Food

Say No to Non-Stick Without Saying No to Eggs!

Why the extra effort to cook without non-stick is worth it

Ugh, and there it goes, your non-stick pan just can't survive another round of frying up your favorite eggs for brunch. You've avoided this for as long as you can, but you just can't put it off any longer. Yup, you have to go shopping for pots and pans. If the thought of choosing between the seemingly hundreds of different brands promising different things scares you, we get it! I mean, who wants to try and figure out the difference between non-toxic and toxic cooking pans between running errands and going grocery shopping? We're here to help you cut down on your shopping time and anxiety!


Let's begin with the basics

Non-stick pans are made up of two different materials. The first is the one inside of a non-stick pan that is metal, generally aluminum, which helps conduct heat evenly. This metal base is then sprayed with a non-stick coating that we most famously know as Teflon (1). The non-stick coating is made up of fluorinated chemicals, which are as bad for you as they sound. While the fluorinated chemicals help keep the surface of pans slick and nonstick, they have been found to cause negative health effects in humans. Most notably, the gasses released from Teflon can cause respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing (2).

If you're like me, the reason you need to replace your non-stick pan is because it's scratched up, and you can see the aluminum underneath. That's when it gets even worse and is surely a sign you should head to your nearest pan store ASAP! Why? A couple of reasons: you have definitely been breathing in fumes from the nonstick coating, chances are you have even eaten some of the coating as it chipped and stuck to your food, and because exposure to aluminum (that stuff you see under the scratches) has been connected to Alzheimer's Disease and other negative health outcomes (3).

What about my PFOA-, PFAS-, and PFTE- free pans? What do all the P's mean?

Well, essentially one word – bad! PFAS is an all-encompassing term for fluorinated products, and many companies will promise that their products are PFOA or PFTE free, but aren't actually free of all fluorinated chemicals since there are lots of them. As a general rule of thumb, anything that has a non-stick coating is going to contain fluorinated chemicals. We just haven't reached a point where magical properties in an added coating can be made safely (I know, I know, I'm sad too). The annoying thing with these non-stick coatings is that when you buy them, they are technically safe because it does not contain or give off any dangerous chemicals. However, the problem is when you heat these pans to high temperatures (which many of the pans say not to do if you read the fine print), the non-stick coating gets converted into a dangerous compound (in most cases, PFOA) which is then released into the air and into your food (4). Companies keep creating new compounds that they believe are safe, but there's really not enough information out there to know that they don't pose negative health effects further down the road. The best thing to do is say no to non-stick pans! It may be tough at first, but if you really think about it, non-stick pans aren't necessary for everything you do in the kitchen (I'm talking about you, my pasta pot)!

Does this apply to those magical "green" pans that I've been seeing everywhere?

Sadly, we're going to have to say that they aren't worth your time or money. These "green" pans are similar to how non-stick pans are made. They also have a metal base, again, generally aluminum. But this time, instead of a fluorinated coating, the metal base is covered in a ceramic coating. The coating is usually made of silicon and oxygen, and is there to act as a barrier between the metal base used for conducting heat and the food that you're cooking. The ceramic coating is free of PFOA and PFAS, which is what we're concerned about in Teflon, so maybe they are less toxic. But, studies and tons of user reviews have shown that these pans don't work, or basically stop working after a couple of weeks or months and then end up getting thrown away (5). Doesn't sound very "green" to us. In some cases, if you're purchasing green pans made out of the country, the ceramic coating may even contain lead and cadmium, which are not good for adults and children alike (6). Similar to non-stick pans, once the ceramic coating has been scratched or damaged, you really can't continue using it because the aluminum base is exposed and can get into your food. Bottom line, these aren't the magical answer.

So what should I use instead?

The great news is that you have options! We've done all the research to make your life easier. Here are some of our recommendations. If you're in shopping mode right now, we've also lined up a list of perfect pans for you in our roundup!

    • Cast iron – can be made non-stick if seasoned properly and will last a lifetime. Great for everything except acidic foods
    • Carbon steel – can be made non-stick if seasoned properly
    • Stainless steel – can be made non-stick if properly heated and greased well
    • Enamel cast iron – make for a very pretty pan
    • Pure ceramic – can be used for all foods, even acidic ones!

Hopefully you agree with us now that non-stick is not the way to go. Not only does it have a short lifespan, but it also releases harmful toxics. Instead, try investing in some non-toxic cookware. The ones we recommended are great because they basically last forever (especially cast iron!). If you're still hooked on these magical "green" pans and want to buy ceramic, go for a pure ceramic cookware from a reputable brand and you're in good shape! So, what are you waiting for? Take all this new knowledge you've learned and spread the wealth at your nearest home goods shop!

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-21872-9_2
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-017-0095-y
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716324548
  4. https://blog.kitchenwarehouse.com.au/choose-right-cooking-surface-exactly-pfoa-pfte/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261306913007073
  6. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr;=&id;=VBBQDwAAQBAJ&oi;=fnd&pg;=PA211&dq;=ceramic+pans+and+health&ots;=EOrXbIcGju&sig;=83E2Sg4qPdP5H7RsGYAxYSFYElE#v=onepage&q;=ceramic%20pans%20and%20health&f;=false
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713517305819
Roundups

Non-Toxic Aftershaves

Cause who wants questionable chemicals on a freshly shaven face?

Whether aftershave is part of your shaving routine for the manly (and fabulous!) scents or to help your skin recover, you probably don't want an aftershave with questionable ingredients or preservatives. This is especially true because the main purpose of aftershave is to calm down any skin irritation and disinfect any small nicks (oops!) you accidentally gave yourself. We also included two options for witch hazel toners that are an all natural, affordable option that calms inflammation and disinfects. We found 7 non-toxic aftershaves and witch hazel toners that have good ingredients, good reviews, and are easy to buy at major retailers. So pick up one up and incorporate it into your morning routine and your skin will thank you!

Keep Reading Show Less
Sign up for our newsletter!
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL
Family

5 Easy Changes to Protect Your Sperm from Harmful Chemicals

Keep your swimmers safe with these science-based tips

Hey, guys, yeah all you sperm producing humans out there. Hate to break it to you, but when it comes to different chemicals in our world, your little swimmers might not be as safe as you think. While it's true that you continually are creating new sperm, if you are exposed to some of these nasty things on a regular basis, chances are high that they are affecting both the quality and quantity of your sperm. Even if you aren't planning to have a kid right now, these things could make it harder for you to conceive a kid in the future and research has linked sperm health to overall health. But, hang tight. We have some super simple suggestions for ways to change up your routine that can protect your sperm for years to come.

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

What to Know Before Your Next Big DIY Project

Protect your health without sacrificing creativity!

Whether you're inspired by a recent Etsy binge or are a Weekend Warrior who practically lives at Home Depot, DIY projects can be super fun and fulfilling. Before you get started on your next project, we have some tips on what chemicals to avoid, the safety hazards they pose, and ways to keep yourself safe.




Avoid Methylene chloride

It's always fun to spruce up furniture with a new coat of paint but methylene chloride, a seriously dangerous chemical, is found in paint stripping products. In the body methylene chloride turns into carbon monoxide (1), and too much carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, confusion, and asphyxia. Methylene chloride fumes quickly accumulate and are heavier than air, which means workers bending down over projects in poorly ventilated areas are easily susceptible to the dangers of this chemical (2). There have been many accidental deaths from Methylene chloride, so you should completely avoid paint strippers that use it. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families has created a great reference on safer alternative for paint strippers.

Paint

Before you pick up your paint brush to tackle that dresser revamp, make sure the paint you're using is low VOCs. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that are emitted as gasses from products like paint and can cause headaches, eye irritation, and nausea (3). VOCs are part of the reason paint can be so smelly when it's drying! Look for a paint that says low or no VOCs on the packaging and make sure to keep the windows open while the paint is drying!

Wood Stains

Updating your wood table or decking? Reach for a water-based wood stain or finish! Traditional wood stains can contain harsh chemicals and emit a ton of VOCs. Luckily a lot of brands have a VOC rating on their label, which makes choosing a product a lot easier. We recommend choosing a stain with low VOCs (under 250 g/l) that is also Green Seal 11 (GS-11) certified (4).

Always Have Proper Ventilation

This is key for any DIY project. Chances are, you'll probably use some chemicals that are not great for you during your project. The best place to work on your project is outside but if you have to work indoor, make sure to open windows and doors, and use a fan to ventilate the area.

Wear a Protective Mask

DIY projects can expose you to a TON of dust, which is why it's a good idea to always wear a protective mask. Dust is bad for you in general, and can also contain particles containing toxic chemicals, which is why we recommend using an N95 mask while working. Normal masks can help protect you, but they don't protect you from all dust. N95 masks filter even the tiniest particles (0.3 microns) (5), which can keep you safe during those extremely messy projects.




  1. https://saferchemicals.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/methylene-chloride/
  2. https://prheucsf.blog/2017/11/14/risky-paint-stripper-will-continue-to-kill-while-epa-delays/
  3. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality#Levels
  4. https://www.ewg.org/healthyhomeguide/wood-stains-a...
  5. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-infection-control/masks-and-n95-respirators

Now that you've invested in some glass and stainless steel food storage containers, maybe you're wondering if you should Marie Kondo all the plastic ones you used to use? Instead adding them to the landfill, what if we told you that all those plastic containers can help you achieve a new level of organization zen? While we don't recommend storing food in them anymore (for those of you who haven't heard: these plastic food storage containers often have BPA or phthalates in them, which can leach into your food over time and cause all sorts of health problems), we also don't think you have to throw them away.

So, what can you do? We have 6 great suggestions for you to repurpose those containers throughout your home.



Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

6 Non-Toxic and Plastic-Free Shampoos

We found 5 shampoo bars and 1 refillable option

We've had a lot of asks for products with sustainable packaging. We heard you! Sustainable, non-toxic, well-reviewed products are actually harder to find than you think. Who knew? But we did a ton of research and found some great options! We searched high and wide and found these 5 non-toxic shampoo bars and one refillable shampoo that comes in an aluminum bottle. These shampoo products are a great way to reduce your plastic consumption without compromising on safe ingredients. A win-win in our book for the planet and your health!

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

Banish Bugs With Our Recommended Insect Repellent Ingredients

Don't be an all-you-can-eat-buffet for annoying critters again!

Summer is here! But that means so are the biting insects…. Ugh. Mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, and biting flies seem impossible to avoid when the weather heats up. They're really annoying and they can post a pretty big health risk. Mosquitoes and ticks alone can transmit some scary diseases like Zika, Lyme, malaria, encephalitis, and dengue fever. And to make matters worse, a new CDC report shows the number of mosquito and tick-borne diseases are on the rise (1). To help protect yourself against these pesky insects, we're discussing the most effective insect repellent ingredients that are EPA registered (AKA safe and effective) and CDC recommended: DEET, picardian, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

We know what you're thinking- synthetic chemicals are recommended?! In this case, the risk of disease is a bigger environmental health threat than using these two specific synthetic chemicals. Additionally, there have also been no scientific studies that show essential oils are effective in protecting against insect bites so we can't include them in our recommendations. You can try them and maybe they'll work for you, but there's no guarantee. If you really want our one DEET alternative, non-synthetic repellent recommendation, that has a transparent list of ingredients, and is scientifically proven to keep bugs away, stay tuned!

DEET

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is considered to be the "gold standard" of insect repellent. It's a good choice if you're outside all day in a high-insect are because it repels the most insects, including both mosquitoes and ticks, and lasts the longest amount of time (2). When applied correctly (make sure to read the label!), there are very few negative reactions from DEET. A product with a concentration of DEET between 20-30% can provide protection from insects for most of the day (3). DEET can be used while pregnant and on children older than two months and has not been found to be carcinogenic. Although some may see dermatitis or an allergic reaction from long-term exposure to high levels of DEET (2) and oral ingestion has been shown to have neurotoxic effects like seizures (4).

Picaridin

Picaridin (icardian) is another repellent ingredient that repels ticks and mosquitoes. It's been widely used in Europe and Australia for years with positive results. A product containing at least 20% picaridin has similar short-term results as DEET, although picaridin does not provide long-lasting protection as well as DEET and has to be reapplied more often (2). Picaridin has not been studied as thoroughly as DEET, but it does not seem to have any major negative health impacts. Although uncommon it can cause skin or eye irritation, so make sure to read the directions when using a product containing picaridin (5).

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (P-menthane-3,8-diol) is a natural oil extracted from the lemon-scented eucalyptus plant (6). It can be an appealing ingredient to people because it's an alternative to synthetic chemicals like DEET or picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is great at repelling mosquitoes, flies and gnats, but not so great against ticks (2). Products containing at least 30% of oil of lemon eucalyptus have shown to be almost as effective as repelling mosquitoes as DEET, but it has to be applied much more frequently (6). While it is natural, it can irritate the eyes or skin and is not recommended for children under 3 (7). Just a quick note: lemon essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil are NOT the same thing as oil of lemon eucalyptus though, so make sure to look for that exact phrasing in any ingredient lists.

Since oil of lemon eucalyptus is EPA registered and a natural ingredient, we think it's a great synthetic-ingredient alternative! We love Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray. It uses 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus as a way to repel those annoying bugs and lists all of the ingredients (ethanol and water). It's super super hard to find a complete list of ingredients in insect repellent products, so we think this is a huge plus.

So which ingredient should I choose?

It depends! Are you in an area with a high amount of mosquitoes and ticks? Are you outdoors for the entire day or maybe just an hour? Do you want to avoid synthetic chemicals or are you okay with it? Are you traveling to a place that has a high rate of diseases like malaria or yellow fever? The EPA has a quiz you can take in order to find the best insect repellent for your needs.

We recommend to always read and completely follow the directions listed on any repellent product you use, and wash your hands after applying a repellent. Generally you want to apply repellent when you're outside while holding the product at least 6 inches away as you spray. While spraying repellent on your clothes is okay (although DEET shouldn't be sprayed on synthetic fabric), it's not a good idea to spray it under your clothes (8). Long sleeved shirts, pants, long socks, and closed toe shoes can reduce the risk of a bite because less skin is exposed.

Now that you're fully up-to-date on the best insect repellent ingredients you can go back to focusing on what really matters: barbecuing, swimming, beach trips, and all of fun activities that come with summer!


References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6717e1.htm?s_cid=mm6717e1

2. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/prevention-of-arthropod-and-insect-bites-repellents-and-other-measures

3. https://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-bug-repellents/ewg-repellent-guide

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=2506420

5. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/PicaridinGen.html

6. https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/pesticides/factsheets/oillemoneucalyptus.pdf

7. https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html

8. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods

Life

Why Summer-Time Pests Can be Dangerous for Your Health and How to Avoid Them

The worst thing these little guys do is not just make us itchy

Nearly everyone has been bitten by a tick, mosquito, or flea, and can agree these pests are a damper on otherwise fun-filled summer activities. What most don't know is that these pests are vectors: carriers of many harmful diseases. These diseases are on the rise in the US, and are expected to become an even larger problem as climate change intensifies. Keep yourself and family informed and safe this summer with the following information on vector-borne diseases and how to avoid annoying and dangerous bug bites.

Keep Reading Show Less
Sign up for our newsletter!
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL