With so many cookware options available on the market today, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to choose safe pots and pans. Granite cookware especially seems to be gaining traction again, but has this material become safer to use?
When granite cookware was first introduced onto the markets, people were unaware of the extremely hazardous potential side effects that some of its materials can have.
So, are these chemicals still being used today? Is granite cookware safe to use? In short, there is still granite cookware that contains these chemicals. However, there are also many options that are completely lead, PTFE, and PFOA-free. This makes them completely safe to use and equally efficient.
In today’s in-depth article, we will be looking at exactly what granite cookware is, the available types, and how you can avoid choosing hazardous options.
We will also compare the pros and cons of this material and compare it to ceramic cookware. Ready to dive in?
What Is Granite Cookware?
So, you are casually scrolling through a magazine or blog post and come across some mesmerizing granite pots and pans. Naturally, your first thoughts will be “un-affordable”!
But, once you look at the price, it costs roughly the same as regular pots and pans do. How is this possible? Granite is only meant for the rich and famous, isn’t it?
Well, unfortunately, the term “granite cookware” is somewhat misleading. It has nothing to do with the beautiful granite stone used for kitchen countertops and drinks coasters. So, automatically it isn’t going it be as expensive.
Granite cookware refers to any type of pot or pan that has a specific granite-like coating.
The actual material it is made from varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. These pots and pans are all non-stick and have excellent conductive and retaining properties.
Types Of Granite Cookware
Now, there are a few different types of cookware. We have to mention that you do get cookware made from granite stone; however, these aren’t what we are discussing today.
We’ll cover PTFE-coated cookware and enamel-coated cookware. Each of these has various pros and cons, which we will discuss later.
The construction of all types of granite cookware remains pretty much the same. The pot or the pan consists of an induction base, a metal core, and a non-stick coating.
Construction Of Granite Cookware
As we have said, this category of cookware isn’t made from one specific material. But, the construction of all types remains the same, regardless of which materials were used to make them.
A granite piece consists of an induction base, a metal core, and a non-stick coating. Each of these is essential and plays an important role in the overall effectiveness of the pot or pan.
So, let’s break it down into different layers!
The induction base sits at the bottom of the pot or pan. It is the first layer that comes into contact with the heat source. Naturally, it has to be highly conductive to ensure that the heat penetrates through all of the layers.
The induction layer is also often made from a very durable material. This material should be able to withstand general wear and tear like dents, scratches, and stains.
One thing that is absolutely crucial to remember is that these bases (especially those of more modern cookware) are all made from magnetic or magnetized materials.
What this means is essentially that they can be used on induction stovetops (which use magnetic waves to produce heat). This is great as it makes the cookware much more versatile.
Moving on, we next look at the core of each pot or pan.
This core is enclosed with the non-stick coating (which we will still discuss) and forms part of the entire pot or pans’ shape. So, unlike the base, it doesn’t only sit at the bottom of the cookware.
The purpose of the core is to evenly and effectively distribute and retain heat throughout the pan. This means that the materials used to make it should be extremely conductive themselves.
Cores are often made from aluminum (or an aluminum blend), cast iron, copper, or stainless steel. There are many different formulas for creating the ultimate core, which is why so many companies immediately patent theirs.
And finally, you have the non-stick coating. This coating is what gives the cookware the granite-like look.
It is typically grey or black in color with speckles throughout the entire surface. You can also find them in different non-traditional colors like blue or red.
These coating should all be non-stick, food-safe, rust-free, and relatively durable (when taken care of properly).
While this coating may sound like a dream come true, it is also where the controversy comes in. Basically, the material the non-stick surface is made from will determine whether or not it is safe to be used.
Some companies use PTFE coatings, while others use enamel porcelain coatings.
Is Granite Cookware Safe To Use?
Okay, so the answer isn’t as straightforward as people would like it to be. Basically, the material the non-stick coating is made from is what will determine whether that specific granite pot or pan is safe to be used.
We have our opinions surrounding this, but unfortunately, it isn’t against the law to use certain materials in pots and pans; therefore, it clearly isn’t all that unsafe.
At the end of the day, we can only lay down the facts and you will have to make any conclusions yourself.
Which Granite Pots And Pans Are Safe To Use?
The main type of granite cookware that is safe to use includes those that are entirely PTFE and PFOA free. We will discuss this type of coating in more detail later (and the risks involved with using them).
You can also check the product description. Ensure that it is entirely lead-free.
Any enameled or porcelain coating is completely safe to use, still has the granite look, and works extremely well. And, as a bonus, they are actually even more durable than the Teflon-coated pans.
Which Granite Cookware Is Unsafe To Use?
Unsafe cookware (not only granite ones) is any type that includes PTFE or PFOA. These are both extremely dangerous materials that don’t work that well for cooking.
While they are very conductive, retain heat well, and are very non-stick, all of this becomes redundant once you learn the potential side effects they have.
Risks Involved With PTFE Cookware
There are a few risks involved with using Teflon-containing cookware. However, at the end of the day, you can decide whether or not you are comfortable with using it.
We avoid this material at all costs and highly recommend you do the same. The risk simply isn’t worth it – especially not when there is scientific evidence backing it up.
The first risk has to do with toxic fumes. Unfortunately, once the pans are heated above 480ºF (250ºC) it starts releasing toxic fumes. While this is the official temperature, some studies have shown it to be as low as 400ºF (200ºC).
Now, while you may think “I’ll never use those temperatures – they’re too high”. Well, believe it or not, but common cooking techniques like searing, stir-frying, or sauteing easily reach those temperatures!
Now, we don’t necessarily think this concern applies just to Teflon coatings, but it remains a risk nevertheless.
Teflon-coated products have been especially criticized for chipping. Then, once you cook your food, these chips adhere to the item and are ultimately ingested.
This can cause metals to leach inside your digestive tract, causing major health risks.
The potential of you ingesting chipped cookware isn’t unlikely. The varying factor is not if, but when. Depending on the quality of the pan, the coating can start chipping after a couple of months or years.
How To Choose Safe Granite Cookware
Now, luckily, not all granite cookware is made in the same way. As we have mentioned right in the beginning, the term is merely used to describe the overall look of the pan. It doesn’t refer in any way to the material used to make it.
So, we have compiled a list of the best to look out for to avoid buying hazardous granite cookware.
Avoid PTFE Cookware
This is the number one thing you should avoid. As we have mentioned, while Teflon-coated cookware has many enticing benefits, it does have major downsides.
The main concerns with using Teflon cookware are that they release toxic fumes when heated and that users may ingest chips that come off during usage.
The inhalation of these fumes and ingestion of the material can lead to Teflon poisoning.
However, that being said, you can simply avoid heating your cookware to those extreme temperatures. Use a digital thermometer to accurately keep the pans’ temperature below 400ºF.
This may limit you somewhat in techniques you can use, but that’s just what you need to do.
Furthermore, you should take great care with any and all non-stick pans (no matter which materials they are made from).
All of these coatings do eventually chip away and can be ingested. So, make sure you know how to best prolong the life of your cookware.
Buy Vitreous Enamel Granite Cookware
Now, this is a specific type of granite cookware that is made from entirely PFOA ad PTFE-free materials. It is also often lead-free, which is another major benefit.
This coating is made from vitreous enamel or porcelain enamel. Both have a shiny glass-like appearance that almost looks like enameled cast iron Dutch ovens.
This material doesn’t release any types of toxic fumes and is completely safe to use at extremely high temperatures. And, it’s also non-stick! This means you won’t be limited in the techniques you use either!
Furthermore, this material is generally a lot more durable than Teflon-coated cookware. While they can still chip and wear down over time, it is much more resistant to general damage.
Granite Cookware Pros and Cons
Once you have chosen completely safe-to-use granite cookware options, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of benefits associated with this cookware. Here are a few noteworthy benefits:
- The materials used for this type of cookware are completely rust-free. This is beneficial as they can be used with ingredients that are often prone to cause rust. This ultimately makes care and clean-up much easier.
- This material is non-reactive. Porcelain and enamel won’t react with acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar, so you aren’t limited to using one specific type. Your food won’t discolor or get a metallic flavor to it.
- When choosing proper granite cookware, they don’t contain any harmful metals or chemicals. Again, avoid lead-containing, PTFE, and PFOA-containing products at all costs.
- These pans and pots are extremely conductive and even heat up relatively quickly. Unlike, for example, cast iron cookware, these pans can heat almost instantly. This will also reduce your overall cooking time.
- Granite cookware is lightweight and easy to handle. Their handles are also usually heat-proof and light. This will make tossing and maneuvering much more comfortable.
- These cooking vessels come in a wide variety of colors and styles. But, all of them will have a beautifully sophisticated look thanks to the granite appearance.
There are however still some disadvantages to be aware of:
- Some cooking vessels are still made with harmful chemicals. So, make sure to avoid these when searching for a product. Manufacturers usually outright state that their pan or pan doesn’t contain those things. So, if there is any dodgy wording, rather keep looking.
- This type of non-stick cooking vessel isn’t extremely durable. There are materials, such as cast iron, that will last you a lifetime. Non-stick surfaces (no matter what they are made from) aren’t that. They usually start chipping and lose their effectiveness after a couple of months.
- Not all of the non-stick surfaces are non-stick. We’ve all seen those videos where you simply give the pancake a blow and it comes off. Well, unfortunately, cheaper brands of non-stick granite cookware won’t work that well. So, research your product well before buying.
Ceramic Vs Granite Cookware
Now that you know what granite cookware is, let’s have a look at ceramic cookware and how they compare.
There are two main types of ceramic cookware: ceramic-coated cookware and solid ceramic cookware.
Solid ceramic cookware is made with a kiln-baked molded clay and water mixture.
Once it has completely hardened, it is dipped into a glaze that makes it non-stick and gives it a shiny look. This coating is also stain-resistant and makes the inside more durable.
Ceramic coated cookware is any kind of metal pot or pan that has been coated with a ceramic glaze. These are much more common than solid ceramic cookware.
The advantage of ceramic cookware (glazed or otherwise) is that they are completely PTFE and PFOA-free.
They don’t contain any harmful chemicals to make the non-stick coating. Furthermore, they are non-reactive, very conductive, and retain heat well.
Their biggest disadvantage is they aren’t suitable for cooking at extremely high temperatures and they are extremely fragile. The coatings chip easily and the solid ceramic cookware are very fragile.
So, as you can see, both are non-stick, easy to clean, non-reactive, and stain-resistant.
Both are pretty fragile and have specific maintenance requirements to make them last longer. The materials used for each are very conductive and retain heat well.
However, ceramic cooking vessels cannot be used at high temperatures, whereas PTFE-free granite ones can. Ceramic vessels also don’t heat quickly, unlike granite vessels. That’s about the main difference between the two.