Doesn’t it sound enticing to have a pan that replaces eight traditional pieces of cookware? Our Place Always Pan promises just that. Since many of you have asked me for my opinion on this ceramic non-stick cookware, let me share my thoughts. Our Place is yet another company that claims to produce “non-toxic non-stick ceramic coating made without potentially toxic materials like PFOAs, PTFEs, other PFAs, lead, cadmium, toxic metals, and nanoparticles.” Read on to find out what their non-stick coating is composed of. Before we get there, though, let us talk about some of the things they avoid with their Always Pan.
What is wrong with PTFE and PFOA in ceramic non-stick cookware?
To begin with, PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene and goes under the brand name of Teflon. And PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, aka C8, used to make PTFE coating. Unlike PTFE, which is not known to cause cancer, PFOA is considered a carcinogen. If your cookware contains PFOA in its coating, it releases toxic fumes during cooking. Consequently, your home inhabitants, especially babies, kids, and pets, may start having flu-like symptoms.
Moreover, PFOA may still be in your blood even if you ceased using Teflon cookware a while ago. It may lead to cancer, reduced fertility, and thyroid disorders, to name a few. Therefore, it is great that Our Place Always Pan is PFOA free. (To learn more about PFOA, visit here.)
It is important to understand that “PFOA-free” does not mean safe. If the cookware boasts PTFE coating, it is necessary to inquire what it uses instead of PFOA. For instance, one of the replacements can be perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, aka PFOS. Thus, my experience as a full-time consumer product researcher tells me that substitutes are often as bad, or even worse, than the ingredient they replace. Therefore, I highly recommend avoiding Teflon PTFE coating altogether.
By the way, there is a brand of non-stick cookware that may appear safer than Teflon cookware. However, if you contact them, you might learn that they still use PTFE coating and do not carry PTFE-free pans. To find out which brand it is, please sign up for my email with this information here.
Our Place Always Pan coating composition is not clear.
According to the Our Place website, their ceramic non-stick cookware is free of PTFE coating altogether. So, I emailed the company to find out the composition of their ceramic coating. In reply, the company told me that the Always Pan coating is made of proprietary sol-gel technology. This is what they said:
“It is a ceramic precursor, i.e., if you were to fire the sol-gel chemistry, it would turn into ceramic. But because we are heating it at a lower temperature, it never gets to that ceramic state. Ceramic is totally in-organic whereas our sol-gel has organic and inorganic substances. The inorganic material is glass/silica. The organic material is an organic polymer.”
At first glance, it seems that they fully disclosed the composition of the coating – but let’s look closer.
To clarify, the terms ‘organic/inorganic’ refer to the field of chemistry, not organically grown pesticide-free ingredients. Thus, organic chemistry studies compounds that include carbon and hydrogen molecules. They may also include a vast number of compounds such as plastics and petrochemicals. Although the company reveals the inorganic material – silica – they hardly say anything about the organic material, i.e., the polymer.
Meanwhile, polymers, as opposed to monomers, are chains of large molecules that consist of sequences of repeating monomers. They can be organic and inorganic. For example, organic polymers include low- and high-density polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, nylon, Teflon, and thermoplastic polyurethane (source).
So, which organic polymer does Our Place use in its ceramic non-stick cookware?
Our Place Always Pan disclosed their test report.
To start with, I always praise companies for disclosing their test reports. In my experience, however, it happens rarely because many companies keep their test results a secret. One of the companies that discloses its test reports is GreenPan. For that reason, if you absolutely must use non-stick cookware, I suggest choosing GreenPan. In other words, in the debate of GreenPan vs Always Pan, GreenPan wins, in my opinion. However, I am still not fully comfortable with their products, especially in the light of a recent class action lawsuit. To learn more about GreenPan and the lawsuit, visit my post about GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware.
As for Our Place, they admitted sending their non-stick coating to an independent 3rd-party lab to be tested using rigorous FDA accepted methodologies. Nonetheless, at first, they refused to disclose the test results, which I interpreted as lack of transparency.
In their defense, however, they did say that they were considering disclosing their test reports in the near future. (And I encouraged you to contact them, too.)
Finally, in December of 2020, they disclosed their test report.
Always Pan tested their ceramic non-stick cookware for only five heavy metals.
The problem is that the report shows the absence of only 5 heavy metals: lithium, lead, cobalt, cadmium, and mercury.
But what about other heavy metals, such as aluminum? Most importantly, what about PFOA, PTFE, and other PFAS?
This is what Our Place Always Pan replied to these questions:
“Thank you for asking. We use a ceramic non-stick coating. Ceramic coatings, by definition, are always made without PFAs and PTFEs. Testing for PTFEs and PFAs in a ceramic non-stick would be like testing for stainless steel in a cast iron pan, it wouldn’t be all that logical which is why it’s not part of the tests.”
Well, sounds like they cannot back up their claims that their cookware is free of PFOA, PTFE, and PFAS chemicals. Besides, because they do not tell us what their ceramic coating is made of, we do not know whether ceramic coating is always made without PFAS chemicals.
If we want to see positive changes, it is important to ask questions of ceramic non-stick cookware manufacturers.
Actually, it is important to ask questions of all manufacturers, not only those that claim to make healthy cookware. In my multi-year experience as a full-time product researcher, I have seen many positive changes. For example, many baby wipes used to contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Recently, though, I have seen hardly any baby wipes with formaldehyde-releasers. To learn more about that and the Kirkland Signature baby wipes, click here.
Thus, I believe changes take place because as consumers we contact companies and ask questions.
Should you conduct your own research into Our Place Always Pan (or any other cookware), the following questions will help:
- What agency performs the testing of your products?
- How often do you perform the tests?
- How do your tests compare with the CA Prop.65 test?
- Could you email me the latest test reports?
- What are the non-stick coating ingredients?
- What polymer do you use?
- Which metal do you use beneath the non-stick coating?
- How long does the coating last?
- How often do you recommend replacing your cookware?
I wholeheartedly believe that asking these questions will help us bring truly safe non-stick cookware to the market.
Having to replace Our Place Always Pan non-stick cookware is a matter of concern.
Another concern that I have with Our Place is that their website contains instructions for helping the non-stick coating last long. (See FAQ: “How to [sic] I keep the non-stick lasting long?”)
To me, this is a red flag because “lasting long” is not “lasting forever.” And wouldn’t you expect an “always” pan to last forever or at least for a really long time? This seems to be an admission that the Always Pan is going to wear out and end up in the landfill. Compare this with Grandma’s cast iron pans that everybody is hoping to get someday!
Not all ceramic non-stick cookware brands disclose what coating they use.
Along with Our Place Always Pan, there are other brands producing non-stick cookware. The brands include ScanPan, Green Earth, GreenLife, Caraway, Zwilling, Blue Diamond, and others. Some of them, like GreenPan, may call their coating Thermolon. Others do not even say what their coating is called. To learn more about the brands, please click here.
On the plus side, Thermolon coating has no PTFE and is made by a Sol-Gel process. The resulting coating layer on the surface of a pan is comprised mainly of silicon dioxide (SiO2), which is the same composition as glass. However, there is more to Thermolon, and you can learn about it in my post about GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware.
Because I have not used Thermolon non-stick cookware myself, I cannot speak from personal experience about its performance. However, my blog readers say that Thermolon cookware stops acting as non-stick at some point because the non-stick coating dissipates.
To learn what cookware I use as a non-stick option, please visit my post about Cast Iron Pots and Pans.
You can also read how ceramic non-stick cookware compares with other types of cookware in my Safe Cookware post.
Conclusion about Our Place Always Pan
In conclusion, I believe that although ceramic non-stick coating seems to be safer than Teflon, we need more information and test reports to be sure it is truly non-toxic. As a full-time product researcher, I have discovered that when one company starts disclosing test reports, its competitors follow. So, I encourage you to contact them and ask for test reports.
Additionally, I’m not a fan of the idea of replacing ceramic cookware, because it is not good for the environment and is a waste of money.
Nevertheless, if you feel that you need to use non-stick cookware, in my opinion, GreenPan is the safest ceramic cookware. To make an informed decision, please read my blog post about the safety of GreenPan non-stick cookware.
Please visit my Shop for non-toxic healthy products, including healthy cookware, that can be helpful for you in creating a non-toxic healthy home without being overwhelmed.