We own no non-stick skillets in the McStriver family. This wasn’t always the case, but eight years ago we decided they had to go. Growing up my family used non-stick pans for all stove top cooking. I learned how to cook eggs in a non-stick pan with just a little spray oil. While Mr McStriver hates the smell of eggs, I still used the non-stick pans to cook plenty of foods he loved. I felt I was cooking healthier since I used less fat to cook. Clean up was so easy, even if something got burnt.
Image courtesy of Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So you are probably wondering why I would ever want to get rid of these modern day kitchen marvels. Well, eight years ago someone special fly into our life, literally. We were adopted by a sweet budgie girl. Mr Mcstriver came home to find her hanging out in our garage. We looked for her family but they were never found and we were only to happy to become her family. After only a few days she had a full grip on our hearts.
Concerned about her health since she had been out in the wild, we took her to a local Avian vet. This is when we learned about things that could be harmful to birds, included as you have probably guessed — non-stick pans. Birds have delicate respiratory systems and are affected long before a human would be by fumes. This is why miners would take canaries into the coal mines, after all.
Non-stick pans are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. The PTFE can emit dangerous fumes that can kill a bird. According to the EWG, Teflon can kill birds even when used in normal cooking conditions. While manufacturers on these products suggest keeping your birds away from the kitchen, Mr Mcstriver and I were not about to take any chances. The pans just had to go. While cooking with stainless steel pans takes some getting used to, our girl’s health is worth it.
Since ditching the pans, we have heard of concerns about human health with these coatings as well. An EWG study shows how quickly the pans can reach temperatures that cause dangerous off -gassing of at least 6 toxic gases. If you want to learn more I suggest this article at EWG which cites specific toxins and related studies.
Of course PTFE is used on other products as well, space heaters, dryers, small appliances, etc . We didn’t get rid of the dryer but it was older which we have been told by the vet means the toxins should have burned off. The first time we use new appliances that might have a coating we make sure no birds are around and that there is good ventilation. Even if it is winter we will open a window to make sure there is adequate ventilation.
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