This special Our Place Always Pan Review will help you form an opinion about Always Pan safety and decide whether the Our Place pan coating is truly non-toxic. You will also learn how to use the Always Pan to prevent it from losing its non-stick ability, and how Always Pan compares to such non-stick cookware brands as GreenPan and Caraway. In addition, I encourage you to check out my Safe Cookware Guide to make a fully informed decision about buying new cookware for your home or as a gift.
In this post:
- My Non-Stick Cookware Research
- Use These Tips to Conduct Your Own Survey.
- Our Place Always Pan Review
- Where is Our Place Cookware Made?
- Always Pan Instructions
- Is the Our Place Pan Worth It?
- Is Always Pan Safe?
- Is Our Place Pan Non-Toxic?
- Always Pan PFAS
- Always Pan vs. GreenPan
- Caraway vs. Our Place
- What Pans Are Safe?
- Summary of the Our Place Always Pan Review
Doesn’t it sound enticing to have a pan that replaces eight traditional pieces of cookware? Well, Our Place Always Pan promises just that. Plus, the company markets their Always Pan coating as “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 see the composition of Our Place non-stick pan coating to draw your own conclusion about Always Pan safety. Also, learn the Always Pan instructions on care and use to extend its serving period.
My Non-Stick Cookware Research
To begin with, I have been actively involved in consumer goods and ingredient research since 2012. That year, I was expecting a baby and wanted to find some safe products for him. What I found out about the baby product industry was so significant and eye-opening that I wanted to share it with others. That idea led me to starting my own blog.
My mission is to educate you about potentially toxic chemicals so you can make informed decisions about products. I believe there are stress-free ways to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful substances, which may ultimately improve your health. And I know what I am talking about because I have had my share of health issues. You can read about them in my posts about breast implants and explant surgery. Also, visit my Start here page to see the details of my research method and the resources I use.
As for cookware, I have done tons of research both into the safety of cookware materials and non-toxic coating. Along with Our Place non-stick pan, there are other brands producing non-stick cookware. (Stay with me to learn about Our Place Always Pan sticking issues.) Some of those brands are ScanPan, Green Earth, GreenLife, Zwilling, and Blue Diamond. Please, sign up here to learn more about my research into these brands.
Here are some tips you can use to do your own non-stick cookware research to find out what pans are safe for you.
Use These Tips to Conduct Your Own Survey.
First of all, if we want to see positive changes, it is important to ask questions of manufacturers. In my multi-year experience as a full-time product researcher, I have seen many constructive transformations. For example, many baby wipes used to contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Recently, though, I have hardly seen any baby wipes with formaldehyde releasers. Learn more about that in my post about Kirkland Signature baby wipes.
Should you conduct your own research into the Our Place non-stick pan (or any other brand), the following questions will help. Be sure to ask them of Our Place and any other non-stick cookware manufacturers you contact.
|1.||What agency performs the testing of your products?|
|2.||How often do you perform the tests?|
|3.||How do your tests compare with the CA Proposition 65 test?|
|4.||Could you email me the latest test reports?|
|5.||What are the non-stick coating ingredients?|
|6.||What polymer do you use?|
|7.||Which metal do you use beneath the non-stick coating?|
|8.||How long does the coating last?|
|9.||How often do you recommend replacing your cookware?|
I believe that asking these questions will help us bring safe non-stick cookware with truly non-toxic coating to the market.
Now, back to the Always Pan safety review and Always Pan instructions on use and care.
Our Place Always Pan Review
Frankly speaking, I like both the looks and the idea of the Always Pan uniting eight cookware products into one. According to the website, it replaces your “fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest.” So, Our Place promises that with just this one pan, you can braise, sear, steam, strain, sauté, fry, boil, serve, and store.
Importantly, it is compatible with all cooktops, including induction stoves, comes with a lid, and is relatively lightweight – 3 lbs. Additionally, it has a nesting beechwood spatula with integrated spoon rest, a stainless steel steamer basket, and pour spouts.
What is Our Place pan made of? It is made of aluminum – which is a rather good heat conductor. As a matter of fact, most stainless steel cookware has an aluminum layer between its plies because stainless steel is not a good heat conductor.
Further Our Place pan cleaning seems easy, and it appears perfect for a small kitchen or a minimalistic lifestyle. Besides, it comes in a variety of colors and does look beautiful. You can have it out on the stove as a part of your décor. Also, you can serve the food in the pan without having to use a fancy serving dish.
Regardless of how convenient the Always Pan might sound, for me the main questions are:
- Are Our Place pans safe?
- Do they have a non-toxic coating?
And this is what I set out to discover.
Where is Our Place Cookware Made?
For starters, Our Place carries a variety of cookware that is manufactured in China, Thailand, and Mexico. Specifically, the Always Pan is made at a factory in China. Here is what they say about it:
Always Pan Instructions
If you choose to purchase the Always Pan or already have one, make sure you comply with the manufacturer’s instructions. I believe it will help your non-stick pan last long and prevent it from scratching, chipping, and losing its non-stick feature.
|Cooking temperature||Low to medium-low heat|
|Cooking in the oven||NOT oven safe|
|Oils and fats||1-2 tablespoons of oil or butter (HIGH SMOKE POINT, i.e., ghee, extra virgin olive, refined coconut, avocado, peanut oils)|
|Spray oils||NOT recommended|
|Washing||BY HAND with soapy water and a soft non-abrasive sponge|
|Submerging in water||After the pan has COOLED DOWN|
|Dishwasher safety||The pan and the spatula are NOT dishwasher safe. The steamer is dishwasher safe.|
|Steaming||When steaming larger items for a long time, make sure there is always water in the Our Place ceramic pan.|
Although these tips are helpful, it is always a good idea to check out the company’s website for Our Place pan cleaning and other instructions.
Is the Our Place Pan Worth It?
Before talking about Always Pan safety, let’s address its practicality. During my research, I encountered both positive reviews and complaints about the Our Place ceramic pan. The table below summarizes many comments I have seen.
|One pan replaces eight pieces of cookware.||You will likely be unequipped for making some dishes, such as pasta, when you need to do several jobs at the same time.|
|The pan heats quickly and evenly and feels sturdy yet lightweight.||It is not oven safe.|
|A mesh strainer fits neatly inside for easy steaming.||The feet on the strainer are too short. You must refill the water halfway through cooking, which halts the cooking process.|
|The knob on the handle keeps the spatula tidy.||The handle is boxy and uncomfortable to grip.|
|The pan’s longer handle stays room temperature.||The side handle gets hot.|
|The pan adds to the kitchen décor and can be displayed on the stovetop.||The greasy stains on the colorful enamel are hard to handle. Our Place offers no advice on dealing with stains.|
|Our Place pan cleaning is easy.||The triangular gap where the handle attaches to the pan collects food splatters and is too small to clean.|
|The two spouts make for easy pouring with minimal mess.||Due to the domed bottom, oil and sauces pool to the edges.|
|After more than a year of use, you can still make eggs and pancakes without sticking issues.||After about 6 months, the non-stick coating wore off.|
Is Always Pan Safe?
Now that we know how to use the Always Pan, let’s talk about its safety.
To begin, the Our Place Always Pan website describes their (presumably) non-toxic coating as follows:
I asked them about the composition of their ceramic non-stick coating, and they replied that they use proprietary sol-gel technology:
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 us look closer.
To clarify, the terms “organic” and “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 are chains of large molecules that consist of sequences of repeating monomers. They can be both organic and inorganic. For example, organic polymers include low- and high-density polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, nylon, Teflon, and thermoplastic polyurethane (source). It would be great to know which organic polymer Our Place uses in their ceramic non-stick cookware.
Is Our Place Pan Non-Toxic?
Now, I totally understand the importance of not letting your Always Pan scratch or lose its non-stick power. Yet the results of non-stick coating test reports are far more important to me.
For starters, Our Place Always Pan disclosed their test report results in December 2020. And this is great! I applaud companies that publish their test reports.
What we know about the Our Place ceramic pan coating based on the test report is that lithium, lead, cobalt, cadmium, and mercury are non-detectable. However, the report does not specify what the minimum detectable levels are. In the meantime, Tamara Rubin tested an Always Pan and detected 34+/-6 ppm of lead in the food surface. Though not too bad, in my opinion, it is not completely absent.
Additionally, it does not seem like they tested for other heavy metals, i.e., aluminum, PTFE, or PFOA and other PFAS. When I asked them about that, they replied the following:
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.
I have some concerns about that. First, we do not know all ingredients of their ceramic coating, and what exactly we should test for. Secondly, in my opinion, ceramic coating should still be tested for PTFE and PFAS. Here is why.
Always Pan PFAS
The focal point of this Our Place Always Pan review is not to teach you how to use the Always Pan (although that is important, too), but to help you form your own opinion about its safety. Therefore, the question whether there are PFAS in Our Place ceramic pan coating seems worthy of discussion.
First, “PFAS” stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS), and GenX chemicals. The main cause of concern is their potentially harmful health effects that may include interference with the body’s natural hormones and increase of the risk of cancer (source).
When it comes to cookware, PFAS can be used in non-stick coating instead of potentially carcinogenic perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The latter became notorious for being used in conventional non-stick coating called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or Teflon. Here is a list of cookware tested positive for PTFE by the Ecology Center in 2020. In my opinion, Teflon cookware is not a safe choice for your kitchen.
True, the website emphasizes that the Our Place Pan coating is free of these substances:
Nonetheless, I would still like to see their test reports for these substances because of what I discovered about the sol-gel coating. Indeed, the summary of the sol-gel patent seems to indicate that the food-contacting surface of the sol-gel coated cookware can also have a PTFE-based coating.
Therefore, it would be ideal if Our Place had 3rd party independent test reports to back up their claims about their non-toxic coating.
Always Pan vs. GreenPan
Discussing Always Pan safety, I cannot but mention GreenPan. The GreenPan and Always Pan instructions for care and use of their ceramic non-stick cookware have a lot in common. Thus, both recommend cooking on low to medium heat, using high smoke point oils (no spray oils), and non-abrasive hand washing. Unlike GreenPan, though, Our Place pan is not oven safe.
On the other hand, unlike Our Place, which gives no specific name to their ceramic coating, GreenPan defines theirs as “Thermolon.” You can read about my opinions on the safety of Thermolon and GreenPan per se in my comprehensive GreenPan Review.
In a nutshell, Thermolon is made by a sol-gel process and has silica (aka sand) as its main ingredient. Also, the available GreenPan test reports show acceptable levels of aluminum, lead, cadmium, and heavy metals. Yet my concern is that we do not know all its ingredients. Hence, we do not know for sure what substances we should see the test reports for.
Additionally, when I contacted GreenPan in December 2021, they said they would no longer disclose their test reports. On top of that, they were involved in a class action lawsuit regarding Thermolon coating that you can also read about in my GreenPan Review.
In conclusion, I prefer to use stainless steel and cast iron pots and pans that we will discuss in a bit.
Caraway vs. Our Place
Next in line in our Always Pan safety review is Caraway non-stick ceramic cookware. Like Our Place, Caraway claims to use non-toxic coating free of PTFE. Again, some evidence of that would be ideal, given neither the ingredients nor the name of the coating are disclosed. They explicitly told me, though, that it is not Thermolon.
Just as in the Always Pan instructions for use and care, Caraway’s instructions recommend cooking at low heat, using a little bit of oil, and non-abrasive handwashing. Also, both emphasize the importance of letting your pan cool down completely before running cold water over it. Unlike the Our Place pan, which is not oven-safe, Caraway is described as capable of handling oven temperatures up to 550°F.
To see the Caraway 2020 test report and my understanding of it, sign up here to receive my email. You will also find out what happened when in December 2021 I asked Caraway for updated test reports. As a bonus, you will learn about the safety of some other popular brands such as Ozeri, ScanPan, Zwilling, and Blue Diamond. If you are curious about my opinion on GreenChef and HexClad, please refer to my GreenPan Review.
What Pans Are Safe?
Although Always Pan boasts non-toxic coating, I have not used their cookware due to the lack of transparency of their coating ingredients. I use stainless steel and cast iron cookware that works as well as non-stick. We just let the stainless steel frying pan warm up well before adding oil. And we let the oil heat up well, too, before adding food. And for cast iron pots and pans, seasoning is important, preferably with high smoke point oil, e.g., avocado oil. Plus, unlike the Our Place pan, which is not oven safe, both stainless steel and cast iron cookware can be used in the oven.
Until recently, our favorite stainless steel cookware has been by Homi Chef and All-Clad. Lately, we have discovered 360 Cookware, which is unique thanks to its Vapor Seal cooking method. Most of all, I appreciate the fact that they carry a stainless steel slow cooker. I just do not trust ceramic inserts of conventional slow cookers that may leach heavy metals into food. Please, learn the details of my experience with it, and use & care tips in my Best 360 Cookware Review.
Please, remember that overusing cast iron cookware can increase levels of iron in blood. Thus, we do not use cast iron exclusively. To learn about other cookware options, check out my Safe Cookware guide.
Summary of the Our Place Always Pan Review
Regarding the Always Pan safety, I have not reached an opinion that Our Place pan coating is non-toxic. However, I appreciate the pan’s aesthetics and the premise that one pan can replace 8 articles of cookware. It seems good for minimalistic kitchens. But you may feel underequipped when you cook dishes that require doing several jobs simultaneously. And following the Always Pan instructions on care & use may help prevent it from losing its non-stick feature.
You can learn about the safety of GreenPan ceramic cookware by reading my comprehensive GreenPan Review. In addition, if you sign up here, you will know about my research into other non-stick cookware brands.
In my kitchen, we use stainless steel and cast iron cookware. Recently, I have been using the 360 Cookware slow cooker a lot! I am just happy that it is not ceramic as ceramic inserts may leach heavy metals into food. We also like Homi Chef and All-Clad stainless steel cookware.