptoms include headaches, chills, and chest tightness.
As people began to experience these symptoms more often, the market began to demand a different product that was safer and more environmentally friendly. That’s when ceramic cookware started to become popular with consumers. There are some specific pros and cons to this alternative material that are worth taking into consideration.
List of the Pros of Ceramic Cookware
1. There are fewer worries about toxicity.
Many of today’s ceramic cookware options come with a coating called Thermolon. It is made from natural minerals instead of being a toxic chemical-based recipe. The non-stick surface comes from sand that goes through a manufacturing process that’s free of PFOA or PFAS. There is no cadmium or lead in the material either. That means you don’t need to worry about any fumes in your home if you accidentally overheat the pan. You get to protect your health and the environment with one investment.
Some people have concerns that there could be a small amount of lead in a porcelain-based coating or pan. You can check with the manufacturer or look on the label to see if your preferred ceramic cookware was tested for the substance before completing your purchase.
2. Foods don’t stick to ceramic cookware.
Even though there are no toxic chemicals used in today’s ceramic cookware, you still receive a non-stick surface that behaves in a manner similar to Teflon. The food will slide right out of the pan, usually without any oil being used to create that outcome. That’s why this option has an advantage over stainless steel pans too. You get to cook with less grease, enjoy less mess, and the products are reasonably affordable too.
This advantage also means that you can make your favorite recipes with fewer calories. You can reduce the cholesterol levels in the foods you eat as well. That’s why this choice is an excellent option if you are trying to improve your health and wellness this year.
3. It is very easy to clean ceramic cookware.
Since ceramic cookware provides a superior non-stick surface, you won’t need to take a lot of time out of your day to clean up when you’re finished making something. Most pans only need a quick wipe from a damp cloth to remove the residue your foods left behind. You might need a little dish soap if you made something with garlic or onions. That’s all there is to it – you don’t need to scrub the pans during washing like you would with something made from stainless steel.
4. The price is nice for ceramic cookware.
You can typically purchase a 10-piece cookware set for under $60 when you want to use ceramic over other choices. Even if you want a 3-ply option that will give you better durability, there are some sets that sell for under $100. You can even go with a premium brand like Zwilling Spirit for long-term cooking and spend less than $500 for the full set. All ceramic surfaces will wear out over time, even with perfect care, so you’ll want to think about what your budget can afford and how often you plan to cook with the pan.
5. Ceramic cookware can serve as an emergency food container.
Some ceramic cookware comes with a lid that you can use while making a recipe on the stovetop. The lightweight design of the material, combined with the seal that you can create with it, means that you can transition your pots and pans into an emergency leftover container that fits in your refrigerator. You don’t want to move the pan straight from the stove to the fridge because that will likely cause damage to your appliances. If you run out of Tupperware or other containers, this advantage can come in handy at the right time.
6. There are a variety of different colors from which to choose.
Another reason why ceramic cookware tends to be a popular choice today is that you have a diverse inventory of colors and styles to add to your kitchen. New colors are added by manufacturers every year so that you can express yourself while cooking. That means your pots and pans can also serve as a decorating tool if you leave them hanging on hook storage or leave an item out on your stovetop. There are even pastels available, like yellow or light blue, to create the perfect look.
7. Ceramic cookware doesn’t react to acidic foods.
If you cook acidic ingredients like tomatoes frequently, then your standard cookware can release contaminants or metals into your food that may not be good for your health. When foods are cooked in reactive pots and pans, then there is a metallic flavor to the items. Some ingredients will even change color. Switching to ceramic cookware means you don’t need to worry about the acidity of your ingredients at all. You can safely cook without worrying about unwanted trace items leeching into your recipes.
8. You don’t need to season the pan before using it.
If you’re used to cast iron or stainless steel pots and pans, then you know all about the seasoning process. You need to scrub the product in hot, soapy water. Then dry it thoroughly. You must then spread a thin layer of oil over the skillet. Place it upside down on the middle rack of the oven, bake it for an hour at 375°F, and then it’s ready to use. If you choose a ceramic cookware set instead, you can skip all of those steps. The flexibility of use is almost incomparable to other materials.
9. Some ceramic cookware can manage mild abrasives.
If you use baking cookware made from ceramic, then these sets can survive heat levels that would melt stainless steel. They can also take mild scrubbing or abrasives without marring the gloss finish if it is an oven-safe product. One of the primary advantages to consider here is the fact that the product can make for an attractive serving dish. If you pop the item out of the oven and set it on your table with a hot pad underneath, then you can enjoy a group meal with self-serving options without getting more dishes dirty in the process.
List of the Cons of Ceramic Cookware
1. Ceramic cookware has a shorter lifespan than other options.
Some ceramic cookware options can lose their non-stick surface in six months or less, especially if you cook with the pans every day. Compared to other solutions for the kitchen, the Thermolon coating tends to wear out pretty quickly. This disadvantage goes beyond one manufacturer or a specific type of an. It is an industry-wide concern where there is plenty of room for technological improvements. At least you won’t need to worry about Teflon flaking off and getting into your food.
You can avoid this disadvantage somewhat by opting for ceramic cookware that comes with a sol-gel coating. It can withstand higher temperatures, won’t flake off as easily, and has more resistance to scratching. Look for Proposition 65 standards and any warning labels before purchase as well.
2. The pans tend to be thinner than other choices for the kitchen.
Most ceramic cookware tends to be somewhat thin and flimsy when you use them on the stovetop. Some home chefs prefer lightweight pans because that makes it a lot easier to make multiple items at once since you’re not lugging cast iron between different burners. If you are hard on your pots and pans though, you’ll want to invest in a product that offers triple-ply construction to ensure that you don’t accidentally damage your investment.
Since the pans are thinner, heat tends to transfer through ceramic cookware more rapidly. You might find some of your cooking times changing if you convert to this option in the kitchen.
3. You will need to handwash almost all ceramic cookware.
There are some ceramic cookware sets that promote themselves as being dishwasher-safe for their care. Even if you own products that make this claim, handwashing your new pots or pans is going to extend their lifespan dramatically. You’ll want to check what the warranty information is for the manufacturer you selected because some may void your guarantee if you put the item into your dishwasher. If you do have tough spots that don’t want to come out, a quick soak will usually free up the leftover food materials. You can also boil some water in the pan to loosen stubborn stuff.
4. Ceramic cookware is not compatible with metal utensils.
Thermolon is more delicate than other non-stick cooking surfaces. It scratches easily, even if you run a metal fork across the surface. You cannot use any metal utensils while preparing foods in these pans if you want to avoid the problems with scratching. Nylon or wooden ones are your best options. If all you have are metal spatulas right now, then you might want to look at a stainless steel or cast iron pan instead since you won’t encounter this disadvantage with those materials.
5. You still cannot use a high heat setting with ceramic cookware.
If you are in a hurry, it can be tempting to cook items at the highest heat setting possible. If you take that action while using ceramic cookware, then you can damage your investment. High heat settings can damage the coating, which means this option may not be suitable for some of the recipes that you enjoy. You’ll need to have a variety of pots and pans in your kitchen if you want to have the utmost flexibility in what you make and how you bake items for yourself, your family, and your friends.
6. There is less efficiency in heat distribution.
Ceramic cookware gets its non-stick surface by using a natural coating as the foundation of its benefits. That means the particles used have irregularities to them that the manufacturing process cannot remove. That means there will be areas on your pan that heat more efficiently than others. You might even notice that there are areas where the surface does not touch the food at all. When there is an uneven cooking surface, even if it is only on a microscopic level, then your items will not receive the same amount of heat. This disadvantage means your food cooks unevenly and slowly unless you are moving the items periodically.
7. The ceramic surface can still chip off.
You can follow all of the care instructions perfectly and still encounter this disadvantage with some ceramic cookware. It is a finite coating that eventually wears out even with the most advanced production processes available today. If you follow the care instructions from the manufacturer, then you can avoid the worst of this issue, but it will always be there. You should expect to replace your pots and pans every 2-4 years. If you cook in them every day, then you might need replacements in 6-12 months.
8. You can crack the materials if you drop them.
If you’re using ceramic cookware that goes into the oven, then the product can sometimes be heavy and cumbersome compared to other baking dishes. If you drop them, then there is a chance that there could be cracking. You can damage your kitchen floor by dropping one of these items as well. If you use this material on a ceramic-glass cooktop, then cheaper models can discolor it. That’s why you will want to proceed with caution when using this material. It may have the flexibility to handle many recipes, but it can struggle in some specific situations to produce the results you want.
The pros and cons of ceramic cookware provide some safety benefits for the kitchen. There are even some health benefits to consider when comparing it to stainless steel or cast iron since you don’t need to use butter or oils. As long as you can manage the potential disadvantages, especially with searing and high heat cooking, then you can enjoy the simple, lightweight experience that this technology brings into the home.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.