After I shared how excited I was about using my brand new stainless steel baking sheets, I inspired myself to share all of my non-toxic kitchen favorites!
When starting out your non-tox journey, this is – in my humble opinion – the most important area to start in because everything you’re eating off of can leach into your food. I decided to jump on the opportunity to completely start from scratch when we made our move to Texas; I convinced myself that if we didn’t toss out everything we didn’t want, we’d find excuses to not replace them later.
I’m not going to lie, we spent a good chunk of money replacing things but I know that everything we have now will last us for many, many years to come and I feel good knowing that we’re no longer exposing ourselves to unnecessary daily toxins. That being said, please don’t feel bad if you can’t afford to replace everything all at once! Start with what gets used the most and as things need replacing, simply opt for something non-toxic.
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Materials I avoid:
Teflon and nearly all pots and pans that claim to be “non-stick” are toxic; they can cause serious health issues such as infertility, thyroid disease, birth defects, and more. Teflon is the trademarked name for a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It’s used famously for household cookware as it is hydrophobic. PTFE is also used in linings of fast food wrappers and even things like microwavable popcorn bags. (When I say we avoid eating out for non-toxic reasons – it’s not just due to low quality/processed foods – it’s for the toxins hidden in the convenience of disposable packaging as well).
In the past decade and half, Teflon has not only been under investigation for concerns about the use of a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in production, but also for the risks associated with overheating during use. Per the manufacturer’s recommendations, Teflon pots and pans should not be heated to extremely high temperatures. However, Teflon coating starts to breakdown at 660 degrees and begins to release toxins into the air.
In a study done with PTFE, the overall mortality rates of chickens exposed to these toxic fumes was 92.3% due to respiratory distress. This toxicity has been known to cause ‘polymer fume fever’ in humans, which includes symptoms such as chills, body aches, fever and in more serious side effects – lung damage.
This wouldn’t be so concerning except for that cooking temps can reach high heats very quickly…
In new tests conducted by a university food safety professor, a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736°F in three minutes and 20 seconds, with temperatures still rising when the tests were terminated. A Teflon pan reached 721°F in just five minutes under the same test conditions (See Figure 1), as measured by a commercially available infrared thermometer. DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgasses toxic particulates at 464°F. At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures that DuPont scientists claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.Continue reading on Environmental Working Group…
Aluminum is one of the most common heavy metals that contribute to toxicity. It has been recurrently shown to cause encephalopathy, anemia, and bone disease. Aluminum is used again in disposable foil wraps and cooking trays, kitchen utensils, bakeware, pots and pans.
Studies have shown that aluminum can leach into your meals, amounts varying by the temperature and the kinds of foods you’re cooking in it. In fact, the amount of intake was found to increase between 89-378% in red meats and 76-215% in poultry. Insane, right? We avoid it as much as we can because it is indeed, a neurotoxin.
Silicon alone is a naturally occurring element, it is actually much closer to a natural rubber than plastic. However, most silicone products sold on the market are made with fillers. For this reason, I try to avoid it as much as I can. Food-grade silicone cooking utensils and bakeware are made to withstand higher temperatures BUT the heat tolerance varies and this is why sometimes things melt.
Liquid silicone can be extremely dangerous – often causing autoimmune issues/weakened immune systems. This is something to be very careful about – especially for those with breast implants or those that get botox. However, we can’t forget that liquid silicone can be often found in shampoos and these other products where the risk of absorption through the skin and consumption is much higher.
As a mom, I truly understand the convenience and the safety for our kiddos when we opt to use silicone straws, teether toys, etc. If you have the option to use natural rubber over silicone, I’d personally choose that first, but I’m not going to lie… I’ve found silicone freezing trays extremely helpful for storing baby purees!
So, if you’re going to opt for silicone, know that food-grade silicone should be 100% silicone and free of BPAs, PVC, phthalates, latex, lead, and nitrosamine. The best options are ones that are US FDA and European LFGB approved – as always, European testing standards are more rigorous. Many times, these things won’t all be shared on a label when purchasing a product, so don’t be afraid to email the company and ask or better yet – ask for test results!
And because I know I’ll probably get this question – the “pinch test” is not a reliable way of telling if it is non-toxic. I do agree, cheap silicone does tend to whiten when pinched but this should not be your decision-maker.
Materials I opt for:
I’ll be honest, I hated glass until I made the decision to purge the very last of our plastic… Glass is so easy to clean, it makes for easy reheating of leftovers in the oven (we avoid microwave usage like the plague in our house), AND it’s stain resistant! No more embarrassing tinted storage containers.
Glass is also 100% recyclable and due to it’s lower melting point than that of plastics and other materials, less energy is required for the process. Glass helps preserve taste and nutrients… We get our milk in glass bottles and it helps keep our milk perfectly chilled; plus it’s nice knowing that our food isn’t touching something that’ll leach since that’s always the biggest concern with other materials.
Don’t let this one scare you – I promise it’s actually super easy to cook in and it cleans beautifully with some hot soapy water. Stainless is also a more sustainable option when it comes to cookware. Unlike Teflon and other toxic options that need to be replaced after some years, stainless steel is extremely low maintenance and it has a very long life so the need for replacement is minimal, if ever. And it too, can be recycled or reused.
A really nice thing about stainless is that it comes in a wide variety of price ranges! If you’re a thrifter, you can often find gently used pots, pans, bowls, or utensils at second-hand shops or brand new at affordable places like TJMaxx. On the same note, stainless steel can also get really expensive depending on what you’re shopping for… That being said, high quality stainless steel will last you a lifetime.
This one isn’t my favorite for a few reasons… I find it extremely heavy and you have to wear oven mitts if you’re going to move it. Proper seasoning and cleaning is a must and quite frankly a little too high maintenance for me because I like to just stick it in the dishwasher… But it’s great for my husband who hates cooking on my stainless pans (he just hasn’t put in the effort to learn how) and in case of emergencies, you can use cast iron to cook over open flame or even on a wood burning stove!
The one we have is the perfect size for a homemade deep dish oven-baked pizza – its delicious – so I must say, we do get quite a bit of use it out of it. This is also a good option for whenever we can’t find a cookware alternative in stainless steel (such as a waffle maker), we’re then happy to opt for cast. However, we do not make this our primary choice of cookware because iron overload can be a dangerous thing; at most we use it for one or two meals out of any given week.
I also must say, I do not use enameled cast iron or enameled anything. While I absolutely loved collecting coffee mugs, I was heartbroken to find that a majority of them contained lead. If I ever feel the need purchase enameled cookware that would be the first thing I would look at, lead and cadmium. Le’ Crueset is one that is highly sought after and might be justified in price if I had not heard uncertainty on the matter… Different manufacturing dates have different testing results. Enameled cookware can also become a high maintenance kind of product; enamel can chip or fade away and would need to be sent off for repairs. I personally just don’t have a need for enameled cookware but this may or may not be something you’ll want to look into.
Non-Toxic Kitchen Favorites:
Berkey Water Filter
In case you haven’t heard me talk about this enough – good, clean water is essential! There are many good filters out there but we decided this one was the best for our family. We love that it can be used in an emergency as it doesn’t require any power (SO grateful for it during the Texas freeze storm). I also love that the chambers are made of 304 stainless steel as opposed to others which are made of plastic. The upper chamber houses black carbon filters (according to our water calculations these will last us about 3 years before needing a replacement) while the bottom houses optional BPA free and non-leaching fluoride filters. You can also upgrade the spigot to a nice stainless steel one which offers more of a faster flow rate than that of the original!
Because we have the Berkey, we use this glass pitcher so we could keep it in the fridge for the hot summer days. It holds quite a bit of water and pours nicely.
Glass Tea Kettle
I’ve always liked the look of nothing but a tea kettle on the stove. Stainless steel is also a good option but I personally like being able to clearly see inside it since sometimes they can be hard to clean. And I think the glass looks kind of fancy.
After finding out how so many mugs and teacups tested positive for lead (shout out to Lead Safe Mama), I’ve made the decision to just switch to glass and stainless mugs only. This stainless ones are great for keeping drinks hot or cold and they’re kid-safe! They’re simple and have a nice, wide handle but Amazon has some really pretty ones too.
Stainless Water Bottles
These are life savers in the summer with how hot it gets here in Texas. We usually fill up a bottle or two with some ice and add water to sip on throughout the day. I feel good knowing that even if a bottle gets left behind in a hot car, I won’t have chemicals leaching into it and the water will be kept cool for when we come back!
We used to buy pretty glass cups, but they’re made so thin they’d often break on us when we’d do dishes or accidentally drop them. We finally said no more and just use good old mason jars. They’re in expensive and I love their versatility, we can store left overs or even switch out the lids to use for different things! We also love to save old spaghetti, pickle and milk jars for the same reason.
Chain-link Cleaning Cloth
This is a GAME-CHANGER when it comes to cleaning up our stainless steel and cast iron! Not that stainless steel is hard to clean – at all – but this is just SO easy to use and it reduces the waste of disposable sponges and brushes. Seriously, try it (unless you have non-stick/Teflon).
Stainless Baking Sheets
These are what I held out the most on… I couldn’t justify the price for the longest time. As some of you may know, I decided to use our old baking sheets for soil blocking, so I finally said it was time. And I honestly couldn’t be more happy with the quality! After looking at so many, comparing pricing and reviews, I also feel like I got a good deal.
These in particular come with racks included and they have reinforcing rods on every edge to help prevent warping. If you cook often at temps of 400 or more, the company simply recommends warming it up evenly beforehand. Other than that, I was surprise to feel how heavy they are! These definitely feel like they’re going to last us a long, long time.
Glass Bread Pan
I was told by a friend that cast had the ability to not only leave behind black residue but also alter the taste a little when baking breads. As I mentioned, cast iron is never really our first choice for cookware anyway so we chose glass and it’s worked out really well for us!
Cast Iron Pan
This is what my husband uses for cooking meat in. As I said, it’s not my favorite but it’s very practical for especially for emergencies! I think every kitchen should have at least one pan. This one is the one we have but it comes with a press too – we regret not getting the press – it comes in SO handy with burgers.
Stainless/Glass Cooking Set
10.6 Quart individual, 3.2 Quart individual, 2.1 Quart individual.
There are many brands out there for these but I personally fell in love with the ones from Ikea. I LOVE the glass detail, the lipped edge for smooth mess-free pouring, the measurements on the inside, they’re super affordable and they come with a 10-year warranty!
I do have to say, the matching pan to this collection unfortunately has a non-stick coating so I opted out of that (although it seems the collection may be cheaper than purchasing individually). I ended up just grabbing a different all stainless steel pan because we were going to need one anyways; maybe they’ll come out with an all-stainless version one day but for now, I don’t care that they don’t match.
If you don’t have one of these yet… What are you even doing? I love the Instant Pot! I managed to snag mine on sale for $50 – come to find out they can be found on clearance for around $20 at Walmart sometimes! I find myself reaching for it multiple times a week. It has managed to make cooking so much quicker for those busy nights. And if you’re anything like me, you might also struggle with cooking things like hard boiled eggs, rice, and baked potatoes – all of which the instant pot cooks perfectly, in a short amount of time and without needing to keep your eye on it!
There’s some question as to whether these can decrease nutrients in foods due to the high pressure, but I have not found solid research on this… What I have found is that air fryers, change nutrient molecules – but we don’t own one of those anyways.
I love these glass bottles – when I first bought them I really just wanted the cohesive look around the kitchen with no labels but they make pouring oil so easy and mess-free! The come with small stainless funnels and I’m also able to purchase oil in bulk to save money.
Glass Storage Containers
These are what I replaced all of our Tupperware with. The glass doesn’t stain and they are oven-safe for easy reheating. They do have plastic lids but we’re much happier with these than our old ones. If you can find them on sale at Costco – grab two!
Glass Storage Jars
This is more for aesthetic purposes but I do find that it keeps out any insects from getting into our foods, keeps moisture out (important when it’s humid out), and keeps our food fresh! I love them so much you can find them in so many different sizes and shapes to suite your style.
These are new to our family and they’re a good replacement for saran wrap! They come in many different sizes and shapes or you buy a full sheet and cut it down to you own preferences but they make for sustainable and non-toxic food wrapping!
This is by far my most underrated product here. My entire life my mom’s never used one and thinking minimalistic-ally, I figured I didn’t need one either, but I was wrong. After cutting so many pineapples, I finally got sick and tired of it so I decided to make the investment. It’s so easy now and I will never not recommend one.
Ok, ok – so these aren’t necessarily more “non-toxic” than others but I figured I’d share because they are made SO nicely and will last you a long time! My very first pair lasted me about 4 years before it started to fall apart and only at the grips… After many years of use with hot cookie sheets and pans, it was finally time for a replacement.
OnGaurd Cleaner Concentrate
I’ve been using this for almost 2 years now and I absolutely love it. It cleans beautifully and lasts forever. I can also add my own choice of essential oils to make my own scent every time! It has many, many purposes – dishwashing, laundry, carpet and upholstery, and so much more! doTERRA has an entire OnGaurd collection dedicated to boosting your immunity with this particular oil blend.
This is one of the few other cleaner concentrates that I feel comfortable using in my home. They also have an all purpose collection as well as specific products for laundry. A little bit on the higher end when it comes to price but very well worth it for difficult trouble spots.
Other Non-Toxic Alternatives
I also wanted to compile a list of safer, more sustainable options for things like camping! We are an outdoor-loving family and it’s always nice to have cutlery and plates to take along with us when we picnic outdoors.
These items are things you can also consider keeping in/for a 72 hour emergency kit. I feel they’re pretty self explanatory and I’ll admit they might have more of an upfront cost… But they’re much more sustainability and non-toxic; especially if you have a bigger family, they’ll pay for themselves in no time!
I hope this was helpful to you in anyway; I am obsessed with finding non-toxic alternatives so I’ll update this with any other things I find along the way. If you have any questions – feel free to comment down below.
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