In any kitchen, the kind of cookware you use makes a huge difference. That’s why you should be very keen on the type of cookware that you settle on: some are better and healthier than others. Ceramic cookware has made a big comeback in the recent past, with many claims that it’s healthier and better than its nonstick counterparts.
Since cookware is a substantial investment, you need to be informed to make the best choice for your household. With a market that’s flooded with many options, it may be confusing to settle on a final choice. As for the best ceramic cookware, it’s better to have as much information as possible to decide if it suits you.
Why ceramic cookware is healthier
There have been many debates on whether ceramic is actually healthier or not. Metal cookware has harmful chemicals that can find its way into food over time. As for pure ceramic cookware, it’s mostly made from minerals and clay, which are purely natural and harmless.
Raw soil and the clay that’s used to make ceramic cookware is not very pure at first though as it may have lead, arsenic, and other harmful heavy metals. To counter this, it has to undergo extremely high temperatures, which breaks down the heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Because ceramic has such a high melting point, it can outlast these other chemicals. In fact, ceramic cookware is heated to temperatures of up to 2400°F while the melting point of heavy metals is below 1500°F. This process keeps ceramic exceptionally clean and healthy.
In the past, manufacturers of ceramics noticed that glazing the ceramics with lead makes it smooth and shiny, which can also help its nonstick properties. However, many manufacturers decided to take the lead-free route once there was an increased awareness of the dangers of lead. Currently, in the US and most places, it’s a requirement that ceramic cookware be lead-free and most renowned brands no longer use lead when making ceramic cookware.
Benefits of Ceramic Cookware
Long Heat Retention
Unlike other materials such as stainless steel, ceramic cookware takes a long time to heat up, but once it does, it does not lose its heat quickly. That makes it an excellent choice for slow cooking as you can use low heat for a long time.
With ceramic cookware, you can use it on any kind of heat source for any type of cooking. You can use it on the stovetop, in the oven, on a barbeque grill, and if there are no metals you can even use it in your microwave. This cookware is also safe to use in the freezer, giving you a great deal of flexibility.
Regardless of the kind of food you are cooking, the ceramic cookware itself will not react with your food. You can use acidic foods such as lemons and tomatoes without fear of contaminating your cookware or changing the taste of your food.
Scratch and Chip-Resistant
There are other kinds of cookware that you have to be careful with when using the wrong utensils, or else you risk scratches and chips. However, ceramic is much more resistant to breaking with proper care.
Ensures Even Heat Distribution
Ceramic cookware is known to naturally emit far-infrared energy (FIR), which helps to distribute heat both inside and outside simultaneously. This heat penetrates the food yet helps it retain moisture. Apart from evenly cooking the food, it also helps preserve the food’s flavors for a tastier dish.
Easy to Clean
Ceramic cookware is easy to clean and stain resistant. For stubborn, stuck-on foods, all you need is to soak it in warm water for a few seconds with your favorite soap detergent, and voila, it will be much easier to clean. It can also be cleaned in the dishwasher, though this is not advisable for ceramic coated pots or pans.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Ceramic Cookware
There are a lot of ceramic cookware options on the market, and to get the best, you have to know what to look at. Some of the factors to consider when you are looking for ceramic cookware include:
The main factor that makes ceramic better than nonstick is that it’s free from PFOA chemicals. PFOA is not only harmful to humans but also the environment. When you cook under very high heat, the chemical may leach into your food, which poses associated health risks. It’s essential to check that the cookware you are choosing does not have a PFOA coating.
There are, however, some ceramics that still have a PFOA coating to make them more nonstick friendly.
If you plan to use the cookware in the oven, you need to confirm how oven friendly it is. As much as most ceramic cookware is made to be oven friendly, there are some ceramic cookware options that are only coated in ceramic that could be problematic.
In most cases, the lids of ceramic cookware are not oven friendly as they are mostly made with other materials. It’s vital to confirm the amount of heat that the cookware and lid can withstand before cooking.
When looking for ceramic cookware, look for handles that are made with either metal or silicon as these are usually oven safe.
Even though you may not plan to use the cookware very frequently, you need to aim for the best possible quality. Good quality cookware will serve you longer and give you more value for money. Although the base of the cookware is of utmost importance, you should not skip out on the handles. Make sure that they are easy to hold to make spills less likely.
There is some ceramic cookware that gives you the flexibility to use metal utensils without destroying their coatings. It’s also good to check if it’s dishwasher friendly.
Size and quantity
Every kind of cookware comes in different sizes and quantities. It all depends on what you need for your household. If you have limited cooking needs, then a small size or smaller amounts will probably be more economical. On the contrary, if you have a large household or cook frequently, then you may need a bigger set.
Some types of ceramic pans and pots are actually only coated with a ceramic layer, using a metal inner core. The difference is minimal in terms of cooking, but pure ceramic options tend to last longer and won’t ever expose your food to harmful chemicals.
A trusted manufacturer should give you some sort of warranty. Many companies will give you a 1-year warranty though some companies may offer better options. The longer the warranty offer, the better it will be for you as it shows that the manufacturer is confident in the cookware’s quality.
The best ceramic cookware comes at different prices depending on what you’re looking for. The price is a reflection of the features, quality, and so on. Most of the time, you will get a better price if you buy as a set compared to buying individual pieces.
Before making your final decision on cookware, it’s essential to check the experiences of other customers that own the product. Modern technology allows us to know the experiences of other customers, which is great if you don’t know anyone that has used the product. If any of the users had a great experience, then you are also likely to feel the same.
Maintaining Ceramic Cookware
Even though ceramic cookware is very durable and versatile, it all boils down to its maintenance. When you maintain it well, it will serve you perfectly.
The best ceramic cookware works differently from metal cookware. It does not usually heat up fast, but if it does, it retains that heat for a long time. On a stove burner, one may be tempted to increase the temperature to unsafe levels to speed up the cooking process. For ceramic cookware, this may lead to thermal cracking because the center of the pot or pan is heating faster than the rest of the pan. Ceramic cookware can only handle temperatures of up to 800°F degrees unless otherwise stated: anymore and it may crack.
As long as you heat it all up at once, like in the oven or slowly over a burner, it will not break. However, if you put super-hot ceramic cookware on a very cold surface or in ice water, it may crack. In short, as long as you don’t bring it from one extreme temperature to the next your pot or pan will be fine.
Just like other nonstick cookware, you should not use metals on ceramics. Metal spoons or spatulas can leave the ceramics with streaks that cause chips over time. Instead it’s recommended that plastic, silicon, or wood is used.
Ceramic Cookware vs. Ceramic Coated Cookware
It’s worth noting that you will find both ceramic coated cookware and pure ceramic cookware in the market. Even though they may be perceived to be the same thing, they are not. Only clay and minerals are used when making pure ceramic cookware. On the other hand, ceramic coated cookware has a metal core and a ceramic coating.
The cooking differences are mostly the same but the coating in ceramic coated cookware can break down over time harming the usefulness of your cookware.
Ceramic vs. Teflon
Teflon has polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), an artificial chemical that’s responsible for the “nonstick” part of nonstick cookware. It also has stable carbon-fluorine bonds that make it non-reactive, but over time these can break down.
Most nonstick pots and pans use a Teflon coating that may not be safe to use under very high temperatures as it releases toxic chemicals that may be carcinogenic. In fact, very high temperatures wear down this coating faster
Due to these qualities of Teflon, some brands are mixing Teflon with other compounds to make it safer with a lower risk of releasing PTEF. There are some cases where the Teflon is hard anodized or mixed with stainless steel, making it stronger, more durable, and with better heat resistance.
The best ceramic pots and pans, on the other hand, are only made with clay and minerals under high temperatures. As mentioned earlier, some have a nonstick coating from PTEF or a silicon dioxide coat with the addition of hydrophobic and oleophobic properties. That makes them both water and oil resistant. If you’re unsure about the use of extra chemicals, many brands also make pure ceramic options as well.
Moving on, Teflon conducts heat easily but loses it fast while ceramic heats up slowly and remains hot longer. When ceramic pans first arrived on the market, many people found them to be weak as they would peel after a short time. This made manufacturers work on adding layers of ceramic to make them sturdier with better heat resistance, as well as oven and dishwasher friendly.
Modern ceramic cookware is usually very sturdy and versatile. It’s important to note that there are still many ceramic sets, usually ceramic coated cookware, that are not dishwasher safe though.
Even though Teflon has been perceived to be the king of nonstick, ceramic has better nonstick abilities comparatively. Ceramic better helps in even heat distribution as compared to Teflon. Ceramic is also easier to clean.
As an added bonus, many ceramic pots and pans come in different colors as compared to their Teflon counterparts that are mostly in black or brown.
Is Ceramic Better than Teflon?
At the end of the day, it’s all about preference. As much as PTFE is not a very safe component of nonstick cookware, you just need to know how to manage it. If you mostly cook with low heat, then either option may work out well for you. However, if you want a more versatile option ceramic might be better for your needs.
But even the best ceramic cookware sets may not work perfectly if you use very high temperatures often, potentially causing cracks. And though ceramic cookware is usually dishwasher friendly, it’s best to be hand-washed for longevity. Dishwashers may ruin ceramic cookware’s nonstick surface with time. That being said, an occasional dishwasher cycle probably won’t hurt. On the other hand, nonstick pans can lose their coating after a single spin through the dishwasher.
Finally, Teflon usually weighs less than ceramic cookware. This makes manufacturing and shipping cheaper, which results in a comparatively cheaper cost usually. Even the best ceramic pot or pan is still denser and thicker than the average nonstick pan.
Ceramic Can Handle Higher Temperatures than Teflon
You should not worry about your ceramic skillet or pan cracking when exposed to very high heat unless it’s done very rapidly.
Also, ceramics have a better ability to withstand heat than regular nonstick cookware. In fact, nonstick can withstand only up to about 500°F, compared to ceramics that can withstand up to 800°F. Both of those temperatures are hard to reach unless you preheat your empty cookware on very high heat, but having the option gives ceramic cookware the edge.
Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel performs similarly to ceramic but does not automatically come with a nonstick coating. However, you can cook with very high temperatures without issue (aside from burning your food) using stainless steel. This is because stainless steel is a better conductor of heat, which means it heats up quickly but loses that heat rapidly as well.
On the other hand, ceramic cookware does not conduct heat fast but does retain heat longer once it’s present. Ceramic also ensures even heat distribution, which may not be easy with stainless-steel cookware if used on small burners.
However, ceramic’s nonstick coating makes it easier to cook and clean with. Plus, ceramic tends to be lighter which is great when you’re cooking for long periods at a time.
Does Ceramic Cookware Last Long?
Even if you have the best cookware ever made, it can still wear out with time. With ceramic cookware you will get what you put into it. If you properly clean and cook with it, it can last for years before losing its best qualities.
The more you use it, the more the glaze will come off. However, you can preserve the glaze by hand washing ceramic pots and pans as opposed using dishwashers and harsh scrubbers. Also, using plastic, rubber, or wooden utensils instead of metal will prevent scratches. As a general rule, make sure that you follow as many manufacturer instructions as you can to get the best value for your money.
And although ceramic cookware’s nonstick properties tend to wear out faster than other options, stainless steel doesn’t have nonstick properties to begin with.
For all the praises that ceramic cookware enjoys, its best qualities diminish with time. That means that you should shape your expectations so that you are not disappointed. And remember, even if you go for the best quality option, you should not skip out on maintenance.
Ceramic Cookware is Not Necessarily Environment Friendly
Even though ceramics are natural, which is why they are perceived as environmentally friendly, they are not completely guilt free. Ceramic cookware is made with extremely hot temperatures, using a lot of energy in its production. However, they still present a better option than Teflon cookware.
No Standard Sizes
Most traditional cookware and nonstick wares have to meet a set of FDA regulations to ensure they are safe. That is, however, not entirely true for ceramics. There are no standards or regulations to verify that ceramics are actually safer.
However, the most likely scenario is that even if ceramic cookware does present minor health risks, it is still superior to Teflon options in this regard. To be on the safe side though, it’s better to buy ceramic pots and pans from a reputable manufacturer and do a follow up to know if it has the finish that you prefer.
It is worth paying more for quality
The cliché “cheap is expensive” is very accurate here and a bigger upfront invest goes a long way. Pay more for higher quality cookware and you will likely avoid replacing cheaply made products not long after buying them. For added protection, go with a brand that you already trust.
Different people have different needs, and thus, what works best may not necessarily work out for you. Different cooks tend to have different preferences when it comes to the materials going into their cookware. It is, therefore, essential to define your needs and priorities first to find the perfect fit for you.
Once you know exactly what you need, you will have a much easier time shopping for your new cookware. If you want the best ceramic cookware, proper research and comparisons are essential. And as an added bonus, if you decide to stick to renowned brands like many cooks do, you still need to compare them to make the best buying decision and always be on the lookout for a great deal!