Is GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware Safe?

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Last updated on October 10th, 2018

GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware SafetyMany of you have asked me about the safety of GreenPan non-stick cookware, so I looked into it.  One of my blog readers emailed me a GreenPan non-stick cookware test report that she had received from GreenPan, and I contacted them with more questions.

 

Before we talk about the safety of GreenPan non-stick cookware, let’s talk about why “conventional” non-stick is not good for you.  Non-stick cookware is coated with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) sold under the brand name of Teflon.

 

While PTFE is not known to cause cancer, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8, is used to make the PTFE coating, and it is considered a carcinogen.  The problem with PFOA coating is that while you cook, toxic fumes are released into your home and may cause people to feel flu-like symptoms. Babies, kids, and pets are the most vulnerable to the fumes. PFOA is a major environmental pollutant. Even if you have stopped using non-stick pans a while ago, most likely you have PFOA in your blood, which may lead to cancer, reduced infertility, and thyroid disorders, to name a few.  Unfortunately, by now, we all get exposed to background levels of PFOA as a result of their manufacture and the disposal of products that contain them. (To read more about PFOA, visit here.)

 

By the way, when you see non-stick cookware that is advertised as PFOA-free, it is important to ask if the coating is PTFE and, if it is, be sure to ask them what is used instead of PFOA.  For example, PFAS can be used instead.  In my experience as a full-time consumer product researcher, substitutes are often as bad or even worse.  I recommend avoiding PTFE coating altogether.

 

GreenPan non-stick cookware is not made with the PTFE coating. It is a different technology marketed under the brand name of Thermolon.  GreenPan describes it as ceramic, which can include a variety of substances. So I asked about the composition of the ceramic coating.  GreenPan’s answer was:

 

The Thermolon coating is made by a Sol-Gel process that results in forming a coating layer on the surface of the pan. This layer comprises mainly Silicon Dioxide (SiO2), which is the same composition as glass (or sand from which glass is made).

 

Here it is important to note the difference between silicon and silicone. Silicon (without “e” at the end) is an element found in silica, i.e., sand, one of the most common materials on earth. However, to make silicone (note the “e” at the end), silicon is extracted from silica and passed through hydrocarbons (organic compounds occurring in petroleum, natural gas, and coal) to create silicone. Because of hydrocarbons, silicone is not as natural and safe.  Thus, it is good news that the coating of GreenPan is made of silicon – not silicone.

 

However, we still do not know the full composition of Thermolon and this is where a test report becomes helpful.

 

First of all, I would like to praise GreenPan for disclosing their test report.  In my experience as a full-time consumer product researcher for the last 5 years, it does not happen often.  Many companies want to keep their test results secret, and so I commend GreenPan for its transparency – something we all want to encourage!  You can access the report here.

 

After I had looked at the report, I had some questions, which GreenPan answered to my satisfaction.  I am copying and pasting them here for you to read for yourself.

 

  1. What is SGS?

 

SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) is a 3rd party lab with head office in Switzerland with branches worldwide that provides services in areas such as quality inspection and testing of consumer products for safety and fitness for use according to various international test standards and regulations that prevail in the countries where the goods are to be sold. SGS will issue an independent, unbiased [sic] report as to whether the products comply or not.

 

  1. Are your products made in South Korea or the Thermolon coating only?

 

Indeed, the Thermolon coating is made in South Korea. The products are manufactured in our own factory in China, which means that we control the quality and the standards to which our products are made.

 

  1. What agency performs the testing?

 

We use various test labs such as SGS, Intertek and TUV.

 

  1. How often do you perform the tests?

 

We follow best practice, which is for testing to confirm compliance with food contact regulations be done annually by an independent lab such as, for example, SGS.

 

  1. Could you please tell the ingredients for the Thermolon coating?

 

The Thermolon coating is made by a Sol-Gel process that results in forming a coating layer on the surface of the pan. This layer comprises mainly Silicon Dioxide (SiO2), which is the same composition as glass (or sand from which glass is made). There are some additional materials such as pigments that give the color. All the materials used in Thermolon are 100% safe for use in food contact coatings.

 

  1. Which metal is used beneath Thermolon?

 

It depends on what range of cookware you chose to buy. GreenPan has ranges where the metals are either Aluminum, Hard Anodized Aluminum or Stainless Steel. The coating above the metal provides a complete barrier against migration of the metal (or any other materials) into the food. Therefore, there are no safety considerations as to the choice of metal of the cookware. It simply comes down to personal preferences and cooking habits.

 

  1. Does the Thermolon coating come off eventually with use? How often do you recommend replacing your cookware?

 

Thermolon does not come off during normal use. However, if abused (e.g. impact or wrong use of utensils), then any coating can become scratched or even come off in small areas. Provided that the coating is intact (i.e. not exposing the metal), there is no reason to replace the cookware. Minor scratches are not a problem because the area of exposed metal is either extremely small or may not be exposed at all. However, if there are multiple or deep scratches then it would be advisable to replace the pan on a better safe than sorry basis.

 

  1. How do your tests compare with the CA Prop. 65 test?

 

Our products fully comply with the requirements of Prop 65. For example, Lead and Cadmium are undetected.

 

My Thoughts about the GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware

 

The test report reflects that a wide range of chemicals have been tested and, with the exception of only one (aluminum), they are undetectable.  “Undetectable” means that they are under the reporting limit.  In my opinion, the reporting limits used in these tests are small enough to be reassuring.

 

As for the aluminum, I am not very concerned about it because it is still under a true safety level of 0.6 ppm in drinking water as reported by the Environmental Working Group.  It is only 0.27 ppm.  While aluminum is toxic, unlike lead or cadmium, larger amounts have to accumulate in your body to make you sick.

 

The test setup looks reasonable to me.  I like the fact that tests were performed to detect extractable amounts of heavy metals versus total amounts.  Total amounts are measured with an XRF tool to know how much heavy metals are present.  The extractable test is performed to know how much will potentially leach into food.  In this case, the test shows how much of heavy metals will leach, if you cook for 2 hours and the food is as acidic as 3% acetic acid.

 

The total content of heavy metals would be helpful to know if the coating comes off and we ingest it.  I have not used GreenPan non-stick cookware so I can’t speak to that.  Please let us know in the comments if you have been using GreenPan for at least a year.

 

And lastly, let me speak about lead and cadmium as these heavy metals are toxic even in tiny amounts.  The detectable reporting limits for them are 0.01 mg/kg (equivalent to 0.01 ppm) and 0.002 mg/kg (equivalent to 0.002 ppm) respectively.  The recommended limits are 0.02 ppm and 0.002 ppm respectively.  For your reference, California Proposition 65 (which is stricter than the FDA requirements) requires lead and cadmium to be under 0.1 ppm and 0.049 ppm respectively, which, as you can see, is not as strict as the limits described in the GreenPan non-stick cookware report.

 

In conclusion, according to the test report presented, I believe GreenPan is safe to use. You can see a test report for original coating here and for diamond coating here.

 

Please let us know in the comments what you think about GreenPan non-stick cookware.

 

Where to buy

 

Amazon carries a variety of GreenPan non-toxic cookware pieces and sets.  Here are some examples:

 

 

GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware Safety

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41 Responses

  1. Sheila

    I have GreenLife cookware made with the same thermolon technology. Hopefully they are just as good! Do you know if there’s a difference?

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Sheila: That is a good question. It would be interesting to see GreenLife’s test reports. Would you like to ask them for it? ~Irina

  2. Elena

    Thank you, Irina, for providing such useful information. I often wondered about GreenPan.

  3. Kendra

    Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to find a new pan besides our cast iron & stainless steel. My husband loves making eggs in the morning & the cast iron just doesn’t make scrambled eggs the way he likes to make them. He’s been looking at ceramic pans but we haven’t been able to look into the safety of them. Might try one of these for him instead. Thanks again for all you do!

  4. Chelsea

    Thank you so much for looking into GreenPan!! We bought our first two pans over a year ago and I’ve really enjoyed cooking with them. They truly are nonstick and I felt good about their safety. However, I am not nearly as educated in the specific properties and chemicals found in most cookware items and the potential dangers as Irina. So many companies market their products as “safe” but fail to provide test results and/or ingredients to back up their claims. As a consumer, I feel very hesitant to believe companies claims of safety. When I emailed Irina, she recommended I contact GreenPan and ask for their test results. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a detailed email from them providing test results. But again, I’m not an expert in reading and understanding the information I received. While it looked good to me, I felt having Irina read over the results and investigate further would provide real verification and peace of mind to steer my decision to replace the rest of our cookware with GreenPan. Thank you again Irina! I will be buying more GreenPans 🙂

  5. Ashley

    Good morning Irina. I wanted to share with you briefly about my experience with GreenLife. I bought a set in 2014 and used it exclusively until 2017. The pan that I used the most lost all of its non-stick-ness by then. I don’t want to say for certain that this wasn’t user error though – I could have cleaned it with the wrong products? I believe that I used steel wool on it once or twice, but this was after food got so stuck to it that it was the most effective way to remove the food, which means that the nonstick coating was gone well before that. There were some small scratches on the it after the years as well, but nothing out of the ordinary. The items that I didn’t use multiple times a week still maintain all of their nonstick coating to this day.

    • Ashley

      As a follow up on my above comment: I made a mistake. I actually have Green Life brand, not GreenPan. I had googled the GreenPan to make sure that it was the correct brand and it appeared that it was (we are moving so all our pans were boxed up). But I was unpacking some stuff tonight and saw the pans and they said Green Life on them. Sooo, please disregard my comment!

  6. mindy

    I have the green pan and the xtrema pans and le creuset also. My green pan is preferred for ease of not sticking and easiest to clean and least expensive purchase. Some of my le creusets I had to throw out (just gave up unable to clean) or they are scratched (lead concerns). Irina, what is your recommended preferred teapot.. is it still the staub? My le creuset teapot only lasted 1 year.

    • Tracy

      Mindy,
      Le Creuset has a warranty on most of their pans…I would reach out to them and see if they will replace. One of my stoneware pots exploded, I sent them pictures, filled out a form and they sent me a replacement. Super quick & easy.

  7. Lois Missenharter

    A friend recommended the Green Oans and like Ashley I found food stuck terribly to them and that’s after I had used them less than20 (maybe less than 10 times). I used a sponge with a “safe” scrubby side because the food stuck worse than any other non stick pan. However I want to use pans that are SAFE and healthy so need advice.

  8. Kristine

    Hi Irina, thank you for the post. I was looking at Green Pan on Amazon last year, but ended up buying Stone Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri. Do you have any insight as to safety of that pan? Also I’m curious what do you use at home? Thank you for all the research you are doing.

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Kristine: I do not have any research into Stone Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri but I added your request to my list. Let me know if anybody else is interested in it. I use a combination of glass, stainless steel, ceramic, and cast iron cookware at home. You can read more about the different type of cookware here: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/skinny-safe-cookware/ Let me know what you think. ~Irina

  9. Kat

    I have had a Greenpan set for about 2 years now and while I don’t use it exclusively (I use my stainless set a lot more) I do use it enough to know that nothing will ever be as good as Teflon eggs! Lol BUT when used with butter, they are good pans. They heat evenly and cook well. There’s some sticking and mine have discolored a bit from using olive oil, but apparently that’s not recommended. I guess I’m happy enough with the products as a Teflon alternative.

    As for how they hold up… I’m not easy on my stuff and so far I have no scratches or chips. My utensils include silicone spatulas, bamboo spoons and whatnot, and the occasional plastic spoon. I may have even used metal serving spoons, but never to scrape food from the pan. They also clean well in the dishwasher.

    • Max

      Hi Kat. Can you please specify what you mean with “discoloration from olive oil”? So the coating of the pan discolored because you cooked too much with olive oil in it? And who said it´s not recommended? The manufacturer?

      Thanks

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Ramya: Yes, I know there are different types. As long as, it is GreenPan ceramic and nonstick, Thermolon coating is used that is described in my post. Thank you for clarifying. ~Irina

      • max

        Irina, according to the article there are 3 types of coating beneath. Aluminum, Hard Anodized Aluminum or Stainless Steel. Apparently all are “safe”. Now I am thinking about the fumes that are emitted beneath while cooking, therefore I thought Stainless Steel would be the most safe or would, in your opinion, the coating beneath not matter at all? I was thinking to buy stainless steel, but these are the most expensive.

        Also when it comes to their coating they have something called Ceramic Non-Stick enhanced with “diamonds”. At the time of your review. Did these pans also have that “diamond” coating? Is it safe? Because when looking at the frying pans on their website only one (I assume the oldest) doesn´t have this “diamond” coating. That pan is called “GreenChef” Profile. It wouldn´t be good if your article is based on the products that didn´t have that diamond coating, which were deemed safe, but then they added that diamond coating and now its unsafe. Please advise.

  10. Bernice Leung

    Dear Irina,

    Thanks for your information. Indeed, this is very useful. By the way, may I ask for the good health of ‘SALADMASTER” which is made in stain steel at 316TL? If you are not sure, would you please send me some information for my reference.

    Since, I am living in HK. I am using Staub of their cast iron. Your information of cast iron would be much appreciated indeed.

    Looking forward to hearaing from you soon.

    Thank you for your kind attention.

    Cheers
    Bernice Leung (Ms)

  11. Alice Freund

    Hi, my husband just bought a Greenpan and asked me (an environmental scientist) if its toxic. Everything you wrote was extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing their test results. Often companies just substitute one halogen for another or one known toxic chemical for one that has not yet been researched for toxicity. Then say they are BPA, PFOA, etc “free.” I wonder if there is any way to get them to tell you if it contains any halogenated hydrocarbons (ie chemicals with chlorine, bromine, or fluorine) as these can be endocrine disrupters.

    Thanks!! Alice

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Alice:

      when I ask sensitive questions like that, I emailed companies as a customer, not as a blogger. So as a customer, you have the right to voice your concerns. Please let us know what you find out. ~Irina

  12. Jocelyn Magee

    I’m looking to buy a GreenPan set but am confused since they all say they are made with aluminum? I know your report said the levels are low but if they are boasting to be safe, isn’t using aluminum a contradiction? Thanks for doing this website, it was super helpful!

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Jocelyn:

      Are you talking about the metal that under the coating, which can be aluminum or stainless steel? One of their two coatings (they have two types of coatings now) leaches 0.27 ppm of aluminum, which is way below 0.6 ppm defined as a true safety level in drinking water by the Environmental Working Group. Let me know if this helps. ~Irina

  13. Jenny M

    I bought a light-colored GreenPan about 5 years ago, and I’m very happy with its performance. There are no chips and it’s still quite non-stick. It has gradually darkened to largely black/brown from frequent use, which I suspect is analogous to the seasoning that takes place with a cast iron pan – an accumulation of cooking oils that gets backed on, right? From that, my thought is that it might be, if anything, safer now than when it was new because the food interacts mainly with this seasoned coating.

  14. Florina

    Hello Irina
    Thank you for your work.
    Do you know about Greenpan Infinity? It is a version enhanced with diamonds… it seems great but is it really so?

    • Irina Webb

      They said there are only two types of coatings, and they have sent me test reports for both. The names vary but apparently, different retailers call them different things. Let me know if you want me to publish the test reports on the website.

      • Florina

        Dear Irina,
        It would be very useful if you could publish the test reports. I
        haven’t decided yet which one to buy but I want to replace my ceramic coated aluminium pan from Tefal, it sticks and has many scratches…
        Do you have any data regarding the radioactivity which is sometimes found in the ceramic cookware?
        Thanks.

        • Irina Webb

          I will update the post now and include the test reports. As for radioactivity, it is possible (I have done a lot of research into ceramic implants); however, at some point, we need to draw a line; otherwise, we will get too overwhelmed, stressed, and paralyzed to do anything, which is counterproductive for our health. ~Irina

          • Florina

            This is true. We should try to do our best without stress, enjoy life every single day…
            Thanks for helping me out.
            I wish you the best!

  15. Florina

    Hello Irina,
    Still looking for the best non sticky pan…
    What about Le Creuset Toughened Non-stick Shallow Frying Pan.
    Do you know anything about the safety of their nonstick coating… they say lifetime guarantee.
    Thank you!

  16. Florina

    I think I found about le Creuset nonstick
    The Le Creuset nonstick stuff is not any better than Teflon. The coating is called Silverstone, and like Teflon, it is trademarked by Dupont. Both Teflon and Silverstone are fluoropolymer materials. Silverstone is a three-coat fluoropolymer that’s supposedly more durable than Teflon, but the studies done on birds and stuff I believe include all fluoropolymers.

    Most of the Le Creuset stuff is enamel, which is safe, but the omelet pans and the stuff explicitly marked nonstick are not.
    If you have other data, please share them with us.
    Thanks a lot.

  17. Joy Wygant

    I’ve purchased GreenPans twice now (for a total of 4 pans) and have been disappointed both times. They work extremely well (non-stick) to begin with, but after heavy use, they have stopped being non-stick for me. I want to love them, I do! But sadly these haven’t worked out for me in the long term (~ 1-2 years).

    I do so appreciate all your research and this blog. Keep it up! Thank you!!

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you for letting me know, Joy! It is important for me to know as I do not have personal experience with them. I use cast iron as non-stick. I think you said you found them heavy, right. ~Irina

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