Food

So What's the Deal with Non-stick Baking Pans?

Why you might really need to go on a shopping-spree

Nonstick pans may be great, trust me, I'm a long-time baker who craves those perfectly sculpted sides of cakes and a hassle-free removal of muffins from the tin, but increasing evidence from research is showing that maybe we should ditch the non-stick pans for a safer alternative. Here are some of our favorite baking pans, what they're best used for, and a few great tips and tricks to keep you and the kiddos safe when indulging in those late-night brownies. If you are looking for new bakeware, check out our roundup of some of our favorite baking essentials.


Ceramic

Even if ceramic pans aren't nonstick in nature, they can be lined with unbleached parchment paper to keep sides from sticking, are often beautiful in design (I'm looking at you Le Creuset) and finished products can be served right in the pan. That means an easier cleanup for you and more time to enjoy those baked goods! These pans are great for casseroles, baked French toast, or crisps and crumbles.

Cast Iron

These babies are non-stick and a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike. Not only can you use them for cooking, but they are beyond terrific for brownies, blondies, corn breads and Dutch babies. They make for perfect golden edges, and a super easy cleanup. Pro-tip: on a hot summer day, I love to make a giant skillet brownie and top it with scoops of vanilla ice cream for the best dessert.

Stainless Steel

These types of baking pans are the best for cookies. Since stainless steel conducts heat extremely well, they make for chewy cookies with crispy edges. Pro-tip: cookies like snickerdoodles, which have been coated in sugar before baking won't stick to the pan, but for other cookies, either grease the pan prior to baking with oil or butter, or place a sheet of unbleached parchment paper under for a magically fast clean-up.

Glass

Glass pans works wonders when baking for crowds. These are great for poke cakes or lasagna, and you can serve directly from the pan! Think about it, dinner and dessert solved in just two pans.

Silicone

Baking pans made of silicon are great because they can be molded into virtually any shape. I've seen Bundt pans, muffin tins, and even silicone liners for cookies.

Cheaper Alternatives

If you're not looking to spend a fortune on new baking pans, here are some cheaper hacks.

  • Unbleached parchment paper: since toxic fumes from non-stick pans are released at temperatures higher than regular baking temperatures, simply placing a sheet of parchment paper between your pan and baked good will keep your goodies chemical-free. We recommend this brand, which has promised a fluorine-free product!
  • Cupcake liners: Again, the same concept goes, but these liners are perfect whether you're making cupcakes or muffins.
  • If you know that you're going to be baking something at an extremely high temperature, it's better to safe than sorry and stick with stainless steel or cast iron, two types of materials that can safely withstand very high temperatures. Pyrex (or any brand of tempered glass) also works well, but make sure not to stick the cap in the oven, as that is not heat-resistant.
  • If you're a traditional baker that likes to stick with the classics, greasing pans and then coating sides with flour or cocoa powder helps to more easily remove baked items from the pan.

The hacks listed above are great ways to keep using those non-stick pans while still keeping the chemicals out, but if your pans are old, scratched, or a hand-me-down, best to think about investing in some new bakeware. Looking for inspiration? Check out our roundup of some of our favorite baking essentials.

Why should you make the switch today?

Non-stick baking pans contain perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) which although great at being nonstick, are not awesome for your body. We know these PFAS most famously as Teflon (maybe you remember your mom raving about these non-stick pans to make fried eggs in!). Despite PFAS being sprayed on a variety of different things, the main source of exposure is actually through ingestion of food, such as absorption of PFAS from cooking pans and baking pans (2). The gases released from Teflon can cause respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, chest pain and cough. The coating itself, once damaged can be easily mixed in with your food. Not good! Since this discovery, Teflon has been replaced with GenX, but increasing research is showing that it is highly likely that all chemicals in this class are no longer safe (3). The best thing you can do is to keep those non-stick pans out of the kitchen or avoid using them in a setting where food comes in direct contact with the non-stick pan.

A word about aluminum

Often, as a baker, the first thing that we reach for is the aluminum foil or pan. They're so easy for pies, lining the edges of a baked good to prevent excess browning, the list goes on and on. However, research has shown that ingesting too much aluminum can lead to adverse health effects. (1) Luckily, aluminum pans, if lined with paper liners or unbleached parchment paper should be safe. The only thing you need to worry about is if you're baking involved citric acid (a.k.a. anything with vitamin C). So, if you're making a baked good that contains lemon or orange, stick to baking pans made of silicon or stainless steel.

Non-sticks may be hard to let go of (I feel your pain, fellow bakers), but these easy hacks will allow you to keep indulging in those late-night desserts for years to come!

References

1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12302-017-0117-x

2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-21872-9_2

3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-017-0095-y

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Cause Traditional Car Air Fresheners Are No Good For Your Health

Those little tree-shaped air fresheners dangling from a rear-view mirror or air vent clip-ons may feel festive, but most car air fresheners can be bad for your health. They seem so innocent, so how is that possible you might ask?

One of the biggest issues with these products is the mystery behind what goes into them. Believe it or not, It's actually hard to be 100% certain about what chemicals are in air fresheners. There's a ton of secrecy into what actually goes into a fragrance product because companies can claim their ingredients are trade secrets. We definitely can't say a product is safe if we don't even know what is used to make it.

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On top of that, fragrance in air fresheners usually contain both phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (2). Although these chemicals can make scents powerful, they can also be allergens that cause coughing, headaches, and runny noses (2). Phthalates are also hormone disruptors and VOCs can be carcinogens. We definitely don't want to be constantly breathing in those chemicals, no matter how good they might smell!

The amount of space inside your car is also a reason we don't like traditional car air fresheners. A smaller space = more concentrated exposure, and since you probably have your windows closed 90% of the time, a car is one of the worst places to keep a strongly-scented product.

Luckily, there are easy, nontoxic ways to make your car smell fresh! You can keep a container filled with baking soda or a baking soda freezer pack hidden somewhere. Baking soda is a completely natural way to eliminate odors and a box is only a couple of dollars! Using scents from natural sources are also a great way to add a little freshness to your car. You can put a few drops of an essential oil onto a clothespin or another wooden item and leave it somewhere in your car (3). When the smell goes away, just replenish with a few more drops of oil! If you prefer something a little more contained, we also love putting satchels of lavender or rose petals around our car.

But perhaps the easiest way to get rid of a bad smell is to simply roll your windows down! Maybe rolling down the windows will help make your commute a little more relaxing too.

References:

  1. https://www.nrdc.org/media/2007/070919
  2. https://kellybroganmd.com/is-your-uber-air-freshener-making-you-sick/
  3. https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/how-to-make-3-naturally-scented-air-fresheners-for-cars/
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So next time you're shopping for a wall decal, check the 'details' section on the product page. A decal that says vinyl or doesn't specify anything is probably one you want to avoid. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites that make PVC-free options that still get high marks from designers. We pulled together our top 10 favorites sites down below.

  1. Chocovenyl
  2. Eco Wall Decals
  3. Koko Kids
  4. Love Mae
  5. Oopsy Daisy
  6. Petit Collage
  7. Pop and Lolli
  8. Sunny Decals
  9. Tiny Me
  10. Wall Dressed Up


References:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/vinyl-chloride.pdf
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