Is GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware Safe?

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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 way under the recommended limit of 2 ppm.  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.  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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18 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.

  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.

    • 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

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