Debra Lynn Dadd

How to determine safety of cookware


Help! I want not just great tasting food using my beautiful pots and pans--but one that I can trust for our continued well-being.I have some wonderful pots and pots. By wonderful I mean, they are truly chef-quality. My question is are they safe?

What specific questions should I ask the manufacturer to get this question answered?

Most of my collection is 18/10 stainless steel, some with the heavy bottom, some light weight with added copper.

Though beyond the above, I have a greater concern for the ones in these fine name-brands--but are also non-stick with what I believe a life-time or 75 year guarantee.The coating doesn't seem to budge. They are from tv like Cooks Essentials, Ultrex, Wolfgang, Emmerilware..and some that are cast iron with a finish that doesn't stick. The performance is great. How is the safety?

POSTED BY LAURIE :: FLORIDA USA :: 02/29/2008 7:30 AM


First, about the stainless, it's not a matter of asking the can test it yourself with magnets (see Q&A: Magnetically-attractive stainless steel cookware). But even if it passes the magnet test, if you have been using metal utensils or scouring your pans with steel wool, you've ruptured the steel and opened the way for the metals to leach into the food.

About the nonstick finish. It's not a matter of the finish peeling or chipping, but what may be offgassing from it. Most nonstick finishes are made from the same group of chemicals, unless it is a completely different technology, like Thermolon. If I were researching this, I would contact each manufacturer, and ask them the name of the nonstick finish used and find out anything you can about it. Then you can look up those finishes on the internet and find out about the chemicals used to make them. But from my experience looking at the nonstick finishes, most are more or less the same.

Debra :-)


I am still not totally understanding the magnet test. If a pot or a pan does not stick to a magnet on the inside of a pan--thee pan is then considered unsafe? I am in a downsizing mode--and if my "good" pots and pans aren't the quality I thought--getting rid of them will be an easier decision. Please respond(:

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: Use a little "refrigerator magnet" to test your pans. If the magnet STICKS firmly to the INSIDE of the pan, it is safer because it contains less nickel. That's all. It's that simple.

POSTED BY LAURIE :: FLORIDA USA :: 03/09/2008 5:55 PM

Would this magnet test only apply to the stainless type? I have Emerilware and they have 3 ply-- copper- alum.- stainless steel. It didn't stick to one of them. Is that because of nickle or copper?

COMMENT FROM DEBRA:It applies to stainless steel. If the inside of the pot is stainless steel, it applies. If it doesn't stick, it has a lot of nickel.

POSTED BY LAURIE :: FLORIDA USA :: 03/09/2008 7:00 PM

I used this magnet test, and the magnet stuck to the pots and pans, but not to the lids. Is this typical and/or hazardous?

POSTED BY CAT :: FLORIDA USA :: 03/17/2008 10:22 PM

I used the magnet test, and it stuck a little. The attraction wasn't very strong at all. But it says 18-10 on the bottom, so there should be 10% nickel. If there is nickel, there should be no magnetic force at all, but there was. I am a little confused. Maybe I should buy a Nickel test kit.

POSTED BY YH :: MICHIGAN USA :: 12/01/2008 2:12 PM

I have often wonder if what we use for cookware is really safe. It seems that all the chemicals that are put on them would be somewhat dangerous, but I am not a scientist so I have no way of really knowing for sure. Thanks for the article.



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